Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

What do you have and why? Looking to buy some equipment but got some question? Post here.

Postby wibbleman » Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:02 am

Azza wrote:Hey wibbleman

The BP and wing system isn't the next big thing. They always have been and probably always will be, a tool used by a minority in the dive industry. Not all experienced divers dive them either. I can think of a few on here that don't, and fair enough.

However I do like them and here are my reasons why

The plate weighs 3 kg. This sits right over the lungs which are your natural BCD which helps the diver attain good trim, and gets weight off the weight belt.
If a diver is diving in cold water and needs a fair bit of weight, the plate is able to take weight such as these weight plates or a P weight or even a Heavy plate.
Straight away you can see you have more options for weight distribution.

I also like the fact that the plate is hard and unbreakable and that they generally come with a single piece of webbing threaded through, with no breakable plastic buckles, meaning you drop all the tanks you want on it and its pretty hard to break.

The single piece of threaded webbing also means that the front of the diver is less cluttered and more streamlined and the inflation on the back cradles the tank which offers more stability in the water (Think hot air balloon).

The buoyancy cell (wing) is interchangeable meaning you can use a small 18lb wing for the tropics, or a heavy duty 30lb for cold water such as here. you can also put on a doubles wing with 45lb of lift for diving the big heavy doubles without actually having to buy a new BCD to handle that if you decide to expand your diving to encompass Tec later on.
If you spring a leak in your buoyancy cell most have a zip at the top to allow access to the internal bladder, which can be pulled mostly out of the outer shell, and placed in water to see actually where the leak is. Then a bicycle tire repair patch is adhered and the leak fixed.

As you can see they are rather versatile but unfortunately they don't really spin a lot of money for the shops, who need to sell big ticket, high margin fancy pieces of kit to pay the overheads. Mind you in saying that, Apeks have come out with one and both Dive Centre and Global dive sell them. Most dive shops don't sell them because they don't know about them. Certainly every shop I have worked in hasn't known about them until I started working for them but still find it hard to conceptualize.

When I first got mine i was diving a Seaquest Pro QD that I rather liked, but as it couldn't handle doubles a guy sold me a Halcyon plate and wing (My shop tried to sell me some armchair softpak thing for $3000) and away I went. For probably 6 months I dived my plate with doubles and Jacket with singles until one day I clicked that I enjoyed my doubles diving more. I borrowed a single tank wing and next thing I was buying one. I havnt looked back since. (And I didn't hear about them on Scubaboard :lol: )

If you want to try one I am sure we can arrange that. I would recommend you try first as you may very well decide you don't like it. Some people do like the feeling of a BCD snuggly wrapping them some dont. It really is personal preference.


Cheers azza, great post.

That sort of thing goes a long way to explaining peoples attitudes :) and less of the "if you don't use a bp/w your gonna die" stuff that goes on, on scubaboard :p

For the record, I do have a basic understanding of how the systems work, just by reading the OMS cat, and a few other things. The thing i do like about it is the modularity and the ability to build your own setup (which is what i do with pcs and mountain bikes) has a certain appeal to me. The only thing I am unsure of with them, is the crotch strap. I guess it hangs down loose when you put the system on, and then bring it up (like the wetsuit nappy things) and loop it on the belt when closing it?

But as you say, it really does come down to "horses for courses", and its up to each diver to try it out for themselves. As there are pros and cons to each side :) But the next purchase for me is a 7" travel full suss bike, then I will start looking at wings.
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Postby Azza » Thu Jul 19, 2007 7:50 am

wibbleman wrote: The only thing I am unsure of with them, is the crotch strap. I guess it hangs down loose when you put the system on, and then bring it up (like the wetsuit nappy things) and loop it on the belt when closing it
When you put the gear on you thread the waist strap through a loop in the end of the crotch strap. If diving wet you would tend to wear a weightbelt on the outside of this do enable ditching (Or it is possible to thread weight pouches on the webbing itself-this is what I do for when diving single tank), or if diving dry on the inside as you dont need to ditch weight when dry.
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Postby Buck Rogers » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:11 am

with a BP/W system - is their a problem in wanting to dive wet, without a weightbelt?

