Scuba BCDs – The Difference Between Jacket Style, Wing Style and Semi-Wing Style


Nowadays there are a million and one different
styles of BCDs available in the diving industry but there are roughly three
types of BC’s. Jacket style, wing style and a semi wing and in this video we’re
gonna teach you all about them. First off we have the jacket style bc and this is
still the most popular among most divers. Main characteristic is that the air is
all around you, so when you inflate the BC. It will inflate in the sides and in
the back around your body. What we like about it is the fact that you are very stable
on the surface. This style BCD really keeps you upright and it’s easy to stay
on the surface or swim for a bit. Underwater it’s easy to change that
position if you want to swim only on your back or on your side. It’s really
easy to do with a jacket style bcd. They also tend to have weight integration and
they have big pockets and a lot of d-rings. So it’s easy to take
accessories with you. What’s less to like about the jacket style BC. Is the fact
that your diving position is not ideal. It’s easier to go into a prone “skydive”
position with a wing style BCD. Most divers tend to swim with their fins down
a bit when they use a traditional jacket style BC. Also have less freedom of
movement, like you can see on the side they’re pretty big and this constricts
you while you are using your arms and also some divers don’t like it when the
BC is inflated. They feel a little bit compressed. This is a wing style BC. The
main characteristic is the fact that it’s back inflated. So when you fully
inflate a wing you won’t feel a thing around your body. It consists out of two
pieces of bladder and backplate with harness and this harness is set to your
exact size. What we like about this BC is the fact that it’s back inflated and
that it really puts you in a prone position and keeps you there. So the diving position is really great. Also what we do like is the fact
that the harness, once it really fits to your size it’s really comfortable. It’s
like the best diving BC you can have. Also what we like is the freedom of
movement there’s no pockets, there are no anything
which is in your way. You can really move around without any problem. Also the fact
that you can change out the bladder, get a new backplate, replace the harness. It’s
really great you don’t have to buy a completely new set but just remove these
bands and get some new ones for them. Also you can do many different dives
with it. You can do a technical diving with a twin set, you can do recreational
diving with single tank. You just need to change out your bladder but your harness
and your backplate and stay in place. Some things that are less likable about
the wing style BC is the fact that these bands in your harness are hard to
customize. So when you change your suit from a wet suit or dry suit for instance.
It’s really hard to adjust these to the correct size. Also when you try to get
into your wing and it’s fitted properly, it’s quite hard especially with a
dry suit with a deflater on your shoulder. Furthermore there are no
pockets on a wing style BC. That’s why you see most technical divers with
pockets on their dry suits or they buy a special pair of shorts with pockets on
them. So they can store accessories right there. Otherwise you can put them on your
harness as well using double enders. So right here but then you wear all your
accessories externally, so not in a pocket. Furthermore what we don’t like is the
fact that it’s not so stable on the surface. A wing style BCD tends to
push you a bit forward when you’re on the surface. So you have to really lean
back and get adjusted to that. Then we got the semi wing. Which is more or less a
hybrid between a wing style bc and a jacket style bc. So it’s back inflated
but still got some benefits of a jacket style bc. It fits the same way and you
still got some pockets. What’s to like about the semi wing is the fact that
it’s back inflated. So the diving position is great. It really puts you in
a prone position. Also there enough pockets on it. So all your
accessories are easily put into your BCD or hung and the D rings. Almost all semi
Wings have integrated weights. We also get the benefits of a jacket style BC,
especially the harness. It’s quite easy to adjust it. It’s easier to get in and also
it’s easier to deflate a semi wing than a normal wing. What’s not to like about the
semi wing is the fact that it can be used for different types of diving. So
you can’t really do technical diving with it. Some semi wings allow you to put
a double 7 on it but that is as high as it gets.
Also you can’t replace separate parts. So you can’t put a new bladder on it or get a
new harness. It’s one piece and you need to buy a new BC if you want to change
something. Which type of BC is right for you? It’s kind of the million dollar
question because it’s a really hard one to answer. We can only tell you what we
do we really enjoy the freedom and the diving position of a wing. So when we
dive in our spare time, we use a wing style BC but when we teach we tend to
use and take a style because it’s similar to your students and it’s easier
to teach with a jacket style BC. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true for
you. So we always recommend you try one of each type before you make a decision.
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9 thoughts on “Scuba BCDs – The Difference Between Jacket Style, Wing Style and Semi-Wing Style”

  1. Hi! I would find it interesting to hear about the differences of brands out there (Aqualung, Cressi, ScubaPro, Diverite, etc). Your personal opinions on strengths or weaknesses of different brands (and warranties) and how a homogeneous or a mixed combination of brands is good or bad. Presently I have a simple / recreational mix, but in my case, I want to go with a single brand for a more uniform professional look. However, doing so is hard, as some brands seem to be strong in one way, weak in another, or maybe just too pricey $$$. How should one decide when planning to make a set up purchase?

  2. I think at the very beginning with diving you should not buy a wing with harnes because you will not start with double tanks …

  3. Hi! Im really looking for a light travel bcd for intense recreational use in warm but also 14° 40m dives, with high Denier o Cordura construction because i love wreeks and im afraid to rip the Bcd.
    I will like to use back inflators
    In my list Cressi Ultralight, Aqualung Outlaw (dont like too much the usability of the quick weight pockets and cant see real diving videos using it to have realnopinion) and maybe poor lift capacity?
    Hollis LTS or Litehawk are great but weight system is poor and small..
    So whats your opinion?
    By the way whera is the dive at the end of the video with the amazing truk?

    Thx a lot

  4. I did dive 12 years with a jacket style and recently bought a scubapro hydros semiwing. i just love it my bouency control just whent up i hang completely dead in the water thats a big different.

  5. I have a wing the Hollis hd100 it has integrated weight but is also a wing it’s great and my buoyancy is amazing compare to jacket style

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