In my recent endeavor to kill the wither in Minecraft, I had a question in my mind: do I use an elytra, which allows me to fly, or a diamond chest plate, which offers me protection? Although elytras seem like they would be significantly more beneficial than diamond chestplates because they allow one to fly, there are a few downfalls that cause the whole issue to be debatable.
Elytras are a struggle to obtain and use. First, elytras are significantly harder to get than a diamond chestplate. You can obtain a diamond chest plate by trading with villagers, exploring end cities, or mining. However, elytras are only obtainable through end cities, a fact that means they are a difficult item to obtain because one must first defeat the ender dragon first.
Elytras also are incredibly expensive. In order to reliably and consistently use an elytra, one must possess a surplus of firework rockets, which require paper and gunpowder to craft. So, one has to build a gunpowder and sugarcane farm in order to use an elytra consistently. While a simple sugarcane farm or a zero-tick sugarcane farm can be easy to create, a gunpowder farm is incredibly difficult and frustrating to build, especially when creepers blow up the section you just built (I speak from experience).
Elytras also have a mediocre durability; they only have 431 durability. Elytras lose durability in a ticking fashion; for each second in-flight, an elytra will lose one durability point. One can fly several thousand blocks before needing to repair it, but obtaining phantom membranes or another elytra to repair a broken one is incredibly difficult. Typically, the standard enchantments for an elytra are unbreaking III and mending. However, people cannot use elytras in an enchantment table; one must acquire a book with unbreaking III or mending to put on it instead. Elytras are difficult to use because of all the setup required to effectively use them.
However, elytras are incredibly useful once one finishes the setup for effectively and efficiently using them. They almost negate fall-damage; while falling, one can activate the elytra in order to prevent taking fall damage. If one chooses to respawn the Ender Dragon, elytras make the battle significantly easier; one can simply fly above the ender dragon and shoot arrows down at the end towers to destroy the end crystals. Elytras make building significantly easier. Instead of placing dirt or scaffolding everywhere to reach places, one can easily fly onto roofs or high walls and continue building. Elytras also make travel significantly easier. In my personal survival world, a trip to the village used to take me over ten minutes. Now, I can reach the village in less than two.
Diamond chest plates are incredibly useful. They offer eight defense points or four armor bars—the highest in the game, alongside netherite chest plates--which significantly decreases the damage that one takes. Diamond armor allows players to tank damage. Diamond chest plates also have 528 durability points. However, unlike elytras, a diamond chest plate will lose one durability point every time the player takes damage; thus, they can last significantly longer.
Diamonds are also significantly easier to acquire; a relatively quick strip-mine session can give enough diamonds to craft a chest plate if lucky. However, in order to get an elytra, one must collect eyes of ender, find the stronghold, kill the ender dragon, travel to one of the end islands and raid an end city with a ship. Therefore, diamond chestplates are extremely beneficial in the protection they offer and easy to obtain.
In my battle against the wither, the location is what allowed me to finally make a decision. Because I wanted to fight the wither underground, flying would have no use to me, so I decided to use my diamond chest plate. However, flying is significantly more useful to me than the extra protection that diamond armor offers typically. Personally, I believe that elytras, although more expensive, are significantly better for the long run in a Minecraft world.