How to Buy Your Buoyancy Compensator: a Checklist

If you’re an avid enthusiast of scuba diving, you almost certainly discover that diving is just half the equation. That is, you do not usually need to go right down to the bottom of the ocean. You’ll want to reach the surface or float around in the middle. In fact, you may well be having a little trouble getting to the bottom. To tell the truth, you don’t need to worry because the exact same equipment which help you reach the surface also enables you to sink under the waves. This unique device is the BC (Buoyancy Compensator) and it helps scuba divers manage their buoyancy.

* Test-wear the buoyancy compensator with the bulkiest exposure suit that you intend to use with the BC. A size small in one brand or model may not be the same as a small in another.
* Check the ambient corrugated inflator hose for proper length; it should also have a secure tether and be easy to locate.
* Check the length of the low-pressure inflator. The ideal length allows for dumping the remote exhaust while keeping the power inflator out of your face, but not so long that a large loop snags on objects.
* Tailor the hose length to your size: The low-pressure hose should fit comfortably alongside the ambient hose without pulling the inflator into your face and with little or no excess at the regulator first stage, while still allowing easy use of the remote exhaust.
* Hold the inflate/deflate mechanism in your hand while wearing the buoyancy compensator: Is it comfortable to hold for several minutes at a time? Can you reach and use both buttons at the same time without changing your hand position?
* Check buckle adjustments and straps. Can they be operated with gloves if necessary? Are pocket flaps inaccessible due to hose clip interference?
* Check that the tank band adjustment will fit the size of tank you expect to use and that it will thread easily and securely with no loose ends.
* Check to see if the regulator/tank valve hits you in the back of the head. This is often be avoided by lowering the tank given it fits in the BC tank bands; if there is not enough vertical adjustment to do this, you may need to try other models or brands.
* Test-drive the BC to determine whether it will roll you on your back with little provocation. Put the heaviest weights as far forward as possible on your weight belt or within your integrated system; if the weight pockets are too far to the rear of the buoyancy compensator, the tank plus the weights may make you unstable.

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