Scuba Tech Tips: BCDs – Jacket Style vs Wings – S04E13

Alec compares the common stabilizing jacket BCD to back mounted or ‘wing’ BCD’s. Both styles pros and cons are discussed plus how to properly distribute weights for comfortable diving.

***** Alec Peirce Scuba *****

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Reza Tuasikal says:

great video. thanks for sharing

Ano nym says:

dive lights again please :):)

trinaandnina4 says:

Can you do an episode for kids gear? My 10 year old daughter is a certified Jr ow diver and I have been looking for some gear for her.

cat guitarist says:

your like a turtle with the wing style BC

Jack says:

Hi Alec! Great video as usual. I was wondering what you might recommend for a jacket style BCD, preferably without weight integration, but if not just a simple weight dump (some BCD’s I’ve seen have these clip-ins that, if you dump, you need to replace). my emphasis is on durability and comfort.

ambsviii says:

Hyee Alec, thank you for your interesting explanation. I want to ask regarding non dumpable weight on BC. Is it safe to use non dumpable weight because in case of emergency we cannot drop the weight.

Jose L. Ramos says:

Thanks for the class!

D Gordon says:

Alec, just found your videos and love them. 🙂 This series reminded me of the At-Pac which I used decades ago. The backpac portion was hollow and used shot to balance. It also had a plastic shell. Very cool and the best setup I saw at the time when I was diving. Now as then, weighting was so critical. Most of the BC’s of the day then where bouee fenzy’s or USD horsecollars. Love to hear your thoughts on those. Cheers to a phenomenal series. Also, though I was never certified by them, what the heck happened to NASDS? In Ontario they had a stranglehold on Scubapro for decades. Great series and thanks.

matt caradonna says:

Alec, just a question for you. You mention in this tech tip that you believe Seaquest made the first stabilizing “jacket” style BC. I am pretty sure that it was Scubapro that invented the very first stabilizing jacket bc (called the Stabilizing Jacket or Stab jacket). This was the very first bc of this style and was invented in 1971. I THINK I am correct in this. Being the Vintage Scuba Guru however, I defer to your extensive knowledge! There is a neat pdf presentation I found online that details the history of BCs. The link is should you be interested. Thanks again for all your awesome videos! I love them!

coolzomp says:

How can you say a person who prefers a weightbelt is dangerous?
I am such a person and I will tell you why:

1. I have seen far more people loose their weights unintended with integrated weights than with weight belts (Have been teaching in diving since ’12)

2. If you for some reason need to take off your BCD while underwater (entanglement and the like), with integrated weights; you’re now positive while your BCD is either negative or largely inflated to compensate. I dive in Scandinavia all year round and find a 7mm Drysuit comfortable for most of my diving, if I didn’t wear a weightbelt I would be very positive in just my suit. Taking of my BCD inside a wreck to untangle myself would become so much more hazardeous if I couldn’t control my bouancy.

3. With integrated weights you can’t adjust the position of the weights as easily. Adjusting a belt is quick and easy, in water as well. When I teach students I am happy that I can easily adjust where their belt is placed, we are all built differently and thus a belt might not sit well at the same spot on two different people. I know, you can use trim weights, but I don’t see it as easier than a belt.

I think you have some good points, and based on your experience you have come to have some ideas about how you think it is smart to dive. But I don’t think it’s okay to say that people who haven’t come to the same conclusions are dangerous.

Antal Toth says:

6:05 you tell people to inflate the bcd to bring you up to the surface. Hopefully no beginner divers take this advise if they do they will likely ascend to fast resulting in DSC/DCI. I cannot believe you actually tell people to do this.

TheOldManEric says:

Wings are also great for kayak diving, Light and easy to stow away.

Karl Marx says:

As always, super-great. Thanks a million, Karl.

bristol says:

Good video Alec, thanks for bringing me up to-date,I’m old school from the days of the ABLJ and a separate weight belt and a wet suit….

