Wing vs BCD - Is one better?

Wing vs BCD - Is one better?

When you are in the market for your buoyancy compensator device, which is better the Wing system or jacket BCD, there is plenty to keep in mind.

Over the years manufacturing has progressed and enabled new and more efficient products to the diving market, with the wing the "new kid" on the block. Does this mean the Wing system is better?

In this guide, we'll explore both versions of them, what they offer and their pros and cons to help you make a perfect choice.

The Classic BCD - Buoyancy control device 

Jacket BCDs are likely the most popular option, as they offer optimal fit but are also very recognizable to most divers worldwide.

With standard designs, you'll find the air bladder allows the air to migrate all around you and come in both male and female style and size options.
In comparison to other styles, you won't have to worry about air on your back. This feature allows you to navigate vertically or lie on your back with ease, however, when you're underwater BCDs can be harder to gain good trim in the water column with all the lead on a belt around your waist, you become waist heavy and this can put you in a more vertical like position.

Another quintessential feature of these jackets is they incorporate plenty of storage or pockets on each side of the ribcage, allowing you to carry your essential gear.

For example, you can take torches, valuables, or pocket masks on your dive with you but can be fairly difficult to gain access due to zip location.
Divers will also find that built-in weights are quite common in jacket models, which is better than opting for a weight belt.

You'll be able to remember where your releases are kept, especially as these designs are popular for diving schools.

You'll also find an extensive number of upgrades to jacket-style BCDs over the years, you can now have better padding, form-fitting straps, shorter backplates, and other features that make them more comfortable.


  • Plenty of storage space
  • Feature built-in weights
  • Impressive modern comfort features
  • Some lightweight models for travel
  • Easily attach to your cylinder
  • Allow for optimal surface movement
  • Form-fitting design for a custom feel


  • Promote less-than-ideal diving positions
  • Less movement and freedom
  • BCD could compress your chest when inflated
  • Can be extremely heavy and cumbersome
  • Could limit your abilities for experienced divers

The Wing System 

The preconception of the Wing style system is that it's designed for “Tech diving” and only if you wish to go deeper can you use the wing.

 In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. People say you shouldn’t learn in a wing because it will be harder to gain your PADI open water certification and “most people use BCDs” whereas in reality, a “Wing” can help the diver during a course by naturally allowing the diver to be closer to correct trim without having to think about his/her body positioning.

 The donut-shaped design on the wing allows gas to evenly migrate around the wing and create even lift. The slight downside to this is that on the surface it tends to push you forward – this can be eliminated by taking a small amount of gas out of the wing and sitting back into the harness like a chair.

 A wing also comes with a backplate and harness, what does this mean? It means the backplate will spread the weight from just the waist to all the way up the back thus eliminating the “waist-heavy” BCD diver. Back plates can come in different materials and weights – 200g carbon fiber to 5kg stainless steel, so with all these options your added weight will be dramatically reduced.

Paired with a one-piece or fully adjustable harness it means the wing will be comfortable and well-fitting, fully adjustable for different-sized people (perfect for dive schools or families), and super easy to don on and off.

The brand leading the way on Wings is certainly X-Deep Diving, with standard or fully customizable wings, back plates, and harnesses. Check out the X-Deep Zen to see the massive range of options available.

To finish, the wing can move with you throughout your diving education and exploration. From learning in your PADI open water course, into Twinset and Wreck diving and CCR rebreather diving. So learning in a wing from the start isn’t “harder or difficult” its different, and the way the diving world is changing and heading towards.


  • Highly customizable design
  • Comfortable to wear underwater
  • Allow mixing parts from different brands
  • Can be lightweight with a carbon fibre backplate
  • Perfect for Twinset cylinders
  • Useful in fresh and saltwater
  • Ideal for technical diving
  • Perfect for underwater movements and positioning
  • Exceptional freedom


  • Could be less comfortable than jacket-style BCDs
  • Surface body positioning is challenging
  • Less storage than jacket designs
  • Takes more time to adjust to your body
  • Typically don't have weight integration


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