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BCD or Back Plate and Wing to start???...
tazzer9797 - 7/13/2014 11:47 PM
Category: Equipment
Replies: 12

Some friends and I were having lunch after a dive and we got talking to a couple of the newer divers about what gear to buy. One lady asked why the local dive shop was pushing her to buy a jacket style BCD. She noticed we all were diving a back plate and wing set up’s. Myself and a couple friends have almost 1000 dives each and we all said the same thing. We went threw the same thing and quickly found out that a back plate and wing system is the way to go from the start(OUR OPINION). Now saying his, PLEASE remember we now feel this way because we went from one to another and wouldn’t go back to a jacket style. Even when I travel I take an aluminium Back plate with me. I would like some thoughts from other divers as to how they feel on this subject. I am not trying to tell any one what to buy ,I just want to make a suggestion from my own experience... Look forward to feed back... thanks and Dive Safe
wildturk - 7/14/2014 12:01 AM
I personally like the wing system myself after a few dives with the jacket style and then going to wing. I have a jacket as a backup but it probably wont see much time in the water...... I find it to be less strain, less restricting , and much easier to get proper neutral in.
RAWalker - 7/14/2014 2:04 AM
Let me start by saying I dive a BP&W myself and it is a preference built on experience.
That said, I’m an Instructor and will always start instructing classed using a jacket style BCD. What I use is a Back inflator style but to be able to properly kneel underwater without having to wav my hands to balance I must overweigh my back pockets compared to the front dumpable pockets. For the open water checkout dives I may switch to my BP&W for the last dive to familiarize the student with it as they may see them in the future or be buddied with a user.

So do I suggest a BP&W for a new OW diver? No! With reason and exception. Please read and understand the exception and you’ll understand the reason by the time I’m done explaining:

The exception is a diver who rents outfits for a fair number of dive trips after their checkout dives and really works to perfect their trim and buoyancy control in a jacket before moving to the BP&W. Jacket style BCD are limited on how they can be trimmed and doing so and gaining solid buoyancy control skills under these conditions will help you make the adjustments needed to properly trim a BP&W with the multitude of options available for a BP&W. Since a BP can be fitted with plates, pockets, channel weights or worn with a weight belt and even bought with different weights from sub 1 LB to over 10 LBS and with different harness configurations with or without releases and pads using tanks of differing capacities and wings of appropriate lift capacities. You can see the choices could hamper a new divers progress. After the diver has some experience weighted and trimmed properly in a BCD they should then try a few different configurations of BP&W and if possible have an experienced diver help you through the choices.
Eric_R - 7/14/2014 1:38 PM
I use a jacket. I just replaced mine and went to weight integrated. I thought my old BC was comfy but dumping the weight belt has really made a big difference. I think I would buy a BP/W if I was doing more task diving instead of recreational diving.
RichKeller - 7/14/2014 2:54 PM
I switched to a wing because it packs flatter in a suitcase for travel and use a commercial diving harness instead of a metal back plate because it is lighter for travel.
cmulvaney - 7/18/2014 8:11 PM
I dove BP/Ws for years (Halcyon and Dive Rite) until I got my Zeagle Ranger LTD. I love it. It is the most comfortable BC I have worn. I have over 700 dives on it on various profiles using singles and doubles. I would only dive a BP/W again if the only other option was a Jacket Style BC. I think the split crotch strap on the Zeagle is far superior than the one on my BP/Ws as I am not built like a Ken Doll. ;-) I always recommend this style back inflate for all new divers or anyone asking over everything else. I do let them know that they should try the others as it may fit them better but that this one fits me best.
John_giu - 7/20/2014 12:37 PM
Since a jacket BC will hold you like a cork bobbing at the surface it may be good for new divers who are afraid of going face down in the water.
I’m comfortable in the water and realize I’am not going to drown at the surface from a few splashes.

I moved from a jacket to a Mares Pegasus back inflate. It is a minimalist approach to a BC with a crotch strap and one roll-up pouch. It trims pretty well and has enough D rings to hang props from. So while I did not move to a BP and harness it’s a nice compromise with better trim then a jacket.

I would think a new diver who is very comfortable in the water could save time and money by going with a PB to begin with, but then again many divers will never do much more then annual resort dive with rental gear.

And that’s just fine.
Dutch - 7/27/2014 2:37 PM
I use a jacket and have for most of my dives (way too many to count). That said, I have tried several BP/W combinations and just don’t like them for myself. I think new divers should get the chance to try both styles at some point and make their own choices based on their own comfort, not what the "cool kids" are using.
wildturk - 7/27/2014 3:00 PM
I use a scubapro Xtek with the Rec-tek wing I found out that this setup is what is comfy for me. I tried a number of setups and stuck with the one with the most comfort. I guess everyone has a preference and find what is the best for them i dont even think this is a debatable subject. I am not going to wear a jacket style because someone said it’s what i should use. Or let them tell me that i shouldn’t wear my rig because it’s built for technical diving and i am a rec diver. Heck even the wing says Rec or Tek lol :D
MDW - 11/12/2014 9:03 AM
I would recommend BP&W for most new divers today. This setup has been proven time and again to be better for attaining proper buoyancy and trim, as well as more streamlined for better propulsion. Most divers I have met eventually move to this platform at some point as they begin to dive more and move up in skill and confidence. The move from the stab jacket they were forced to buy to a decent back inflation system then requires some unlearning of being vertical in the water, finning to maintain depth, yanking on a hose to dump gas, and other bad habits reinforced in the OW course based on the limitations of the jacket. If the proper trim and technique were taught in the most optimal kit configuration from the beginning, the diver would not need to learn all this from scratch later (and often on his own without benefit of an instructor) when he upgrades to BP&W.

Now, that said, I do see 2 scenarios where I don’t recommend initial training in BP&W. First, if a new diver has no intention of ever buying his own kit and diving locally of carrying his own gear on trips, it makes sense to train on the type of BC that will be provided at rental locations. In the case of the "vacation only" tropical diver, this means a jacket from 1987 (OK, maybe 2002). The second case would be a diver with known back issues or other problems that have lead to the conclusion they will only dive sidemount. In this case, I believe they should learn OW in sidemount (not jacket and not BP&W), for the same reason - learn to dive in the config you intend to use long term.
RAWalker - 11/12/2014 3:16 PM
MDW, you make a good point except that because of the numerous configurations available to BP&W and none being preferable to the others there are too many variables for a new diver to become accustomed to. Too many choices to learn about before being able to compare them on their merits. Yes, I do agree we should teach good diving characteristics to begin with. That can be accomplished with many of the back inflator style jackets available today. This allows for fewer choices to optimization for that choice and a baseline for those who choose to further refine their gear with the choices of BP&W or side mounts. That baseline is important in judging improvements.