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5 Best Travel BCDs (2022)

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For scuba divers that fly with their gear often, a travel BCD is an absolutely essential part of your diving equipment. It makes life easier and it is always nice to have your own gear to get the most out a dive trip.

Something that is easy to pack, compact and lightweight for those last-minute dashes for the final call at the boarding gate!

AT A GLANCE: OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST TRAVEL BCDs

If you’re looking for other options to take on your next trip, then check out our reviews of the best BCDs for recreational diving, the best back-inflate BCDs, and the best BCDs for women

Keep reading for our expert reviews of the best travel BCDs.

Best BCDs For Travel

Our Favourite TravelPac T4000 BCD on white background
  • Configuration: All-in-one harness and wing
  • Features: Chest strap, one standard strap with a stainless steel buckle, and a 1.5 in (3.8 cm) crotch strap.
  • Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz (2.6 kg)
  • Price: High

If you’re an experienced diver who dives mainly dives in caves and caverns or want to try something different then the perfect BCD pick for you would be the Dive Rite Travel-Pack. The big attraction of this BCD is that it is highly customizable so you can add and make it truly unique. 

This device features a metal backplate and wing, along with a fully adjustable diving harness structured by flexible webbing. It also has a 360-degree donut wing that inflates evenly and won’t tip you over on the surface.

What’s more, is that the shoulder straps can be easily adjusted to fit your size comfortably and are held still by a crotch strap. A crotch strap represents an extra piece of webbing that prevents your equipment from riding up.

The dive-rite is a very streamlined BCD that puts buoyancy where it is needed to give you horizontal trim along the torso and mid-section by evenly distributing the weight of the tank. It’s one of the most lightweight BCDs on the market. Thus, you can carry it wherever you go smoothly. When it is dry it weighs under 5 lbs (2.3 kg).

What we love

  • Highly customisable design
  • Very durable
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Camera strap included

Downsides

  • Quite expensive

with Worldwide Shipping

with Free US Shipping (Over $50)

High durable zeaglescout travel BCD on white background
  • Configuration: Flexible backplate with integrated weights
  • Features: Two zippered utility pockets
  • Weight: 6.7 lbs (3kg)
  • Price: Mid to High

When it comes down to exceptional comfort, you can’t go wrong with the Zeagle Scout BCD. The device lays against your body and curves snugly, especially on the shoulders and hips. It’s a low-profile design and extra padding and a flexible backplate to keep you comfortable and streamlined in the water and on the surface. 

This makes your dive trips enjoyable and convenient. It features the traditional weight system, which is quite decent in terms of stability and security. The uniqueness of this BCD stems from its extra pockets, which keep your dive accessories such as scuba cameras within hands reach. It also has the option for waist and torso straps that can be adjusted. The cumberbund can be adjusted to three different positions for your comfort. 

Moreover, the jacket is designed to dry quickly, and it can be easily packed in the carrying tote in a couple of seconds. It is easy to open and can just pour or add water to the back to rinse it out after use. The quick disconnect mechanism where you can attach the first stage is easy to use as well.

What we love

  • Zeagle’s lightest and most compact BCD
  • 4 Stainless-steel D rings
  • 24-lb lift capacity
  • Quick-drying

Downsides

  • Can be quite small
  • Pockets are in the back and out of reach to the diver

with Worldwide Shipping

with Free US Shipping (Over $50)

Lightest travel BCD oceanic biolite on white background
  • Configuration: Ultra-lightweight BCD with integrated weights
  • Features: Dual 2.25 kg tank band with non-drop weight pocket
  • Weight: 5 lbs 5 oz (2.5 kg)
  • Price: High

The Oceanic Biolite BCD is the perfect buoyancy device for those who love to dive no matter the weather conditions. It has a bio-flex material that stretches well and is combined with the adjustable straps on the shoulder allowing it to fit to all body types. 

What’s more, is that due to its lack of backplate and plastic rays, the BCD becomes exceptionally lightweight. That bio flex material is used in the air bladder as well to make them smaller so that it is less bulky and reduces drag and improves your buoyancy when used correctly. 

This actually makes carrying it very easy, you can fit it in your backpack without any issues and with a weight of just over five pounds (2.5 kg), it will pack away easily and can even go in your carry-on. 

However, the jacket lacks any extra pockets. To compensate for this, the Oceanic Biolite BCD comes with various D-rings that keep all your accessories in hand’s reach.

