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Wing or Stab jacket?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Which BCD style do you prefer?

  • Wing

    Votes: 23 74.2%
  • Stab jacket

    Votes: 6 19.4%
  • Rebreather

    Votes: 2 6.5%

  • Total voters


New Member
Jul 10, 2002
Just a quick, simple poll. 3 choices, what do you prefer, a wing or a stab jacket, or do you use a rebreather?

Not personally tried a wing yet, only used the Buddy stab jackets manufactured by AP Valves in the UK. Love these things, they are simply indestructible, and are the only stab jackets I actually like. All the foreign made ones don't feel bulky enough for me.
Having said that, I fully intend to get myself a wing, mainly as I like the idea of not having my chest compressed when I inflate the thing. If funds ever allow, I also wish to try out the Inspiration closed circuit rebreather, and use that for bouyancy, but the high price tag has that out of my reach currently.

Anyway, cast your vote, and if you wish, discuss the pros and cons of each choice!

I am pretty much sold on stabs but have used wings now and then. Wings are big in
the USA which means they get sold a lot, so by definition are ‘very popular’, they are also twin friendly so that’s another plus. On the down side because the wing bladders are all on your back you tend to float on the surface face down, not so good when you think about it in a rescue situation.
Look at me, I'm a diving couch-potatoe!


You're totally right on the emergency situation; unconscious wing divers aren't automatically turned onto their back at the surface which is a major disadvantage.

Nevertheless; wing BC's are very stable in the water so once the unconscious victim is flipped onto his back by his buddy he will most likely stay in that position during transport to the boat or shore.

A wing's stability is a great advantage, and so is its large lifting capacity (for big divers or divers like me who carry around lots of stuff). And the fact that your chest doesn't get crunched when you need that little bit of extra lift is indeed a huge relief.

When diving recreationally I had to assist more than one beginning diver with a stab who got knocked off his feet by a wave, pulled onto his back by his BC and was unable to return to a more normal postion in the water. You'don't see this problem so often with wings.

For comfort in the water and lift I definitely choose a wing BC (it's like a diver's couch).

For solo-divers I don't recommend a wing: when there's no buddy to flip you over when you're unconscious at the surface, your chance of survival may probably be a little bigger with a stab.


I vote wing

I use wings for both single and double tanks. I have owned many different bc's in the last 20+ years and have decided that I can't stand stab-jackets anymore. I hate the way that they squeeze your chest when they are full inflated. Wings can be overinflated and still allow you to breath easy.
If you are worried about which way you come to the surface if you don't have a buddy around, then just put a keel weight on the back of your tank. I use two small weight pockets that strap onto my top tank strap. each one can carry 5#'s and they are made by Zeagle and Diverite. Halcyon also makes a fancy keel weight for your tank. It is solid and can't be brought on a plane as easy as the other ones.
Wings trim you out better under the water, they make long surface swims much easier and they don't clutter up your chest. I have noticed that this last point has been very important for some of the many older male divers that I have certified over the years. They complain that the stabs make them feel constricted- like having a heart attack.
Wings are also pack smaller and have been much more durable for me.

Just my experience with the both of them.

Divemastering vs. pleasure

when i teach scuba lesson as a divemaster, i spend a lot of time at the surface. With a wing jacket, it's pretty hard because i have to back pedal all the time. On the other side, wing stab have better shoulder strap, so when i'm carring my bottle out of the water or standing on a boat, it's easier and much more comfortable. I own a Oceanic Tour Aps and i really recommend it.
Wings for me!

I'll take wings over jackets any day. Much more stable underwater and tend to provide more bouyancy than a jacket. If I want to float on the surface, I just kick back a little further on my back and I float fine, kinda feel like an otter swimming on my back nice and easy like that (yes even in some rougher seas). I don't have to use any ballast weights, but I also dive steel tanks, have a steel back plate and a single tank adapter when diving singles. I only add weight so that I'll have something to dump if I need to!

As far as unconscious victims face up or face down, I'm not sure it matters much anymore. Except for a few lower priced models, most the jackets I have seen are weight integrated which will tend to push the diver face down into the water if unconscious.
I agree with jon, If you dont like the chest squeeze a wing is the way togo! there is no feeling of constriction it is so much more comfortable.There are lots of different ones I use a OMS Dual Bladder and have found it to be Far better than my old Scubapro. cheers
Got a terrific deal on an Oxycheq wing at DEMA - the wing is easier to deal with on a boat and a cinch to pack for travel, although I guess an aluminum plate would be even better for that. Gotta drag all the old bc's out to eBay them one of these days.
I know what you mean,I went through the Shed and got loads of gear just gathering dust!, would make a fortune if I could be bothered to post on ebay!
I've heard good things about BP/wing setups - I know for myself, I'm still diving rental gear and by necessity a jacket. Trouble is, the jacket - the smallest they have BTW - is still waaaaaaay too large. The first time I tried it in confined water IT took ME for a ride!! How amused the Instructor must have been! However I've gotten sorta used to the sensation of hanging from the BC, and have even adapted so I cam maintain trim in the water the way I want it. (meaning i can go head-down, barrel roll, etc, although I might slip a thumb or two into the corner of the pockets just to keep the BC from riding up too far)

