March 18th, 2013

Diving the newest model Nomad XT Sidemount Rig



I wrote a blog back in October on the new Nomad XT model with the reshaped wing (Oct blog).  Since that time, I had not switched the inflator and OPV on my own rig, primarily because I had started diving the Nomad LT. Recently, I wore my Nomad XT for a dive and it reminded me of how much I like this rig.

The fit is more comfortable with the addition of the TransPac XT. I went ahead and moved the inflator and it was then I realized how much I like it positioned on the bottom and the pull dump on the neck. You can put the pull dump over the left shoulder or right and also adjust the cord length. I prefer to keep the cord higher up on the shoulder, above the D-rings.  This keeps it away from the busy area with cylinders and regulators.  The BC2748-TP comes as a kit with a long pull string and ball so you can find the sweet spot for it. The inflator is positioned just like my Nomad LT Cave. I like to run it on the right side so I still have my lower left pull dump that I use for trim.

I put D-rings on the belt that are high enough to clip off reels and keep the bottle area clear. This was something I have done for years but couldn’t always recommend it with the older style TransPac. Now it works perfectly on the TransPac XT, so it will be added to all the Nomad XT rigs from this point forward. I’ll show you my rig in this short video. VIDEO: Nomad XT Mods


February 4th, 2013

Nomad LT Bluewater Sidemount Rig



I want to say the Nomad LT is my most favored Nomad for the side mount diving I do. Usually it’s travel and aluminum 80′s or LP 85′s in our backyard springs. For me, if I need anything more, it is most likely a rebreather dive on the O2ptima.

We introduced the Nomad LT Cave last fall because we selfishly had some exploring to do. There are a few holes close to home I wanted to check out that required a close fitting rig without any snag points on the back and the Nomad LT Cave’s positioning of both the inflation and dump valve near the wing base gives divers the ability to easily reach them swimming prone inside caves.

Now we have the Nomad LT Bluewater, a rig more suitable for my travels since the inflation is on top and a dump valve on the bottom just like a standard BCD so now you can dump gas when vertical, ascending on a downline or coming up a wall. I’m taking the Nomad LT Bluewater with me this week to St. Croix, as a matter of fact. Here is a video comparison of the two: Nomad LT Cave & Blue

I tend to specialize my equipment to the mission. What do you like to do?


January 14th, 2013

Custom Nomad XT


Nomad XT Custom extra small

We had a request from Canada for a Nomad XT to fit a female diver who is 4’11″ and 105 pounds. The Nomad XT sizing begins at size medium because it its designed around the standard TransPac XT back plate. Because we build almost all of our products in-house, we can usually do just about any custom requests. Kenny and Jon accepted the challenge and built an Extra-Small, Nomad XT. With just a few minor alterations they put it together quite nicely. They used a small-size TransPac XT and the Nomad LT buttplate to make sure the length would be correct. Daisy chain ring bungees gives the diver additional customization to ensure tanks hang correctly.

We checked sizing first on Kathleen, our marketing director, and knew we were on the right track. The guys played with it and got a friend to come in that matched the size of the customer to make sure it would be a perfect fit. Congrats on another custom-job well-done.



November 12th, 2012

BC Hose Length for Nomad LT Sidemount


We don’t include a low pressure BC hose with the Nomad LT because we can’t decide on a single solution for everybody. My son, Jared, and I couldn’t agree on the same hose length when we were test diving the LT in Mexico this summer. Now that we have two versions of it, one with an over the shoulder BC hose and the tech version with an under the arm inflator hose, it’s even a more personal choice for the proper length hose. I have some suggestions to help you get a good fit.

The tech model has the inflator and OPV protected on the side close to the diver and both located on the bottom, you can switch them to have the inflator on the left or right and it comes up from under the arm. With a fifth port first stage you can go as short as 6″ to 9″ but it can limit cylinder movement so some people don’t like it. With standard first stages a 15″ to 22″ works better.

