A buoyancy compensator also called a buoyancy control device, BC, BCD, stabilizer, stabilisor, stab jacket, wing or ABLJ depending on design, is a piece of diving equipment containing a bladder which is worn by divers to establish neutral buoyancy underwater and positive buoyancy on the surface, when needed. The buoyancy is controlled by adjusting the volume of air in the bladder. The bladder is filled with gas from the diver’s air tank or from the diver’s mouth.
Back inflation BCD
Back inflation buoyancy compensators are typified by the stainless steel backplate and wing arrangement popular with technical divers, but other arrangements are also available. Wings or Backplate and wing consist of an inflatable bladder worn between the diver’s back and the cylinder(s). Invented by Greg Flanagan in 1979 for North Florida cave divers, the back plate and wing configuration is not a recent development, but has regained popularity because of suitability for technical diving where it is often used, as the technical diver often carries multiple cylinders on his back and/or clipped to D-rings on the harness webbing. The bladder and cylinders or rebreather are fastened to a backplate which is strapped to the diver by the harness. The wing design frees the divers sides and front and allows for a large volume bladder with high lift capacity (60 lbs /30 liter wings are not uncommon). Some designs use elasticated webbing or bungee cords around the bladder to constrict the bladder when not inflated, although there is dispute as to the wisdom of this addition.
Other back inflation buoyancy compensators are more like the jacket style regarding the structure, attachment to the diver, and accessories, differing mainly in the bladder position, which is similar to a wing, being entirely behind the diver, without extensions to the sides or front.
A few short-lived rigid air compartment back inflation BCs were marketed in the 1970s.
A hybrid arrangement is also possible, which has most of the buoyancy in the back, but has a small amount to the sides below the arms.
Doing It Right (DIR) is a holistic approach to scuba diving that encompasses several essential elements, including fundamental diving skills, teamwork, physical fitness, and streamlined and minimalistic equipment configurations. DIR proponents maintain that through these elements, safety is improved by standardizing equipment configuration and dive-team procedures for preventing and dealing with emergencies.
DIR evolved out of the efforts of divers involved in the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) during the 1990s, who were seeking ways of reducing the fatality rate in those cave systems. The DIR philosophy is now used as a basis for teaching scuba diving from entry-level to technical and cave qualifications by several organizations, such as Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), Unified Team Diving (UTD) and Inner Space Explorers (ISE).
Side Mount BCD
A variation on the back mounted buoyancy compensator is used without a backplate for side mount diving This arrangement is functionally similar to wearing the buoyancy compensator sandwiched between the cylinder(s) and backplate, but there is no backplate or back mounted cylinder. The buoyancy cell may be mounted between the sidemount harness and the diver, or on top of the harness.
Sidemount is a scuba diving equipment configuration which has diving cylinders mounted alongside the diver, below the shoulders and along the hips, instead of on the back of the diver. It began as a configuration popular with advanced cave divers, as smaller sections of cave can be penetrated and tanks can be changed with greater ease. The same benefits for operating in confined spaces were also recognized by divers who conducted technical wreck diving penetrations.
Sidemount diving is now growing in popularity within the technical diving community for general decompression diving,and is becoming an increasingly popular specialty training for recreational diving, with several diver certification agencies offering recreational and technical level sidemount training programs.
When we made the decision to become scuba diving instructors we knew we would need to invest in our own set of scuba equipment. To be able to go on diving trips around the world it needed to be compact and relatively light. One of the largest pieces of gear we would need to buy was a BCD (buoyancy control device). Traditional BCDs are bulky and heavy so packing them into our panniers would be a problem.
Our solution was a light weight travel BCD.
As with most equipment, ultralight usually translates to less durable and limited features. As scuba instructors, our gear gets used frequently so we couldn’t trade cutting a few pounds for a BCD that wouldn’t last. After hours of research we came across the model AUDAXPRO Travel BCD. We have been using it for over a year now and overall we are happy with them.
The Perfect BCD to Travel and Dive