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BCD vs WingUpdated 2 years ago

What are the differences between a BCD and a Wing? And why would you prefer one over the other? Most importantly, Which one is right for me!?

If you wonder about any of the above, we hope to resolve these queries with the information below.



SINCE THE BEGINNING, the BCD or Buoyancy Control Device has been a staple part of Scuba Equipment in one way or another (Almost!)
It is an essential piece of equipment that allows us to adjust our buoyancy in the water by adding or dumping air from it; over the years, they have been adapted towards other functions. For example, most BCDs have excellent facilities to attach equipment and spacious pockets and integrated weight systems! You can also get gender-specific fits which generally provide a nice amount of extra comfort.

A significant thing to consider with a BCD is how air will move around the bladder underwater, as the bladder in a classic BCD will start on the back and come around to the front, allowing the air to move around freely inside it.
This can make it a little difficult to get into the most streamlined "Prone" position; by design, they tend to keep divers a little bit "leg-down"

So what are the pros and cons?

Easy to useUsually bulky and heavy
The most common form of buoyancy control, so likely you will be familiar with it!Can make getting the perfect in-water position a little tricky
Tend to have good-sized pockets and plenty of places to attach all your equipment 


The Wing

The Wing style of buoyancy control stemmed from Technical diving and the associated requirements. However, the principles of buoyancy stay the same whether you are single tank diving in the Bahamas or Twin-Set-Side-Mount Cave exploring in the dark!
A Wing is essentially a stripped-down BCD with a few slight design changes. It's pretty basic, as it consists of a Bladder, Back Plate and Webbing Harness, although they do exist with some extra comforts added in such as padding, integrated weight systems and D-Rings to clip your gear on too.
They tend to be modular systems that allow you to add, remove, and customise parts to suit different diving needs and situations.

The major difference is that a Wing has the bladder and all inflation systems solely on your back. It makes it a lot easier to get into the horizontal "prone" position in the water, which is very important if you are cave or wreck diving because it significantly reduces the chance of snagging or becoming entangled. It also increases your efficiency in the water.

The modular system allows for a great variety of configurations to suit your needsThe modular systems start to rack up in terms of price!
It can be stripped down to be incredibly lightweight for travel purposes 
It makes it easier to get into the "Prone" position 


The Hybrid!

Recently hybrid versions which aim to take the best from both categories and combine them into one unit have started to emerge, and for the most part, they provide an excellent consumer balance between the two!
Generally, they retain the pockets around the waist but move the inflation solely onto the diver's back, which reduces bulk around the shoulders.

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