Wings and Backplate

Wings and Backplate 

Wing & Backplates

So backplates and wings, another topic I like to talk about. Yet again, the first time I saw a wing & backplate was the same time I saw some technical divers going into the water with the long hose setup. Obviously I knew this was a different BC setup and again, it looked so cool. 

As I already spoke about when I got my own long hose setup, one of my fellow instructors suggested  to me that I should try my new long hose setup with wing & backplate. Sure why not, always keen to learn something new in diving. Wow, what an experience! To me, it’s so comfortable and my buoyancy and trim improved with it as well. I told myself this is going to be my new way of diving, no turning back after this experience and of course, I bought my own one.

Let’s break it up into two parts; wings and backplates.


Backplates come in different sizes and different materials. The most common weights are: Aluminum and stainless steel. There are carbon fiber backplate as well, but not that common as the other materials.Carbon fiber is very light compared to stainless steel. 

What type of backplate is good for you? It all depends on your type of diving. For a example, we will use my type of diving. I’m a diving instructor in Malta, so I don’t travel a lot for diving. I dive most of the time in a drysuit, which is nice and warm. I don’t get all wet and stuff like that, unless there is a leak, than I don’t like my drysuit at all. So ideally a heavy backplate (stainless steel) is good for my type of diving, meaning, I don’t have to wear a lot of additional weight. 

Lets say you just dive for pleasure and need to travel by plane for your diving. An aluminum backplate would be good for you as this is lighter than a stainless steel backplate and it would be less weight in your luggage. Maybe you are too a diving instructor in a very warm water, tropical island or country where a drysuit is not needed. An aluminum backplate can work for you as well. As I said, it all depends on what type of diving you do and where you dive the most.

Setting up a backplate can be a very tricky task. A backplate comes with a webbing system. The webbing keeps the backplate in place (on your back). Some plates come with the webbing already setup for you, lucky for you if you bought your backplate like this. If you need to set it up yourself, best to do this with a fellow diver who has experience with setting up a backplate. Usually their are D-rings that come with it as well. D-rings look this is:

d rings

D rings

The D-rings are placed on the webbing just like in the following  photo. On the rings you can clip for example your regulator, if you have a long hose setup. On the left side on your waistband, there will be a D-ring placed as well to clip your SPG on. 

At the bottom of the backplate there is another strap, this is your crotch strap. The strap will come between your legs up to the waistband and attached to the waistband to keep the backplate in place.

crotch strap

crotch strap


Wings come in different sizes and types. The two main types of wings are, donut and horseshoe. The names already kinda say it already. With a donut, the air in the wing can travel all around as for the horseshoe, the air can only travel to the sides, so there is no bottom part.



On the left side you see a donut wing and on the right you can see a horseshoe.

Horseshoe is very suitable for when your diving with aluminum cylinders, as for when you use a donut wing, it will push the bottom of the cylinder further up when using the gas from the cylinder while diving. Aluminum cylinders become much lighter when using them, opposed to steel cylinders.
Donuts on the other hand are great for diving with steel cylinders. Because what the horseshoe doesn’t have, the donut has on bottom part where the air can travel to, so it lifts up the cylinder.
There are also different sizes, the two sizes that are used are for a single cylinder or for a twinset. Simple as that. With a wing there are only two ways to dump gas. You have your kidney dump valve and your dump valve on your LPI. As for a BCD you get a third one, the shoulder dump valve.

If you want to learn more about wings and backplates – these are the courses you should be looking at PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy & PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Jasper – Divewise / NDS

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