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Help me understand the different BCD types.

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by Kenderson, Aug 26, 2020.

  1. diver42

    diver42 DIR Practitioner

    Things don’t get a lot lighter or smaller than an aluminum backplate and wing—the smallest you can get. Whatever you buy, don’t let anybody convince you that you need anything larger than 20 lbs. That setup is ideal for vacation and travel. (Fins end up being heavier and larger.) There’s no point to traveling with weight, and traveling with a steel (rather than AL) backplate is like traveling with an extra 5-lb weight. A regular BC is worse.
  2. lowwall

    lowwall Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    Steel or Aluminum backplate depends on what kind of diving you are doing. The OP is from Maryland. Steel would probably be a better choice for local diving or anywhere with driving distance. IMO, Al only makes sense if the 2-3 pound weight difference is going to result in extra baggage fees or you'll be overweighted diving big steel tanks in tropical water.

    But either way, it's cheap to switch plates. Which is one of the advantages of using a backplate based system.
  3. divad

    divad ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    I switched from a SS plate to an AL plate with cheap small XS weight pouches on the belt @ the BP to alleviate my floaty-feet problem.
  4. BlueTrin

    BlueTrin ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: London
    I had shoulder pads and don’t miss them since I removed them.
  5. Streydog

    Streydog Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: DFW, TX
    After over 150 dives using my BP with a 20lb wing I took my back inflate Zeagle Brigade to the lake to take try it out again, then I sold it. The Brigade is a great BC but I could feel the extra drag the bigger wing created and I felt like I was wearing a coat vs a T-shirt.
    Colliam7 likes this.
  6. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    ...similarly, it is good if you are overweighted with tech gear. With steel doubles, I am still overweighted with an AL Plate while wearing a drysuit.
  7. Chavodel8en

    Chavodel8en Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Oakland, CA
    I bought a fairly heavy (5 lbs) steel BP bc most of my diving is local, cold water. And bc thats the BP that comes w/ the economical DGX set up. My diving is all recreational single tank. I wanted the steel BP to reduce the extra lead I need to carry.

    I dont do a lot of warm - water diving -- maybe a morning or two of diving every year (my wife doesnt dive). Once we can travel again, I will need to buy a lighter BP - maybe a soft, foldable BP. Or else just rent the BC. No way Im traveling with a 5 lbs BP.

    If I did more warm water diving, I might have just bought a light aluminum ( ~2 lbs) BP and used it for all my diving, and just carried extra lead locally.
  8. Scraps

    Scraps ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida
    You asked some good questions, and you got a lot of good answers.

    The only thing I'll add is that your BC may be your best opportunity to spend hundreds of extra dollars without any discernible performance advantage over lower cost options.

    What do you really want a BC to do? 1) Assist in buoyancy control by adding and bleeding air, 2) Give you some place to store and hang whatever dive accessories you bring into the water, and 3) Secure your tank (can be accomplished without a bc, but not by many divers nowadays). That's it. You can perform these functions for <$500, or you can perform these functions for $1,000+.

    The more you dive,* the less you'll want out of your bc: less bodily restriction, less weight, less stuff hanging off it, less padding, less weight needed to bring you and it down from the surface. That means the more expensive option will probably serve you less well than a well chosen lower cost option.

    *recreationally, that is.
    Wathdoc, Streydog and lowwall like this.
  9. jvogt

    jvogt Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, CO USA
    When I was back mount, I just put my steel plate in my carry on. No more weight issues.

    Good luck finding a back mount BC lighter than my Razor though.
  10. ATJ

    ATJ Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Ah... but it depends on what "getting in and out of the water" means. For me, as I mostly do shore dives, it is a much as a 400-500m walk from the car to the entry point and back. More regularly, it is walking down and up very steep steps often with twin 10.5L or 12.L and a pony.

    I love my shoulder pads!

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