Choosing a Backplate and Wing

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bvbellomo

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I have 69 dives, almost all in an Aqualung Axiom. I am tempted to change and considering a Backplate and wing. Some considerations:

1) The weight pocket system has dropped weights on entry, even when I hear and audible 'click'. I believe I figured out the issue, but I'd rather not deal with the chance of dropping weight accidentally.

2) A BCD long enough to fit my frame and comfortably over my chest is not tight enough at the waist even adjusted as tight as it goes. I am an air hog, and moved from a "12 liter" standard tank (probably aluminum 80) to a "15 liter" tank (probably an aluminum 100) on my last trip. This is a much heavier tank, and with the loose cummerbund, it flops either to my left or my right. A standard tank has this issue too, but no where near as bad since it is lighter. I do have some concern switching, as most harnesses don't even have a waist strap. From my experience hiking, weight should be secure and held mostly by the waist strap. But my primary concern is that the weight stays centered and does not move. The ability to move gracefully with a tank above water, either in a Zodiac or on the dive boat, is important - not just while underwater.

3) I have issues staying horizontal, especially when motionless. I am relatively dense so the tank is a substantial portion of my weight. Having air on my back instead of all around me seems like it would help. I used 8kg weight in the Red Sea with a 5mm wetsuit, so the almost 20kg lift of my Axiom is overkill, even if I had to bring up another diver. And I'd like to lose 10lbs fat before my next trip.

4) The Axiom is not travel friendly. It takes up half the space and almost half the weight of a checked bag by itself.


I do not want a steel backplate, as it seems less travel friendly, and having more weight around my back may be counter productive. Aluminum is the obvious choice, but there are "soft" and "carbon" plates as well.

I have no interest in technical diving or 2 tank dives (unless that makes sense over a larger single tank).

I am overwhelmed by the number of choices but they also all look the same to me. Trying before buying or getting advice from my dive shop (which pushed the Axiom and favors BCDs) is not the way to go. But I will probably buy something and alternate a few local boring quarry dives to compare both so I am sure I like the new system before going anywhere interesting.
 

MichaelMc

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overwhelmed by the number of choices but they also all look the same to me
To a certain extent they all are very similar, so do not stress to much about picking. To make it simpler, I would buy the wing and plate together from one brand. Most work well together, but there can be some gotchas, this would avoid that. Or ensure the wing is known to work well with the plate.

I would stick with metal over the soft plates though.

Depending on the water temp, a thicker suit would allow more lead, which you could put more to the front.
 

happy-diver

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Nice!
 

drk5036

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just get the dgx setup. if you are taller than 6'4", you may need to try and find a long backplate.

DGX Custom - DGX Gears Singles Harness / Backplate / Wing Package
Basically, this is the correct answer, especially if you're unsure it's the way you are going to want to go, because it's inexpensive, and does everything required of it.

As mentioned above, ALL BP/W systems use a waist-belt, and as you said, it's the most important part to holding everything in place, along with the crotch strap.

Switching to a BP/W, you'll probably drop at least 2 kg of weight immediately, maybe 3 kg (going to an aluminum plate). If you go to a steel plate, maybe 4 kg. In your 5 mm, that would mean you only need about 4 kg added on, either to the cam bands of the waistbelt (or just use a weight belt), depending on which location helps your trim the most. Steel is good because it distributes the weight well and has the highest density. The only downside comes to travel, that it weights a lot. But many of us feel during travel we are more volume limited than weight limited; if that's the case, then traveling with a steel plate doesn't hurt.

Personally, I am on team @happy-diver, and use the steel freedom plate, even when I travel. I haven't had any weight issues with it, and I can wear a 3 mm wetsuit along with a lava-core vest without needing any extra weight with an Al80.
 

lowwall

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2) A BCD long enough to fit my frame and comfortably over my chest is not tight enough at the waist even adjusted as tight as it goes. I am an air hog, and moved from a "12 liter" standard tank (probably aluminum 80) to a "15 liter" tank (probably an aluminum 100) on my last trip. This is a much heavier tank, and with the loose cummerbund, it flops either to my left or my right. A standard tank has this issue too, but no where near as bad since it is lighter. I do have some concern switching, as most harnesses don't even have a waist strap. From my experience hiking, weight should be secure and held mostly by the waist strap. But my primary concern is that the weight stays centered and does not move. The ability to move gracefully with a tank above water, either in a Zodiac or on the dive boat, is important - not just while underwater.
All BP harnesses have a waist belt. It's not a padded cummerbund style thing, just the 2 inch (50mm) webbing and a simple buckle. The waist strap and a crotch strap are what keeps the whole thing snug. The shoulder straps should be somewhat loose.

