Best Scuba BCDs For Travel – Top 8 Picks

A BCD is an integral part of your scuba diving gear. However, finding a suitable one for travel can be quite challenging.

When choosing the right travel BCD, you need to find something that is lightweight and easy to pack. Of course, it should also have adequate features to make it worth your money.

If you have been looking for the best scuba BCDs for travel but to no avail, I’m here to help you. Take a look at these top units that I have picked out.

So, without further ado, let’s get straight to the reviews.

Best Travel BCDs Review

1. Oceanic Biolite

Have you been looking for a BCD that will make your future expeditions fun and worthwhile? Check out the Oceanic Biolite Travel Scuba Diving BCD, a unit with the perfect combination of looks, functionality, and appeal. To know if this is the right pick for you, read on.

What I like about it

The Oceanic Biolite model 08.2207 is a lightweight BCD that weighs just 5.5 pounds or 2.5 kg. Unlike many other BCDs on the market, it focuses primarily on simplicity and convenience, which you can see with its design and functional features.

The right shoulder features an adjustable carabiner, which is very easy to use and helps keep you safe. Also, its in-built safety whistle ensures that you can call for help in the case of emergencies. It is positioned strategically for you to access it easily without fumbling around.

Coming to its design, this BCD comes in a stretchable material that expands according to the requirements, but remains airtight throughout. Its Quick Drop weight release system has been built with user-friendliness in mind and is super easy to load. Plus, the two non-drop weight pockets ensure your safety during underwater sessions.

What could be better?

It features a back inflate design, which can be slightly challenging for new scuba divers to adjust to. As such, dumping air from it can take some time to learn, but once you get the hang of it, using this BCD becomes extremely simple and convenient.

PROS
  • Low profile backpack – easy to fold in half for traveling purposes
  • Patented Bioflex material that adjusts to your body shape
  • Self-adjusting sternum strap for safety
  • Lightweight
CONS
  • The back inflate design has a slight learning curve
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2. Cressi Travelight

A brand founded in 1946, Cressi is well known for its innovative designs and top-notch functionality offered for all of its scuba diving gear. As such, the Cressi Travelight was specifically designed for divers looking for a lightweight and functional BCD that is reliable when traveling often.

What I like about it

At just six pounds, it is ideal for divers looking for a lightweight unit that is easy to carry but is highly functional as well.

With ample padding and several advanced features, this BCD gives competitors a run for their money. For starters, it features a fast-folding system that lets you quickly pack it up in your bag. I also love the weight system that is integrated with a lock aid feature for added safety.

It features two fixed back pockets and two zippered front pockets where you can add 9 and 20 kilograms, respectively. Its rear release valve system has been moved to the front for easy accessibility during diving sessions.

Finally, you will find three pressure and discharge valves and a double strap system for the best tank security.

What could be better?

Overall an excellent product; but due to the absence of rigid tank support, mounting the tank can be slightly tricky for the first few times. However, once you learn to attach it correctly, it is extremely comfortable and hassle-free, which is great.

PROS
  • Lightweight alloy d-rings
  • Fast folding system – easy to take on travels
  • Backpack with soft padding and double straps
CONS
  • No rigid tank support system
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3. Scubapro Litehawk

The Scubapro Litehawk is a 7.5-pound lightweight model that is ideal for traveling purposes. Made of nylon with a flexible design and innovative features, it is a must-have for most scuba divers.

What I like about it

There are several features which makes it a favorite among divers; however, my favorite aspect has to be its custom fit options. To begin with, I love the belt-style waist strap that can be adjusted to get the perfect fit. It also comes with a quick-release tab that lets you free yourself from the straps with one quick click.

Aside from that, I like the rotating shoulder buckles that can be adjusted over or under the shoulders as per your requirements and comfort. The low-profile rear air cell is designed to decrease drag, while allowing you to easily make a range of motions more effortless.

There is a two-year manufacturer’s warranty. So, in case you face any issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to the customer service at any point.

What could be better?

All said and done; there is one minor flaw I noticed. Although the quick-release shoulder buckle system is great, some may find it difficult to use underwater without proper lumbar support around.

However, if you have the right gear and accessories with you, this lightweight travel BCD can be the perfect companion for all underwater adventures.

PROS
  • Provides excellent freedom of movement
  • Can easily dump air from several positions
  • Automatic air cell volume control
  • Aluminum d-rings with extra clip-on for adding gear
CONS
  • Quick-release shoulder buckle system can be tricky to use without lumbar support
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4. Hollis LTS

Are you traveling to a warm water area where there are weight restrictions to follow? In that case, the Hollis LTS (Light Travel System) may be the ideal BCD to take with you. Weighing just five pounds, this one is easy to carry and offers plenty of features to explore.

