Best BCDs For Beginner Divers

Most amateur divers who are just starting out usually rent their diving gear.

This is because there are so many models to choose from that it takes time to find the most comfortable one. Renting is, thus, an excellent option for when you’re new to diving and it’s too early for you to commit to one BCD.

However, if there are concerns regarding size, durability, or hygiene, then you may want to get your own. So, in case you’re wondering what the best BCD for beginners is, then I’ve got you sorted with this review guide.

Without further ado, let’s take a look.

Best Beginner Scuba BCD – Top 5 Picks

1. Cressi Start

If you aren’t familiar with diving and need an affordable BCD that will last you ages, then the Cressi Start is a great choice. Since this model was specially designed to be used as part of a rental kit, it is durable and can withstand a lot of pressure.

What I like about it

For starters, most buoyancy compensators are pretty expensive, so considering that, the Cressi Start is a steal deal. This is especially a great option for people just starting who don’t want to spend a fortune.

However, being affordable doesn’t diminish the superior functionality of this ADV (Advanced Design Vest) or jacket style BCD. It is made of 1000-denier Cordura fabric, which doesn’t wear out easily and is strong enough to withstand considerable duress.

When buying something like a BCD, brand value also plays an important role. Cressi is inarguably one of the most reputed scuba-gear manufacturers and has experience in this industry amounting to decades. So, even an entry-level device from them will be of top-notch quality.

What’s more, this jacket-style BCD for beginners has extra-wide straps and a hollow backplate, which provide immense comfort both outside and inside the water.

What could be better?

Absolutely everything about its quality is immaculate. It is simple and although it has plenty of attachment points, it is less bulky than some of its counterparts.

However, the sizing could be improved upon. You should pick a larger size, as it often doesn’t fit people with larger frames.

There is no integrated weight system included, which is not ideal for entry level divers, but at least you can also learn how to wear a dive belt from the beginning.

PROS
  • Affordable
  • Excellent brand value
  • Comfortable
  • Lots of scope for attaching accessories
CONS
  • Could do with better sizing options
  • No weight integration
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2. Oceanic Biolite

Next up is this BCD from the Oceanic store, which is available in sizes from Small to XXL. In addition to that, it weighs only 5.5 lbs and is packed with a bunch of features and advantages that will make any passionate scuba diver happy.

What I like about it

What stood out the most to me concerning the Oceanic Biolite was its minimal weight and compact sizing. Most BCDs are used on vacation, which means that lugging around heavy diving gear could seriously increase your baggage woes. This travel-friendly scuba BCD mitigates those by taking up very little room.

It is accompanied by an integrated weight system. The pockets for the weights are situated in the front and can carry up to 28 pounds in total. Plus, you get a convenient trim pocket.

The Quick Drop weight system is easy to load and use. This means that you can let go of the weights quickly in case you need to come up due to an emergency.

Another key highlight is the Bioflex material which adapts itself to the shape of your body. It comes with adjustable, non-restrictive straps that provide a snug fit.

What could be better?

This buoyancy compensator device is light, durable, and long-lasting. However, what I felt could be improved upon was the slightly poor tank attachment. It has a short backplate containing just one strap. So this means that the tank tends to move a lot, and as a result, it has to be constantly nudged back into place.

The weight pockets also have gaps, through which the weight pouches fall out far too easily. Even though they have a zipper on top, there is a buckled strap on the bottom with room for the weights to squeeze through.

PROS
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Integrated weight system
  • Adapts to the body of the wearer
CONS
  • Poor tank attachment
  • Gaps in the weight pockets
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3. Cressi Start Pro

Coming up next is the Cressi Start Pro, which is available in sizes between XXS and XL. This model has been mainly designed with dive schools and resorts in mind and gives its users a mix of stability and convenience of weight integration.

What I like about it

I like how this BC is bullet-proof and made using 420 Denier nylon and 500 Denier Cordura. It also has huge markings on the shoulder that can be easily seen from a distance, making it easier to receive help during a distress call.

Another key safety mechanism is the integrated weight pockets, which have quick-release buckles. Thus, if there is some unforeseen situation and one needs to come up to the surface immediately, the buckles ensure that that is done as speedily as possible.

The BCD has two large pockets which can be closed and opened using velcro. Additionally, the backpack and the carry handle are padded, and there are three exhaust valves to adjust buoyancy.

What could be better?

One thing which I felt could be improved by the manufacturer was the quality of the buckles and the plastic rings. Though claimed to be strong, these are made of plastic, and as we all know, plastic is brittle.

I felt that the product was slightly different in reality compared to the way it was advertised. However, since Cressi is a reputed brand, I still think this unit is a good choice. And I know for a fact that it is quite popular with female divers too.

