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- What Is A Back Inflate
- Why Buy A Back Inflate
- Best Back Inflated BCDs
- Frequently Asked
So you’ve got some experience scuba diving and you’re ready to buy yourself a back inflate BCD.
But as these buoyancy control devices have become increasingly popular, there’s now an almost endless list of back inflate BCDs available. So you’re not really sure which one to go with.
And that’s why the ScubaOtter team has done all the hard work for you.
We’ve put together a list of the best back inflate BCDs on the market and our top tips for buying your first back inflate buoyancy control device.
If we had to pick just one back inflate BCD it’d be the ScubaPro Hydros Pro.
Looking to review some other options? Keep reading…
What is a Back Inflate BCD?
A back inflate BCD is a buoyancy control device with an air bladder that sits only at the back of a diver, rather than around the torso like those found in a traditional jacket style BCD.
There are 2 main styles of back inflate BCDs: hybrid and wing.
What is a hybrid BCD?
A hybrid BCD fits like a traditional jacket BCD but only inflates behind you. Most hybrid BCDs feature integrated weight systems and pockets.
The hybrid, sometimes referred to as a semi-wing, is the most popular back inflation BCD. They’re stable on the surface, provide storage for accessories, and are easy to put on and take off.
What is a wing BCD?
A wing-style BCD, also known as backplate and wing (BPW), combines a doughnut-shaped bladder, a backplate, and a harness to create a much more minimal and agile buoyancy control device.
A wing provides perfectly horizontal trim underwater and a huge range of motion. But it can be a bit uncomfortable to stay upright on the surface. A wing BCD is easy to travel with and super streamlined but it doesn’t offer integrated weights or storage for accessories.
Why buy a back inflate BCD?
Although most people learn to scuba dive with a traditional jacket style, most divers with some experience prefer a back inflate BCD.
And here’s why…
Because the air bladder sits behind you, a back inflation BCD automatically positions you in a super streamlined, horizontal position. This makes swimming easier and as a result, improves your air consumption.
What’s more, is that back inflate BCDs are extremely comfortable to wear. With minimal equipment around your torso, you have a much better range of motion than in a jacket style BCD. Plus there’s absolutely no constriction around your chest when fully inflated.
Trust us, once you try a back inflate BCD you’ll never go back!
Best Back Inflate BCDs
The Apeks Black Ice is a rugged and heavy-duty back inflate BCD that’ll look after you in every dive environment. This BCD offers the perfect balance between function, design, and comfort.
The wraparound design of the Wrapture harness system provides unbeatable fit and stability. With straightforward straps, this BCD is easy to put on and take off, even when wearing thick gloves. And the extra padding provides much-appreciated comfort both in and out of the water.
Featuring AquaLung’s innovative Sure Lock II integrated weight system, 2 large pockets, and 5 stainless steel D-rings, the Apeks Black Ice has everything you need from a hybrid BCD. Plus its modular design and 3 different size options ensure you’ll find the right fit.
- Large pockets
- Extra padding
- Very stable
- Great for cold water diving
- A little bulky
- Heavier than most hybrid BCDs
- Only 1 color available
If you’re looking for a minimal and lightweight design that still features everything you need, then look no further than the AquaLung Rogue.
This back inflate BCD features Integrated weights, 2 folding pockets and 4 stainless steel D-rings as standard. You also have the option to add a waistband extender, trim pockets or SMB pocket.
Despite its sleek design, the AquaLung Rogue is surprisingly comfortable. Extra padding on the back and harness make sure that you don’t feel anything digging in, even when moving around on land.
The unique ‘ModLock’ connectors allow all sections of the AquaLung Rogue, and it’s various accessories, to be interchanged. This creates an impressive 27 different sizes. So you’re sure to find the perfect fit.
What’s more, is that the AquaLung Rogue is super lightweight. Weighing just over 2kg when dry, this BCD is ideal for a traveling diver.
- Lightweight & easily disassembled for travel
- Extra padding on backplate and harness
- Optional accessories available
- Highly customizable fit
- Small weight pockets
- Fragile line to dump valves
Highly durable, lightweight and stylish, the ScubaPro Hydros Pro is a seriously impressive piece of scuba diving gear. And without a doubt, it’s one of the best BCDs you can buy.
A unique manufacturing process has created an innovative and highly ergonomic design that perfectly conforms around the body without any pressure points. The efficient load distribution provides excellent maneuverability, superior buoyancy control, and unbeatable comfort.
And if that’s not enough almost every piece of this modular designed BCD can be removed or replaced without the help of a service technician. Making it fully customizable, super easy to repair and incredibly long-lasting.
In addition to coming in a variety of colors, the ScubaPro Hydros Pro is also available in a men’s or women’s cut to further ensure the best possible fit.
If you’ve got the budget, there really is no better back inflate BCD out there than the ScubaPro Hydros Pro.