What we love

  •  Right shoulder carabiner adjustable positioning system
  • Generous soft pad
  • Self-adjusting sternum strap
  • Lightweight and can be folded for travel

Downsides

  • Weight system cannot hold too much weight
  • The two D-rings are made of plastic

with Worldwide Shipping

with Free US Shipping (Over $50)

Beginner travel Scuba Pro Go BCD on white background
  • Configuration: Jacket style BCD with integrated weights
  • Features: 6 aluminum d rings and 2 large, easy access zippered pockets
  • Weight: 5 lbs 5 oz (2.6 kg)
  • Price: High

You just got certified as a diver, and you’re looking for the perfect buoyancy device to suit your needs. If that’s the case, then you can’t go wrong by picking the Scubapro GO BCD. Also, make sure you get yourself a dive computer for effortless dives.

It weighs only 6 pounds (2.5 kg), which makes the carrying process effortless. It comes with a backplate, which can be easily folded. Therefore, the device can fit in a backpack or your carry-on without any issues. When it comes to comfort, the adjustable swiveling straps make your dive endeavors enjoyable and convenient.

The tank strap and clamp on the back it near the bottom of the jacket to keep the weight around the hips instead of the shoulders (which is good). There is also a Velcro strap up toward the top of the jacket to keep the tank where it is supposed to be. 

Moreover, the jacket delivers plenty of storage. It comes with an outstanding buckled-in weight system, which makes you stable and secure. To justify your buying decision, this jacket comes with a travel bag for more comfortable transportation.

What we love

  • Travel sack included
  • Easily fit into cabin baggage
  • Integrated weight system
  • Comfortable, one size fits all design

Downsides

  • Quite expensive
  • Not as light as the other options, but still very light!

with Worldwide Shipping

with Free US Shipping (Over $50)

most versatile oceanic jetpack travel bcd on white background
  • Configuration: Back inflation with integrated weight pockets
  • Features: 2 Stainless-steel D-rings
  • Weight: 6lbs 25oz 2.84 kg
  • Price: High
 

If you love to travel to the outdoors and consider yourself a “diver on the go,” then the Oceanic Jetpack BCD will definitely suit your needs. This BCD is suitable for backpackers (within reason) and can be actually converted into a travel bag where you can store all of your other equipment (fins, dive computer, etc.). It is the first of its kind and is very innovative. 

What’s more, is that it comes with adjustable straps that snug perfectly against your body curvature. This makes your dive endeavor quite comfortable.  It does weigh over 8lbs (3.75 kg) but it boasts an impressive 42 liters of space in it. The bag also has two external pockets for separating your stuff. 

 After you’ve finished your diving trip, a few folds are what separate the BCD from becoming a carrying tote. It is made of quick dry material as well so you don’t have to worry about that after your last dive. On the Scuba diving side, it still has a trusted power inflator and is equipped with an internal bump cable to the dump valves. The other handy thing is that the weight pockets can be moved to suit your needs.

What we love

  • Doubles as a BCD and a day bag
  • Can be carried like a backpack
  • Quick-drying
  • Ergonomic design
  • Rapid deflation

Downsides

  • No D-rings
  • When fully packed with dive gear, is unlikely to fit into overhead cabin

with Worldwide Shipping

How To Choose The Best Travel BCD

When choosing a BCD for travel, there are a few things to bear in mind. Not every BCD will be the best one for you, so to help you decide we’ve put together a guide on choosing the best travel BCD for you.

Style

BCDs come in various styles like the wing and the jacket (which is the most common) and a hybrid of both of them is also very popular. A back inflate BCD has air bladders just on the back and not the sides, so the tank will just sit on top of it. 

You will see most travel BCDs are back-inflated style and that is because back inflates BCDs are much less bulky. They tend to be lighter and much easier to pack in your luggage or backpack than other styles of BCDs

Back-inflated BCDs are more streamlined and a lot easier to travel due to their lightweight and easy-to-pack design.

Jacket-style BCDs fit over the shoulders and are secured at the waist and chest, just like an actual jacket. The air bladders will sit behind and on both sides of the diver. They are the most common type of BCD.

There are a plethora of differences between jacket BCDs and back inflate BCDs. One is that the back-inflated BCDs don’t constrict your chest as much as a jacket so, for some, this is more comfortable but this slows down the deflation time

Dry Weight

When it comes to travel-friendly items, they should preferably be as light as possible. This will ensure ease of travel and you can potentially take your BCD as carry-on luggage and if not it will still be able to go into your luggage without having to buy more weight to comply with the airline’s rules. 

