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Help me pick a BC Please

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Aquatic Tetrapod
Oct 24, 2002
Hello everyone. This will be my first post in the SCUBA forums but I lurk around the hunting forums and post sometimes as well.

I have started a research diving certification class at my school, UCSantaBarbara, and I'm thinking about buying some gear. I have a nice wetsuit and all my skin diving stuff so the next thing I'm considering buying is a BC since I can borrow regs and cylinders from my instructor.

This is the type of diving I'm planning to do. I'm going to be likely at some point doing research underwater identifying organisms and logging observations etc at around 30 feet to start, then after 12 dives I will be certified to 60, then 90, etc. I don't imagine I will be going really deep but I would like to keep my options open for a max depth of 100'. Most of my dives will likely be in the California Channel Islands area for a while but who knows, maybe I will get to do some research on some coral reefs this summer or a year from now.

I am 5'10", 158 lbs if that matters and I wear a 5mm/6.5mm suit. Right now I'm looking at back-inflate stuff since it seems not to have problems with variable fit with depth. Also, I want something that is reliable, comfortable, and BASIC! I don't want more than two simple pockets and maybe a couple D-rings. I don't like clutter on equipment an I figure that if I needed another D-ring or pocket, I could sew them on myself to meet my needs. I also don't want any neon colors on my BC, although I guess I could fix that with a sharpie if I had too. 2 tank bands would be nice as well.

Also, I have a very limited budget so I'm looking at ebay etc to get the absolute best deal. I can't spend more than 300.00 and that would be absolute max.

I've been looking at the ranger but even on ebay prices are rarely below 300.00 and I think the BC might be a little too cluttered as far as pockets and such. I was also looking at the Oceanic Tour APS as a cheaper option but I've read that its hard to get the air out of the dragonfly wings. The Malibu RDS looks nice and uncluttered but I want to check with you guys to see if there is maybe anything better, or cheaper, that would fit my needs.

Chad Burt
Getting BC

If your going to dive with doubles, I'd go with either a Dive-rite backplate and harness or Transpack II. The only draw back with wing style bc's it's going to run you more money, but it's more versitile especially if your "hanging" around doing research. I went from a decor extreme to a transpac II and would never go back unless I was teaching. Good luck...
Wings ....

Back inflation is the only way to go! I will never dive a jacket again, exspecially when I'm working (survey/research) I really like the BP/Wings config when I'm diving heavy doubles, but for singles I still favor a Transpac 2. Look around and try some equipment out.

and as I'm not diving Singles anymore.... i have a Transpac for sale, cheap ;-) and you seem to be about the same size as me.... PM me if you're interested. PM me anyways - as I might be down in the Catalina's this summer......


Being an Instructor, I have had the opertunity to use alot of equiptment. I have owned, at one time, up to 6 BC's. Last year, not happy with any of the BC's I currently owned, I asked my local dive shop to pull in the Deep Outdoors Line. Now, I am a Large Guy...260 6'2''... I dive in a dry suit with a rebreather or doubles. I have found that the Deep Outdoors fits perfectly! The modular design lets me change the bladder or harness anyway that I want. The Deep Outdoors also lets the harness have a backplate inserted into it for rigidity. It is a rear inflation BC and tends to push you forward but once you get used to it, that is not an issue. I would strongly recommend looking into this BC. No matter what you get, do your homework. Once you find a BC that fits you perfectly, your dives will become more enjoyable... even if they are work
Since I spend most of my year underwater working archy on sites from 10' to over 100' I've found that for my needs back inflation with a harness is the BEST solution. It keeps me horizontal in the water column, and gives me a great deal of flexibility whether I'm tech diving or working in high current, zero vis conditions. I started with a Beauchat which I still favor when working shallow - it has a removable backplate so I can rig for doubles if I want - but most importantly it fits great and had a low profile. These days I'm working out of a Scuba Pro harness with an OMS double bladder. The thing to think about here is how it all fits. The Ranger is a great set up, but in my opinion suffers when you think about rigging stages and doubles to it (it just doesn't "feel right" or rig with a low enough profile). Try on bunch of BC's - they're all different, but wings would be my preference - ALWAYS. Find what fits right and then go with that. Keep in mind that those Drings will be your major attachment points for the equipment you take with you to work - they are a critical part of the rig. Good luck! :)
A little out of youre price range, but the Zeagle Ranger Limited is awesome. It also leaves you some room to upgrade your diving .
I've owned over 20 different BC's in the last 25 years and my favorite is the back plate and wing setup.

For singles I like the Halcyon the best because of the bladder desgin. For doubles anything will work- Diverite, Halcyon, Scubapro, OMS, ect.
I also like a bare minimum DIR rigged harness because it is smaller, cheaper, and packs lighter than any other BC I've owned. My single-tank plate and wing packs smaller than my wife's Zeagle- of which I have owned many. It also gives you a base on which to build into becoming any kind of diver that you wish- rec, tec, cave, travel, ect..

Get a simple back inflation BC. Don't look for 6 stainless D rings,
get like a Balance or whatever is on sale. Odds are you will know
alot more about what you want after 50 or so dives. By the time
you are ready to use doubles you will have worn out your first
BC or be ready to get a different type. Keep it simple and cheap.
Or for a stab jacket, the Buddy Commando is damn good, though I'm not sure if it's available where you are, and it may actually be overkill (it is designed for British waters anyway). Myself I use the Buddy Commando TD, and it's a damn fine jacket. Don't have any problems holding any position in the water, and it keeps me upright at the surface. They're also good for twinsets and apparently they'll take a couple of sideslung cylinders in addition.

Plus it looks the business...
I agree with jon comments..halcyon´s pioneer wing is the best for single tanks...the circular way of it allows to air move easily inside the bladder...i used to dive with a transpac with travel wings and the bouyancy is really good...i made some test with the halcyon´s and is quite good as well....personally i prefer the backplate setup instead others things ....for just recreational diving i think conventional jacket is good enough and have a good relation price/performance...halcyon pioneer wings is VERY good for me the best rig for singles but EXTREMELY overpriced specially considering the aluminium backplates (500 US$)....manufaturing cost and reasonable profits are below the price showed by halcyon....for doubles..don´t break your mind use a backplate using maybe diverite wings which can be found relatively cheap....

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