I assume that it is possible in various forms to attach say 7-8kg of additional weight (assuming 3kg for the plate) via weight pouches or tank-bands etc?
Or do you absolutely need a weightbelt on a BP/W system?
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Postby Azza » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:27 am

Buck Rogers wrote:Or do you absolutely need a weight belt on a BP/W system?
no not at all. In a wetsuit you need ditchable weight but it doesn't have to be on a weightbelt...you can use weight integration as I do on my singles rig.
next time you are around I can show you if you like
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Postby plumb bob » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:42 am

Azza wrote:
Buck Rogers wrote:Or do you absolutely need a weight belt on a BP/W system?
no not at all. In a wetsuit you need ditchable weight but it doesn't have to be on a weightbelt...you can use weight integration


Yeah I've got 9 kilo of ditchable in what I belive Halcyon refer to as Active Control Ballast ACB... Where do they come up with those product names :roll:

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Postby Azza » Thu Jul 19, 2007 11:07 am

wibbleman wrote:If BP/W are the next best thing, and so adjustable, and so easy to use. Why don't they have a greater penetration of the recreational market. Why arn't the big companies making them, as much as everyone likes to rag on Aqualung etc, they would be remiss to their shareholders to not be investigating/making this. ( I do think there is a bp/w in their tech product range, the apex WTX)

Just heard that Oceanic is coming out with a Tec line called "Hollis" which includes Backplates and wings. I am sure they will have a recreational wing as does Apeks/Aqualung. Mares apparently have a wing system as well...
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Postby Russ » Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:11 pm

Wow, are you guys passionate or what? Have any of you tried going onto a computer forum and asking the questio PC or Apple? World War III that's for sure.

You know, I quite like the look of the BP/W, and one day I would like to try one out. Logic says that if you Dive a lot, it's well worth the effort of really understanding that kit and customising to get exactly what you want (i do the same myself with computers, one reason I prefer PC's, but lets not go there).

However, I am a lowly casual diver who jumps in the water from time to time. BCD's are just so easy (yes they are)
I wear it like a heavy coat, tighten a couple of straps and away I go. I know coats, I wear them al the time, they are familiar to me. It requires very little effort to understand what they are about, and having already invested effort in immersing myself in an alien environment, something familiar is a nice thing to have, one less thing to worry about.

Much like choosing a computer, the more you KNOW what the components are and what they mean, the most picky you will be about what you are using. But if you don't KNOW what they are, you choose based on what you do know, i.e. a company you feel comfortable with, has nice marketing, has pretty boxes etc. You feel safe that you are getting something that will work.

I think perhaps, from my perspective, BCD wins in terms of volume sales because they are easy and familiar, you don't really have to KNOW how they work to choose one.
Of course, if you do KNOW how they work, they are easy, isn't anything easy and obvious once you know it? Ask someone to climb a wall and chances are they will find it hard. Get them to do it 3 or 4 or 10 times and they could turn around to the next guy and ask why don't you climb this wall, it's easy.


BP/W therefore, if you are not familiar with it, looks technical and intimidating, takes time and effort above and beyond that needed to learn to Dive itself. There will always be a market for both I'm sure as there are different kinds of people who looks for different things, just as some people like Apple because they are pretty!!!

All stated in my humble and extremely subjective opinion of course, so no flaming please. I tell you what though, if I ever did choose to make the jump to BP/W and the knowledge you need to be comfortable with that, you guys are the first ones I will come to. Until then I'll keep on using second hand BCD's that fit like a coat and go down when you push the go down button :D After all, i'll only be usng for a maximum of 2 hours in any given day, hell in any given month and the moment!!!
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Postby Packhorse » Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:07 pm

Sorry Russ but from your post i get the impression you think BP are more complicateD than BCs. They are not. Just more versitile. In their barest form they are so simple its not funny.
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Postby Azza » Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:08 pm

I know what he means
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Re: Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

Postby NEMES1S » Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:09 pm

I am going to dredge this old thread up....sorry ... :D

But I have noticed in Wellington that NOBODY dives B/P W...I have never seen anybody dive in a proper B/P down here,everybody is in a BCD...
So whats peoples thoughts on this,why a BCD..?

