Review of the Dive Rite Nomad LTZ
by Oliver J. Albrecht
A couple of weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that my current sidemount rig for steel tanks was not working perfectly for me anymore.
While for the most part it did just fine with two main tanks and a stage, once I added multiple stages and breathed the gas down, I was getting very light in the feet.
On double stage dives with LP120’s, it usually got so bad that while being on deco, I ended up moving all the gas from the wing into the drysuit, just to be able to stay level.
After taking a close look at the rig, the root cause of these issues became apparent. First of all; the bladder was designed to be cinched down and re-shaped in such a fashion that it would add lift almost exclusively to the bottom portion of the wing. While this worked well during the beginning of the dive with full tanks, it caused a buoyancy shift as soon as the pressure in the tanks dropped. It also seems to work better with the galvanized style steel tanks than it does with the lighter Faber tanks I use. With the shape of the wing being as it was, the center of gravity and the center of the bladder were just not aligned properly.
A second issue with the BC was the fact that the butt plate is mounted on top of the donut shaped 360 degree wing. As a result of this, adding gas caused the lower section of the donut to expand vertically and lift up all four tanks by up to 3-4 inches. This in turn produced a trim shift on it’s own, plus the risk of the tanks hitting the ceiling of the cave, especially while scootering.
There were several other issues with this rig, less severe but nonetheless annoying, which all prompted me to a search for alternatives for diving steel tanks.
The core features I wanted in the new rig were:
– A convenient pull dump on the shoulder to release gas from the top of the wing
– No exposed parts on the back like dumps or inflator elbows
– One-piece and uncomplicated design
– Travel friendly size and weight
– A lift of approx. 30-35lbs to make it work with two LP120 and a maximum of four stages
After looking at and trying a whole bunch of different and popular sidemount rigs, I ended up looking at the Dive Rite Nomad LTZ.
Courtesy of Cave Country Dive Shop, I was able to demo it at Ginnie and we did so using two LP120’s and two stages swimming to the Hinkle restriction.
Setting the rig up was done in just a matter of 2-3 minutes and it ended up both trimming out very well and handling nicely. The build quality is superb, with the back being covered by a superfabric surface and everything looking very solid. The only drawback that we found while using the Dive Rite Nomad LTZ was the fact that it does bulk up when partially full. While not as pronounced as the with it’s predecessor the Nomad LT Extreme, the Nomad LTZ still “beach-balls“. This is a result of the design of the wing, providing all the lift evenly distributed along the back.
Basically, Dive Rite built the Nomad LTZ with baffles so it can expand (when filled) laterally in the bungee area plus vertically in the bottom areas. This does work well on dry land when the air inflates evenly in the wing, it is however not so ideal in the water when inflating the gas causes an upward force within the wing.
Even when partially inflating the Die Rite Nomad LTZ in the water, the upward force of the gas lifts the top of the wing up. The result is heavy ballooning in the upper and middle area of the bladder, making the Nomad LTZ resemble an inflated turtle shell. In addition to that, it increases the overall height by up to 3-5 inches, causing the wing to frequently scrape on the ceiling in low sidemount passages.
We decided to have an expert look at remedies for the “beach-balling“ and Rob Neto quickly discovered a few tricks to streamline. After re-doing part of the webbing in different areas and switching to a totally different way of attaching the loop bungees, the Dive Rite Nomad LTZ was, compared to the original result, very much streamlined. It was tightened down in such a fashion, that it would no longer balloon, yet still provided much of the advertised 35lbs of lift; and there was even more good news; apart from material for the loop bungees and a little elbow grease, there is no additional hardware required for the Nomad LTZ with the Rob Neto modifications. All the modifications are even reversible, if so desired.
The Dive Rite Nomad LTZ has since become my primary rig for Florida sidemount diving.
I can highly recommend trying it out and talking to Rob Neto about the modifications he recommends to make it streamlined and enjoyable to dive.
Dive Rite Nomad LTZ Specifications:
Outer shell: SuperFabric material with double ply 600 denier fabric
Inner bladder: Heavy duty 420 denier nylon laminated
Lift capacity: 35 lbs. (15.8 kg)
Dual bladder (optional) lift capacity: 10 lbs. (4.5 kg)
Hose: 12-inch (30.4 cm) corrugated with inflate/deflate valve
Exhaust valves: One pull-dump at top, center and one at bottom/left corner of wing; configurable with corrugated hose on left or right side of wing
Ring bungee: Double bungee approximately 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) long and 15 inches (38.1 cm) overall with hardware attached
Choker system: Two nylon tank neck chokers that attach to the ring bungee clip to secure the cylinder easily under the arm
Butt plate: Reinforced nylon to provide the proper amount of rigidity to hold tanks in position and eliminate sag and two stainless steel handles for tank attachment
Crotch strap: 2 in. (5 cm) padded strap with scooter ring
Hardware: Marine grade stainless steel throughout
§ D-rings: Custom low profile angled D-rings on chest, 2 on waist, and 2 each on shoulders straps
Sizing: One size fits all (comes sized as large and can be adjusted as needed to resize)
Weight: 5.75 lbs. (2.61 kg)
Made in USA
Manufacturer’s Website: Dive Rite Nomad LTZ Sidemount