BCD vs. dive wing set up?

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sekhmet
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BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by sekhmet » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:29 am

I'm trying to do a little research on perhaps switching my current set up from a ipearl BCD with lever to a dive wing set up. I've been thinking about this for a number of reasons, but primarily because the jacket BCD is really starting to hurt my back. I also get frustrated with the way the D rings are set up and wish they were in other places. I also would like to not be carrying so much weight in weight pockets, on my tank, etc. I am also attracted to how snug the harness is.

I know you can buy a complete set up from Halycon, but usually I see people "make" theirs out of of components. So I'd like to hear what others think and if you can recommend some websites, etc.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
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Dusty2
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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Dusty2 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:07 pm

We have been here before many times and there are just as many answers. First go for it! you will find few decenters. The great part about them is they are very customizable. If I were starting out again I would consider a package deal. It will save you money over buying individul pieces. The Hog setup. Or possibly diverite. Both of which you can do for right $400. There are a jillion choices if you start at the put it together yourself stage but the base fact is back plates and the basic hog harness are pretty much the same from brand to brand. Wings are the key and the most expensive part. If your doing singles get a singles wing or doubles go with a dedicated doubles wing. Brand isn't all that important but fit for purpose is. Go for something that will give you the best streamlining in the water. You basically want a wing that will support it's self when fully geared up so if you need to take it off in the water it will float. For singles I would go with 32 to 37lbs lift for a guy.

Dive gear express has some nice packages and they allow you to pick the wing you want so you are not locked in to a certain one. Keep in mind that there will be extras you will need like cam bands and weight pockets and such even with the packages. Most of your basic package deals don't come with these things.

There are a lot of guys in the club that can lend you a setup to try out and you would be well served to take them up on it. Everyone is different and the important thing is to get a combination that will trim out well for you in the water.

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Jeff Pack
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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Jeff Pack » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:18 pm

For a backplate, they are all just about the same except the Halcyon Cinch. (if you are talking one 1piece harness).
Of course you have Stainless Steel, Aluminum, and even ABS/Kydex back plates . Difference is whether you need the weight of Stainless (appx 6pds)

How you carry weight, some use the DUI weight and trim, others weights on their waist or a weight belt.

Wings, thats a whole different ball game.

You have horseshoe, or donut, long, short, in between inflator hose lengths, dump elbow or not.

Next is singles or doubles. With a single, you may need an STA on a backplate. My zeagle didnt require one, but my Halcyon does.

Size of wing is always a debate, too big, versus too small. for PNW, somewhere 35-45 for single. different ratings (like dive rite just changed all theirs to FW ratings)
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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by LCF » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:01 pm

Talk to Tobin George at Deep Sea Supply. He will walk you through all the options and sizing, and make sure you get what will work for you. They have a pretty nice website where you can play with putting a rig together, too.

Tobin's setups are unique, in that you can buy them with lead plates that bolt onto the backplate, to add weight to your back, if you want to do that. A number of people I know use them; I don't, because I prefer to have all my weights removable, to make the rig as easy as possible to move around on land. Tobin's rigs also do not require a single tank adapter (and neither do the Hogs) which makes the rig a little simpler. As long as you aren't going back and forth between single tank and double tank diving, an STA is just one more thing to remember.

Edited to add that, if you want to play with a plate setup when you are up here in February, we can make that happen.
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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by SSpiffyDiver » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:08 pm

After taking diving up again after a few decades (back in the horse-collar BC days) I just didn't like a jacket BCD. First thing I did was start to put together a BPW setup. I did it piecemeal with most of the stuff used. In hindsight I should have gone with a package setup like http://www.diverightinscuba.com/catalog ... -3070.html or http://www.diverightinscuba.com/catalog ... -2095.html from DRIS. It would have saved both time AND money. And I can see where I should have gone with a donut wing instead of horseshoe, mine has a bottom dump on only one side, so I have to make sure I get the air out of the other side when bottom dump makes more sense. Not a real problem, just one more thing to think about.

The only time I ever see myself using a jacket BCD again is on vacation when MrsSSpiffy's stuff fills all available luggage space.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Mortuus » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:05 pm

It can take a while to get the harness adjusted just perfectly, but once you do, it is SO worth it!!!! I cant even describe how comfortable my rig is in the water. I love it.

Lynne, are those the lead plates that Jay has on his plate? If they are, then they interfered with putting in an Argon system when Mark and I went to get him set up with one during the scooter workshop. Since the hole that is typically used for the Argon strap was already taken, we had to find another. Anyways, thats not totally relevant to the OP, but I thought I would point it out so that the OP could keep that in mind when choosing options for his/her bp/wing setup. If OP decides to go that route that is.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by fnerg » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:12 am

A BP/W helped me lose weight! From my weight belt! I seriously dropped about 18 pounds of lead on a single tank setup, and not all of that was because of the plate. I even took the thing to Maui, and managed to stay under the 50 lb baggage limit.

You'll just feel way more comfortable in the water.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Mortuus » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:37 am

If you were able to drop 18 lbs of lead on a single tank setup, then you were severely over weighted beforehand

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by fnerg » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:22 am

I'd done the 500psi weight check plenty of times before switching to the BP/W, so I'm thinking that foam and padding in the previous BCD (a Zeagle) contributed to some of that.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Grateful Diver » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:52 am

Mortuus wrote:It can take a while to get the harness adjusted just perfectly, but once you do, it is SO worth it!!!! I cant even describe how comfortable my rig is in the water. I love it.

