We’ve just launched a weighting system for Nomad sidemount divers. The Nomad Weight Plate attaches to the back of the rig in the existing grommets. We’ve had some inquires about the spacing of the grommets on the plate not lining up with the Nomad. This is intentional. We added an extra 1/2-inch of spacing to the weight plate so that once it is filled with weight, it will align with the grommets on the rig. The extra 1/2-inch accounts for the thickness of the plate once loaded.
Scott and I have been diving prototypes since late fall. Neither of us can tell you’re wearing the plate – it’s that well conformed to the rig. Keep in mind it is to be used when sidemounting, not backmount.
Nomad Weight Plate
I just finished teaching an IUCRR course. The course is a public safety course I do at least once a year to teach cave divers procedures for interaction with law enforcement and extraction techniques for victims of overhead environment fatalities. This one was interesting because for the first time there were more participants wearing their cylinders sidemount than back mount. Of the ten participants, five were in sidemount, one was in a rebreather with sidemount bailout and three wore conventional back mounted doubles.
The class allowed me to see how people are using equipment and I always learn from what other people are doing. With so much going on in sidemount these days, it’s easy for the new sidemount diver to get lost in contradictory information. We’re working on some new articles and videos that can help with that.
The IUCCR class was a good group of divers. Special thanks to Wendell Nope for assisting me with the class.
*** The IUCRR – International Underwater Cave Recovery & Rescue group are a nonprofit organization of cave divers that make their training and services available to law enforcement around the globe for cave rescue and recovery efforts. Lamar Hires is the Training Chairman of the organization.
Sometimes the simple things are the best. Edd Sorenson of Cave Adventures, suggested we manufacture a stage strap for sidemounting a stage bottle when sidemounting primary cylinders. While we were diving Jackson Blue, Edd showed me his set up. James Clark came up with the idea. It looked too simple to work, but it did. Back at the office, we made some samples of this bungee stage strap and we’ve been using them on exploration dives ever since.
On the first sidemount, stage dive into a snarly area I used Edd’s system and didn’t even realize I had the extra bottle on even though I was moving through turns and squeezes. I even had Wes Skiles’ son Nate sidemounting four bottles, two on each side through passage divers with backmount can get stuck in.
The sidemount stage rig is designed to work with the Nomad. A couple of points to make the rig work, use it with aluminum 80’s or the new al 77 – don’t try it with steel cylinders. The bottom clip is 15” from the bottom of the cylinder. Both straps are made from 3/8 diameter bungee and just enough stretch so they clip in and stay out of the way behind the primary bottle. It’s not for everyone but if you want to stage with sidemount it’s the slickest thing I’ve seen. BC2720-STAGE is the model number if you’re interested.
Sidemount Stage Bottle Set Up
I never thought I would see the day when sidemount diving became so popular that PADI would recognize it as a distinctive specialty. The Nomad has made this possible with a solution for any diver. There are many options with the Nomad because not one size fits all for this style of diving. We have packaged the Nomad for divers upgrading their TransPac to those needing to get a complete expedition system. The Basic Nomad is just the harness and wing and tank neck chokers, while the Expedition rig is complete with rigging for the tanks. Both systems are available in redundant, dual bladder models. We have more innovation coming in 2009.
Sidemount is the best way to carry bailout bottles for rebreather divers and for the tech diver traveling to remote locations where only single cylinders are available. If you have a question about sidemount ask it and I will answer it in this forum if possible.
In the meantime, you can also watch our sidemount videos found in our Solution Finder or Library.
The Nomad sidemount system has been incredibly popular and is becoming a great hit not just with sidemount divers but also Rebreather divers who wish to sidemount their bailout bottles. The Nomad wing had 50 pounds of lift but we discovered that after streamlining the air cell some divers were not getting the full 50 pounds of lift. As always we listen and we have worked to improve the product. We have added a side panel to the Nomad wing, which has increased the lift to 60 pounds or 27 kilograms. The new 60 pound model is shipping today!
The Nomad has taken on a life of its own and many divers are trying out sidemounting. To help divers configure their Nomad we have launched a series of sidemount questions on our Solution Finder. The Solution Finder is complete with informative video footage and will give you ideas on how to rig your light, route hoses and regs and where to store accessories.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re always happy to help!
