View Full Version : Which BCD to get?

02-13-2009, 10:01 AM
So I am about to complete my OW certificate and trying to decide what equipments to get. I had my mind set up on a hybrid BCD from Aeris but after reading some scuba forums, everyone recommended a BP/W? I am not sure how far I am gonna take my diving but then I dont' want to spend money and ended up spending more later on down the road.

And that is just the BCD, I have yet to narrow down the regulator yet!@!:unsure:

02-13-2009, 12:43 PM
IMHO, your BCD needs to match your planned activities and what's comfortable for you. You will find every opinion under the sun so far as weight integrated, jacket style, or back inflated, the list goes on and on.
I don't spend any time on the surface at all and hate the squeeze of a jacket style, so a weight integrated, back inflated BCD was a good fit.
Try and find a dive shop with a pool that will let you try out the different styles they have in-house and see what works best for you. Also, your reg and BCD are not areas where you want to skimp. Good ones will last you a long time, and of course, they are LIFE SUPPORT equipment, unlike many of the other goodies you will purchase along the way.

Seedless Reefer
02-13-2009, 12:56 PM

See I'm ex-military and in the military BCD's are known as Birth Control Devices which are your standard issue spectacles.

No way you could ever get any action wearing those ugly things.

02-13-2009, 4:12 PM
this is a question with a 1000 answers and opinions, I personally use diverite with wings but then I do alot of diving and don't spend much time on the surface. Main thing about a bc is that once you have your weighting down and have enough dive experience to know about balance most of the time you have very little if any air in your bc as an recreational diver so. This being said if you are going to be just an occasional diver a jacket style will be your best bet but if you intend on getting into this hobby as an serious endeavour then you may want to consider something with back inflation or wings. As stated above your best bet is find a shop with a pool that will alow you to test equipment. In Marietta there is Dive Shop V, on the eastside there is SeaVentures and I'm sure there are a couple of others out there. Not sure about suicide divers in Marietta they may have a policy to try equipment out in their pool.

02-13-2009, 5:20 PM
Is suicide divers really that bad? Worthy of that title? We have a member here who works for them. He is trying to get me to let him teach me

02-13-2009, 7:20 PM
They had a couple of good instructors there a couple of years ago, I don't know if they are still there. If you have heard this term from others beside myself, well take that into consideration. I got my original certification there years ago and after I moved on with my diving I found I had only completed 50% of the pool work needed to get me to the open water portion of my open water certification and roughly 60% of my open water skills.
I had an instructor who left there and took me under their wing an brought me thru dive master and then I continued on to become a master instructor. The biggest problem with this store is it is a large box operation with lots of overhead that has to push extremely large classes with 8 - 12 students with 1 instructor and possibly an assistant. Which means you are not getting quality time or the quantity of water time needed to make you a safe and competent diver hence the moniker Suicide Divers.
They are great people and I have nothing against them, they just have to turn numbers in order to make the store profitable. I personaly would look for a place that can take the time to work with you and let you get the time in water needed to get you comfortable in the water before you make that first giant stride of a boat into the open ocean.

02-16-2009, 2:51 PM how much lift you need?....type of diving? and on and on...

Best move for you is visit your local dive shop....

But if you want a muti purpose BCD that I would recommend that travels well, etc.

Zeagle Escape

02-16-2009, 3:07 PM
IMHO, your BCD needs to match your planned activities and what's comfortable for you. You will find every opinion under the sun so far as weight integrated, jacket style, or back inflated, the list goes on and on.


My recommendation is to rent for a while to see what you like. While you're getting your certification, you have so many things new to you that it'd be impossible to buy correctly now. It won't be until you're more comfortable in the water until you'll know more of what you like and don't like.

The most important this is to buy something that works well with you and your style of diving. It's your life that you're trying to support.

Lastly, be aware that the diving world is littered with all kinds of new-fangled gear, devices, and gizmos that suck newbies in. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) applies here - I'd recommend finding something that fits your needs and nothing more. Find a local dealer with a pool and try things on before laying down the bucks.

