Determining the best travel BCDs can be a bit of a challenge with so many to choose from on the market. I am a professional underwater photographer and my gear is very important to me and gets lots of wear and tear. I want gear that is durable over hundreds if not thousands of dives and as “travel” worthy as possible. There have been a number of great new lightweight or travel BCDs that have come out in the last several years and I have highlighted some of my favorites below.
When determining the best travel BCDs, I consider function first and then comfort. The Lightweight BCDs reviewed here provide a reasonable degree of function and along with great fit. The trade off on travel BCDs is usually limitations in storage pockets, lift (which is very important if you carry a lot of weight when you dive), security of your tank while you are diving, D-rings for optional gear and ride when you are on the surface of the water.
The BCDs listed below provide good form and function and a varying degree of optional features. Review the features of each and determine which best meets your needs. I think most divers will be happy with any of these BCDs and I would love to get your feedback as well.
The Aqua Lung Zuma is an ultra-light, weight-integrated, back inflation BCD that has everything you need, yet lacks weight and bulk. A size ML/LG weighs less than 2.2kg (4.75 lbs), with the airway and weight pockets included! Key features include:
Extremely lightweight to help eliminate those dreaded excess baggage fees. A size ML/LG weighs less than 2.2kg (4.75 lbs).
Great packability – flat or rolled. The ZUMA fits nicely, along with the rest of your dive kit into the Aqua Lung Departure carry-on bag
Innovative tank support system eliminates the need for a hard pack. The tank band has been lowered to integrate with the waistband. A valve strap pulls the top of the cylinder in towards your center of gravity. This relieves the shoulders and transfers the load to the hips. The bottom line is proper fit, comfort and stability. Be sure to try one on with a cylinder.
SureLock II Mechanical Weight Release System (patented) – provides a safe, single-pull release. Inserting weight is as simple as insert and “click”. With SureLock, your weights are secure in the BC. Once engaged, the only way to release the weight is to pull on the handle.
Only 4 sizes are all that’s needed to cover from XXS to XXL
Roll it up and stuff it – that’s the way to pack the Zeagle Covert, which rolls up like a newspaper and weighs just under 4 pounds. The new Covert BC is for those divers counting weight by the ounce and looking for uncompromising quality. Part of the popular and well known Ranger BC lineage, the Covert is for those looking for legendary “Ranger” toughness and durability in a compact travel BC. And at 3.9 lb, you no longer have to worry about travel weight restrictions. – See more at: https://www.zeagle.com/products-repository/bcds/products/covert#sthash.3S2WNuyx.dpuf
There are no cargo pockets and not many D-rings, but the Covert has 32 pounds of lift and easy-load pockets for 16 pounds of ditchable weights. In tests the Zeagle Covert proved to not only be a very lightweight BC but very stable and comfortable in the water.
Sizes: XS – XL
Material: 1000 Denier Cordura nylon
Weight: Rings: 4 Plastic D-rings
Weight: 2.3 kg (XS), 2.4 kg (S), 2.5 kg (M), 2.6 kg (L), 2.8 kg (XL) – (5.06Lbs to 6.16Lbs)
This jacket has been specifically designed for those who travel by plane as it is the result of painstaking research on the most suitable materials for reducing weight to a minimum. It has exactly the same characteristics as the Flex in the sea model but with the addition of the integrated Lock Aid weight system. Nothing has been left to chance in the search to achieve a record weight, beginning with the choice of the material, a 210 denier nylon which is light yet very strong. The back is soft and padded and has a rear rubber area with a strong grip and a double strap to safely block the tank.
Sizes: XS – XL
Material: Cordura 210 denier nylon
Weight: Rings: 6 D-rings
Weight: 2.3 kg (XS), 2.4 kg (S), 2.5 kg (M), 2.6 kg (L) 2.8 kg (XL)
The Scubapro LITEHAWK is the ultimate back-flotation travel BC. Its lightweight, ultra-slimmed-down design and soft, flexible backpack lays flat and compact for packing. The adjustable belt-style waist strap with nylon buckle can be cinched up snug, and the quick-release rotating shoulder buckles that let you route the straps under your arms, plus the two-position sternum strap, hug your body like the BC was custom-made for you. Key features include:
Compact, lightweight design with soft backpack makes it perfect for dive travel.
Constructed of 420 denier nylon for lightweight and long-lasting durability.
Low-profile, progressively-shaped rear air cell increases range of motion while decreasing drag.
Elastic cords rein in the air cell when partially inflated and help control deflation.
Clutter-free ergonomic harness eliminates bulk and enhances freedom of movement.
Multiple band and strap system keeps tank secure and increases stability at depth.
Warm-water divers will appreciate TUSA’s lightweight and compact Voyager its ease to pack in your travel bag. Weighing in at just 4.4 pounds, the BCJ 1800 Voyager is the perfect option for jet-setting divers who want a light, compact BC that performs like a heavyweight champ. Patented TUSA features, like the Independent Harness System and the Ultimate Stabilizing Harness combine for stability and security both at depth and on the surface.
This is a lightweight and compact BC ideal for travel and warm water diving, weighing only 4.4lbs/2kg (size M). Buoyancy is controlled by TUSA’s patented O.P.E.V. quick inflate/deflate system and the heavy duty 840/420 denier nylon shell provides superior strength and durability. Additionally, the Voyager can be rolled for travel and features a unique console sleeve, on the left side, for streamlined routing of your gauge or computer console.
Key features include:
Independent Harness System and Adjustable sternum strap