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A newcomers take on BPW v traditional jacket BCDs

Discussion in 'Buoyancy Compensators (BC's) and Weight Systems' started by lowlysubaruguy, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. lowlysubaruguy

    lowlysubaruguy Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: The Gorge
    Im writting this from my lounge chair on Bonaire while my crew gets cleaned up for lunch. Its a slow process Maybe someday Ill slow up.

    My wife and I converted from jacket BCDs to BPWs we needed two more outfits for my family so it wasnt a lets go throw money around. This is primarily to answer questiions that I myself did not find before I made the switch and to throw my experience fresh off the boat so to say.

    I want to re cover this view you cannot in most places put on a BPW and walk out of the store with one. Maybe in some areas but not many. I also am hard pressed to toss out a grand on something I cant put on first I dont even order sandals online nothing ever fits me right from the start. Im not the person you see on the cover of GQ. I also want to clear this up for you experienced enough to just order up parts to assemble a BPW you cannot outfit a BPW from a shop for $600 to $700 let alone the $300 to $500 prices some talk about here on the forum it aint gonna happens new in a shop, average price out the door is $800 to $1200 and if your currently diving air 2 toss out another Benjamin or two for an octopus reg. So it is a hard thing to commit to because you read some post that one is hands down better than another theres a lot more to concider than that you still have to find a fit that you like which is hard to do from a catalog or a computer screen.

    We have been looking for a better fitting BCD for my wife for years. Shes amply supplied upstairs and to date shes probaly put on 50 or more BCDs that fit her just as poorly as the one shes started in. Her BCD literally beats her up while diving its to loose to tight to low to high and ive seen the bruises and I know now for a fact shes not participated in many dives because shes soar in places from the previous dives.

    Two weeks before this trip we made one more round to a couple LDS 80 plus miles away is local for us. That we have not been to and I found a SM sized Apeks BPW hanging on the last hook of a row of BCDs neither her or the salesman wanted her to try it on but I pushed the issue. The first thing that happened was no bulging pinching or crowding and she started pushing pulling and moving in it. Next I had the salesguy reluctantly install a tank adapter and he strapped on a tank. her reaction was nothing has ever felt this GREAT . After a week of diving I've watched her in the water. Her tank not beating her up its right there snug against her back. It used to float up Ive seen it and gone over and tightened up what I could during the dive many times, and hitting her in the head or floating side to side or hanging at her feet. She tinkering with it alll the time but it would never be right. While I cant review its life expectancy I can state for a fact this is a full on night and day difference. This BCD has a lot of cool features. From ditching the tank adapter and backplate for a 4 to 5 pound travel unit with the 18 pound lift wing that folds up into a tiny space to any combination of the above. They could not complete the package on the spot had to order a few pieces and it almost didnt make it in time so once again actually outfitting one is something you need to give yourself enough time before your net dive or youll be in your old BCD.

    Views on my Halcyon with the cinch strap. I like it a lot. Is it night and day better than my old Nighthawk no. my nighthawk fit me well I think its bulletproof and it has seen some hard times. I know its been drug into a boat in big waves by its inflator hose more than a couple of times things you dont like to see but not much you can do after the fact. I wanted more D rings and less clutter up front it solved this and its a big difference here. As far as the cinch system some will not like it it takes a lot of force to get the strap to move in and out it is not an issue for me I can work it fine. Removing the weight pockets from the lap belt will make this easier so if you dive with a weight belt it wil be easier to work. I need either shoulder buckles which eats up all the space I wanted to free up for other gear or something like the cinch system. I have a shoulder that will not allow me to use a hogarthian one piece harness. One other thing even with a number of things attached the shoulder and lap belts are not wadding up and stuck in the Velcro of a cumber bun like my old BCD so getting into it is quite a bit easier and faster. Looking at my old jackets in action theres stuff hanging everywhere the inflators are dragging below the straps and bladders are flopping alll over the place my wife the only thing you see on her is her tank everything else is shrink wrapped to her which has got to be more efficient. Makes me wonder if an 18 pound wing over my 30 pound wing is worth concidering for warm water diving.

    Things for those who dont know. I was concerned about the crotch strap being one more action to deal with given my shoulder issue. Not an issue. What does it accomplish. I dont not think this subject has been covered that well here I read nothing about how much better a crotch strap is than without nor why. Just stating its not hard to put on isnt enough for those who dont know. My wifes old jacket used to climb and drop during her dive mine would if I didnt get it pulled in right. the crotch strap eliminates this so if you have problems with your tank hitting you in the head or just moving around this is the cure. I find myself making one adjustment after I get into the dive and my assembly is now spot on until im out of the water and even back to the truck from a shore dive. Im tempted to try a weight belt now. Which is one more action i have to accomplish before the dive that requires a motion my shoulder does not like. With a big bulky jacket this had to be done before I suited up but I may very welll be able to do so after gearing up.