The Nomad is working well for people who want to sidemount. Over the past few months I have taught a few classes; both sidemount and CCR. One of the common problems I began seeing is getting the bungee routed through the regulator, around the tank neck and then clipped to the harness. It can be a pain to hold up the tank, while stretching the bungee enough to get it attached. The easy way to use it is to leave it clipped to the harness and just pull it over the cylinder neck. This appears to work, but depending on your attitude in the water the cylinder may slip out of the bungee. As I thought about this while watching a few students struggle and I remembered my problems diving out of a Zodiac on the Black Sea in Russia this summer. Sometimes the neck connection can be a real pain. The bottle needs to float under the arm to find the sweet spot for sidemount position, but there should be a secure and easy connection to keep the bottle in place.
After a few test dives I introduced my students to a new way to secure the neck of the cylinder in the bungee with 100% satisfaction from the divers. It’s very simple, use a standard stage strap with XL bolt snaps on the bottle. You need the XL snap because you are going to clip into the bungee. We have added a choker to the neck of the cylinder. It holds the top clip up against the neck of the bottle. We make the chokers but you can make one out of line as well. The key is to have the gate of the snap against the cylinder neck. I like the chokers because they are adjustable so they can work with your sidemount setup and or be loosened if you use the cylinder as a stage bottle.
The point is now you clip into the bungee rather than wrapping the bungee around the cylinder neck. The bungee needs to be 4” shorter than what you would normally use. I used to use the 17” bungee and I had to shorten it to 13”. Now it is easy to clip in and keep bottles side mounted for CCR bailout or 95’s on a sidemount dive.
So to see if anybody is actually reading my blog, I will ask interested divers to call Dive Rite and tell the guys you want the latest sidemount modification for your Nomad, you want the chokers. Send back your straps and we will shorten them and give you the chokers free of charge. I want people to enjoy it as much as I do.
During the Mermet Springs Tech Tour, I was asked about cold water diving with the Nomad sidemount configuration. Wearing gloves, the guys wanted the larger coldwater snaps. I personally didn’t have an issue with the standard clips, but understood the problem. We will now offer the straps with XL bolt snaps for cold water divers. Another point on the straps was length adjustment. We offer three standard sizes that fit most divers and cylinder sizes. If you need a little extra length just add another quick link to each strap. You may find this is a good way to fine tune the rig when transitioning from a drysuit with thick garments to a wetsuit. More to come on weighting in coldwater environments.
The Nomad Buttplate is useful for more than sidemounting cylinders to squeeze into places a normal person wouldn’t go. If placing the bottles under the arm and along the body will let you get into tighter places, then you know it has to be streamlined. We all want to be as streamlined as possible when moving through the water in order to cut down on expended energy, which in turn means less gas consumption.
Incorporating sidemount-thinking to carrying stages for CCR bailout, decompression or extended range dives will help you dive with less drag. The buttplate is designed to let you attach the bottles approximately 6-inches lower than attaching the bottle at the waist; this pulls the neck of the bottle down so it will tuck under the arm. If you use the sidemount bungee straps around the neck of the bottle, then the bottles will float under the arm. The bungee straps attach to the backplate and clip to the chest D-ring where the bottle would normally be clipped. The bottle floats into position under the arm while the 4-inch rail on the buttplate lets the bottle find the “sweet spot”. In the water, you are only dealing with the negative buoyancy of the bottle, not its total weight.
The Nomad Buttplate is easy to attach to any harness. Two-inch webbing belt loops slide onto a standard waist belt and the stainless steel grommets line up with the bottom perimeter holes of a metal plate or the 1-inch D-ring of the TransPac.
One of the most common issues with sidemount is hose management. All of the hoses that are normally routed behind the head with backmount are now in your face and the cylinders are now under your arms. This past weekend I bumped into some former students, and active sidemount divers at Little River in Branford. One student was commenting about the challenge of hose routing off of the left cylinder. I had the same issue, but found a solution with the Right Angle Adapter. This little product that I brought back from Australia is the solution for around-the-neck hose routing applications.
When sidemounting use the Right Angle Adapter on the left bottle and route the hose around the neck with a standard 28-inch regulator hose. We used to go with a longer, custom length hose (either 36-inch or a standard 40-inch low pressure hose), but the hose would often lift over the head during the dive. The Right Angle Adapter allows me to use the shorter, 28-inch regulator hose and eliminates the hose lift from behind the head. I put the regulator with the Right Angle Adapter on a necklace and it stays in place. Use it on the right cylinder as well for good hose management to keep the hose tucked in tight to the body.
I also use the Right Angle Adapter for single tank, ocean diving on a 40-inch primary hose routed under the right arm. This with a Rite Source gives me maximum streamlining for single tank ocean diving. No extra hoses to get in the way when going for the lobster or the king crab that I just went diving in Norway for.
It’s just a small product, but like a lot of things, it can make a big difference to your dive.