Diving with BP/W - learning curve?

Discussion in 'Buoyancy Compensators (BC's) and Weight Systems' started by wasabipanda, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. wasabipanda

    wasabipanda Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SF Bay Area
    Hi all,

    I'm sorry if this question has been asked countless times already... I have been renting jacket BCs (non-back inflate) since my OW classes and am now considering going BP/W (more minimal, better weight distribution, easily customizable). I've read numerous posts mentioning the benefit of having an instructor or someone familiar with BP/W to make sure you have the rig secured properly on you. Aside from that, is there a significant learning curve to actually diving in a BP/W if you've only dived jacket BCs?

    None of the LDS rent out BP/W (at least none that I've found), so I'm tempted to just order a complete rig from DSS. Should I expect to have a tough time diving a BP/W the first few times, without instructor/DM support?

    Thank you in advance for your advice!
  2. GFuterfas

    GFuterfas SoCal DIR

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    I just bought a DSS BP with an LCD 30 wing and I'm not the most experienced diver (<30 dives total). I rented a BP/W during my AOW class so I could have an instructor give me tips on it, and there are a few adjustments. Took me four or five dives to get it, and now it's great. Main thing is using the butt dump to let air out when you're horizontal instead of the inflator.

    My LDS, Ocean Adventures in Los Angeles, is a Deep Sea Supply dealer, and they helped me set it up, rig the harness and fit it for me. That saved me a few hours of trying to figure it out, and I got some tips on caring for the wing (store it with some air in it and be very careful not to leave it on the Backplate where it can be punctured by getting hit between two pieces of metal.

    The videos and FAQ's on DSS's website are lacking a bit of information to fit the harness, in my opinion. The Cam Bands\Tank straps are also complicated but there's a good video on their website if you can find it... the video page is not obvious to find, in my opinion. Tobin is easy to get on the phone, however, and is happy to answer your questions and offer help.

    After 9 dives with the BP/W, I feel very comfortable with it and it wasn't that hard of a transition. I'm very happy with it.

  3. Bubbletrubble

    Bubbletrubble Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seussville
    Honestly, there's not much of a learning curve in terms of operating the BP/W. I've let novice divers fresh out of OW class and very advanced divers borrow my BP/W for a dive. Most of the people have really liked it and found it simpler to use than a conventional jacket BCD. YMMV.

    It can be helpful to have a knowledgeable dive buddy help you adjust the harness properly. If you exercise a little patience and know how to do a Google search, then you can figure out how to do this on your own.

    Just make sure that you do a proper weight check with the BP/W. (Unfortunately, many divers come out of OW class not knowing how to do this.) Most conventional BCDs have an inherent buoyancy of +4 lbs. In contrast, a stainless steel BP will be 5-6 lbs. negatively buoyant. It's not uncommon for divers to use 10 lbs. less lead when moving from a conventional BCD to a stainless steel BP/W.
  4. Lobzilla

    Lobzilla Single Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: New Hampshire, PA, Maryland

    To the OP: The proper assembly and adjustment can be a little vexing without help. Fortunately you live in an area where many folks are eager to come to the rescue. Try baue.org or wait untill someone here offers to take you under their wings (pun intended).
  5. Scott L

    Scott L Giant Squid

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Palm Beach, FL
    I am sure Tobin can direct you to a local dealer who will properly fit you into the harness...
  6. diver 85

    diver 85 Orca

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: SW Louisiana
    I found out not much of one when I went from 21 years of a 'jacket style' BC 4 years to a BI BC---then I bought a BP/W almost 2 years ago ...Now saying that, I dive about 50-50 between my BI BC & my BP/W......That Scout(BI) BC is HARD to beat, lol..

    As you can see, I bought a BP/W just for the heck of it, had been reading so much about them & wanted to just try 1 out----& ----it does works....
  7. dkktsunami

    dkktsunami Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: Georgia coast
    Swimming the thing is easy, first time set-up and fitting might require a little trial and error. Access to a pool would make life a lot easier especially if you can find an experienced buddy to get you started. Once set up there is really nothing to it - probably easier than the jacket.
  8. knowone


  9. ae3753

    ae3753 Assistant Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Bay Area, CA
    Since you're in the Bay Area, ping me. I have DSS rigs and we can meet up in the pool.
  10. triggerman365

    triggerman365 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Pacific Ocean
    My son has about 25 dives and has always used a jacket style BC. Recently he used my BP/W kit and his comment after two dives was "why does anyone use anything else?". I realize they may not be for everyone and other systems work for most recreational divers, but I love my set up. Good luck with your decision.
  11. herman

    herman Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh,North Carolina
    There is really very little difference diving a BP/wing and any other back inflate BCs if you put a little weight in the rear of the BI BC to compensate for the weight the BP would add. The biggest difference is adjusting of the BP- assuming a standard single web harness- with a standard BI BC you just pull the straps- it's adjusted, with a BP with the standard single web harness you have to remove it, adjust it and try again. Also, before buying consider what you will use the BC for. If it's local cold water diving then a steel plate may what you want. If you travel a lot by air, a SS plate will add a good bit of unnecessary weight to your luggage or if you dive a lot in warm water a steel plate may well be too heavy. In my case, a SS plate will overweight me by around 5 to 6 lbs in warm fresh water and around 2 in salt, an amount of overweighting I find unacceptable. You can always add a few pounds to your weight belt or to the BP if it's too light, one that is too heavy is always too heavy.
  12. Bubbletrubble

    Bubbletrubble Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seussville
    Along the lines of what triggerman365 wrote, OW instructors should spend a little time explaining to students the importance of horizontal trim and how to achieve it. In fact, it should immediately follow the conversation on being properly weighted and how to conduct a weight check.