02-17-2009, 8:44 AM
Thanks for the replies. Wouldn't it be a little different in buoyancy between a swimming pool and saltwater. I will primarily dive in Southeast Asia or the tropicals.

02-17-2009, 9:23 AM
Thanks for the replies. Wouldn't it be a little different in buoyancy between a swimming pool and saltwater. I will primarily dive in Southeast Asia or the tropicals.

Yes, the absolute bouancy between the two will be different, but it's close enough that you won't notice a difference. Note that they don't make saltwater and freshwater BC's. The BC works exactly the same in FW or SW, and you're safe to assume that if it works well in the pool that it works well in the ocean.

What will differ is the amount of weight you'll need. FW is 8.0 lbs/gal and SW is 8.3lbs / gal. So you'll need 4% more weight in SW, give or take.

02-17-2009, 3:13 PM
Backplate and wing with Hog harness. Modular, fits pretty much any size, can move between doubles and singles easily, DIR compliant, don't need as much weight, already setup for tech diving and the cost is reasonable.

DSS sells a single wing setup for around $500. Call ScubaToys can hook you up with an Oxycheq setup for around $400. A bit less if you want AL instead of SS.

If you insist on a BI setup, go with the Zeagle Brigade. Costs $400 at ScubaToys, but if you join their forum you will get 10% off that. It is a Zeagle Ranger with the lighter Escape wing.

Another alternative is the Zeagle Ranger previous year model. You can still find some of these around for around $400 and they are considered one of the best among the BI style jackets.

Lastly if cost is an issue consider the stellar deal going on at ScubaToys (I am a fan since they have no shipping over $50 and awesome service) with the Aeris Reef Rider $200 or the Oceanic Islander for $225. Both good deals. I think you can get the Reef Rider at Divers Supply locally and they will probably price match.

02-17-2009, 3:23 PM
Rarely do I disagree with Cameron, but I will on this one. I'll keep it short:

- Don't get a backplate unless that's what you need and want. There are advantages and disadvantages, but remember that if you don't intend on getting into cave diving, dual-tank setups, or other tech diving, the "features" won't be of any benefit.
- "If you insist on a BI setup" - This makes it sound like the backplate is your only option. Get what works for you - it's your life, and you better be comfortable with it.
- I don't have a problem buying online, but I still recommend buying local because you need to try out your equipment. Fins are one thing. A BC is another.

In other words- recommendations are good, but please buy what fits your needs.

02-17-2009, 3:42 PM
I am not really aware of too many benefits going with the jacket style vest actually. After doing the research, BPW meets all a divers needs and streamlines everything. Simplicity is in these days and BPW does exactly that.

Comfort... unless you plan on backpacking with your vest once you are under water a hog harness is perfectly comfortable. All those pads and extra fabric is just wasted fluff mostly.

If you decide to move past recreational diving, you will be glad you bought a BPW. If you gain/loose significant weight, glad you bought a BPW. If you want to replace a broken part such as the tube in the inflator, BPW. If you want to customize tie off locations, BPW.

As for needing to try out a jacket BC. You probably should. Trying out a BPW is less of an issue since one size really does fit all. The only conversation for most is where and what are you doing so you can size the wing properly. For most recreational warm water diving a 30lb wing and SS BP or a 20lb-25lb wing with an AL backplate.

02-17-2009, 3:52 PM
This is just my opinion mind you. I am no expert just spent a lot of time researching just this question.

02-17-2009, 3:55 PM
Wish I could edit... on the Zeagle Ranger and Brigade they have the added advantage of being somewhat modular so you can get one that has extra large shoulders and a medium waist for example. ScubaToys will also allow you to swap out until you get the exact fit you are looking for.

02-17-2009, 4:10 PM
I am not really aware of too many benefits going with the jacket style vest actually.

The main reason I don't like backplate designs is that the majority of the bouancy is on the diver's back. If for some reason you're on the surface and weak or unconscious, then with a wing setup, you're almost guaranteed that you'll be face down in the water - not a good situation. Of course, the old horse collar design BC's of 30 years ago were the opposite of this- jacket BC's fall somewhere in the middle.

