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Cressi Gear Guide: Buoyancy Compensators (BCDs)

Your BCD is like the foundation of a house — the structural stability of a home depends on a well-constructed foundation. The same is true of one of the most important purchases you’ll make when assembling your dive kit — your BCD is a critical, life-support piece of equipment that holds your tank in a stable position, floats you comfortably when you’re on the surface of the water, aids you in achieving neutral buoyancy at any depth, and usually provides pockets and D-rings to help stash other important items. As with all other scuba gear, a good fit is critical. Your BCD should fit you snugly but not squeeze you when inflated. It also should be appropriate for the type of diving you do and your personal preference for the type of BCD — classic jacket-style, back-inflation, travel or rental. We’ve organized our BCDs by type so that you can make an informed purchasing decision based on the type of diving you do and your individual needs. 

Travel BCDs

Want a jacket-style BCD that travels well but still offers lots of features? At 6 pounds, the ultralight Travelight does not sacrifice quality nor performance.

Constructed from lightweight yet durable 210 denier nylon, it has details that most other travel BCs don’t have, such as a padded backpack, trim pockets, 10 alloy D-rings, two zippered pockets and an easy-ditch weight system.

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Want a jacket-style BCD that travels well but still offers lots of features? At 6 pounds, the ultralight Travelight does not sacrifice quality nor performance.

Constructed from lightweight yet durable 210 denier nylon, it has details that most other travel BCs don’t have, such as a padded backpack, trim pockets, 10 alloy D-rings, two zippered pockets and an easy-ditch weight system.

In ScubaLab testing, the Travelight Lady won both a ScubaLab Testers Choice and a Best Buy.  

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Jacket Style BCDs

The Aquaride earned a ScubaLab Testers Choice Award for its standout performance. It comes in a wide range of sizes and offers precise adjustability. And what a sweet, streamlined ride underwater — the Aquaride keeps your tank secure, has six stainless-steel D-rings for essentials and the Flat-Lock-Aid integrated weight pockets that load and ditch easily. Currently only available in Blue.

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The Patrol may sport a stripped-down, featherweight design, but you’ll love that it’s still packed with features. The air cell compression strap gives you efficient inflation and deflation control. The ultralight rigid backplate keeps you stable and the shoulder and waist harnesses are fully adjustable. The Patrol features Cressi’s Flat-Lock-Aid integrated weight pockets.

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Back-Inflation BCDs

The Patrol may sport a stripped-down, featherweight design, but you’ll love that it’s still packed with features. The air cell compression strap gives you efficient inflation and deflation control. The ultralight rigid backplate keeps you stable and the shoulder and waist harnesses are fully adjustable. The Patrol features Cressi’s Flat-Lock-Aid integrated weight pockets.

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Another ScubaLab Testers Choice Award and Best Buy winner, the Scorpion has a flexible backplate, lightweight harness and tightly bungeed air cell that give you a streamlined profile and freedom of movement. Though it boasts an impressively lightweight and streamlined design, it provides 33 pounds of lift (in the medium, large and extra-large sizes), roomy cargo pockets, and integrated weights that hold up to 20 pounds.  

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Heavy Duty BCDs

Sometimes, basic is best, especially for beginner divers. Designed primarily as a rental BCD, the non-weight-integrated Start is a classic jacket-style BC made from 1000 and 500 denier nylon fabric that is highly durable. The Start offers a nice range of adjustability so that divers can get a perfect fit. It has a padded backpack and carry handle, two large cargo pockets and four D-rings. 

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If you’re a new diver looking for weight integration in your BCD, the Start Pro offers that and more. It uses fold-up gravity drop-weight pockets instead of easily lost pouches and provides excellent ascent control, stability and adjustability, all of which contribute to a new diver’s confidence.  

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The integrated-weight Quartz is made from 500 denier nylon and is a popular rental BCD choice. The buckle on the sternum attachment that doubles as a safety whistle and the colored reinforcement band on the upper back to make the diver more visible are safety features.  

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This rugged BCD is practically indestructible, making it perfect as a rental BCD. The outer fabric is 500 denier nylon and the inner is 420 denier nylon. It offers good buoyancy control, a colored reinforcement band on the upper back to enhance visibility in the water, and a buckle on the sternum attachment that also serves as a safety whistle. 

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Made from 500 denier Cordura, this rugged jacket-style BC has been a favorite of dive schools and dive resorts for many years — and for good reason. It offers loads of padding, a contoured cummerbund that’s secured with a two-inch double-pull overstrap, Cressi’s Lock-Aid weight system, and metal D-rings and large, deep cargo pockets to store accessories. When ScubaLab tested it, test team divers also loved its stability at depth and on the surface.

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