I must say I was pretty happy with my PRO QD BCD until I started with the Zeagle rear inflation stuff and then discovered the freedom and great balance of a B/P W...so why do people dismiss the B/P W set up as for strictly TECH divers...?
I find it very hard to flaw a B/P W set up yet nobody seems to use them and when it comes to doing training course etc its back to BCDs,I dive in a B/P W yet for the sake of confusion I did my Rescue Course in a BCD.

Last night in the pool I was arsing about in a BCD for the first time in ages and it was horrible,I had great difficulty in achieving the skills.(possibly through my lack of them.. :lol: )

And as a trainee DM I will have to revert back to BCDs and normal reg set ups for OW's so it doesnt confuse the students as to what is my octi etc,also long hoses wound around you neck could confuse... :lol:

To be completely honest I would have never gone to a B/P W set up had I not read on here the benefits, and the fans rave about them,the seriousness and just how adamant the B/P W divers are caught my attention so decided to look into it.

I have heard all the negatives about B/P W set ups but most are myths,the pushing you forward in the water myth is the best,if you jump in the water without the correct weighting sure the rear inflation may shunt you forward but with the correct trim weighting I have no sweat at all.
Somebody once told me they are too technical for recreational diving... :shock:

I personally think that you simply cannot achieve the same perfect bouyancy that you can with a B/P W set up,there is nothing like hanging in space like a free falling parachutist in pause mode.. :lol:
Also on this train of thought,if the same bouyancy was achievable then why doesnt any of the serious cave/wreck divers use BCDs...or do they..?
Is it purely the simplicity of the B/P W rigs..?


I dont know I am not trying to start a war here but I am just interested to see who uses a BCD and why (And if so have they tried a B/P W set up.)
Peoples ideas of the pros and cons of both units....
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Re: Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

Postby justsimon » Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:42 pm

I dive a BCD, the same one I had 10 years ago. It works fine. I hate getting new gear and going through the whole recalibration thing - I'd rather be enjoying myself diving. I'll be looking at a new BCD next year and have been totally against getting a wing mainly because of people banging on endlessly about how great they are, how you shouldn't ever dive anything else and calling BCDs 'poodle jackets' - which really pisses me off. :evil:

However, I have noticed that when trying to line up something underwater and rolling onto my side I find myself 'slipping off the side' of the inflated BCD jacket around my waist. So I'm looking at rear inflation for my next one at least.
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Re: Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

Postby NEMES1S » Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:47 pm

Axe wrote:Interesting thought... with total rear inflation will rolling be harder? I dont know, will have to try rear inflation now :-)

You can borrow my B/P W anytime Pete or my Zeagle Scout....

As for 'Poodle coats' I must say I think thats a funny name for a BCD... ( I belive I have used that name before but meant no offense)
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Re: Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

Postby justsimon » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:07 pm

( I belive I have used that name before but meant no offense)


OK. Sorry, I'm a wee bit over sensistive to that sort of stuff.

Interesting thought... with total rear inflation will rolling be harder? I dont know, will have to try rear inflation now

I prob didn't describe it that well. I found it to be a bit like falling out of a kayak. You lean over, lean over and woops...instant keel impression. I'm hoping that wouldn't happen if the air in the BCD was above me to start with.