What I like about it

Right off the bat, I was attracted to the simple and non-modular design. Unlike many other BCDs, it’s extremely lightweight (weighs only 5 lbs) and stows very easily, making it ideal for travelers.

Even with a lightweight design, it has a lift capacity of 30 pounds, which is excellent for its size. Moreover, it features an ergonomic design with a comfortable back pad that allows you to use it for hours without feeling fatigued. You will also find multiple hip and chest d-rings to hang all your diving accessories from.

Apart from that, it features an extremely durable and rugged nylon outer cover. Not just that, its 420D internal bladder also gives you adequate freedom to use it for all types of diving expeditions.

What could be better?

Although the Hollis LTS is a lightweight unit with dozens of amazing features, there are some minor design flaws.

Like the inflator hose, when fully inflated, it sometimes retracts under the strap meant to secure the hose to the shoulder strap. When that happens you can struggle to reach it quickly.

And the tank’s valve is placed a bit too low when secured with the straps, so it hangs lower than what I feel is comfortable.

PROS
  • Highly durable and rugged design
  • Super lightweight
  • Ideal for travels and easy to stow
  • D-rings for easy access to accessories
CONS
  • Tank’s valve is placed a bit too low
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5. Zeagle Scout

The Zeagle Scout is a top travel BCD that is lightweight and easy to use. With a 20-pound rear weight system and 24-pound lift, it’s a suitable pick for most beginner divers to explore the deep waters.

What I like about it

When I first came across the Zeagle Scout, I wondered if it was lightweight enough. And although the BCD looks bulky and sturdy, it weighs 6.7 pounds, which is quite lightweight and portable for traveling purposes.

As for its weight capacity, this unit can withstand 20 pounds on its rear weight system, making it adequate for most scuba divers. Plus, its 24-pound lift gives you great stability and buoyancy without compromising on comfort and functionality.

Another great thing about this product is that it is designed for diving in warm waters, so if you have been searching far and wide for a suitable BCD, this might be your best bet. The 420 denier nylon material it is made of gives it a solid, durable build, and finish.

Finally, its inflating dry weight feature is one of the best ones you can find on the market, making it a worthy investment.

What could be better?

The Zeagle Scout is easily at par with some of the high-end BCDs out there. However, it can be somewhat difficult to put on without the backboard. Aside from that, the location of the back pockets make it challenging to reach them, and they aren’t very spacious either.

PROS
  • Ideal for warm water diving
  • Two zippered pockets
  • Lightly built frame
  • Inflating dry weight feature
CONS
  • Can be difficult to put on
  • Pockets are small and not easily accesible
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6. Cressi Patrol

A relatively new product to the market, the Cressi Patrol is a dorsal volume BCD that is lightweight but extremely sturdy. Furthermore, its strong and flexible construction makes it ideal for all types of underwater adventures. It comes with multiple advanced features, which make it worth considering for your diving sessions.

What I like about it

If you are looking for a BCD with excellent buoyancy, this unit will not disappoint you. According to the brand, it comes with a 100% dorsal air chamber and a high lift capacity, giving it the best buoyancy out of all the products in its line. Moreover, the harness system is designed to be independent of the air bladder, giving you added stability on the jacket.

Since the air bladder is designed to expand outside the back area and around the tank, it releases any pressure off your abdominal part and chest. All the features on this BCD are extremely intuitive and easy to use, even for first-timers.

I love the push button that has been integrated into the profile to prevent it from accidentally inflating when you are pulling the hose to empty. Plus, the button is designed with a wide clearance angle that helps avoid the blocking action of sand grains.

What could be better?

I noticed one slight design flaw. The integrated weight pockets and hip weights force most divers to swim face down, and swimming at the surface of the water can be slightly challenging. However, it isn’t a major drawback or concern for most users.

PROS
  • Inflation rate is recalibrated to be 50% higher than most other BCDs
  • Newly designed valve system prevents water from accidentally entering it
  • Roll-up side pockets and front zippered pockets
CONS
  • Integrated weight pockets and hip weights make it difficult to float on the surface
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7. ScubaPro GO

The ScubaPro Go is a lightweight BCD that is specifically designed for scuba divers on the go. At just eight pounds, it is extremely convenient to carry with you on all your diving sessions. Plus, it features several incredible features that make it worth your money.

What I like about it

Crafted with light nylon 210 denier, the ScubaPro Go is an extremely lightweight yet sturdy BCD. Its outer body is covered in polyurethane, giving it added protection and safety.