I also chose not to go with a harness system also because of simplicity. What some may see as infinitely configurable I see as a pain- I want pockets and not 100 mount points. I've come to like my weight integrated system because it keeps things streamlined.

Lastly, a jacket setup was just more comfortable to me than having straps everwhere. I personally use a ScubaPro Knighthawk, but mostly because it was the first one that I found that fit me well. Unfortunately, it has more of a back-inflate system (which does minimize squeeze), but I still like the overall functionality.

Again, it comes down to personal choice.

02-17-2009, 5:05 PM
You can always add a pocket to a BPW, you can put them any place you like actually and you can get any size you like. Mount points are generally kept to about a half dozen or less most jackets have about the same.

Weight integrated isn't very streamlined actually. Getting a SS backplate and eliminating weight pockets is streamlining. Besides it isn't uncommon for a diver to drop 10lbs moving from a jacket to a BPW setup. Lot easier handing up a lighter BPW rather than a 20lb jacket and the weight on a BPW is better distributed. Lastly, a BPW doing the same job as a jacket tends to have less material and bulk. With a BPW you weight the diver with enough to make them neutral at the surface. You weigh the BPW just enough to sink the diver throughout the dive. So the wing you need is far smaller with many divers only using a 20lb wing often 1/2 or less the material of a typical jacket.

Not sure of the "safety" difference between a BI and a BPW. They both are back inflated and have similar buoyancy characteristics.

Not sure what you mean by straps everywhere. You have less straps on a BPW with a Hog harness. In fact you only have one. Oh and that one strap can be adjusted to fit a bulky drysuit and a diver wearing no thermal protection.

ScubaPro Knighthawk is considered one of the better tech jackets and it does its job well, but for reasons I have stated earlier, IMO, the BPW is a better choice... again IMO.

02-18-2009, 8:06 PM
I have been diving with a Halcyon Backplate for 2 years now...I love it, but it is expensive and not for everyone....Lists at $700.....

As for throwing me forward....never has, as for diving and floating on my face, well I don't dive alone and my buddy will make sure I don't drown on the surface after sending my fat *** to the surface :) hopefully not bent :)

I will never do the standard BC again..I like the streamlined Sh-t not hanging off me everywhere like a dive shop type of diving now...and as for weights!!

Well hell, the plate is 8 pounds, I don't need anymore!

02-18-2009, 9:45 PM
Gorilla as I told you at the beginning of this thread there are a thousand opinions and answers to your question. As a newbie you get confused with all of the toys in the stores. I prefer wings and harness much as Todd but then again I spend lots of time in the water. But if you want to get an idea of what someone who spends litterly hours each week in the water take a trip to any of the island resorts or dive charters and see what their dive masters are wearing, jacket style bcd's and then you will also notice there is never any air in them unless they are on the surface. They have learned bouyancy control and this comes from lots of time in the water. I ask you again how far do you plan on taking your diving, are you going to be the 1 or 2 holiday a year diver that squeezes a dive or 2 in during their holiday. If so rent when you get to the dive shop you will be better off than spending $2500 or better on gear that will do nothing but rust during the rest of the year. You are just taking lessons concentrate on your lessons and learning how to dive then worry about the gear to buy, by that time you will have a better idea of what will work for you. Advice worry more about your regulator that is your life support so spend your money on that first.:yay:

02-18-2009, 9:48 PM
I can give you several reasons why the knight hawk is NOT one of the better tech bc's. one is the weighting system if you have arthritis or a problem with your fingers try getting the pockets out. Scuba Pro does have a tech bc copied from diverite that isn't bad but it is a copy

02-19-2009, 1:20 AM
Not that I am comparing the Knighthawk to a Ranger or BPW, but I actually liked the weight system. I know a Fastex buckle isn't going to wear out and dump weight on me like velcro that so many jackets use. Even zippers that are frequently used tend to loosen up. May not be as easy to use, but it is the most secure.

Viva la BPW!

02-19-2009, 11:49 PM
Built in weight is nice :)