BCD Comparison (jacket vs. BP/W)

I've been diving since 2005 so I've experienced several different gear configurations along the way. From the classic jacket style BCD wit the Aqualung Titan series regulators when I first started (rental gear) to an amazing used set of more advanced gear wth a rear-inflation BCD and Scubapro Mk11/S600 regaulators, and settling most recently on a Hollis backplate and wing setup (bp/w), my gear selection has reflected the type of diving i've been into. 

I thought I might run through some of the major differences between the classic entry level equipment (jacket/rear inflation BCD) vs. the more advanced backplate/wing setup, in this article, and describe why I chose the particular models I use. 

Entry-level buoyancy control device (BCD)

The entry level BCD is typically a jacket style inflation device, which evenly distributes the gas around your body and has pockets and often integrated weights for convenience. These BCDs are perfect for warm water divers and entry-level divers as they are very comfortable, evenly distribute the buoyancy around your body so that your buoyancy/trim is relatively neutral in the water, and the pockets and integrated weights allow warm and cold water divers to integrate all of their gear into a single device and they allow for a less cluttered (arguably) and simpler dive experience. 

LPBuyGuide BCD WhatIsIt

Advanced BCD - Backplate and Wing


The backplate and wing differs from the jacket style BCD primarily in their intended functionality. In a BP/W the functions require of the BCD stem from the individual and seperate components (bouyancy comes from the wing, accessory attachement from the harness, tank attachment from the backplate...etc.) This allows different compnents to be interchanged as needed, and allows the diver to upgrade their system in a partwise fashion to meet new needs. Additionally, for technical divers, a bp/w setup is required, as double tanks are not compatible with the small bladder sizes of jacket style BCDs, nor are there any easy atachemnt points. An obvious example of BP/W advantanges is the wing. For a technical diver who wants to do single tank dives, a small wing can be easily attached to their backplate and harnbess, which snugs gainst the tank and provides support, yet which still seperates the distinct components of the divers support system. If the diver wishes to use double tanks at a laterdate, they can swap out this smaller wing for a larger 45-60lb wing which is both larger for support of double tanks and has more buoyancy to adjust for the increased negative buoyancy of double steel tanks.