Exploring the Pros and Cons of Backplate and Wing vs. Traditional BCD: A Diver's Perspective

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Backplate and Wing vs. Traditional BCD: A Diver's Perspective


For scuba divers, choosing the right buoyancy control device (BCD) is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the comfort and safety of their underwater adventures. Traditionally, jacket-style BCDs have been the go-to choice for many divers. However, the backplate and wing system has gained popularity in recent years. In this review, we'll delve into the pros and cons of both options to help you make an informed decision about which system suits your diving style best.

Pros of Backplate and Wing:

  1. Customization and Modularity: One of the standout advantages of the backplate and wing system is its high degree of customization. Divers can choose individual components such as backplates, wings, and harnesses, allowing for a tailored fit. This modularity not only enhances comfort but also accommodates different body types and diving preferences.

  2. Streamlined Profile: Backplate and wing setups generally offer a more streamlined profile underwater. The absence of bulky pockets and unnecessary padding reduces drag, making it easier for divers to glide through the water with less effort. This streamlined design can also contribute to better buoyancy control.

  3. Improved Trim and Buoyancy: The backplate and wing system facilitates better horizontal trim and buoyancy control. The diver can achieve a more natural and horizontal position in the water, promoting a streamlined and efficient dive. This improved control is particularly beneficial for underwater photographers and videographers.

  4. Durability: The simplicity of the backplate and wing design often translates to increased durability. With fewer moving parts and less material to wear out, these systems tend to withstand the test of time and the harsh underwater environment.

Cons of Backplate and Wing:

  1. Learning Curve: Transitioning from a traditional BCD to a backplate and wing system can be challenging for some divers. The different weight distribution and adjustment mechanisms may require a learning curve, and divers may need additional training to become comfortable with the new setup.

  2. Limited Storage Options: Unlike traditional BCDs, which often come with multiple pockets for storage, backplate and wing systems typically offer limited storage options. Divers who rely on a variety of accessories may find this limitation inconvenient.

  3. Less Comfortable at the Surface: While backplate and wing systems excel in providing comfort and control underwater, they may not be as comfortable on the surface. The lack of padding on the backplate can be less forgiving when waiting at the surface between dives.

  4. Potentially Higher Initial Cost: Investing in a backplate and wing system, especially one with high-quality components, can be more expensive upfront compared to traditional BCDs. However, many divers view this as a worthwhile investment in long-term comfort and performance.


Ultimately, the choice between a backplate and wing system and a traditional BCD depends on your personal preferences, diving style, and comfort level with equipment customization. Both options have their merits and drawbacks, so it's essential to weigh the factors that matter most to you. Whether you prioritize customization, streamlined design, or simplicity, the right BCD is the one that enhances your underwater experience and safety.

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