Buoyancy compensator devices or BCDs are essential for controlling your buoyancy when diving. BCDs are also known as a stab vest or stab jacket due to their stabilizing properties. In layman’s terms BCDs help to control your elevation and descent in the water which makes them easy to recommend if you want to get the most out of your diving trip and explore the depths.
There are essentially two types of BCDs available, jackets and dive wings. BCD jackets are recommended for beginner to intermediate divers and provide evenly distributed buoyancy around your torso. Dive wings on the other hand are designed just to provide buoyancy to the rear of the wearer. Dive wings are great for the experienced diver as they leave your chest free which can be used as valuable space for storing extra gear and equipment. For beginner or inexperienced divers dive wings may be difficult to use as the buoyancy provided solely to the rear will make a diver point face down when surfacing which can become distressing and disorientating to the uninitiated.
Like all diving equipment the fitting of your BCD is essential to ensure you can move safely and comfortably underwater. When choosing a BCD it is important to take into account the other gear you are going to be using with it and specifically your diving suit. If you have an overly large diving suit compared to your usual measurements for clothes make sure the sizing of your BCD compensates for this. This may sound obvious but it is better to ensure the sizing of all your equipment matches before you head out for your first dive.
BCDs are also available specifically for women which is worth bearing in mind. BCDs for women are designed to fit women specifically and feature a shorter back compared to the male counterparts and also do not include chest straps which can become restrictive and uncomfortable around a woman’s chest.