January 11th, 2011

Proper Fitting Backplates for Women


Does you lower back ache after a dive? Does everyone have the answer but you continue to have lower back pain? No I’m not selling Advil but I do use it, comes with age.

This is a typical complaint from people, primarily women about technical dive gear, mainly the backplate. Most women are short waisted and gear for men doesn’t work. Ladies don’t take the husband’s hand me downs, you need equipment designed for you.

Lately, I’ve had a couple of women divers ask why their metal backplate and webbing harness is causing them back strain. We hear this from time to time and often it is an issue especially when women are being given advice from their male dive partners. Women are not built the same as men and as such need to find their own solutions. If  you are diving backmounted tanks (singles or doubles) and are experiencing pain in the lower back, I suggest you either get a short metal backplate or a TransPac. Many women are short waisted or have more of a rear end than the guys. If a metal plate is standard length, it can push into the lower back/rear area instead of resting appropriately, meaning strain on the lower back due to unproper support or pain from the plate pushing into the flesh. A shorter backplate will rest in the small of your back and give support. One way to gauge this is put on the backplate, if someone can see daylight between you and the backplate at the lower back area it will create pain because you aren’t getting the right support.

Another option is a soft plate harness. The TransPac will conform to the shape of the back and comes in a short version as well for comfort. I am married and had to design gear to fit my wife.  Where do you think the pivot rings came from? I did this in 1986 so her harness would curve around the bust line, it has since become a standard in many harnesses.

The sure cure for lower back pain is sidemount, it’s grown in popularity and training is readily available and is the best medicine for lower back pain.


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