Female divers know that BCDs designed for men rarely fit properly, as with much generic scuba gear. There are many benefits to outfitting yourself with gear made specifically for women, including your BCD. A good fit underwater means you’ll have a safer, more relaxed dive. If you’re a woman in the market for your first BCD or just for a new one, here’s a list of our picks for the top five women’s BCDs on the market today.
Aqua Lung Pearl
The Aqua Lung Pearl is a bestseller among women’s BCDs, and for good reason. This jacket-style BCD features a back-inflation unit so you can float on the surface without sacrificing any streamlining during your dive. The BC comes in a wide range of sizes to fit most female divers and features an integrated weight system as well. On the previous models the zipper for the storage pockets was a bit small to maneuver with gloves, but the company has changed this for the 2016 version.
The Pearl also comes with the standard Aqua Lung inflator and flat dump valves, easy to use for most people. This Pearl is a solid choice for all experience levels.
Pros: Comfort, weight system, range of sizes
Cons: Not enough D-rings
Cressi Ultralight Lady
The latest travel BCD from Cressi, the back-inflate Ultralight Lady, ticks all the boxes as a good travel companion. The medium weighs only 4.4 pounds (2 kg) is foldable, has a padded back, integrated weights and a bit of discreet lilac piping for the ladies. This is one of the lightest BCDs on the market. It has four plastic rings (no metal ones) and only one hideaway pocket, so storage space is limited. But, if you’re going on vacation somewhere warm and you want to bring your own BCD, the Cressi is a perfect choice.
Pros: Lightweight and easily packable
Cons: No pockets, no shoulder dump valve
Every woman using the Mares Kaila will rave about its comfort. The BC features a plush lining with a padded back and collar, as well as an elastic cummerbund. The Kaila also has a distinct look that a lot of female divers will find attractive. It’s not the best choice for the traveling diver, however, weighing in around 8.8 pounds (4 kg). The weight-lock system takes up a lot of space and therefore pocket space is very limited when using integrated weights. But if comfort matters more than weight, then the Kaila is a great choice.
Pros: Stylish look, quite comfortable
Cons: Bulky weight system, limited pocket space, heavy
The Scubapro Bella’s exclusive wraparound air-bladder design provides great stability when the BCD is inflated at the surface. It keeps you well-balanced underwater as well, and less reliant on trim weights. The weight system is very flexible with integrated pockets at the front and trim pockets at the back, should you need them. The Bella also has six metal rings, quite convenient for clipping on gadgets. On top of the two pockets on each side there is also a small zipped one on the cummerbund. This model is available with a standard inflator or the AIR2 system. Like other Scubapro models, I found the shoulder straps to be quite wide and maybe not great for smaller divers, and at 8.6 pounds (3.9 kg) for the medium, it might be a bit heavy for traveling.
Pros: Versatile weight system, plenty of pockets and six metal rings
Cons: Heavy, potentially uncomfortable for small divers
The Zeagle Zena is lightweight, foldable and a good choice for travel. This is a full back-inflation system. Its most innovative feature is the zip-jacket system: The front panel is attached to the BCD’s back panel via three adjustable straps. Once you have the BCD on it and the front panel is zipped, you just adjust the straps around waist and ribs to personalize your fit. The Zena, which weighs 6.2 pounds (2.8 kg), also has four metal rings and an integrated-weight system with side pockets and trim pockets on the tank straps. It also comes with one small detachable and foldable mesh pocket. Because it’s such a different configuration, this BCD is probably not the best choice for beginners, but is great for experienced divers who want to travel light.
Pros: Lightweight, fully adjustable, customized fit, available in a wide choice of colors, including personalized
Cons: Few pockets, no shoulder dump-valve