Just remember that lighter doesn’t necessarily mean better if a BCD is too light that might mean it might be made of low-quality and non-durable material. With new materials, they have some very light ones that are sturdy, but they are very expensive but could be a good fit if you have the funds.

Fit

How a BCD fits is one of the most important things to take into account when choosing a BCD. A BCD should fit snugly around the chest and waist, but not too tight that it constricts your movement. A correctly fitting BCD is vital for your comfort during a dive. Remember when the BCD is totally empty it should not get twisted around you and you will want one that has a lot of clips and straps to customize to your needs. 

Lift Capacity

The lift capacity is how much weight a BCD can compensate for underwater. If you dive in warm water, the lift may not be a major concern when it comes to choosing your BCD. If you do dive in cooler waters with a lot of weight you will need to offset the weight.

If the BCD does not have enough lift it will make your face and shoulders drop in the water when on the surface. On the other hand, too little lift can give you issues underwater as you will become less buoyant when going deeper. When in doubt go with more lift for safety and comfort.

Weight System

You will see most BCDS coming out with an integrated weight system. While some have plastic trays and locking handles to hold the weight in place, others will have buckles that have a quick-release system. It really doesn’t matter as long as you know how to use the system and that it works correctly. 

Most lightweight BCDs usually don’t have weight integration due to saving space and less weight. They also aren’t easy to fold or roll into your case. So you will need to bring or get a weight belt at your destination.  

Diving Environment

Most divers like to go on vacation in tropical places as they live-in cooler environments in the winter. When you are shopping for a travel BCD, keep all the diving environments that you want to visit in your mind. 

If you do go to cooler waters or in rough currents you will want some good lift. In technical diving or in wrecks and caves with overhead environments, you will want a  back-inflating BCD.

Pockets and D-Rings

Pockets and rings are essential for travel-orientated gear, the more you have the easier it is to attach things and organize your setup. This issue will arise in that a lot of travel BCDs don’t have them to save weight as metal D-Rings weight a bit and are not compactable.

Pockets

Pockets make life easier to carry all your gear like a flashlight, dive knife, SMB, etc. Internal storage pouches usually have a Velcro or a zipper to close them. Nice ones even expand or roll out for extra space. Most travel BCDs are designed with very little storage (to save space and weight) you will want at least one pocket that closes for some of your gear. I like having dive pants as well with pockets to make up for it.

Cleanability

Caring for your BCD will make it last longer and extend its usability of it. Salt and sun destroy everything and even a little bit of salt water can damage the BCD. Some styles have a port on the air bladder that can be connected to a hose for easier cleaning. An easy opening gives you air circulation and will speed it up getting dry.

Male Or Female

Most BCDs are unisex, and it says they are made for both men and women. Just because it says that it is unisex does not always mean that it is. Obviously men and women are built differently, so make sure you try it on. 

However, a BCD’s fit is key for a comfortable dive. A women’s cut is narrower at the shoulders and wider in the hips than a man’s. They are making more BCs for  female divers and for  more information on BCDs for women, check out our review of the 5 best BCDs for women

Frequently Asked Questions

A travel BCD is much more lightweight and compact than standard BCD’s.

When traveling, especially for dive trips you need to take an airplane for, having a dive BCD that is light, compact and easily packed away will make your trip a lot easier.

When it comes to servicing your travel BCD, the safest bet is to service it either once a year or after 80-100 dives.

If you are diving frequently and in salt water, you may want to service your travel BCD more regularly.

A scuba BCD is a vest-like fitted jacket, or back inflated wing, that connects to your scuba tank through your low pressure hose.

The BCD  has an inflatable air bladder that is inflated and deflated depending on the situation to help you to maintain proper buoyancy in the water and on the surface. 

Yes you can, they are just lighter but usually still made be durable. I know a lot of people that use them for everyday diving. If you are instructing though I wouldn’t recommend it. 

One of your top concerns should be to take care of the BCD, besides keeping it dry, out of the sun and salt free check with the user manual of your BCD for specific maintenance information.

Traveling with scuba gear may sound like a stressful situation at first… But with modern technology and new, improved designs, it’s never been easier!

Now you can have the comfort and confidence of having your own scuba gear that you are familiar with and fits you well anywhere in the world.

Have you ever traveled with scuba gear?

Let us know in the comments below!

 

  • Welcome

    My name’s Austin Tuwiner, a PADI Divemaster based in South Florida. With nearly 10 years of diving under my belt, I’ve accumulated the knowledge to help readers become better divers, buy their next piece of gear, and plan their dream dive vacation!

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