Jacket Style vs Back Inflation

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When buying your own scuba gear, one important decision to make is whether to buy a back inflation or jacket style BCD. New divers usually do not understand the difference between the two.

What is a Jacket Style BCD?

Jacket style is the more traditional style of BCD, and and it’s probably the type you used for your open water course. The air cell wraps around the diver’s back, sides, and chest.

  • A Jacket Style BCD holds a diver in a vertical position when inflated on the surface, keeping his head well above the water.
  • Jacket Style BCDs are sometimes easier to deflate than back inflation models.
  • All Jacket Style BCDs have built in pockets for your accessories like a pocket mask, rescue sausage or small torch.
  • Some come with integrated weight systems (quick release) – less weights on your belt  😉 
  • You may also look for different options when it comes to inflators – Not all are the same. 
  • Shopping tip: look for SET Specials – BCD + Regulator and save big!

What is a Back Inflation BCD?

A back inflation BCD features an air cell that inflates only along the back of the BCD. Usually, this air cell hangs behind the diver in the form of a “wing”. 

  • Back inflation styles tend to roll a diver face down (horizontal), which can be frustrating on the surface for those accustomed to Jacket Style BCDs.
  • Diving horizontal is however exactly what you want when underwater, diving is all about being streamlined.
  • Modular systems consist of a backplate, harness and wing. Weight pockets can be added or removed.
  • A lot of different back inflation BCDs are “one size fits all”.
  • Back inflation BCDs are upgradable. You can start out doing recreational single tank dives and as you progress change/add components of your BCD.
  • Shopping tip: Yes, your new BCD is a  long term investment in your diving but…DON’T buy the biggest wing you can find! This is an expensive mistake. Do research on the correct wing size you need – or Talk to us.

Which way to go?

How serious a diver are you? If your aim is to take the family on a diving holiday to a tropical island once or twice a year then a Jacket Style BCD is the way to go. If you see yourself progressing into technical diving it is a good idea to go for a Back Inflation BCD from the get go.