    With a little patience, any BCD can be adjusted to promote horizontal trim by paying attention to where and how much lead is positioned on the rig. The problem is that most people lack the patience or knowledge to do this. Considering that most novice divers have head-up/feet-down trim (too much weight in weight-integrated pockets or on a weightbelt) with a conventional BCD, it's not surprising at all that when they move to a BP/W, which places more weight over the lungs (and subtracts some that's normally positioned on the hips), they magically become more horizontal in the water.

    The vast majority of beginner divers that I see here in SoCal are doing the nearly vertical head-up/feet-down bicycle kick, which silts up the sand below. This is caused by thick wetsuits necessitating a lot of lead that's all plopped into weight-integrated pockets on the BCD. :shakehead:

    I have a BP/W, but for my kind of recreational diving, any ol' BCD would work just fine.
    triggerman365 likes this.
  13. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    Like everybody else says, once you have the rig properly adjusted, diving it is like diving any other BC -- you put air in to float and let it out to sink.

    I would STRONGLY encourage you to take ae3753 up on his offer. Don's a super nice guy and a UTD instructor, and you couldn't get better guidance on setting your stuff up properly.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011
  14. GrumpyOldGuy

    GrumpyOldGuy Great White

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: West Texas/NH/CA
    I experienced no learning curve transitioning to a BP/W from a jacket. It is a very basic and simple piece of gear which is also its strength. It did take me about 2 hours to assemble it correctly from the parts and about 4 dives to get it adjusted exactly right. If I had a mentor around, 1-2 dives would have done it.
  15. wasabipanda

    wasabipanda Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SF Bay Area
    Thank you all for your feedback! I feel a lot better now knowing that diving a BP/W may not be as difficult as I thought. I've already been in touch with Tobin from DSS and he's given me his profession opinion on what rig would work best for diving around here. That being said, I will definitely double check my weighting in the water.

    ae3753 - PM sent!

    Thanks all! :D
  16. Ragnar

    Ragnar Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Guam Via CT
    Yup, I just used the sheet with pictures that you'll get from Tobin along with the BAUE website to get it close and within a few dives had it dialed in. Enjoy!

    Equipment Images
  17. Rascally Rabbit

    Rascally Rabbit Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    For an experienced diver that has mastered trim and bouyancy under varying dive profiles there probably isn't much of a learning curve. For someone still dealing with these issues all the variables may add to the difficulties. Having an experience BP&W diver to help may aid in dealing with the choices of configuring.
  18. fnfalman

    fnfalman Single Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California, USA
    Get the Halcyon Infinity rig with the quick adjustable harness and call it a day.
  19. dumpsterDiver

    dumpsterDiver Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    I would recommend accepting help with the set-up of the harness. The cheerleaders for BP/W seem to be forgetting to mention a MAJOR, potentially life threatening difference between a BP/W and a jacket BC. That being the the weight belt and crotch strap issue.

    You were most likley not taught with crotch strap. If you wear it over your weight belt then this complicates the removal of the weight belt. It is quite different than a typical BC which uses either integrted weights or an unrestricted weight belt. You can no longer simply pop a buckle and be pretty much assured that you can instantly ditch your lead in an emergency (as you can with the typical recreational BC).

    If you choose to run your crotch strap UNDER the weight belt (which I find very inconvienent) then you will have to learn to do that set-up.

    If you avoid using the crotch strap (which I do whenever possible) many people will tell you that the BP/W will be to sloppy and loose and might not support you nearly as well on the surface.

    Once the harness is adjusted properly and you have figured out the crotch strap issue and adapted to the idea that you have no pockets to store anything (unless you add them to the harness) ..diving with the BP/W is not much different at all.
  20. wasabipanda

    wasabipanda Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SF Bay Area
    Thank you for the advice. To be honest, I did not consider the placement of weight belt in relation to the crotch strap. A very important point indeed.

    Since you do not use the crotch strap on your BP/W, do you set your shoulder straps tighter to keep everything secured to your back when you're on the surface?

    I just ordered my rig from Deep Sea Supply (SS plate, Hogarthian Harness, Torus 26 Wing, 6.4 Lbs bolt on weight plates). I will try to put it together first (here's hoping anyway!) and ask for an expert to check that everything's set up right, before I dive in it. As well, to check for any adjustments that need to be made.

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