top of page

Take the Plunge: Buying the Right Buoyancy Compensator Device

Congratulations, You’re Certified! Now It’s Time to Build Your Kit

Having the right gear for your dive can enhance the quality of your experience underwater. Do you remember your first open-water dives as a newly certified diver? Most people are in rented gear that may or may not fit well. Those dives, while amazing and addictive, are also fraught with anxiety over gear, hoses getting in your way, and you trying to find your buoyancy sweet spot!

Once you have a few dives under your belt and have really been hooked by the underwater world, you ought to take the next plunge—buying gear. The buoyancy compensator device (BCD) is a critical component of your kit and worth the investment.

Gil Smolinski - Diving equipment - Scubapro BCD

The Right Gear Matters

Learning to control your buoyancy is an essential skill in order to maximize the enjoyment of your dive. When you spend less time adjusting your gear, you can completely lose yourself in the exquisite beauty of the underwater world.

Your BCD is designed to allow you to have full control over your buoyancy during descent, ascent, and bottom time. It also holds your tank securely on your back while keeping your hoses organized. Many BCDs offer integrated weight systems to house your ballast and trim weights, all while allowing you to effortlessly control the BCD’s inflation and deflation.

Do Your Research

I am a SCUBAPRO diver because it leads the industry and always has. SCUBAPRO introduced the original stability jacket (stab jacket) over forty years ago and it continues to innovate gear that sets the bar for the sport. Nevertheless, there are several brands that offer quality equipment. The plethora of options is both a blessing and a curse because newer divers may be overwhelmed by the choices available and not know what to buy first.

Like so many other kinds of purchases or investments, you get what you pay for so you should consider a variety of factors before putting down your money. Investing in your dive kit is no different.

First Things First: What Type of Diver Are You?

BCDs come in a variety of styles. The one that is best for you will largely depend on the type of diver you are. This is the time to assess yourself honestly. Are you a weekend warrior who wants to enjoy a relaxed dive close to home? Are you a travel diver who is looking to explore unique warmer water destinations? Are you into tech diving and need the ultimate trim and flexibility in your gear?

BCD Style Options

Stability Jacket/ Front Adjustable BCD

The stab jacket is a classic-style BCD and is popular with all types of divers because it’s built with comfort bells and whistles, such as neck rolls and extra padding. As the name suggests, you can adjust the jacket at the shoulders, chest, and waist to create a perfect fit. This style BCD typically features a wide cummerbund, high lift, and ample space for weights. It suits most body types and can accommodate a thicker wetsuit for colder dives.

The air bladders on this BCD provide stability both underwater and at the surface due to their placement at the front, under the arms, and on the back. Wearing an inflated stab jacket feels a little like a life vest, which is one of the drawbacks since it diminishes your trim in the water.

Back Inflate BCD

As the name indicates, this BCD has air compartments that inflate on your back. This is an ideal position at depth, as it places your body naturally in the perfect position for diving. This BCD doesn’t have as much bulk as a stab jacket and thus reduces drag in the water while offering an incredible amount of freedom of movement. It is well suited for more experienced divers.

The position of the air inflation on the back does require some skill at the surface, since it will naturally push you forward and will therefore require some practice and skill to manage your surface time. (Trim weights can help to counterbalance.)

Backplate and Wing BCD

This is where buoyancy control meets the stringent requirements of tech divers where one size does not fit all, and modifications and customizations are necessary. This system consists of three components—the backplate which holds one or two tanks, an air wing for buoyancy, and a diver’s harness. Tech divers can configure their gear in a way that will give them maximum maneuverability and access to the equipment needed for their diving conditions. This is a system that is not recommended for novice divers.

Unisex: Yes or No?

Most BCDs are suitable for both women and men. However, there are situations where a female diver may prefer a BCD designed to accommodate physical differences. Women tend to have shorter torsos than men and also need a system that is comfortable across the chest area. It is worth them trying on both a unisex and a women’s BCD in order to decide what’s right.

Getting your gear right means that you will be able to focus on your dives and building your skill rather than constantly tugging, adjusting, and worrying about your gear. Your next BCD purchase could change your diving for the better!


bottom of page