Do you ever find yourself scrolling through dive gear websites, amazed by all the colours and styles of dive gear? Do you picture yourself in the water, floating alongside the fishes in gear that you have hand chosen to fit your style and needs? Sounds great doesn’t it?
But then have you ever found yourself scrolling through looking at all of the gear and wondering “is this even what I’m looking for?” When I first started diving, I felt this way too. Did I want a jacket BCD or a wing? I’d never used integrated weights, would I even like them? And how many D rings could one person really need? And finally resolving to, I will just rent the dive centre gear… they obviously know what I need.
If you can relate even slightly to this feeling, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone! I’ve felt this too! So in this blog post I’m going to give a few tips about what you should be looking for when buying a BCD, and some gear recommendations!
First and foremost, there is no such thing as the best diving equipment. The best equipment is the equipment you feel comfortable with and which is correct for your diving area. In our centre, we stock mostly Scubapro gear as longevity and sustainability are our main priorities. Added bonus is materials and service options are really good with Scubapro, which is even more important for us being based on a small island with restricted/delayed access to a lot of resources.
Secondly, there is no issue at all with buying second hand dive gear as long as it is in working order. New dive gear, unfortunately, can produce a lot of plastic. Thus as ambassadors of the ocean, it is important to Daivoon, and I hope you too, that we reuse and recycle everything we possibly can. Dive gear is no exception. If you take a closer look into the centre, you will find recycled neoprene and a lot of fixed equipment. Not only is this more cost effective, it is significantly more ecological than buying new dive gear every year. With no compromise on quality and function.
You can usually find second hand diving gear on social media networks such as Facebook Marketplace, but I would highly recommend contacting your local dive school to see if they have any second hand gear up for sale. It’s not uncommon for divers to leave their dive gear with a centre to sell for them. An added bonus is that with that, you can normally try the gear out for a dive too before purchasing to ensure it’s gear is comfortable for you!
In recreational diving, there are basically 3 different kinds of BCDs:
A stab BCD
The air inflates all around your back, over the shoulders and down to your hips. These are less common these days due to advancements in styles and designs.
If the air is stored on the back and on the hips as well, it is an ADV BCD which is the most common form of BCD for recreational divers. ADV BCD’s have the added benefit of pockets in the jacket for storing diving accessories.
A wing or Hybrid BCD
The air of the BCD is stored on the back, often behind a back plate. All the air is like wings on the back: wing or Hybrid BCDs.
Wings are originally used in the technical diving community. They can mount different bladders to their bcds. The Hybrid ones do have a fixed bladder, but like a wing the air is only on the back, which means hybrid BCDs have advantages of wing bladders and advantages of normal ADV BCDs – Hybrid ones.
Specific recommendations (left to right):
· Scubapro Level: Standard ADV BCD with good lifting capacity; unisex sizes XS-XL
· Scubapro Hybrid X: ADV BCD with many advantages of the hybrid pro, but big pockets for diving equipment such as SMB or your torch.
· Scubapro Hybrid Pro: Great Hybrid/Wing BCD: Woman and Men sizes available, different colours and adjustable to different needs – good lifting capacity, good longevity as different parts can easily be exchanged if they break (good sustainability).
Some final notes that should be taken into account when purchasing a BCD:
- Lifting capacity: important if you wanna guide with it and take extra weights for your buddy; or if you wanna use heavy and big tanks etc.
- Weight: will you be travelling a lot with your BCD?
- ADV, Stab or Wing: I recommend trying different styles before you purchase.
- Fit: Make sure, your BCD is not just beautiful to look at, make sure it fits properly.
- Male or Female fit: It’s increasingly more popular that brands are producing male and female designs. This has the added bonus for women as it offers a bit more space to move, and more comfort as afterall, the gear is fitted to her body. These often come in a range of different colours, although predominantly pink.
- D-Rings: are there enough D rings for you to attach your camera, torch etc.?
- Back plate: When buying a wing, you’re often given the option of choosing a Steel or Aluminum back plate. This is really down to personal choice, and the location you will be diving in. After all, you don’t want to be using a 2KG steel back plate in the Caribbean where you may be diving without a suit, and perhaps not even need weights at all.
I hope all of the information above can help and guide you in purchasing a BCD best tailored to your wants and needs! If you’re still unsure, feel free to drop us an email – we’re happy to help!
Until next time,