How to Choose Your BC

The choice of a BC makes more of difference to your diving comfort than any other bit of kit save for the cylinder.

Your diving comfort depends on reducing drag. We want a BC with the smallest drag profile we can find. Most BCs in SA are far too big and have far too much lift with the downside that they are high profile/high drag BCs.

Size

What you need is the smallest, most compact BC you can find. Wear the smallest size you can fit into.
As long as the Velcro strap goes around the bod… it will fit.
An oversized BC will ruin your diving as much as an oversized cylinder.

Back inflation

The air does not continue around the front. These tend to be more stable on a dive and won’t squeeze you as much when you inflate them.

Wing BCs

Have a wing on the back and nothing on the front. This makes them clean and comfortable to wear.
BUT…. The wing is not at all streamlined and it is a very high drag BC (like having a rubber duck strapped to your back) They are also good at counteracting the rolling of a steel cylinder.

Integrated weights

The idea is good, means that you might not require a weight belt at all.  The downside?  The weight system bulks up the BC in the front increasing the drag. The whole set becomes a weightlifters nightmare. The pockets get dropped with amazing frequency and cost 2 arms and 2 legs. If need to drop weights in an emergency a weight belt is far safer.

Lastly if you want to snorkel with dolphins….. well you can’t!

Inflator/deflator/side controls

A nice feature that does away with the big corrugated hose. They are very prone to corrosion and expensive to service.

Material Thickness

Look for the thickest material as these BCs will last.

Streamline features

Low profile pockets and places to tuck in gauges, knives and octos are nice to have.

Blingy Bits

Many BCs will look great when they are new with all sorts of colour bits and bobs. However after a year or two these tend to scratch tear and perish.

All in all a small, compact, hardy, simple BC is by far the best choice and are not nearly as expensive as their bigger and blingier cousins.