Backplate & Wing Systems: Advantages & disadvantages?

backplate and wing (often abbreviated as BP&W or BP/W) is a type of scuba harness with an attached buoyancy compensation device (BCD) which establishes neutral buoyancy underwater and positive buoyancy on the surface. Unlike most other BCDs, the backplate and wing is a modular system, in that it consists of separable components. The core components of this system are:

  • A harness, which attaches the system to the diver, and may support other accessories.
  • The backplate, a plate, usually made from metal, which is held against the diver’s back by the harness, and to which the diver’s primary cylinder or cylinders are attached.
  • An inflatable buoyancy bladder known as a wing, between the backplate and the cylinder(s), used for adjusting the buoyancy of the diver when in the water.
  • Modular design permits easy reconfiguring for different needs. The very same harness and plate can be used for single tank recreational dives, and with a different wing it can be used for doubles. No need to purchase a new BC every time your diving changes or advances.
  • Easily accomodates more gear if the dives demand it. A BP&W carries a canister light, stage bottles and scooter if that’s in your future.
  • The design is very “clean”, no clutter on your chest. Streamlined, low drag, easy swimming profile & All back inflate, no tight jacket feeling.
  • No inherent positive buoyancy, many jacket BC’s are buoyant by 3-5 lbs. This means you need more weight just to sink your jacket BC
  • The backplate adds weight up over your buoyant lungs. This helps the diver achieve horizontal trim. In many jackets your torso is wrapped with an inherently buoyant BC and your ballast is on your waist. This results in a heads up attitude. A BP&W puts some weight over your lungs and off your waist.
  • Good long term value. Hard to wear out a BackPlate, the harness webbing can be replaced for $10-15. Often cheaper than a “full featured” name brand BC.

BY : Tamer M. Hussein 


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