Guide to Buying a BCD Jacket or BCD wings

by spotmydive


What is a BCD?

The BCD is one of the most important diving gear and nowadays it become totally essential for all scuba divers. The BCD Buoyancy control device is also called, BC, stabilizer, stab jacket, wing etc. and has different functions:

  • – Once inflated, you can float at the surface so you won’t drown ! You can also inflate your jacket in order to equip your equipment directly in the water.
  • – Underwater, the stabilizer is used to … stabilize yourself. You can adjust your buoyancy depending on your depth in order to do not sink and touch the sea floor or avoid going up to the surface.
  • – It also serves to hold the diving tank on your back.
  • – It allows to fix and take with you many diving accessories like a SMB, a dive lamp, a dive knife etc.

How does it work?

The diving jacket is connected to the air contained in the diving cylinder via the first stage of the regulator. A hose called direct system sends air at high pressure as soon as the diver uses the inflator. In order to evacuate the excess air contained in the vest, quick purges generally 2 are present at the top and bottom of the stab.


Due to the large number of models coming out each year, it is sometimes difficult for a beginner diver to know which one will be the most suitable for his practice and profile. Here are some tips to distinguish the main categories of BC:

Adjustable BCs

This model of dive stab so called because it has adjustable shoulder straps, is the most popular. It has many advantages, such as:

– Easy to wear

– No air on shoulders and chest

– Modular

– Easy to use

This kind of vest is perfect for all, from beginners to diving instructors. Models adapted to travel have emerged in recent years combining lightness and reduced size.

Price : from 200€ to 450€.

The most famous:

  • – Aquatec Professorinal Diver BCD
  • – Dragon Mares
  • – Hollis HD 200
  • – Cressi Ace
  • – Atomic Aquatics BC 1
  • – Scubapro Equalizer

Wrap around BCD

Very popular at its release, the main characteristic of this dive stab is to have a volume of air distributed over the entire surface wrapped body. Robust and with large pockets, it is mainly used by experienced divers and scuba instructors.
This jacket, has some disadvantages that will put some divers off. The first is that once inflated, the dive vest tends to compress the chest, feeling uncomfortable especially for women. Moreover this jacket is rather heavy, slightly more expensive and requires several adjustment dives before feeling comfortable ventral buoyancy.

between 500€ and 800 €.

The most famous:

  • – Master Jacket Scubapro

The wing and the dorsal stab

This model of diving stab is more and more famous especially for Tek Divers and Photographers. With the volume of air concentrated in the diver’s back, the torso and belly are totally free. The clamping sensation is thus independent of the inflation. These customizable and modular vest have another characteristic which is to keep the diver horizontal. It will therefore be necessary to take into account the fact that on the surface it is difficult to remain vertical.

The wing is a subtype of dorsal stab, originally designed for the needs of Tek divers. The advantage of this stab is to be completely modular, that is to say that each piece is interchangeable bladder, harness, back plate et.. This type of vest has also adapted to other diving practices such as caving or sidemount diving.

We personnaly tried the BC-924 Performance Dount Wings from Aquatec. First of all we were seduce by the design imitating the wing of a jet plane. Super easy to equip, very good for adjustability, stability, and comfort ! No surprise, since the harness has a nice range of adjustability. The wing was also impressive underwater thanks to his hydrodynamism almost no water resistance while diving. The BC-924 Performance Dount Wings from Aquatec is loaded with about every feature a BCD can have. But more impressive are the details: low profile valves to reduce drag and tangling, a streamlined, snake skeleton like inflator hose retainer, trim weight pockets, and heaby duty fabric 24lb Backmount/1680D Cordura.That wing came up with two different plates, a plastic and an iron one. Usually the back plate are really heavy, but aquatec patented a new system to propose a plastic plate really light and resistant, perfect for the travellers.

We totally loved that wings and recommand it strongly. If you want to order do not hesitate to visit there website.

between 500€ and 700€.

The most famous:

  • – Aquatec BC-924 Performance
  • – Dimension I3 Aqualung
  • – Aquatec
  • – WTX Apeks
  • – Donut Tecline

The Fenzy

Fenzy is a registered trademark derived from the company of Eugene Fenzy. Those jackets are not use that often and have an atypical appearance that looks a bit like a baby bib. The dive stab is independent of the back support where the dive bottle is positioned so that all the buoyancy is distributed on the belly. Today less and less brand are making this kind of BCs.


  • The air volume To float or adjust your buoyancy, your BC must be adapted to your morphology but also to the types of dives you want to do. The volume of air contained can vary from 10 to 30 liters depending on the model. Keep in mind that a small volume is less bulky, easier to handle and more reactive, but it may not be suitable for deep diving or for using multiple bottles.
  • The price varies greatly depending on the model. Be aware that an entry-level diving stabilizer vest is around 150 €
  • The sex is an important part in choosing your dive jacket. The male or female or even child models have a number of different specificities.
  • Comfort is one of the important criteria. On some models, thick padding is found on the arm straps but also around the neck to limit irritation. Finally, on others, a padded backsplash even protects your back.
  • Toughness is the guarantee of keeping as long as possible its diving equipment. Each model is assigned a given index in denier or cordura that allows you to know the strength of a vest. The higher the index, the stronger it is.
  • Pockets and rings are all ways of storing or fixing your various accessories like your octopus, your SMB of bearing, your knife or your dive lamp. The number, locations and volume of pockets are extremely variable depending on brands and models.

  • Removable weight pockets
    reinforcements will be perfect for divers who do not want to wear a weight belt anymore. The main advantage of the system is to better distribute the weight and thus to offer you an optimal hydrodynamic balance. Dropping your weight is extremely easy and quick.

  • Fastening systems
    of the dive tank via the vest are quite varied and allow divers to use from 6 liters to 15 liters tanks.
  • Drying time reduced can be handy if you are on the move and if you intend to dive only on the weekend. Travel stabs ensure quick drying.
  • The inflator which swells rapidly, ensures better reactivity on and under water. Different integrated systems exist on the market which will leave you a greater choice.
  • Quick purges
    Are an integral part of the dive vest. These safety devices make it possible to quickly empty the tank in the event of a too rapid rise. Be sure to check the number, position and quality of finish that differ according to the model.

Here you have all the cards in hand to choose. Good luck!

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