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Choosing the Right BCD: Comparing Jacket Style, Back Inflate, and Backplate & Wing Systems

Selecting the right buoyancy control device (BCD) is essential for an optimal diving experience. Among the options available, the back inflates BCD, jacket style BCD, and backplate & wing systems are three popular choices. Each system offers unique features and benefits. This blog explores the differences between these BCD types and discusses their advantages and disadvantages.

Oceanic Jacket-Style BCD

Jacket Style BCD:

Jacket-style or traditional BCDs encircle the diver's torso like a jacket and have air bladders on the sides and back.


Comfortable fit: Jacket-style BCDs are easy to put on and provide a familiar, snug fit that many divers find comfortable.

Simplified buoyancy control: These BCDs often have integrated weight systems and offer straightforward buoyancy adjustments, making them user-friendly, especially for beginners.

Good surface flotation: The jacket design provides ample surface buoyancy, helping divers stay afloat on the water's surface.


Bulkier profile: Jacket-style BCDs can create more drag underwater, potentially affecting your streamline and mobility.

Limited freedom: The design may restrict the movement of the chest and abdominal areas compared to back-inflated BCDs.

Atomic BC2

Back Inflate BCD:

Back inflate BCDs feature an air bladder on the diver's back. They are similar to jacket-style BCDs with a few modifications.


Superior streamlining: Inflate BCDs provide a more streamlined profile, reducing drag in the water and creating a more comfortable diving experience.

Enhanced buoyancy control: The air bladder's position helps keep the diver's body in a horizontal position underwater, promoting better trim and buoyancy control.

Freedom of movement: With the air bladder located on the back, divers enjoy unrestricted movement of their chest and abdominal areas.


Initial adjustment: Some divers might find it takes time to get used to the feeling of buoyancy shifting from the chest to the back.

Surface buoyancy adjustment: Surface buoyancy control can be slightly more challenging due to the air bladder's position.

Halcyon backplate and wing

Backplate & Wing System:

Backplate and wing systems, commonly used in technical diving, consist of a metal backplate and a separate air bladder (wing).


Customizable setup: Divers can configure their gear based on personal preferences, allowing greater equipment placement and weight distribution customization.

Streamlined profile: The flat backplate design enhances streamlining and reduces drag underwater.

Improved trim: Backplate & wing systems promote horizontal trim by distributing air evenly around the body.


Learning curve: This setup might require additional training to ensure divers are comfortable with the equipment configuration and buoyancy control.

Initial investment: Backplate & wing systems can be more expensive upfront due to the separate components required.


When choosing a scuba BCD, understanding the differences between back inflate, jacket style, and backplate & wing systems is crucial. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, catering to various diving preferences and experience levels. Whether you're seeking streamlined performance, ease of use, or customization, there's a BCD style for you. For a reliable source of scuba gear and equipment, contact us at Ray Scuba Diving to learn about our extensive selection and get expert advice on your equipment needs.

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