THE BEST BCDS OF 2016
Neil Hope's round-up of the best BCDs in 2016
AP Diving Travelwing
Manufactured using a combination of 800 and 1000 denier Cordura, AP Diving's Travelwing is a hard-wearing, durable BCD that tips the scales at just under 3kg. Providing 14.5 kg of lift, the jacket has a pair of integrated weight pouches that offer a total capacity of 10kg or by dispensing with the on-board weights the BC's fold-out stowage pockets provide a useful capacity of 1.5 litres on each side. A total of nine aluminium D-rings - four at the waist, three at the shoulder and two located within the pockets – mean there are plenty of attachment points for accessories, while the soft, padded backpack and adjustable cummerbund provide comfort when diving with or without a suit. The Travelwing is fitted with a low profile power inflator, has three dump valves plus a single cylinder cam-band and is available in two sizes: small/medium and large/XL.
Custom Divers S40
Custom Divers' S40 is a wing system primarily designed for rear-mounted twin cylinder diving but is also compatible with most rebreather units and by utilising an optional adapter can be adapted for single tank use. The single-bladder flexible 1000 Cordura fabric wing provides 40lbs of lift and has four routing slots plus a number of retaining tabs for tidy configuration of hoses and gauges. The non-breaking, three-part harness is dressed with shoulder pads for comfort, is fully adjustable to fit all sizes and is fully assembled complete with four 45-degree D-rings and a crotch/scooter D-ring. A choice of stainless steel or aluminium backplates provides a total system weight, including harness, of 4.6 kg or 3kg respectively with a number of optional accessories ranging from back pads to pockets to an integrated weight system.
Taking on board the results of a detailed surveyby 300 female divers, Oceanic's design team created their ultimate women's-specific BCD, the Hera. With a patented Custom Fit Harness, and multi-position straps combined with a hybrid, rear-inflation, wrap-around air cell, the Hera offers individual comfort for women of all shapes and sizes. Constructed from lightweight but durable 500/1000-denier Cordura, the jacket features a padded backpack, additional lumbar support and a woven elastic depth-adjusting cummerbund. A pair of easy-access, large zippered pockets provide more than ample storage while Oceanic's QLR (Quick Lock & Release) integrated weight system, alongside two rear trim weight pockets, allows fine-tuning of buoyancy. The Hera has Oceanic's Reliant Integrated Inflator fitted as standard, with the option to upgrade to the Air XS alternate air source inflation system, has three dump valves, four stainless steel D-rings plus retractor and knife attachment points. The BCD is available in four sizes sizes from Extra Small to Large.
The WSX-25 is a feature-rich side-mount harness system complete with crotch strap, D-rings, bungee and accessory butt pack. With an Armoguard bladder ten times more abrasion-resistant than standard Cordura, this one-size-fits-all wing is designed to stand up to the harshest of conditions. A two-piece stainless steel plate system is adjustable to almost any torso length and the 2” pre-assembled individual webbing sections provide quick and simple adjustment. A pair of Apek's new 'Slidelock' sliding D-rings allow the diver to easily reposition cylinders as their buoyancy changes without having to clip on and off during the dive. Providing 27lbs of lift, the WSX-25 also benefits from a reversible left-or-right side mounted inflator along with a variety of D-rings for attachment of buoys, reels and other accessories. The zippered butt pack has steel snap hooks included, while the spine strap mounted weight pouches (9kg capacity) are adjustable via a pair of grommet strips. Also included are two sizes of bungee and five stainless steel bolt snaps.
Best for...Recreational Divers
Seac Sub Pro 100 HD
Aimed firmly and squarely at the recreational diver, Seac Sub's Pro 100 HD is a traditional, unisex, jacket-style BCD. Offering an all-round lift of between 11.2 kg and 18.3kg across its five sizes the 100 HD is constructed with an inner bladder of Cordura 500 and outer bladder of PU-coated Cordura 1000. With roomy YKK zippered pockets, the jacket also features a long backplate with an ergonomic grip and anatomic inserts for maximum comfort. The BCD is fitted with a 'sphere control' power inflation system and has a total of three dump valves, one each at the shoulder, inflator and lower back. Seac's effective Q&S (Quick & Secure) integrated weight system will carry up to 4kg of lead in each of its two quick-release pouches, and the BC also provides four 1' stainless steel D-rings, a knifeslip, plus a useful 'back-up' slot for stowage of an alternate air source or instrumentation.