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 wondering about any of the above we hope to resolves this queries with the below information.
The BCD or Buoyancy Control Device has been a staple part of Scuba Equipment in one way or another since the beginning (Almost!)
It is an essential piece of equipment which 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 too. For example most BCDs have great facilities to attach equipment too along with spacious pockets and integrated weight systems! You can also get gender specific fits which generally provide a nice amount of extra comfort.
A major thing to consider with a BCD is the way that 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 which allows 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 have a tendency to keep divers a little bit "leg-down"
So what are the pros and cons?
|Easy to use||Usually bulky and heavy|
|The most common form of buoyancy control, so likely you will be familiar with it!||Can make getting the perfect inwater position a little tricky|
|Tend to have good sized pockets and plenty of places to attach all your equipment|
The Wing style of buoyancy control stemmed from the 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. In its most basic for 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 to.
They tend to be a modular system too which allows 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, the reason for this is that it makes it a lot easy to get into the horizontal "prone" position in the water, which is very important if you are cave diving in the dark because it significantly reduces the chance of snagging or becoming entangled and it also increase your efficiency in the water.
|Modular system allows for a great variety of configurations to suit your needs||The modular systems start to rack up in terms of price!|
|Can be stripped down to be incredibly lightweight for travel purposes|
|Makes it easier to get into the "Prone" position|
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 divers back which allows for some reduction in bulk around the shoulders.