- Women’s fit available
- Ultra-durable & long-lasting
- Color customisation available
- Flexible backplate
- Very comfortable
- A little heavy for travel
Robust, streamlined, and very stable underwater, the X Deep Ghost is easily our favorite backplate and wing BCD.
Not only does the minimal design look awesome, but it also makes maintaining horizontal trim underwater effortless. The X Deep Ghost is perfectly streamlined to optimize your diving experience.
Normally recreational BPW BCDs have an annoying habit of pushing you facedown when on the surface. But not the X Deep Ghost. The upper section of the bladder is intentionally smaller which makes it surprisingly easy to sit upright.
At less than 2.5kg, the X Deep Ghost is one of the lightest backplate and wing BCDs on the market. Thanks to the aerospace-grade alloy backplate with large cut-outs to further reduce weight.
If you’re a traveling diver who’s serious about optimizing your time and performance underwater then the X Deep Ghost is the ideal back inflate BCD for you.
- Lightweight for travel
- Doesn’t push you forward on the surface
- High-quality materials
- Perfectly streamlined
- Only 3 D-rings
- Integrated weight system is extra
- No pockets
The Hollis HD 200 is one of the toughest back inflate BCDs out there. Carefully constructed from heavy-duty materials you know that this BCD is going to last you a long time.
Despite its rugged build, the Hollis HD 200 is very comfortable; with a lightweight, contoured backplate and pad, added lumbar support, and a rolled neoprene neck.
A crotch strap prevents the BCD riding up when on the surface whilst promoting good trim underwater.
A specially designed and fully adjustable harness provides a custom fit that’s easy to take on and off. Plus an abundance of D-rings, mounting grommets, and zippered pockets offer an unbeatable array of storage for accessories.
Combining the best of tech and recreational buoyancy control devices, the Hollis HD 200 is a fantastic option for advanced divers looking for long-lasting and affordable back inflation BCD.
- Highly durable
- Supremely comfortable
- 8 D rings & 2 pockets
- Great value
- Heavy for traveling
- Dumping air quickly can be a little tricky
- No women’s fit
Frequently Asked Questions
Are back inflate BCDs suitable for beginner divers?
Back inflate BCDs aren’t usually recommended for complete beginners as they make it difficult to stay upright on the surface and require a higher awareness of your body position underwater.
However, with a little practice, it’s easy to avoid face planting the water. And it’s a great way to improve your trim underwater.
What are the downsides of back inflate BCDs?
Other than making it a little trickier to maintain your position on the surface, the main con of a back inflate BCD is that most models lack pockets.
But accessories, such as flashlights and SMBs, can be easily relocated to grommets and D-rings. Or you can easily add attachable pockets to a back inflate BCD.
So there’s not really any downsides to a back inflate BCD!
Should I buy a wing or hybrid BCD?
The style of back inflate BCD you buy comes down to personal choice. Both the wing and hybrids are good options for a buoyancy control device.
One of the great things about a wing-style BCD is that all the components are individually replaceable. So if the harness needs replacing, for example, you can simply buy a new harness instead of a whole new BCD. Which is much more cost-effective in the long run.
And if you’re considering tech diving in the future a wing is much more versatile.
But if you really want to have integrated weights and space to store accessories then a hybrid is a better choice for you. Plus a hybrid BCD has adjustable shoulder straps so they’re much easier to get in and out of than a wing.
For more info about getting your weight right, check out our weight buoyancy calculator.
However, you don’t always have the option to replace separate parts if something breaks. Plus there’s no way to use a hybrid BCD for technical diving.
Still not sure which style of BCD is for you?
Check out this video for a more detailed comparison:
What is a modular designed back inflate BCD?
A back inflation BCD with a modular design means that all of the individual parts (the bladder, harness, backplate etc) are interchangeable and replaceable. These models are easy to service, repair and will last you much longer than a traditional BCD.
What’s more is that a modular design BCD can be fully personalised for a perfect, custom fit.
How should a back inflate BCD fit?
When fully inflated, a back inflate BCD should feel snug around your shoulders and waist, without pinching. And it shouldn’t slide around your shoulders when empty.
For a hybrid back inflate BCD you want a tighter fit than with a traditional jacket BCD to prevent it riding up. When it comes to a wing and harness style BCD, the webbing and straps are fully customizable so it’s easy to adjust for the perfect fit.
Remember to consider whether you’ll be using this BCD with a dry suit. If you’re unsure of your size or the environment you’ll be diving in, make sure there’s plenty of room to adjust the straps and buckles as needed.
With a back inflation BCD, you’ll be more streamlined, more comfortable and improve your air consumption.
Seriously, what’s there not to like about this style of BCD?
And you’ve now got the full low down on the best back inflate BCDs on the market, so it’s time to make your choice.
Didn’t quite find the buoyancy control device you were looking for?
Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime.