Buoyancy compensators serve different key purposes: it’s consequently important to choose the right one for you. When choosing you need to know the objective quality criteria for buoyancy compensators as well as choosing the type of jacket best suited to your type of diving.
THE MAIN PURPOSES OF A BUOYANCY COMPENSATOR:
- Fixes the cylinder on the diver’s back thanks to a back pack with a strap, fitted into the jacket.
- Increases the wearer’s buoyancy on the surface and under water by injecting the air contained in the cylinder (thanks to a direct system) or by removing it via various drain valves.
- Enables you to offset the loss or increase in the buoyancy of your wetsuit due to the water pressure, as well as floating on the surface before and after diving or simply making you safe.
- Enables equipment to be attached or stored thanks to caribeners or pockets.
THE OBJECTIVE CRITERIA WHEN CHOOSING YOUR BUOYANCY COMPENSATOR:
In order to test it, inflate your jacket. This will enable you to measure its efficiency. It’s important for you to be able to get to the instruments as easily as possible, most importantly the inflator, drain valves and rings.
Back packs are rigid but, padded back packs are reasonably comfortable. It’s important to choose a buoyancy compensator adapted to your body – if it doesn’t move when you’ve got it on then you’ve got the right size.
The multiple-adjustment waist belt is the key aspect when trying to find the right size. Adjustable straps and padded shoulders make wearing the BC a more pleasant experience.
There are special buoyancy compensators for ladies that don’t put excess pressure on the chest. You can also find BCs for children.
The need for storage on a buoyancy compensator will increase in proportion to the diver’s degree of autonomy.
The more rings there are on the BC the greater the storage capacity but this will inevitably increase its weight. You can get round this problem by choosing a jacket that has releasable weight pockets.
SOLIDITY AND RESISTANCE:
Buoyancy compensators are subjected to a lot of constraints both on the surface and under water. BCs vary in terms of how solid they are.
Resistance is measured using the "Cordura" index.
The higher the Cordura index, the greater the jacket’s resistance and the longer its life cycle.
CHOOSING YOUR BC BASED ON HOW YOU INTEND TO USE IT:
There are three different types of diving and there’s a jacket adapted to each type.
1. LEISURE DIVING:
The most suitable jacket for leisure diving is a standard buoyancy compensator. Inflated on the back and on the side parts and featuring a back pack enabling the cylinder to be fixed to the diver’s back thus ensuring he’ll be as comfortable as possible.
2. DIVING TRIPS:
For this type of diving, go for a travel jacket. It’s a standard BC without a Back pack. It’s compact, light and easy to carry but this results in reduced comfort. Some standard BCs are now equipped with a foldable back pack making them both compact and comfortable.
3. TECHNICAL DIVING:
If you’re in to technical diving then you really need a “technical” buoyancy compensator. It’s a harness with inflators on the back consequently increasing space on the sides.
This configuration favours the horizontal position of the diver under water. But this position can prove troublesome on the surface.
The diver must lie on his back or his stomach unlike with a standard BC enabling a vertical position on the surface.