As one can imagine a diveshop uses BCDs a good amount. At Coconut Tree Divers our business succeeds as a result of fun divers, new diver training, and continuing education. There's a whole lot more regarding why we are successful and that has to do mainly with our customer base, their satisfaction and the high volume of them who return. The point being that it doesn't come from high volume of gear sales. In any case, the gear we do purchase takes a beating as it goes straight to the rental rack. We get to find out what works, what doesn't, and what will we consider buying more of. When we first received our order of about 15 Cressi AquaPro BCDs a little over a year ago, there were doubts as to how they would perform and last. It did not seem as though they were made with longevity in mind.
Our BCDs get used about four times a day, seven days a week. The sizes we end up using the most are XS, SM, MD. We definitely use LG and XL but not as much as the others. It just so happens that we ordered five of each the more popular sizes. This week we ordered more of them. The current ones are not being replaced, they are simply taking over the racks.
Among the features of Cressi AquaPro are the integrated weight fold out pockets. Another popular BCD we have used is the Oceanic OceanPro. The pockets on the Oceanics get lost quite easily and they break just easy. Replacing them becomes an unnecessary expense when compared to the Cressi BCDs. This Cressi allows you to put your weights in the pocket, fold it up and clip it. In case of an emergency the clips are easily undone and the weights fall right out.
Another good thing from a rental perspective is that they display their size on the shoulder strap. They have big letters aiding whomever is outfitting customers for a boat dive or confined water quickly. The drawback is that once these letters fall, there is no back up letting you know what size it is. Oh, and the letters do fall off.
They have several dump valves. There is one at the end of the BCD hose, another on the right shoulder, and a third just above your right butt cheek. These all have lanyards that have been cleverly threaded through a loop in the material for easy dumping of excess air. Unfortunately, those long lanyards get caught and ripped right off. In the end they serve simply as dump valves for those who fill their BCDs to capacity. Someone who purchased one of these BCDs would likely care for it more than the usual rental gear user, thus they would likely last longer. That's for you to decide.
We were concerned about the inflators. They too have lasted the test of 100s of dives. They are a bit slow at inflating, but not a show stopper. They are not that complicated to take apart and clean either.
They also have a white lanyard used as trim for aesthetic purposes. Most of those are falling apart. It didn't happen to every BCD but to quite a few. We fixed that by cutting them with scissors. In the end they have have some minor glitches, (i.e. the sizes coming off and the aesthetic trim not lasting) but they are an excellent value for the cost.
If you are looking for a jacket style BCD that is not going to break the bank. The Cressi AquaPro may be just what you are looking for. Google has them listed for $230.