I like the idea of another 3kg's on the back and less on the belt

I have 2kg threaded on the tank band of my jacket BCD - it doesn't have trim pockets.
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Re: Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

Postby tara » Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:01 pm

justsimon wrote:I have 2kg threaded on the tank band of my jacket BCD - it doesn't have trim pockets.


now why didnt i think of that!!!

my new OMS doesnt have trim pockets like my ladyhawke did.
but i still dont get the problem with it tipping me forward. i tell everyone to pull up their knees and sit in the water like they would on the couch and it seems to work a treat.

different strokes for different folks i guess. i have never owned a jacket style and i like not having clutter around my front.
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Re: Jacket BCD versus Backplate Wing BCD

Postby Andy » Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:24 am

NEMES1S wrote:I am going to dredge this old thread up....sorry ... :D


You should get a prize for resurrecting the oldest thread yet!! :D

I find it very hard to flaw a B/P W set up yet nobody seems to use them and when it comes to doing training course etc its back to BCDs,I dive in a B/P W yet for the sake of confusion I did my Rescue Course in a BCD.


To be honest, you've just got to look at what's being sold. There isn't always much choice.

Last night in the pool I was arsing about in a BCD for the first time in ages and it was horrible,I had great difficulty in achieving the skills.(possibly through my lack of them.. :lol: )


This could just be a change thing. I hate change!! Back in the day (well, last year) when I used to swap into a wetsuit in summer, I'd feel really awkward in a wetsuit for the first few dives. Same when I used to change from a Knighthawk BCD with integrated weights to a non-weight integrated jacket style it would screw me up. Any change effects your weighting and perceived control.

And as a trainee DM I will have to revert back to BCDs and normal reg set ups for OW's so it doesnt confuse the students as to what is my octi etc,also long hoses wound around you neck could confuse... :lol:


LOL! Why not leave it on for a Rescue course? Divers may come across these for real, so why not see them in a controlled situation? I got asked to help out on a Rescue course last year AND wear my BP/W... as a victim, I was lying in the pounding surf whilst the student divers tried to figure out how to get me out of the harness before one of them realised it's very hard to do whilst the wing is inflated. Definitely some good learning there.


I have heard all the negatives about B/P W set ups but most are myths,the pushing you forward in the water myth is the best,if you jump in the water without the correct weighting sure the rear inflation may shunt you forward but with the correct trim weighting I have no sweat at all.


It doesn't even need correct "trim" weighting, just correct weighting. More often than not, divers need to overinflate their buoyancy compensators on the surface because they are carrying too much weight. Drop the weight you don't need, and this solves the problem.

I personally think that you simply cannot achieve the same perfect bouyancy that you can with a B/P W set up,there is nothing like hanging in space like a free falling parachutist in pause mode.. :lol:


I have to disagree on this one. You can get perfect buoyancy in anything, even an old school horse collar BC.... it just takes practice.


Also on this train of thought,if the same bouyancy was achievable then why doesnt any of the serious cave/wreck divers use BCDs...or do they..?
Is it purely the simplicity of the B/P W rigs..?


Yeah, I know (of) some fairly serious wreck and cave divers who use standard BCs. Not many, but some.

Don't get confused about what a BP/W is, though. So a lot of the cave diving community use a Hogarthian style rig... one of the elements of such a rig is the continuous webbing harness, so no buckles to act as potential failure points. You can take a Hog rig and swap the harness for something like this:

Image

It's still a BP/W, but one that is likely to be less popular with the hardcore cave community.

I acutally like the term that Halcyon now use, which is "Multifunction Compensator" that reflects that a BP/W is doing more than one job. The three parts of the system, harness, plate and wing are all contributing in different ways to the overall system.

A rear-inflate BC does the same job as the wing, add trim weights to it and it's doing the same job as the plate and wing. I don't really see much difference between a good rear-inflate BCD with trim weights and a BP/W with adjustable harness.

I dont know I am not trying to start a war here but I am just interested to see who uses a BCD and why (And if so have they tried a B/P W set up.)
Peoples ideas of the pros and cons of both units....


I choose to dive in a BP/W for 90% of my diving - only time I don't is when teaching OW students in a pool and when involved on IDCs. I think rear inflation is a good thing for most divers, whether BC or BP/W, as it's less cluttered and less restrictive, but obviously everyone is different. I don't think everyone should dive in a BP/W, but would suggest that everyone tries one at one stage to make up their own minds.

The thing I don't like about jacket style BCs is the sensation of being squeezed when they are full of air.
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