hi guys. looking to buy a new bcd. never dived with a wing design before and am thinking about purchasing one.
what bcd are you using?
how would you rate its durability?
is it a wing design?
how do you like it?
how could it be better?
I have and use both a jacket style BCD and a wing.
A jacket-BCD I use on diving trips to tropical warm waters, where usually only a single tank is provided, and diving is in wetsuit. On tropical waters I prefer diving coral reefs and photographing marine life.
At home in Finland I dive in a drysuit, double tanks, and a wing-style BCD attached to a webbing harness and backplate. In Finland I dive the Baltic Sea, and there mostly diving is on wrecks. The water is cold and visibility poor. All of the wreck diving needs to be done from boats and using lines marking or attached to the wrecks.
I recently changed my BCD to a lighter Aqualung Zuma, that weighs only 2 kg, my previous Suunto BCD was well over 4 kg. The Suunto was really durable and still in excellent condition despite of heavy use when I sold it. I prefer to use a jacket style BCD with integrated weight pockets on trips to tropical waters as I feel it is simple, easy and comfortable to use overall in those conditions and is familiar type of equipment there. Like somebody already noted, when you have just the right amount of lead on you, the BCD hardly ever gets inflated during the dive. It gets inflated only when you need to float or swim on surface, which is something I try to avoid in general - after all diving is about being under the surface. I hate weight belts, so the integrated weight pockets are a must. Typically I need 3 to 5 kg depending on tank. I also like to keep a spare mask with me in a pocket. And other useful stuff like SMB - and a camera of course.
As a wing I have an Agir with 56 lbs lift, with aluminium backplate, 2x10/200 steel tanks on back. As I hate weight belts, I have weight pockets attached to the harness waist straps, but otherwise the harness is very basic "DIR"-style. The amount of lead depends on how cold the water is and thus how much clothing you need under the drysuit and can vary between 8 to 12 kg. With a drysuit, some part, or all, of your buoyancy control is done with the drysuit, and if weighting is otherwise well balanced, then the wing doesn't get inflated much while diving, but is rather used at surface. Due to the procedure how wrecks are dived on the Baltic Sea, there is generally a lot of swimming on the surface. My configuration - and all other similar ones I have seen so far - keeps me floating very comfortably on my back on the surface, and there is no risk of drowning face down as some have suggested. The most comfortable way to swim on surface is on your back. On many rescue drills done with this type of configuration, I have experienced no problems lifting an unconscious diver to the surface, and keeping him/her in a safe position on surface while giving artificial respiration and towing towards safety. Getting yourself into and out of DIR harness in a drysuit quickly does require a lot practice, but you can learn it.
With double tanks and drysuit this type of configuration is comfortable, stable, secure and keeps you in a good trim. I wouldn't trust a jacket-style BCD to hold heavy double tanks that typically are 40 kg or more. And even less for holding possible sidemounted deco/stage bottles.
On tropical waters I feel this type of configuration on the other hand is a total overkill, and I truly enjoy the lightness and easy feeling of diving in a shorty wetsuit, no hood, no gloves, closed heel fins, single tank, easy BCD to get on and off - not to mention the warm and clear water...