Cressi Start BCD Review: Basic Badass
The Cressi Start BCD is a fantastic mashup of functionality vs price, which makes it a popular option for those looking to purchase their first set of personal scuba equipment. The fact that the Cressi Start comes in at under the $200 price point is somewhat mind boggling given the rock solid construction of this entry level BCD.
Lets start with the jacket itself. This BCD vest is constructed from both 500 and 1000 denier Condura, an extremely rugged material. This stuff is tough, very scratch and damage resistant and the quality of the overall construction is great. Everything about the Cressi Start BCD feels well put together, with solid stick work and high density plastic for all the releases and D-Rings. The back-plate is nicely padded and offers decent support, with a hefty carry handle at the top, which makes carting around a full assembled set of scuba gear easy to hold onto. This BCD has the standard 4 release design you see on most modern BC jackets and has a large padded cumber-band that provides great mid section support and distributes the weight evenly. The Cressi Start also has 2 large pockets, one on each side, which makes carrying any additional accessories easy.
The tank mounting system is the standard style buckle and tank saver, with a high density plastic mounting plate. During our tests with this BCD we had no problems easily securing the tank and it held firm during the 8 dives we tested it on in Belize. This BCD is a great choice for dive centers looking to stock up on rental gear, the extra durable material means it can take a literal thrashing and still look brand new. The simple ease of use with the low pressure inflator and 3 dump valves plus the over pressurization valve built in make maintaining a neutral buoyancy easy. In terms of lift, the Cressi Start BCD has a larger than average bladder that provides quite a bit of lift, and the side and back inflation design make staying vertical while on the surface easier than more advanced level back inflation style BCDs. This makes combined with the large air bladder makes it great for beginner divers who like to stay afloat easily while on the surface. Having a larger air bladder and thus more lift is also good to counteract the fact some entry level divers tend to overweight themselves.
So what are the drawback of the Cressi Start BCD? Well the most obvious one would be the lack of an integrated weight system, a luxury found in higher end BCD jackets. Although given the price point this is understandable. Most beginners tend to get certified with dive center gear and usually are more experienced with traditional weight belt systems so entry level divers will probably not notice, but for anyone used to integrated weight BCDs, this will be a minor annoyance. You might be tempted to use the large side pockets as weight holders, but aside from small trim weights, this could be a fatal mistake. Not being able to release your primary weights could cause major problems should the need for an emergency ascent arise, so you definitely will need to use a weight belt with this BCD setup. Aside form that, the D rings are made from a high density plastic on this vest, we saw no signs of them cracking easily but metal D-rings would be a nice added touch. Really those are our only minor gripes with the Cressi Start BCD. And at this price, who can really complain! You can also find the Cressi Start in several money saving bundles for a great full on beginner scuba gear package! If you are looking for a similar high quality scuba BCD with integrated weights, take a look at the Cressi Air Travel BCD, it is extremely solid as well!
The low price and extreme durability of the Cressi Start scuba BCD makes it an ideal choice for entry level recreational divers. The ease of use makes it a good choice for dive centers looking for a universal style BCD that anyone can pick up and be comfortable with within seconds. The high quality construction and sub $200 price point make this a very attractive BCD for anyone looking to get their own personal set of scuba equipment.
- Basic and easy to use
- Added buoyancy for beginners
- Extremely durable material
- Great for dive shops or rentals
- Price point is amazing for first time scuba gear buyers
- Comfortable with great back support
- No integrated weight system
- Plastic D-Rings
- Maybe a little TOO basic for intermediate divers
- Some color accents or options would be nice