    Lastly vertically at the surface both of these float you right without pile driving your face in the waves both of previous Jackets were back inflate and they did in fact push you head first into waves at the surface not an issue here. One could tinker with tank weights to get this right where you want it but neither of ours need any tinkering to be very comfortable. I sat with my head fully out of the water for a full 10 minutes yesterday waiting for the rest of my crew to get in the water no effort required I just floated.
  2. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    First of all, I'm glad you and your wife found gear that you absolutely love! I myself may be in the market for a BP/W in the near future. Would be more for tech diving, not that I necessarily need it for that, but still would be nice to have to be able to do away with some lead.

    Just for informational purposes and I have no idea which brands/models of BC's you guys tried, but I have a feeling the Zeagle Zena could've been a solution for your wife, too. And for a few reasons. First off, Zeagle BC's are very modular so you can custom size them to fit almost any body shape/type. Secondly, the Zena is a female specific model that uses a "corset" front zip-up closure rather than a cumberbund and chest strap like typical BC's do. It is designed with a woman's "assets" in mind so as to provide a more secure, more comfortable fit as compared to the typical "unisex" models offered up by other manufacturers. The front also has three adjustment straps on each side (total of 6) to help lock it into place and prevent anything from shifting during the dive. Here's a pic so you can see what I'm talking about.

    Just so it gets said, No, I don't work for Zeagle and I have absolutely nothing to gain by mentioning them or trying to "sell" them. Just thought it might help others who may give the thread a looksee on the chance maybe they have the same issues you and your wife had. Obviously, no, I don't dive the Zena myself (I dive the Zeagle Brigade w/ a split crotch strap) but my wife does and she loves it. It absolutely works for her. And she's not exactly deprived up top. Not to say it would work for all women but it's certainly worth consideration.

    Again I'm glad you guys found something that works for each of you and hope it provides years of enjoyment and many many dives to come!
  3. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    DGX Custom - DGX Singles Harness / Backplate / Wing Package
  4. Diver below 83

    Diver below 83 Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: SoFlo
  5. seeker242

    seeker242 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pompano Beach, FL
    It will if they sell Dive Rite, Hog, OxyCheq, etc.
  6. rhwestfall

    rhwestfall Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: "La Grande Ile"
    Glad you like it, but I probably could put together 2-3 sets for the price you have said for a single rig....

    You purchased a Mercedes.....
    lexvil likes this.
  7. divad

    divad Solo Diver


    Why are you trying to sell them a Noodle Jacket WITH a Kinky Torture Device built in.... after they've already bought BP/Wings?
    900 × 1187
    Tribal and rhwestfall like this.
  8. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    Agree. Almost every woman who tries on a zena in our store buys one.
  9. lexvil

    lexvil Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: jamestown, ca.
    Here’s a secret; you can set up a bp/w to fit just like a backinflate b/c! You can even put a Velcro cummerbund on it if you are so moved and can’t get over the common but odd fear of the crotch strap (should start calling the “transitional stability system”). I don’t like a traditional one piece hog style harness so I set up a modified “H” harness using “T” bars on the waist belt and a chest strap, using hog weight pouches I can carry 20 lbs on my belt. It isn’t rocket science and you have one to use as a model, only two parts have moderate expense, the wing usually being the more expensive part but what you end up with is modular and gives you so much more flexibility, want to try more or less D rings or different weight pouches, just do it or if some piece gets damaged you only change that part. I use the air 2 on my wings (the atomic version at the moment) it easy to add them even if you like a pull dump, tried it once and removed it right away. Once again it’s modular.

    There is only one b/c I would consider today and that would be the SP Hydros.

    Not environmental science (rocket science is easy compared to environmental science)
    rhwestfall likes this.
  10. rhwestfall

    rhwestfall Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: "La Grande Ile"
    I, similar to @lexvil have mads a few custom harnesses. One being an "H", and another being my own version of a "cinch". Quite effective, and a heck of a bit less than the off-the-shelf stuff. Yeah, you have to be willing to tinker, but it seems a significant number of folks just don't feel comfortable/capable, or want to do the work.

    I see it all the time. My wife has a current top tier iPhone supplied by her work, but hasn't a clue beyond basic operation how to do anything with it (yet complains "it doesn't work"). The same can be said for her computer skills..... The same can be said for working the TV remote.... The same can be said for [pick something]... You have to want to understand it to some level to make it work for you...

    Many things lack the ability to be adapted or customized, and folks gravitate to it because it is "simple", and requires no thought. Yet they complain it isn't doing it right.....

    lexvil and Sh0rtBus like this.

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