Selecting the right BCD for you
Virtually all BCDs on the market have the necessary components for scuba diving, otherwise why would anyone buy them. With this in mind, how do you decide which one is right for you? Besides fit and comfort being the most important factors, you will choose your BCD based on the style, design and additional features they have to offer.
As a general rule, try to choose a BCD that is as streamline as possible for smooth movement and less resistance in the water.
You might also want to consider additional features such as pockets and D- rings, integrated weight systems and quick dump valves, for more information on these, see our additional features section.
Whilst these extras aren't important for the correct functioning of your BCD they can be very useful depending on the kind of diving you will be doing. D-rings are useful for attaching other dive equipment such as dive torches and lanyards. In tropical waters, only one or two small pockets will suffice useful for carrying things like your Fish ID slate. For UK and cold water diving, you will probably need to carry more equipment such as a DSMB and reel or spare mask making more attachments or bigger pockets preferable.
Tips for trying on a BCD
Try and try this one wearing your exposure suit to see exactly how it'll fit, this is not critical as there is ample room for adjusting it later, but will give you a better feel for it.
Bring your regulator so you can ensure you have the right hoses, valves and hose accessories to suit
Bring any other equipment with you which you'd like to carry in/on the BCD such as signalling devices, dive slate's etc. This will give you a good idea how you can attach them and where they will hang once in the water.
There are special BCDs made for Ladies which are aimed at providing improved fit and comfort. They feature a shorter back panel, as most female have smaller backs than men. This means the cylinder will not rest on the base of your spine causing discomfort over time. They can also include integrated weight systems to save your hips from bruising and built-in sports bras for a more secure feeling.
You can buy BCDs for children which are often exactly the same as adults in a smaller size to fit the frame of a child more comfortably. Additional features you might also see on a child's BCD are underwater signalling devices, such as a horn, to alert their guardian should they run into trouble.