Lynne, are those the lead plates that Jay has on his plate? If they are, then they interfered with putting in an Argon system when Mark and I went to get him set up with one during the scooter workshop. Since the hole that is typically used for the Argon strap was already taken, we had to find another. Anyways, thats not totally relevant to the OP, but I thought I would point it out so that the OP could keep that in mind when choosing options for his/her bp/wing setup. If OP decides to go that route that is.


Shouldn't be a problem. I have Halcyon argon straps on two of my DSS plates, along with the 5.3 lb plate weights.

FWIW - those plate weights aren't lead ... they're steel.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Mortuus » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:04 pm

Grateful Diver wrote:
Mortuus wrote:It can take a while to get the harness adjusted just perfectly, but once you do, it is SO worth it!!!! I cant even describe how comfortable my rig is in the water. I love it.

Lynne, are those the lead plates that Jay has on his plate? If they are, then they interfered with putting in an Argon system when Mark and I went to get him set up with one during the scooter workshop. Since the hole that is typically used for the Argon strap was already taken, we had to find another. Anyways, thats not totally relevant to the OP, but I thought I would point it out so that the OP could keep that in mind when choosing options for his/her bp/wing setup. If OP decides to go that route that is.


Shouldn't be a problem. I have Halcyon argon straps on two of my DSS plates, along with the 5.3 lb plate weights.

FWIW - those plate weights aren't lead ... they're steel.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)



Hmm... maybe they are different plates than the ones I am thinking of

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by BlowBubbles » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:54 pm

BP and harness are not to expensive, but wings can be. Don't do what I did. First I bought a cheap wing, it had wear and hole problems, then I bought a way oversized wing after an adventure with a Heisure 120 tank. Good advice on this site, look around buy smart.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Rooinater » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:02 pm

Mortuus wrote:If you were able to drop 18 lbs of lead on a single tank setup, then you were severely over weighted beforehand



What is with all the weighting attacks on here? He wouldn't necessarily have to be severely overweighted Mortuus, unless he's referring to removing all compensatory weight. It depends on the setup he has now compared to what he had previously. My sta plus backplate is about 13lbs plus any buoyancy from the luxurious foam padding for comfort in a particular BCD. Plus any compensation required for trapped air in a flawed design (zeagles tend to trap and taco) which can easily add up to a lot of floatation any extra weight had to compensate for. I lost between 16-18lbs of lead off my belt when I switched to a backplate while diving singles, 13lbs of steel added and about 3-5lbs of flotation from removing all the padding. It's made up somewhere, but is not lead on my belt. He said not all of it was from the plate, so maybe he had a very cushly padded bcd, they exist...

As for assembling one, if you can try a few wings out, they make a huge difference in the way the rig handles. And definitely get a dedicated singles or double wing. The combo wings aren't really worth it, you'll wind up buying dedicated wings anyhow. As for standard plates, most of them are similar and the brand really doesn't matter.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Mortuus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:46 pm

That isn't an attack.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Grateful Diver » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:33 am

I didn't read it as an attack ... but not necessarily a valid conclusion either. It's generally more constructive to find out more information before coming to that conclusion. There are many ways to account for that much of a weight differential, such as weighted STA's or the DSS plate weights. Padding can be worth a few pounds of lead as well.

That said, overweighting is a common issue. It's not unusual for me to help a diver remove a few pounds of lead during a routine weight check in one of my classes. People often adjust their weights when they get a new piece of gear ... like a drysuit or undergarment ... and don't adjust later when their experience allows them better management of air spaces, or when the loft in a new undergarment begins to compress ... or even as they become more comfortable in the water and their breathing pattern changes. It's a good idea to do a weight check from time to time, because your body adjusts to the weight you're using ... even if you're using too much.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Mortuus » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:24 am

I calculated losing 6lbs of lead for the bp and 6lbs of lead for a weighted STA (assuming he has one). So that puts us up to twelve. Assuming his previous BC was a couple pounds floaty, then we are still a ways off from 18. Maybe not severely overweighted as I previously stated, but I think its a safe bet that he was definitely overweighted by a bit. And yes, as Bob pointed out, it is a very common problem, so I didnt feel it was much of a stretch.

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Re: BCD vs. dive wing set up?

Post by Grateful Diver » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:20 am

Mortuus wrote:I calculated losing 6lbs of lead for the bp and 6lbs of lead for a weighted STA (assuming he has one). So that puts us up to twelve. Assuming his previous BC was a couple pounds floaty, then we are still a ways off from 18. Maybe not severely overweighted as I previously stated, but I think its a safe bet that he was definitely overweighted by a bit. And yes, as Bob pointed out, it is a very common problem, so I didnt feel it was much of a stretch.


There are a lot of different types of BP/W out there. Some weigh much more ... and sometimes much less ... than 6 lbs. Some have STA's ... some don't. Some STA's are weighted ... some aren't.

I personally own two lightweight BP/W systems for travel (one aluminum, one kydex), three DSS BP's (5.5 lb stainless plus 5.3 lb plate weights), and one FredT 9 lb stainless plate ... plus an assortment of STA's. And I own six different singles wings that can be attached to any of those systems. Some require STA's ... some don't. Weighting depends entirely on what combination of components I choose for a given rig.

And that's the beauty of the BP/W ... it's a component system, and gives you a lot of freedom to pick and choose pieces that fit your needs or preferences. Your weighting requirements will depend on which you choose.

Another thing that can affect weighting ... particularly with some integrated BCD's ... is the design of the air cell. Some are better at trapping air than others. If you're used to diving with a small amount of trapped air, your weighting will be affected accordingly. This is true in both standard BCD and BP/W designs.

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