As a female diver, you’ve likely experienced frustrations with buoyancy control devices (BCDs) which are usually made with the male physique in mind. We know such devices can be too tight or uncomfortable with straps in the wrong places for women.
We understand. You shouldn’t have to settle for what you can find or what a dive shop has for rent. Your dive gear should be comfortable and reliable from the moment you put it on to the moment you take it off.
In this article we will:
- go over whether you should buy your own BCD;
- look at what you should consider when selecting the right BCD for you; and
- make our personal recommendations to the best BCDs for women with different needs in mind.
Who should buy a BCD?
If you are reading this article, chances are you fall into one of two camps. You are either an experienced diver looking to replace your BCD, or you are new to diving and buying your first BCD.
However if you are in the second camp, you may not need to buy one yet. A BCD is generally not one of the first pieces of equipment that you will buy as a new diver. They are bulky and heavy and take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Most likely, unless you do a lot of diving or are going through dive master training, you won’t need to take your own. So, if you are here looking for your first BCD, there are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How often do you plan to go diving?
- Are you traveling for advanced training (dive master, advanced open water, etc)?
- When you travel, do you like to go light and backpack or do you take a suitcase?
If you are going to be diving often, then a BCD might be a good investment. You will be using it often so you have a chance to become comfortable with it and you can save money on rental fees.
But, if you only dive a few times a year or every few years, then the BCDs you can rent from a dive shop will suffice. They may not be the most comfortable, but for the few dives you will be doing, they will do the job.
On the other hand, if you are doing advanced dive training, having your own equipment is essential. You want to be comfortable with your equipment and you want to know that it is always maintained correctly.
As for travel, if you are a backpacker, a BCD is not a great piece of dive equipment to be dragging around. There are a few exceptions to this with a few BCDs made specifically for backpackers. But, the vast majority of the best BCDs for women do not fall into this category. If you usually bring a suitcase when you travel, you will have a bit more room to work with.
What you should look for in a BCD
There are a few things to take into consideration which will make finding the right BCD much easier. These are:
- Weight of the BCD
- Where the straps are
- Integrated Weight Systems
- How many D-rings or extra pockets
Weight and Size
If you plan on traveling quite a bit and bringing your BCD with you, the lighter it is the better. You want to find something that packs up tight and doesn’t add too much weight to your checked in luggage because whilst there are a few things which you can carry on such as your regulator, dive computer, mask, and snorkel, your BCD will have to be packed into your checked bag which can add a lot of weight.
This can add significant costs to your trip. Excess baggage fees can be up to a hundred dollars or more on many major carriers. So, it is best to keep the size and weight to a minimum so that you can avoid the fees and use that money for what you love, diving.
Strap Location and Integrated Weight Systems
This is a major complaint that many women have with BCD’s. The straps are uncomfortable and getting to weight belts can be a problem.
Why? Because men’s and unisex BCD’s aren’t made for the many different shapes and sizes of women. This creates problems such as straps that dig into the chest. Or, longer back trim that can position the tank lower in an uncomfortable place. Not good.
Also, if the BCD doesn’t have an integrated weight system, you are going to be using a weight belt. These can dig into your hips further and can make moving around uncomfortable. Worst of all, you may have trouble getting to your weight belt in an emergency situation.
So, you want to look at your specific needs. Do you have a larger bust size? Best to get a BCD where the top straps are adjustable. This will allow you to move them around and avoid having pressure in the wrong areas.
Do you have larger hips? Then you probably want to get rid of the weight belt and find a BCD that has an integrated weight system. These are compartments on either side of the BCD which have an attachable pouch. Weights are added into the pouch and then clipped into the compartment.
The best part, in the event of an emergency, you don’t have to root around under your BCD to find the release clip. Instead, you pull out the pouches which hold the weights and drop them.
D-rings and Extra Pockets
Having extra pockets and D-rings is a major plus. There are a few extras which many divers like to go down with that can be a hassle to carry. These include:
- Dive Knives
- Dive Slates
- Dive Torches
- Dive Reels and Surface Markers
There is plenty more you might want to bring with you on a dive but these are the main items. If you are an experienced diver, you’ve already experienced not having enough D-rings. As a new diver, just wait.
The solution to this is to find a BCD that has at least one extra pocket for packing things and at least four D-rings. These extra D-rings can streamline your set up and improve your experience.
This is major. There are so many BCD’s out there that aren’t worth buying. At best, you’ll get a few dives before they start coming apart at the seams, or worse, blow open.
You need to make sure that whichever BCD you choose, it is going to last you for many years of diving. Part of this is going to be how well you maintain your it. But, having one made from quality material is important for long term use as well.
Remember that quality cost money. Don’t immediately go for the cheapest option. Go for the most durable. If this means that you have to shell out some extra money, it’s worth it. Afterall, you are trusting your life with this equipment.
The 5 Best BCDs For Women In 2019
Now that you know what to look for, let’s go over our list of the best BCDs for women in 2019. We’ve evaluated each one to make sure it fits the above criteria. We’ll go over the pros and cons of each BCD so that you can make a completely informed decision.
- Jacket-Style BC designed just for women with Weight Integration.
- Shoulder straps, Torso, Waist Band, Cummerbund, and Backpad all designed with the women's body in...
- Six (6) Stainless Steel D-Rings positioned throughout the BCD to hang accessories from.
- Two ditchable CQR3 weight pockets and two non-ditchable Trim Pockets.
- The Luna BCD is made by Sherwood Scuba, an American dive brand specializing in Life Support, Masks,...
We’re big fans of Sherwood products. In general, they use quality materials and their equipment is well put together. The Lun7 is no different and fits all the discussed criteria.
This is Sherwood’s newest version of their luna BCD. It is part of their Tiffany line of women’s scuba products. So, if you are into having matching equipment, this fits the bill. You can buy matching fins, mask, and snorkel extra.
- A unique hybrid design gives the best of both worlds; an ADV jacket style combined with a back...
- The advanced air cell design has sleeker, lower profile lobes and a shorter torso length create a...
- The low profile flat valves reduce drag when moving through the water
- SureLock IITM Mechanical Weight Release System (patented) – allows you to easily insert the weight...
- Adjustable, removable chest strap for personal comfort
Aqua Lung is a household name for divers and their Pearl BCD is one of the bestselling BCDs for women. That should tell you something. Women all over the world have chosen this BCD because of the comfort and durability it offers. It is definitely one of the first BCDs you should consider when looking for a new one.
Here is a video review of the PEARL.
#3 Zeagle Zena
- BCD, LP Quick-Disconnect Hose
- Zeagle Zena Women's BC
- Buoyancy System Designed for Woman
- Twin Waist & Hip Band System: Securely Position Weights & Buoyancy Below Waist Level Places it...
- Front Zippered Panels: Provide Outstanding Fit and Comfort
The Zena was designed with women in mind. The design is unique compared to most BCDs in that it has a zip up front as opposed to the traditional jacket. This is the lightest BCDs on our list which makes it an excellent option if you are looking for a BCD to travel with.
Here is a video review of the Zeagle Zena BCD.
- Designed and sized for women divers. Constructed of 420 denier nylon for light weight and...
- New Y-Fit shoulders with a triangular stainless steel ring balance the pressure on the body to...
- Four large pre-bent stainless steel D-rings, along with two smaller stainless D-rings, provide lots...
- Two large zippered pockets provide lots of cargo-carrying capability, plus are fitted with metal...
- Two rear trim pouches allow you to achieve a well-balanced swimming position. Quick-release...
This BCD has it all. It’s durable and comes with enough D-rings and pockets to pack everything you need on a dive. Combine that with the fact it’s made by Scubapro, one of the leading manufacturers of scuba equipment, and you have an awesome BCD you can use for years.
Here is a video review of the Scubapro Bella.
#5 TUSA Tina
- High-cut waist design
- Comfort back and shoulder padding
- Advanced weight loading system ((No Suggestions). III)
- New repositionable d-rings offer the ability to customize your TUSA bc's accessory attachment points
- Independent harness system
If you are looking for a durable BCD but have a tight budget, this is the one. The TUSA Tina combines quality and durability with comfort. It’s a great option if you are a new diver looking to buy your first BCD. The design is basic making it easy to use and maintain while still giving you the features you expect on a good BCD.
Here is a video review of the TUSA Tina.
Our recommendation for women’s best BCD is..
We recommend the Aqua Lung PEARL. It’s designed with women in mind and cut in a way that will be comfortable for women of all sizes. Unlike Zeagle Zena Women's BC, our second choice, it is easy to use for both new and experienced divers. Also, the price is reasonable for the level of quality you can expect from Aqua Lung products.
These five BCDs represent some of the best the market has to offer. But, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of BCD’s on the market made for women. Do you feel that we missed one? We love to hear from divers like you. Let us know in the comments if you have a recommendation for this list or if you have experience with one of these BCDs you would like to share.
This page was last updated on 2022-06-30. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI