Focus on Fit At a glance, choosing a size might seem simple, but manufacturers don’t follow a standard when sizing their kit. A medium in one brand might be the size of a large in another. Make sure your selection fits you well, while leaving some room for adjustment, as our bodies do change, and your BCD should last you a few years.
Think About Style The two more common styles are a jacket, and the wing. The style you are looking for depends greatly on your personal experience, preference, and the type of diving you intend to do.
Jacket Style The bladder jacket BCD inflates on the sides, the front, and the back. Many of these BCDs have side pockets for storage and/or integrated weight systems with quick release. The disadvantages of the jacket style are that the bladder design is less stable than that of a wing, which makes maintaining trim more difficult.
Wing Style The wing BCD is comprised of a backplate and a back-mounted air bladder. The wing allows more freedom of movement and works well to suspend the diver evenly in the water. There might be some complaints that this style pushes you forward when on the surface, but this is generally outweighed by the benefits to your trim underwater.
Cold or Warm Water In cold water, you should pay more attention to lift capacity. Thicker wetsuits and drysuits require you to carry more weight. Therefore, your BCD should have enough lift capacity to keep you buoyant on the surface. When you are in warm water, or saltwater you’ll need less lift. Having a large wing BCD in this situation might not be the best choice if the rest of your diving set up is light as well.
If you are still uncertain of your needs feel free to give us a ring at the shop, we’ll do our best to point you towards the equipment that will suit you best.