Buying Your First Scuba Diving BCD

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You’re a licensed diver — congrats! When you love the game (and the way might you not), you’ll probably need to begin shopping for your personal gear. Whereas it'd appear to be there’s an entire dive boat of BCD choices, in actuality, most comply with certainly one of three primary varieties. That will help you purchase your first scuba diving BCD, we’ve put collectively a quick information overlaying these varieties and some different issues you have to know.

Three primary BCD varieties

Buoyancy Compensation Units, or BCDs, permit divers to offset unfavorable buoyancy on the floor and keep impartial buoyancy underwater. As such, the important thing element of a BCD is its inflatable air bladder. The three primary BCD varieties have bladders that differ barely.

Jacket BCDs

For those who discovered to scuba dive in rental gear, you in all probability used a jacket BCD. These are, because the identify suggests, very similar to inflatable waistcoats. A single air bladder surrounds the diver’s again and the a part of the diver’s sides the place the BCD conforms to the physique.

Jacket-style models are straightforward to make use of and handle on the floor. As such, many divers select one for his or her first-ever BCD. Jackets are user-friendly underwater too. The one disadvantage is that till divers get a really feel for the place the air is sitting within the giant bladder, getting right into a good trim position could also be more durable.

Wing BCDs

Wing BCDs differ from jacket-style BCDs as they don't conform to your physique in the identical method. As an alternative, wings are doughnut or horseshoe-shaped buoyancy units that relaxation on the diver’s again. They're secured in place with straps and a harness.

This type of BCD is harder to grasp at first, however most divers will argue that wings permit higher trim within the water. On the floor, a wing BCD’s air placement can push you ahead barely. Select a wing should you can confidently and competently handle your self on the floor. In any other case, persist with a jacket-style unit.

Hybrid BCDs (back-inflate BCDs)

Hybrid or back-inflate BCDs are rising in reputation, particularly because the strains between leisure diving and technical diving blur. Because the identify suggests, hybrids mix options from each wings and jacket-style models. The distribution of air in a hybrid makes sustaining trim underwater straightforward. They’re additionally easy to handle on the floor.

Weight Issues: built-in BCD or weight belt?

One other key choice is whether or not you’d like a BCD with built-in weight pockets, or when you’ll proceed to make use of a weight belt as you probably did in your course.

BCDs with built-in weight techniques function giant, devoted pockets that you simply slip weights into. These pockets are then slotted into place and clipped in securely. As you possibly can think about, having all of your required weights on the entrance of your physique can have an effect on you on the floor whenever you’re new to the game. Underwater, it’s much less of a priority, as you’re horizontal.

To mitigate any points, many new divers who use built-in weight techniques place weights of their trim pockets (situated on both aspect of the tank strap behind the BCD) or onto the tank strap itself. Trim weight pockets are usually small and solely maintain a number of kilos.

If you have been coaching, you discovered to make use of a weight belt, whether or not your BCD had built-in weights or not. Many divers select to maintain utilizing a weight belt and don’t place a lot worth on built-in weight techniques. Nevertheless, it’s largely a matter of private choice. Should you can, attempt diving with each forms of BCD to see which you favor before you purchase one.

BCD match

In case you’re shopping for on-line, perform a little analysis on the producer and their sizes. Ideally, you’ll have the ability to attempt on a brand new BCD before you purchase it at your native dive store and buy it there as nicely. Sure manufacturers run bigger than others, however most BCDs are adaptable with regards to the dimensions of the divers they will accommodate.

Getting the right match could make a whole lot of distinction underwater, on the floor, and to your personal consolation ranges. BCDs which might be too giant can find yourself floating round your ears whenever you’re on the floor. Too small and also you danger scuffling with the straps on the waist.

A superb rule of thumb is that you should purchase a BCD in the identical measurement because the T-shirts you put on. That stated, perform a little analysis and ensure the mannequin you’re contemplating runs true to measurement.

Do I want a gender-specific BCD?

Unisex BCDs dominate the market and are the norm, however you’ll see an growing variety of models marketed particularly to ladies. The reasoning right here is that BCDs designed for ladies are extra snug on the feminine type.

Loads of divers will inform you that’s nonsense and that any BCD is ok for ladies, whereas different feminine divers swear by these fashions. Once more, this actually comes down to non-public choice. As a feminine diver, you do not want a BCD designed for ladies, however you could want these models.

Pockets

Pockets might appear to be a little bit of a trivial concern however belief us — you’ll miss them should you purchase a unit with none storage choices. Many models include two giant pockets on the entrance. Divers use these to retailer stuff like a spare masks, a torch, an SMB, and their reel.

Should you go down the pocketless route, be sure the BCD has sufficient D-rings so you'll be able to securely clip your additional gear to the unit. Some divers hate having bits and items dangling off them whereas others favor this over cumbersome pockets.

Normal BCD options

Throughout fashions and types, some issues stay commonplace. All BCDs, regardless of the sort or the type, have these options:

Inflation system

Your BCD inflates in one in every of two methods: with air from the tank utilizing the button in your LPI (low-pressure inflator hose), or by way of guide inflation.

BCDs are bought with LPIs, so that you don’t have to buy one individually. The hose connecting the LPI to the tank might or might include the regulator you purchase.

Deflation and dump valves

To offset elevated buoyancy as you ascend (keep in mind that fuel expands as strain drops) it is advisable to take away air out of your BCD sometimes to stay neutrally buoyant.

You deflate your BCD utilizing the deflate button in your LPI or by means of the dump valves. Most BCDs have a dump valve on the right-hand shoulder and on the rear of the BCD, once more on the right-hand aspect.

Getting your personal scuba diving gear may really feel like an enormous plunge, however when you’re suited and booted, you’ll discover that having your personal gear is fantastic. Most divers really feel extra snug in personal stuff and this holds true for BCDs particularly. Do your analysis and check out a number of before you purchase for the most effective outcomes, and you could end up diving increasingly more as soon as your gear matches you nicely.

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