A buoyancy compensator is one of the most important piece of equipment in the diving career. There are quite a few styles out there and choosing one is a very important step to having a lot more comfort and stability while diving.
A bcd is a jacket that a diver puts on to not only make the diver comfortably float in the water but also make the diver hang in the water or above the bottom in a neutrally buoyant position. The BCD has a bladder on the inside that the diver can fill with air. Some BCD’s have replaceable bladders where others have integrated bladders that cannot be replaced and is part of the BCD as one single unit.
What is a BCD for? A bcd has a inflation valve on the left hand shoulder, if you press the button you will start going up, if you start to deflate then you will start going down. For a diver to make a safe accent the air on the inside of the BCD must be released while swimming up because of the air that expands inside the bladder as the pressure changes. A BCD makes the diver maintain perfect trim without touching the bottom/surface.
Having a look at the traditional side inflation BCD is comfortable but very big. This particular BCD is made for beginners and specifically made for easy donning and doffing. When inflating the BCD a few users have found that the BCD becomes very uncomfortable and restricts their breathing; however most users have no problem using the traditional style BCD. It is one piece of equipment that is not that expensive and also not that hard to maintain.
The latest trend is all about “wing” style bcd where the air is no longer inflating around you but primarily on your back, this gives the diver a lot more room to move and also the diver feels less restricted while diving. The stability is greatly increased as well as the carrying capacity of the cylinder weight. This particular BCD will be strapped to your back by 2 shoulder straps as well as a strap that comes through your legs and around your waist to give the back plate no room for movement.
Traditional BCD have a soft foam/rubber back plate that is easy for squishing it into a bag while traveling. The wing style BCD has a stainless/aluminium back plate that works with a 1 strap webbing system that also gives the diver more stability and a very comfortable fit. With the traditional BCD you can adjust the straps and the size is moderate to the length of the straps. The wing/ back plate setup can be adjusted but it takes time and once it is set, you have it adjusted to 1 person only, and it is quite difficult to adjust the BCD when the diver has it on. Wing/Back plate setups can get the optional side pocket for weights where most of the traditional ones has them included in the BCD itself. To have integrated pockets makes your life as a diver a lot more comfortable and also you can fine tune the amount of weight that you wear. Wing/back plate setups are more for the experienced divers, not because it requires some skill to dive with, but mostly because the traditional BCD is inexpensive and most of the bands have some form of set/kit out that you as a newbie can buy for very cheap.