The OW model has the inflator hose over the shoulder so the most appropriate lengths will range from 15″, 22″ or 27″, the larger the size the longer the hose needed, up to XL can use 22″.
One of the key points of side mount is the regulators are now under your arms and the hose lengths are crucial for comfort. Standard regulator hose lengths are 28″ to 30″ and OW inflator hoses are 27″ to 28″ and in most cases too long. The best tips for comfort are 70 degree angle adapters on the regulator hoses, fifth port first stages for optimum hose routing and 6″ hoses on the SPG. And like Jared and me, there is not a single solution that works for everyone.


October 8th, 2012

Nomad XT – New Model for 2012


As I am out in the field diving, I listen and watch divers and was seeing more and more divers add weight on the shoulders of their sidemount rigs to trim out, regardless of the manufacturer. A properly balanced system shouldn’t require weight on the shoulders. Depending on how the weight is attached it is never a solution that looks like it was made to order, but rather an afterthought. If you weave weight onto the shoulder straps it becomes an almost permanent solution and is balanced against a set of heavy cylinders. When you change to lighter cylinders the shoulder weight requirements change as well if you want the same effect. When you travel it’s a given the weight is going to stay at home so you have to get the rental weight on the rig. This is where pockets come into play so you can vary the weight based on cylinders and it’s the quick fix for travel, but it’s still a work around for the problem.

We set out to create a sidemount rig that doesn’t require trim weight. With the new Nomad XT, we have reshaped it, narrowed the neck, angled the sides and added more lift to the bottom. I see many tech divers switching the inflator and over pressure valve locations, moving the pull dump to the neck and the inflator up from the bottom. The problem with this switch is the loss of an OPV on the bottom of the wing. Since I know some of the tech divers want to switch these I decided to make it more friendly for the change up. The shoulder opening is now centered on the neck and there are now opening on both sides of the lower wing so any switching of the valving will still have a dump valve on at least one side of the lower wing.

We tested the new Nomad XT on a staffer who was less inclined to sidemount because the trim wasn’t as natural as diving backmounted doubles. I t only took one dive in the new Nomad XT wing and he changed his mind. My personal experience with the new Nomad XT is good balance with steel 108 cylinders and easy to hover. Try it and let me know what you think.


August 27th, 2012

How to Get a Custom Fit from the Nomad LT Sidemount Rig


There are two points of adjustment to size your LT, the shoulders and the wing waist tie end points. The harnesses will ship as a large so you have a starting point. If you need to make some major adjustments I recommend a piece of chalk to mark the webbing. The shoulder/chest transition should be done first, for the guys on the nipples and for girls just above the bust line. Adjust the webbing at the pivot rings to get the right fit and then remove the waist d rings that limit the travel of the harness inside the air cell. Put it on and get the fit right, it’s easy and should be very comfortable. Once you do this, grab the oval loops on the waist webbing, attached to the air cell and pull both sides out along the waist belt and mark with the chalk, reinstall the waist d rings capturing the oval loops. Why? This part of sizing is critical to make sure the air cell lays flat on your back, if it’s lose the air cell will ride up and be difficult to dump air. If it’s too tight the harness will be lose from the chest down and can move on you affecting trim and the balance of the bottles.


Nomad LT Custom Fit Video

August 6th, 2012

Nomad LT Defines the Market for Lightweight, Warm Water Sidemount Rigs


This is one of our most innovative products. We integrated the harness into the wing to keep everything in place like the Nomad JT. Basically it’s a mini-me JT. We added an expandable panel in the bottom to put more lift at the waist to help with trim and kept a butt plate for attaching the bottles down on the hips a proven attachment point for keeping bottles in place. A couple of personal features are the two inch belt loop on the waist for the end of the belt webbing and the 2″ plastic slide to manage the buckle end of the webbing. I like this method to position the waist belt buckle slightly off center when going from wet to dry suit.
It’s designed for warm water aluminum 80 diving or steel 85 with a drysuit. With only 25 pounds of lift don’t try heavy cylinders. Remember if you need a 40 pound wing with your twins, you still need a 40 pound wing when you break them down into sidemount bottles. If you need more than 10 pounds of weight this isn’t the side mount system for you. The Superfabric back on the LT gives it a tough finish for those low areas in a cave or the sharp edges of a wreck. With all this it weighs under 5.5 pounds including the stainless hardware and bungees. It packs very nice and with more and more weight restrictions on airlines every pound counts. Nomad LT VIDEO
March 26th, 2012

Modern Sidemount Bungee Systems – Ring Loops & Stage Straps


Dive Rite introduced the Ring Loop bungee system as an alternative to classic sidemount bungees. We dress the bottles with stage straps and a neck loop that clips into the Ring of the bungee. The classic bungee has been around since the early 1980’s and is either a single piece of bungee connecting both bottles to the diver or two separate bungees, one for each bottle. It is important to note that when a single bungee fails it means the connection point for both bottles is severed and the diver should have a safety clip on the neck of each bottle to manage the bottles and abort the dive.

The Ring Loop bungee evolved from a desire to quickly don sidemount bottles when wreck diving or more complex cave entries. It allows the diver to manage the neck of the bottle independently, just like the lower bottle clip. The Ring Loop system requires stage straps in order to work and this puts some divers off. They believe less is more when it comes to diving. I believe you wear the gear necessary to get the job done and now that sidemounting is mainstream, rigs have to evolve to accommodate divers who don tanks while treading water in the ocean. Besides, you don’t notice the stage straps or bungee hardware while diving.

The classic method needs less bottle hardware, which seems appealing, however I believe this is the Achilles heel of the system. With the classic sidemount bungee the diver has to attach the lower bottle clip first, which doesn’t give the diver flexibility. When diving from a boat or in a cave system that doesn’t have a shallow water platform, the classic system is very challenging to don.

Anyone can attach a sidemount bottle kneeling on the floor, the real proof of a modern sidemount rig is the ability to do so mid-water, especially with steel tanks. Aluminum 80 sidemount divers have it easier because the tanks are light, yet northern wreck divers prefer steel tanks for weight and volume and today’s sidemount diving isn’t just for warm water cave divers.

We designed the Nomad to accommodate all divers and it really shines with larger cylinders. This rough cut video is a demonstration of the two bungee styles and it speaks for itself. I have dived all types of sidemount systems in some of the most inconvenient entries in the world and I know the Ring Loop bungee system is the best I’ve used in thirty years of sidemount diving. VIDEO: Classic Sidemount Bungees Vs. D-Ring Loop Bungees


February 14th, 2012

My Sidemount Regulator Set Up


I have played with Sidemount regulator rigging for 30 years and what I have learned is one size does not fit all and some missions require something out of the ordinary. I used to dive a short hose, 28″, on each side because I was mission oriented and the team was on Sidemount so it didn’t require a long hose on one bottle for mixed teams. Now that I dive Sidemount for lifestyle when I’m not on my rebreather I think about other team members and now have a long hose on my left bottle for a team concept.

Right bottle, short hose, 22 or 28″ hose with a right angle adapter to manage the hose coming up from under the arm on a necklace like all technical divers are taught. A 22″ inflator hose for my dry suit so I can push the bottles back under the arms in tight places.

Left bottle, 5′ or 7′ hose is recommended, I use a 5′ because I use a Jetstream that can breathe left or right side. If you use a standard right side regulator you should lean toward a 7′ hose so it can wrap around the neck, either way it should have a right angle to make it easy to manage and  a clip on it at the right angle adapter. I use a 22″ BC inflator hose so I can have room to maneuver the bottle in tight spaces.

Both bottles have 6″ SPG  but some friends like 9″ SPG because it’s easier to read with old eyes, I thought the same until I got readers in my mask.

Just goes to prove that we all have to configure for our personal needs. The goal is a streamlined system, a quick check is how long does it take you to set up and get your bottles on compared to your buddies. It may be surprising. VIDEO: Sidemount Reg Set Up


February 6th, 2012

Converting a TransPac into a Nomad XT Tip


If you already own a TransPac and want to convert it into a Nomad XT, you’ll need to lengthen the shoulder straps about two inches to make room for the wing. The Nomad wing rides beneath the harness, between the diver and the TransPac and this extra padding means the shoulders will be shorter unless you lengthen them.

It’s easy to do. Take one apart first and keep the other for an example. Make sure you have about two inches of space between the TransPac backplate and the start of the shoulder padding. That will give you enough space for the XT wing.


TransPac After XT

TransPac Before XT