We get questions about where to mount a lift bag. The answer isn’t simple because it depends on the comfort and needs of the diver. Our new TransPac XT has a built-in lift bag sleeve in the lumbar pad, a nice convenience for technical divers wearing backmount twin tanks. Single tank divers will want to mount a lift bag on the side of their plate or TransPac harness using uick Link hardware and a lift bag sleeve. Divers who wear a Nomad or dive a Tech Buttplate for sidemounting primary or stage bottles can use the buttplate for their lift bag. Of course, divers who don a Thigh or Bellows Pocket might find it easiest to simply stow a lift bag in the pocket. This Rough Cut video shows the options: Lift Bag Mounting Options
Some divers won’t try a softpack-style harness due to concerns about plastic buckles. However, they miss out on comfort and versatility. We designed the new TransPac XT with these divers in mind. The new TransPac XT Tech model removes the shoulder strap buckles in favor of continuous webbing. The chest strap remains in order to achieve the mountaineering backpack fit and support.
Try one at a Demo Day or Tech Tour, or come by the factory in Florida. Chances are, one of us will go diving with you.
VIDEO: Technical Diving: TransPac XT Tech Version
It’s not just about the regulator you choose, but also how you configure it. If you want to look like you know what you’re doing, then hose management will impress anyone. I can always tell the casual diver from the serious diver. When I dive a single tank, I like to keep all the hoses tucked in close to the body just like when I dive doubles, sidemount or rebreathers. It makes it easy to keep up with everything: a short hose (22”) on a necklace and a longer hose (40”) for the sharing air comes under the arm and comfortably up to the mouth. We started putting a 22″ inflator hose with our open water wings so it would lay better on the diver. Standard SPG hoses are 32″ and I assume this is for divers that want to attach a compass console to it. If you aren’t going to put a compass on it a shorter 24″ to 26″ hose is better. It’s the little things that make the dive safer and more comfortable.
VIDEO: Regulator Set Up for Recreational Diving
VIDEO: Regulator Set Up for Advanced Single Tank Diving
I took my Classic TransPac off my O2ptima and replaced it with the new TransPac XT. Since you need Offset D-rings on your harness to accommodate shoulder-mounted counter lung,s I made sure the Offset Ds would lay on top of the shoulder transition plate of the harness and lock in place. The narrow, double padded shoulders lay nicely under the counter lungs. The tech butt plate attaches via assembly screws and hugs the bottom of the TransPac XT so it feels integral to the backplate. The stability of the new XT makes the added weight of the bailout bottles feel much lighter than before. I can’t get over the noticeable improvement in comfort.
After setting my unit up, I have requests for a CCR model of the TransPac XT so we built it up. The chest only has a set of Offset D-rings and the waist has two sets of Ds: low profile D-rings on the waist plates to attach the SPG to and a set of standard D-rings in front of those. By the way all new O2ptimas have shorter SPG hoses (42-inch), so they can be stored down the side of the unit.
One of the exciting features of the TransPac XT are the new chest plates. I wanted to make it easy to add D-rings or adjust the length of the shoulder straps for a custom fit. The new chest plates will let you lengthen the straps or add D-rings in just a few minutes without having to double weave the webbing back through the hardware. For rebreathers, the offset D-rings can be added on top of the chest plate for a solid connection point. This is the best spot for bailout bottles when the rebreather has shoulder mounted counter lungs.
VIDEO: How To Adjust TransPac XT Shoulder Straps
What makes the new, TransPac XT fit better than the Classic TransPac? Let me take you down memory lane on the evolution of the TransPac. The original TransPac had integrated hip support, but the shoulder to waist connection used screws and nuts. Any adjustment by the diver usually resulted in loosing one or more of the screws. The next generation incorporated side plates at the waist so divers could make their adjustments easily without concern of loosing any hardware. The TransPac had a cummerbund to cushion the diver against the side plates. This sacrificed some comfort and back support for versatility. VIDEO: TransPac XT Features
The new TransPac XT brings the best of both together: the hip pads are a continuous part of the backplate to increase the lumbar support for carrying heavy tanks. By extending the backplate around and morphing it into hip pads, more weight is shifted off the shoulders and across the entire back, reducing shoulder strain. The narrow side plates let the diver tweak the fit for comfort if you want to move them back further toward the lumbar for greater support.
The new design allows divers to now wear weight pockets in front of the sideplate, rather than captured on top of it. This gives more freedom for mounting options and the pockets will stay in place as long as you capture the belt loop on the hip pad. VIDEO: How to Install 16lb QB Weight Pockets on the TransPac XT
The TransPac will do everything the Classic TransPac can do, but now with greater support and comfort. I happen to believe you can be comfortable when diving.
I had a great dive last week with my friend, Bill Main. He was taking his new RX10 on its maiden voyage while I bolted a production TransPac XT to a set of back mounted steel 104 cylinders, some of the heaviest cylinders on the market and preferred by Florida open circuit cave divers. We went for a leisurely swim in Devil’s Ear cave at Ginnie Springs. I was amazed at the support of the new XT. I had dived every prototype up until now and knew it was better than all previous models, but I hadn’t taken a production unit out for a swim yet.
I thought the changes were going to be more cosmetic than functional, but was I ever surprised. The guys at the office had already dived steel 104s a few days earlier and had told me the new harness was impressive.
Drop me a note if you want to stop by and try A TransPac XT, maybe I can get away and dive with you.
Last year we decided to make some changes to the Button Gauge: it needed the same safety features as a hose SPG – a pressure relief valve. It took longer than expected, but it’s now back in stock. I feel this is an important feature especially because of the abuse this little gauge is exposed to. It’s most common application is on decompression bottles and rebreather bailout bottles. Applications where close gas monitoring is not important, but rather monitoring if the tank if full or needs filling.
This application usually means pressurize the cylinder, check everything, then turn the gas off to prevent loss thru regulator free-flow concerns. If the pressure drops on the cylinder the regulator can fill with water including the SPG, this can damage the gauge and regulator. This happens more often than divers will admit. Another area of abuse is exposure by mounting the gauge on the top of the regulator of a decompression or bailout bottle where it can be bumped, hit and anything else you can imagine. I see many guys will now mount a button gauge on the bottom side of the regulator to protect it. Since it is only used to check starting and ending pressures tucking it away on the underside keeps it out of harms way.
The O2ptima Rebreather Rev D electronics must run on rechargeable batteries that come with the unit, but you can power the Rev C secondary on a non-rechargeable 3.6v lithium or high quality alkaline battery. The non-rechargeable lithium battery will last for up to 20 hours in the secondary and the alkaline should be changed when you change the cartridge.
Apply the same rule to the Rev D electronics: put a fresh, rechargeable battery in when you change a cartridge and set the low voltage warning at 3.3v on the Rev D primary.
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