The tank is solidly attached by two cam straps to the metal plate instead of one like on your BCD. Nothing will move around.

3) I have issues staying horizontal, especially when motionless. I am relatively dense so the tank is a substantial portion of my weight. Having air on my back instead of all around me seems like it would help.
It will. But weight by itself doesn't matter. It's net buoyancy that you have to deal with. Most people are close to neutrally buoyant, but the legs are normally a little negative and the torso a little positive after you inhale. Your AL 12L tank is positively buoyant once you've breathed about half the air in it. Your wetsuit is positively buoyant all the time, but becomes less so as you go deeper. Any air in your wing or BCD is obviously positively buoyant.

Trim is a matter of placing negatively bouyant weights in the right places to counteract all the positively buoyant bits. One of the best places to put that weight to simplify the issue of trim is right next to the biggest areas of positive buoyancy: the air in the wing and the biggest area of wetsuit material. That's why a stainless steel backplate is preferable to a lighter plate for diving (although maybe not for travelling).

I used 8kg weight in the Red Sea with a 5mm wetsuit, so the almost 20kg lift of my Axiom is overkill, even if I had to bring up another diver. And I'd like to lose 10lbs fat before my next trip.

4) The Axiom is not travel friendly. It takes up half the space and almost half the weight of a checked bag by itself.

I do not want a steel backplate, as it seems less travel friendly, and having more weight around my back may be counter productive. Aluminum is the obvious choice, but there are "soft" and "carbon" plates as well.
Again, for diving where you will need to add weight, steel plates are better than the lighter weight versions. It puts a chunk of your needed weight exactly where it needs to go. Lightweight plates are inferior compromises some divers are willing to make to simplify travelling. Frankly, I don't see the point in compromising my diving to save around 2kg in travel weight.

I am overwhelmed by the number of choices but they also all look the same to me. Trying before buying or getting advice from my dive shop (which pushed the Axiom and favors BCDs) is not the way to go. But I will probably buy something and alternate a few local boring quarry dives to compare both so I am sure I like the new system before going anywhere interesting.
Backplates are mostly the same. But it sounds like you might be tall enough to look for one of the few longer plates. You should also make sure your plate has slots for the the cam bands. Some plates meant for double tank diving omit this and thus require the addition of a Single Tank Adapter (STA) which is just a bent piece of metal that has cam bands slots and gets bolted to the wing.

DIR style, also called hog or hogarthian, harnesses are also very similar regardless of manufacturer. There are bigger differences in the various "comfort" harnesses, but I would stay away from them unless you have a medical issue that limits your mobility. The DGX package mentioned above is a good example. Another would be either the house package or HOG (a scuba products company, not the nickname for hogarthian) package from Piranha. I like buying from Piranha because they are happy to discuss what you need over the phone. They will also assemble their house package for you.

Hog Basic Hogarthian Harness w/ Backplate , Piranha Dive Shop |

(house package) More Options! & Now Black Hardware! Hogarthian Harness (Dir) for Backplates
 
OP
bvbellomo

bvbellomo

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I am 6 foot tall, so I doubt I need a long, but that and chest/shoulder size is enough to prevent sizing down the Axiom.

Dropping 2kg immediately puts me at 6kg. That wetsuit is probably close to 8kg buoyancy, and I will do few, if any, dives in the Red Sea, and some in freshwater. So I am potentially negatively buoyant with an aluminum plate and no weights at all, I am not sold on adding 2kg to my back and compensating with more air.

I am not sure what the tanks were. They were on the price sheet as 12L and 15L and they were aluminum, but our guide (extremely knowledgeable and a great diver in all other areas) insisted I drop 2kg switching from the 12L to 15L. The 12L looked a lot like an aluminum 80, but I've never used anything else before.
 

Ulfhedinn

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I have that hog package from Piranha. I hade had it for over 10 years and no issues.

Steel BP and 32lbs wing.

I am 5'10 205

Dive AL80s to Steel 130

Dove 3mm in Caribbean to Dry suit locally
 

gqllc007

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Look at a XDeep Zen "regular" not small aluminum back plate, wing, integrated weight and harness...I am 5'10" and use the small back plate. That will fit you perfectly
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/teric/
http://cavediveflorida.com/Rum_House.htm

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