Still, I want to try a BP and Wing someimte - apparently they bring the center of weight and center of buoyancy much closer together and make maintaining trim that much easier. Bonus!
Originally posted by FreeFloat
Still, I want to try a BP and Wing someimte - apparently they bring the center of weight and center of buoyancy much closer together and make maintaining trim that much easier. Bonus!

The other major bonus is that a BP and harness is totally adjustable. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you'll get one to fit you properly.


For Christmas Santa actually read my wish list and I now very happily dive a 36# wing and ss bp.

Aftre as few as four dives I already love it. The difference is night and day. Prior to diving the wing I had never felt very secure in the gear and had no idea how it could feel to dive wothout the tanks shifting and rolling around. In my case the customized adjustment offered by a harness was a big plus since I don't think too many jacket BCs would fit me right.

Another plus is my weight belt has gotten a whole lot lighter. I was diving 18lbs in a stab jacket and when I switched to the wing I knocked 6lbs off before even getting in the water yet still found myself way too negative. Since then I've dropped down to only 8lbs on the belt and suspect I can further go down to 6, when I have the chance to do a proper buoyancy check.

When I dive my wing I can literally forget that I'm wearing it...
Last edited:
Re: Update

Originally posted by FreeFloat
When I dive my wing I can literally forget that I'm wearing it...

Another convert:)

A BP and wing is a pretty fantastic piece of gear. I can't see how I could ever go back to a normal BC or even a wing style softpack.

The only hassle with a SS BP is the weight when you have to fly with an airline who are tough on enforcing weight limits but that's easily remedied with an Aluminum plate. I picked mine up for about NZ$80 and it only weighs about 800 grams.

I haven't been diving for years due to other comitments and have now started back, kayak diving. I have never heard of "wings," and I wonder if it will solve a couple of problems I have.
1. My BCJ is difficult to put on in water. Would wings be easier to put on?
2. My tank and BCJ floats upside down, although Jon may have already come up with the solution there, thanks Jon, in putting keel weights on your tank, how does the wings and tank float?
I kayak dive as well, although now it's mostly freedivng, but I find a wing very easy to get into whne kayak diving. I have some nice big D-rings I can clip my BC off with to the yak- so it doesn't float away. Then, I just slip it on while floating on the sufface- like you should have learned in your basic openwater course.

The keel weight will make the wing float back plate up, if you have it weighted correctly.

Hope that helps.

the WINGS of freedom

Personally i prefer wings. I got 2 of them (a small one for mono tank only and a really big one with bungies). The stabilization under water is invincible.

Our trainees have the possibility to test different BC systems. Most of them prefer the version of a small wing, as they are "placed" in the correct diving position without doing anything. A big wing is a bit more difficult to handle (especially with double tanks) and not recommended for beginners.

I cannot share the argument of the unconcious-safe position above of stabilizing jackets - because very very few jackets can in really prevent an uncouncious diver from drowning (actually i do only know one - a draeger which is used by firebrigade-divers), though many although many manufacturers claim to have that feature (scubapro,..) ...

so long ...
I don't think anyone needs a really big wing and nobody needs bungees. If you match all your setup then underwater you should have very little gas in your wing and a correctly designed wing will wrap itself around the cylinders.

I have a little 40lb wing for singles which I use with a single 15l steel and a 7l steel stage (must buy an aluminium one) and it copes more than adequately. A friend of mine uses a 45lb wing with twin 12l steel cylinders and 2x7l ally stages and says he has all the lift he need, it is all down to having a balanced rig.

Not only does a wing give you a much better position underwater, horizontal, no squeeze etc. but when combined with a solid metal backplate and one piece harness is almost bombproof, as well as being easy to upgrade from single cylinders to a twinset.

The only thing that is guaranteed to float you face up at the surface is a lifejacket. Just look at the name, BCD - Bouyancy Control Device. It is designed to allow you to offset suit compression at depth, and to allow you to comfortably float at the surface.

An unconscious diver at the surface may or may not still have a reg in, if not, then they will have taken on water on the way up, a very bad day out. If they do, then when they start breathing again their first breath will be from a working regulator, ie dry.

Generally if a diver surfaces unconscious they will not be breathing anyway, and if they are by themselves then they will die, whether they float with their face in or out of the water. This shows the importance of a good buddy and good surface/boat crew, who can recognise a problem and deal with it.
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