Often we encounter female divers explaining how diving is a male sport and how uncomfortable it is as all the equipment is for men. First things first, it's 2012. There is now plenty of dedicated women's diving equipment available . From BCDs and regulators to bags and wet suits, we do have female specific dive gear in store.
This article is about women's BCDs and why every women should be diving with one. I can only relay what I have been told by my customers and students but the overwhelming feeling is once you have gone gender specific there is no going back! A few general assumptions, ladies are a different shape to men, side, back, front, all different. Women have hips. They also tend to have shorter back lengths. Armed with these few facts we can make a good case for diving with a ladies BCD rather than a unisex (read male) one. Possibly the biggest issue are the hips, these cause several problems:
- The weight belt digs in
- The BCD covers the weights and pushes them in more.
- See point 2, you now can't get easy access to the weight belt causing a safety concern.
Swap to a female BC and you will find that it is cut a lot shorter so it sits above the hips, giving you access your weight belt. Go one giant leap further and dive a BCD with an integrated weights system and now the weights are away from the hips and comfort reigns! Breasts and the chest strap. Two items that are at complete odds with each other. For years BCD designers have insisted a chest is a critical component for feeling secure in your BC. Modern female specific jackets have either removed this, or relocated them, or turned them into a hybrid support system.
Any instructor having taught female divers will know the complaint of the tank rubbing against a ladies coccyx (where our tails used to come out of backs, if you believe in dinosaurs). A feature I believe was introduced by Seaquest (now Aqua Lung) on their Diva BCD a decade ago was an angled back plate, like a cheese wedge with the narrow bit towards your head and the fat bit at the base of your spine, this would angle the cylinder away from your lower back avoiding this rubbing. At the time of writing this the ladies BCD rated as the best is the Aqua Lung Pearl i3 for those of you not familiar with the system then watch our YouTube video of the i3 system in action. If you are not a fan of i3 then consider the normal Aqua Lung Pearl BCD its heritage from the original Diva is unquestionable. I have not come across a customer who has purchased these BCDs without being very pleased with their purchase. The only complaint of these BCDs is they are towards the top end of the price range but if you are a diver a good BCD must be a key component of your dive kit. Do you own a women's BCD? Are you pleased with it? Please let others know your thoughts and comments.