Its single-air cell technology gives it high buoyancy while being super easy to use and highly comfortable. As for its backpack, you will notice that it features a flexible and soft padded material that is comfortable to use for long hours. Moreover, its foldable airnet design makes it easy to fold quickly and pack into small bag to carry along while traveling.

Last but not least, I love the dedicated travel sack and integrated buckle that makes the product much easier to stow when it is not in use.

What could be better?

The downside is the position of the BC on the tank. If you set it up at the top of the vest as you do normally for standard BCs, it may cause some discomfort and chafing. However, lowering its position slightly to the bottom of the valve can prevent this from happening.

It is also quite pricey, so those on a budget or beginners should probably not consider this as an option. However, the advanced features justify the high price.

PROS
  • Adjustable straps
  • Highly durable
  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to fold and store in the included travel sack
CONS
  • The height of the BC on the tank may need to be repositioned
  • Expensive
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8. Zeagle Stiletto

Weighing 7.4 pounds and with a 35-pound lift capacity, the Zeagle Stiletto is a good choice for various types of dives. So, if you are looking for a rugged yet lightweight unit that has all the latest features, check this one out.

What I like about it

Experienced divers know the risks of swimming too close to jagged reefs and wrecks, as the sharp edges often puncture or damage the bladders of their precious BCDs. However, this product from Zeagle ensures that these incidents never occur with you.

The manufacturer has designed the bladder with extra durable reinforced nylon 1000 denier, giving it the added strength and protection it needs. Beyond that, the stainless steel d-rings with a PFS (Personal Fitting System) sizing allow you to have the most comfortable fit during your dives.

Coming to its adjustable design, this BCD features adjustable elastic waist panels, a sternum strap, and two tank straps. These can be easily fitted according to your personal requirements, enabling you to enjoy a pure, hassle-free, and safe diving experience.

What could be better?

I am a bit disappointed with the lack of a rigid backplate that could’ve enabled optimum tank support. Although its absence helps reduce the overall weight, mounting the tank can be slightly challenging in some conditions. However, it gives no other issues once the tank is correctly mounted.

PROS
  • Lightweight and ideal for traveling
  • Ripcord system to drop weights
  • Two weight pouches at the back
  • Excellent flexibility for customization
CONS
  • No rigid backplate
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Travel BCD Vs. Regular BCD

When it comes to choosing between a regular and travel BCD, there are several factors you need to weigh. For starters, travel BCDs are lightweight and easy to pack. They typically have a low profile and are made of flexible materials. However, they usually don’t have much weight capacity, so that’s something you may want to consider.

On the other hand, regular BCDs are heavier and may be too bulky or cumbersome to pack. But on the bright side, they generally provide divers with more lift. Not just that, most regular BCDs have integrated weight systems and these are ideal for cold water diving.

So, depending on your travel plans, I recommend opting for a BCD that is easy to pack and is within the required weight restrictions. However, if you are a regular diver and need a heavy-duty unit with integrated features, one of these BCDs may be the best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Difference Between a Regular and Travel Scuba BCD?

As discussed above, the primary difference between a regular and travel scuba BCD lies in their weight and features. Travel scuba BCDs are generally made of lightweight, flexible materials that make them easier to fold and carry in a bag, while regular scuba BCDs are heavier.

Should I Buy a BCD For Travel or Rent One?

While there is inherently no issue with renting a BCD, purchasing one gives you more flexibility to customize it as per your requirements. Plus, it’s a great investment for those who enjoy scuba diving regularly.

How Do I Maintain My Travel BCD?

Remember to clean your BCD with fresh, clean water after every dive. Also, check its interior and remove any water from it, and allow it to dry completely before storing it. You can also inflate the compensator slightly, which will prevent its insides from sticking to each other when it is not in use.

Lastly, if you aren’t using the BCD for a while, I recommend applying lubricant on the rubber parts to keep them in optimal condition.

How Often Should The Travel BCD be Serviced?

It is best to get your travel BCD serviced annually or every 40 dives – whichever comes first.

Conclusion

Well, that was quite a deep dive! We have finally reached the end of this comprehensive review-based guide, and I hope it helps you find the right scuba BCD for your travels.

After researching and testing several products, it came to my conclusion that the Oceanic Biolite is the best travel BCD overall, due to its simplistic design and user-friendliness. However, those looking for a more customizable option may consider the Scubapro Litehawk, which is another excellent choice.

But always remember to maintain and service the BCD regularly to ensure that it is safe for your journeys.