HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR BUOYANCY COMPENSATOR FOR DIVING?

VIDEO TUTORIAL

THE CLASSIC OR ADJUSTABLE BCD

The most widespread among divers!

Its price, pockets, versatility and adaptability to several shapes and sizes make it a firm favourite among divers. These advantages will almost make you forget its bulk, limited volume and weight. This type of BCD isfor recreational divers, from beginners to instructors, as the range is very wide. It's also good for kids as it adapts to their growth and there are models specially designed for women.

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WRAP-AROUND BUOYANCY COMPENSATOR

This vest wraps your shoulders in air.

Solid and equipped with large pockets, it's used mostly by instructors and experienced divers who appreciate its useful volume: ideal for a stage bottle or to help a diver. It's known for its underwater comfort and easy balancing.
Warning: this BCD is rather heavy, expensive and requires several adjustment dives.

TECHNICAL BCD (OR TEK)

Also known as a "wing".

This buoyancy compensator has many practical advantages: its volume and the act of having nothing on your chest and stomach. Then, its fine adjustments that go as far as being custom-made for you with models fitted out as you choose (with or without pockets and back plate, double inflator, choice of volume, etc.). This customization also makes it very popular with photographers and tech-divers : the former like keeping their front free to click away at will and the latter love its lift volume that lets you to carry several tage bottles. And everyone loves its adjustability and the effect that it helps with your trim in the water.
On the flip side of the coin, it's hard to stay vertical on the surface with this BCD!

TRAVEL BCD

Wing or classical

Appreciated for its light weight and minimum bulk, this BCD doesn't include a stiff harness. This makes it more fragile with a pared-down style (few pockets, less comfortable).
So just keep it for travelling!

TECHNICAL CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING YOUR BCD

Think you've managed to pick a type of BCD? Before buying, take a look at the following technical points:
- the price: a safe BCD starts at around €149.99 and is approved by DAN Europe!
- the model: unisex or specifically for men, women or kids.
- comfort: soft padding around the neck limits irritation. A padded back plate will protect your back. Also look at the quality of the harness!
- solidity: an indication (500, 1,000, etc.) given in denier or cordura tells you how solid the vest might be. The higher the index, the more solid the vest. Assess and compare by touching.
- pockets and D-rings: essential to putting away or attaching your accessories such as diving tables, the octopus, a diving torch... Some BCDs have special spots for your knife, your buoy or even your weights. These weight pockets are strengthened and easy to release, while others remain on your back (non-releasable) to better distribute the weight and help with your trim. Beware: too many D-rings can also get in the way, 3 or 4 are enough!
- Inflator: this will inflate your BCD. Compare its inflating speed with another model and keep an eye on how fast it reacts, its sensitivity and its accessibility. Nowadays, a variety of built-in systems (such as a lever or 2 fixed buttons around the pockets) replace the usual pipe. You have to get used to it and let your buddy know how to use it!
- Dump valves: BCDs are fitted with a slow dump valve as part of the inflator on the left and several quick dump valves on the shoulder and in the small of your back. Check how many you have, their position, their quality and their accessibility when wearing gloves.

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          WRAP-AROUND BCD

This BCD inflates at your back and on your side.
Fitted with a back harness, the BCD provides comfort and ease of movement.
The waist belt allows for very good adjustment, the straps are adjustable and the shoulders are padded. 
 

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             "TRAVEL" BCD

The bladder is on the back.
This BCD is very light and compact for easy travel. Furthermore, it doesn't have a rigid harness so it can be folded easily.
This type of BCD can be adjustable or dorsal.
 

TRYING YOUR BUOYANCY COMPENSATOR

Better to try before you buy!

BCDs are fitted with different components to suit your needs: releasable weight pockets, D-rings, etc. There are specific models for women and also for children: one designed not to compress the chest and the other to suit smaller frames.

Warning! Always try out your BCD inflated in order to cnfirm the size and access to its different components (inflator, D-rings, etc.).

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MAINTENANCE OF YOUR BCD

As with any diving equipment, don't forget the upkeep!

Your BCD's effectiveness and durability depend first and foremost on its correct use. So here are a few tips to help it last longer: it's better not to overload your jacket with weights, remember to carry the tank using its valve rather than your BCD. In the water, try not to rub against outcroppings or put the tank on top of the BCD on the dock.
In case of a malfunction or leak, quickly arrange to have your BCD's inflator serviced. And don't forget to have your BCD completely serviced by an approved body every 2 years.

In terms of maintenance, check out our tips for maintaining your BCD as well as all of our equipment care recommendations!

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        ARTICLE CO-WRITTEN WITH

        alexandre vendeur decathlon toulon
        Alexandre, retail assistant at the Decathlon in Toulon

        I'm 33 years old. I'm a retail assistant at Decathlon in Toulon and have been a diving instructor for 4 years. Before joining Decathlon, I was in the Navy where I went on a lot of operational dives. During my time in the Navy, I got my Ship's diver certificate, which is now equivalent to FFESSM (French Federation of Undersea Studies and Sports) Level 3.

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