Aqualung Black Diamond BCD Review

Black Diamond BCD
Black Diamond BCD

I had a chance to get in the water with the new version of the Aqualung Black Diamond BCD. I’ve mentioned elsewhere here, that I dived the original Seaquest Black Diamond BCD for many years and liked it a lot.

There are some refinements like the shoulder buckles that absolutely make the new Black Diamond fit better than the original. That’s reason enough to make the switch in my opinion, but the major improvement is the “Surelock” weight integration system.

The original used a Velcro flap that never quite felt snug. The weight in the pockets would always move forward about an inch from behind the Velcro closure. The major problem though, was that the weights had to be loaded a certain way or they would slide out altogether and hang from the flap entirely. I learned quickly how to load weights in it and was just glad it was weight integrated at all.

Enough about the old one. Overall, the Aqualung Black Diamond is a great BCD. It’s tough, looks good, fits well and works perfectly. It’s also a great choice for divers using multiple exposure systems with the need for a single BCD.

Unique to the Black Diamond is an adjustment system that makes it possible, in essence, to change the actual size of the BCD. Basically, what they did was to use screws and grommets to attach the┬ácummerbund. Changing the size simply means moving from one set of holes to the next. It’s simple and it works.

What I don’t like about the Black Diamond, and what made me choose the Aqualung Balance instead, was the velcro cummerbund. I much prefer simple 2″ webbing and a buckle, but that’s just a personal choice.

In my opinion, the Black Diamond is a little bit in vague territory with regard to it’s purpose. The Black Diamond was one of the first ever, fully integrated, rear-inflation BCDs with a full compliment of beefy d-rings, etc. That made it very appealing to more serious divers with a need for the additional attachment points, etc.

Today, I think most divers who move that direction will eventually be diving a buoyancy system that offers even more configuration options like a plate and wing, or something similar. Personally, I use my BCD pretty much only for teaching. The rest of the time, I have plates and wings that I configure for whatever dive I’m going to make.

In a nutshell, I do believe that the Aqualung Black Diamond is a top-of-the-line BCD and no one would make a bad decision in buying one. It is more comfortable than the original, great in the water, and made to last for years and years. For sport divers who prefer the wide velcro cummerbund and have a need for the additional attachment points, the Black Diamond is ideal.

But, if you’re a sport diver beginning to make the move into technical diving, it probably makes more sense to wait and let your tech diving instructor(s) help guide you into a system that is more appropriate for that type of diving.

For the traveling diver, I think A lighter weight BCD may be a better choice. Again, it’s great BCD, but falls in between the needs of two types of divers, so I am more hesitant to recommend it than I would have been a few years ago.

2 Replies to “Aqualung Black Diamond BCD Review”

  1. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for the review! I have been using the black diamond BCD for many years now and was thinking of switching to another BCD. Will try out balance ­čÖé

    Btw, any thoughts on suunto D6i vs Vyper air ?

    1. I think you’ll find the Aqualung Black Diamond and the Aqualung Balance to be similar in terms of trim and buoyancy. For, me (5’9″ 155lbs), the Balance is a much more snug fit. I don’t mean tight, just that the placement of straps and their adjustments is such that I can pull it in close in all the right areas. The Black Diamond always left room at the shoulders. But, I like my gear to fit and feel like a backpack, so it’s best to try it for yourself. My only complaint is that the chest strap is placed exactly over my drysuit inflator, so I have to push it out of the way a lot.

      As for the Suunto dive computer, I personally like the layout of the D6i over the Vyper. I’ve used the Vyper a lot, and just can’t get used to the menu system. Both are great though, so you won’t go wrong either way. Personally, for sport diving I use a SubGear XP10, which is basically an Uwatec Aladin. There’s no air integration or anything, but it’s solid and intuitive. You might want to look into Uwatec. I find them much simpler to operate in the water.

      For tech, I’ve got a VR3 that I am about to replace with Shearwater. I back it up with a Scubapro bottom timer, which I love. Anyway, let me know what you decide!

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