PROS
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Durable
  • Integrated weight system
  • Padded in some places
CONS
  • Buckles and rings made of brittle plastic
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4. Genesis Buoyancy Compensator

This is an excellent BCD from Genesis, a great option for any entry-level diver who has a slightly strict budget. The jacket is manufactured primarily from the point of view of rentals and combines functionality with supreme comfort.

It may not have all the bells and whistles of top quality BCDs, but if you only make a few dives a year it is great.

What I like about it

I like how affordable this buoyancy compensator device is, considering its superior functionality and premium comfort level. In addition to that, it is lightweight and comes in a jacket design.

It features an integrated weight system, and both of its weight pockets can accommodate up to 8 lbs each. There’s also a quick-release mechanism available, which releases the weights immediately in the case of an emergency.

Moreover, it features a rapid exhaust valve. It is located in plain sight, so it is easy to spot and operate.

Lastly, the vest has extra pockets which are adjacent to the weight pockets and often come in use.

What could be better?

The customer service of the manufacturer could definitely be better and more responsive.

This BC is also little heavy and could use some more o-rings.

PROS
  • Great value for the price
  • Easy-to-use rapid exhaust valve
  • Extra pockets
CONS
  • Poor customer service
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5. Dive Rite Hydro Lite BC (HL1000)

In case you’ve been on the lookout for a lightweight buoyancy compensator for single tank divers, then this excellent piece by Dive Rite is perfect. It weighs only 6.2 lbs and incorporates convenience with advanced technology to create a BC that everyone can use.

What I like about it

To begin with, it is made using advanced technology and is lightweight. It has a technical soft backplate and an ergonomic wing design and is quite comfortable to wear as well.

Since most scuba diving takes place when one is on vacation, this BC has been designed to be easy to carry around. In addition to that, it has been tailored for use in streamlined, warm waters.

One key highlight is the 2-inch harness, which has webbing construction with shoulder pads. This holds firmly in place and prevents the diver being separated from the BCD due to waves, currents, debris, etc.

Moreover, the Dive Rite HL 1000 has an integrated weight system, which adds minimal bulk to it. It also features handy quick-release pulls, and each pocket can be loaded with up to 6 pounds of soft or block weight. The hook-and-loop buckle retainer holds the weight in place but also lets the diver ditch it quickly in case of an emergency.

What could be better?

I found some major drawbacks of this product. Firstly, the stitching is not great.

And secondly, one of the tank straps is unusually short. When the tank is put on, the second strap pops loose. This defect is an engineering oversight, I guess.

PROS
  • Made using modern technology
  • Lightweight
  • Harness holds firmly in place
  • Comfortable
  • Integrated weight system
CONS
  • Poorly stitched
  • Very short second strap
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Frequently Asked Questions

Which BCD Style is Best For Beginners?

There are three major kinds of styles of buoyancy compensators. These are:

Each style has advantages and disadvantages, which can be different for everyone. Some people may find a particular style easier than others. However, experience with diving is also a necessary factor to be considered, and that can also influence the kind of BCD one invests in.

For beginners and recreational divers, the jacket style BCD is the best. This is also, in general, the most popular style of BCD. The reason for its popularity is partly due to how easy it is to wear and take off, and partly because of its all-around buoyancy when it is inflated.

In addition to that, the air cell in this kind of style steadies the diver in a fins-down, vertical position at the surface. Moreover, it also inflates around the sides, the back, and the front and provides excellent support.

What’s more, a majority of jacket BCDs come with trim pockets, pockets for storage, and an integrated weight system. However, one thing that amateurs must be mindful of while using a jacket or a vest BCD is the fit. Else, divers may find it tough to breathe and move around while wearing it.

Should I Rent or Buy a BCD as a Beginner?

Owning a BCD is not the best idea in all situations. Scuba diving isn’t done too often unless you live in a coastal area or you’re a professional scuba instructor. Thus, it makes sense to rent one from a financial perspective for people who dive once or twice a year.

However, factors other than money also need to be considered. If you feel that resort equipment is too big or small for you or that its durability can’t entirely be trusted, investing in a BCD may be a good idea. Renting BCDs often depends on luck, so you may choose to buy one to be sure that you have sturdy equipment.

Lastly, if you’ve just started scuba diving and need time to understand how each device stacks up against each other, renting them is a good idea. Since most units cost upward of a couple hundred dollars, it’s best to do your research before investing in one.

Conclusion

For someone who is fascinated with marine life, there is nothing that can equal the joy of seeing aquatic animals and plants up close. However, it is a risky process, and if done using faulty equipment and poor-quality gear, things can get really scary really fast.

This is why it is imperative to find the best BCD tailored to one’s needs and which is reliable, functional, and durable.

So, my ultimate recommendation for any scuba beginner would be the Cressi Start, because of its superior performance and pocket-friendly price. A close second would be the Oceanic Biolite because of its light weight.