Pat Green says:

Thanks for this, hope you’re enjoying retirement! I have a similar travel BCD (scubapro litehawk) and I found using minimal weight (total 10lb) shoved around the BCD belt to the back there was no problem underwater. Swimming up (little to no air in BCD) at the end of the dive fine, where I found the forward tip was on the surface when I inflated the BCD to wait for the boat. I used trim weights on the tank to correct this then I found that deflating the BCD and lying back was nearly as comfortable as being vertical with a jacket. So now I don’t use the trim weights. I think the position is rather like a sea otter on the surface if you can imagine it. Just a thought. I guess this is just what you said, a bit of experiment is necessary to find the best compromise. All the best!


Love your episodes.. so informative. Thank you so much! – A FAN 🙂

chewy smitty says:

looking at the axiom bcd…is that a good bcd

CaptainKeelhaul says:

Poor Kevin is like the Al to your Tim. =D

Quiller says:

Top tips, as always. Just bought my first wing (XDeep Ghost) and can’t wait to get it set up and give it a try.

Wade Smith says:

Love my biolite (in warm water only). Did my rescue course in 12-15 degree water – 5 mm suit and gloves – too light weight to use clips etc. In warm water is great. Only downside – solid lead weights can slip out the bottom of the pockets. Video of it here.

antreas nikiforou says:

Hi mr Alec thank you for your videos we are learning a lor of usefull staff plsase make a video if you can for the scubapro hydros pro bcd if you had try it .
Thank you

Eduard Cefranov says:

superrrr subscribe definitely!!!!!!

Montiman0 says:

My dive buddy told me the same thing about how my back inflate would force my face down during our surface swim out to the dive site. I filled it up, leaned back and finned out to sea like nobody’s business.

Joseph Ringling says:

Great video Alec and I do appreciate the humor! I do prefer the wing type bcd for the same reasons.

Johan Lusari says:

I thought this wing type was for technical dive, nice information, thank you

mohamed reza fahlavy says:

this is great! you’re great. thank you.

M Schmitzquadrat says:

Thank you so much for this valuable information. What is your opinion on alternative inflator systems for bcds like the Aqualung i3 or the mares airtrim system? Greetings from Germany…. love your channel

Wes H says:

Alec, great video as always. Love all the insight from your experiences. Have you ever used a BCD with the new inflate/deflate lever down by the waist? If so what were your thoughts? Open to other commenters here if they have as well. Just curious. Thanks!

william harlan says:

can you please do an episode on full face mask and the advantage and disadvantage of them as well as under water communication systems I just moved from the Northeastern Ohio to Hawaii and several people I dive with here use them

Webgrafter says:

Most informative video on the topic I’ve seen. Thanks!

Danger 6 says:

Youve just explained to me why my first shore dive was so awful. I had a stab type bcd which was smaller than the one I had used in the pool, so it had all the buoyancy further back, it had weight pockets rather than the belt i was used to, so all the weight was further forward…the salt water gave me extra buoyancy etc etc I floundered around feeling both stupid and frustrated… Must get my own BCD and I trust your advice and guidance – Thank you so much!

weiniesail says:

great video as usual… the norm mcdonald voice is getting to me though.
kevin is gonna get all stabby stabby with one of your vintage sea hunt knives soon if you keep cracking those jokes about his weight.

Murphy Sy says:

Alec, I love all of your video. I do think spreading the weight on the wing bcd would make it goes up right. however, would it take away the benefit underwater? I assume it would also make you out of the trim position?

oliver lopez says:

13:14 just blew my mind!

Mjød Ølll says:

Hi Alec,

Well…. after talking to a lot af my boating friends here and there, I realized that many of us would like to know what is necessary and what is not, when hanging there under the boats while fighting those annoying things growing wild. I really dont have the guts to dive more than 5 meters deep to tell you the truth, so any fancy regulators for deep diving should be excluded here at least from an economic aspect , Will a second stage regulator, 30 feets of hose and a oil free compressor do the job or will it be more comfortable with a pressure tank in a BCD ? Thanks for your videoes my friend ,

steve schiff says:

Hi Alec. Good informative video. I’m surprised you didn’t touch on the differences in buoyancy and trim control between the stab jacket and wing type BCD. I’ve always been under the impression that it takes a bit more skill and practice to dive with the wing style but once you’re accomplished, it’s a much more stable configuration, but again one that might not be the best option for new divers who are still working on the basics. There’s also the hybrid style that you didn’t show in the video which as you know has the air bladder in the back but has the appearance and some configuration similarities including built in pockets towards the front, this is the type I dive with.

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