Your BCD is a hugely important part of your dive equipment, yet many people just see it as a ‘bag of air’.
While it’s true that you can indeed get very simple BCDs, which can be the perfect one for the right diver and diving conditions, even these basic entry level models have a range of features designed to improve your diving without you even noticing!
Take for example, the Sherwood Silhouette. This is a very simple BCD, with a single pocket and basic styling. However, what you might not have noticed is the high denier nylon construction, the 3d designed aircell for comfort or the simple drainage eyelets to ensure the BCD doesn’t hold huge amounts of water when you finish your dive.
Integrated weights are the most popular reason for upgrading from one model of BCD to another. Integrated weights simply take the lead that you usually wear around your waist and allow you to carry in in specially designed, quick release pockets that fit into the BCD itself. The main advantages of this are comfort and your inwater positioning. Divers regularly report that they’re far more comfortable using this system and find that, once underwater, they are in a much more natural position. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get an integrated BCD, for example the Pro 2000, but they are generally found on mid to high end BCDS.
Ladies fit BCD
Dive gear makers have now realised that many regular divers are female and that they are a different shape to men! This means that we’re now seeing more and more female specific BCDs, such as the Sherwood Luna, hitting the marketplace. Female specific BCDs take the body shape of a women into account, meaning no uncomfortable pressure on your hips and redesigned shoulder straps for more comfort around the chest.
Rear inflation or Jacket style?
Rear inflation BCDs are becoming far more popular, with divers seeing the benefit of the system while underwater. A rear inflation BCD, like the Scubapro Knighthawk, provides all of its inflation from behind the diver. This has two real benefits: firstly, by having all of the buoyancy behind you, once submerged you automatically assume a very flat and level trim position in the water. This has the benefit of reducing drag underwater and has become extremely popular with photographers and wreck divers. Secondly, by moving the inflation to behind you, your torso and chest area becomes extremely streamlined, with no large bulk around that area.
Jacket style BCDs are far more common, and it’s likely that you learnt to dive in one! They have the benefits of being familiar, keeping you nice and upright at the surface as well as commonly having large amounts of storage space and pockets. Some Jacket BCDs, like the Sherwood Avid, have an internal ‘baffle’ system, so that once you’re submerged it behaves like a rear inflation, but once you’re on the surface it behaves like a jacket style. A great compromise!
Pockets & D-rings
Whichever BCD you choose, make sure that it have enough pockets and d-rings for the diving that you like to do. If you’re a regular hunter, maybe it’s worth looking at a BCD with metal d-rings rather than plastic, to spread that load!
Hopefully your BCD choice is now that little easier, but if you do have questions just get in touch!