Review: XDeep NX Project Wing
by Andy Davis
Shortly before Christmas 2016, I received the new XDeep NX Project technical wing for testing and review. Over the following months, I subjected the wing to a range of demanding technical and advanced wreck penetration diving here in the Philippines. This is my review of the XDeep NX Project technical diving wing.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve owned and dove many technical diving wings, including; Halcyon Evolve and Pioneer, OMS, Custom Divers, DiveRite and others. Beyond the choice of donut versus horseshoe bladder design, backplate metal, LPI location and the choice of materials, I’ve always felt there was little to differentiate betweeen what is essentially a tried and tested core concept for wing design.
However, straight out of the box, it was immediately apparent XDeep had really succeeded in creating some functional innovation in their design. These reflect the application of some considerable technical diving expertise to improve upon both the comfort and operation of the wing system.
Details of the backplate and the wing design which favors buoyancy lower down
The backplate is super-lightweight, thanks to a cut-away design, bringing the total system weight down to only 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs). This would make it extremely attractive to travelling technical divers. Diving here in the tropics, the overall weight was sufficient that I didn’t need to add lead ballast when using a 3mm full wetsuit,
A wider, more ergonomic backplate – it’s also very lightweight and well machined
The shape of the backplate seemed to add some width to the harness fitting, which made everything a little more comfortable. The backplate comes with a small padded section on the upper-back area. I typically don’t favor padded add-ons for my rigs, although this one may help alleviate hot-spots in the lower neck area. It did make access to the upper bolt-screw more difficult though.
The manufacture quality of the aluminum backplate is exceptional and reflects no compromise in production and engineering.
The shape of the wing, coupled with an effective Y-shaped crotch-strap develops comfortable surface flotation
Hogarthian style single-piece harness. Y-shaped crotch strap – improved comfort and provides two D-rings at the rear – better distribution of ancillaries. Especially useful for penetration dives where multiple reels will be carried. Location of the D-rings also improves access with the left or right hand, as they sit under each cylinder, rather than centrally.
As the strap runs under the buttocks, not between them, it is far more comfortable to float at the surface. This is definitely a crotch-strap design I’d want if diving a skin-suit or boardshorts! Coupled with the innovative wing design, it floats you higher above the water than is typical for a technical wing.
The wing is shaped to wrap cylinders efficiently and distributes gas well, promoting intuitive trim
The wing is designed with a more oval, slimmer, profile which I found wraps efficiently along the sides of the cylinders. This reduces the profile of system slightly and eased some of the thinner wreck restrictions I attempted.
The biggest innovation in the wing design is that it offsets air distribution towards the lower wing. This fundamentally promotes more lift around the lower torso and helps maintain proper trim throughout the dive. The other large benefit of this design is that it substantially reduces the amount of material and bulk behind the neck. It’s easier to keep your chin up high and there is zero interference when reaching back for the valves.
The novel Low Pressure Inflator (LPI) hose design also serves to reduce bulk at the top of the wing. There’s no clutter from traditional plastic screw connectors; so there’s less to fail on a dive and, again, nothing to clutter vital access to the cylinder valves when performing shut-downs. I was really impressed with the LPI design and it’d be a good thing if this feature was included across the entire XDeep line. The only drawback to having a permanently attached (sewn and glued on) LPI system is that a replacement corrugated hose would entail sending the rig back to XDeep – but as their customer service is usually excellent, I don’t see this as a major problem.
Rear view showing the clearance between the top of the wing, LPI attachment and the cylinder valves
The OPV/Pull-Dump was traditionally located on the left-side lower wing. It seemed of robust construction and operated flawlessly. Because of the LPI connector design, the wing could actually be reversible, allowing the OPV to be situated on the right-side of the wing and protected under the fabric. That may be beneficial to sidemount divers who have developed muscle memory for using a left-side OPV, or for those who conduct aggressive penetration dives in confined areas….as the OPV would be well protected from damage.
The wing was constructed from hard-wearing cordura fabric and had an inner-bladder. After several lengthy wreck penetrations, including some tight restrictions, there was no damage or wear evident on the wing.
Front view showing the clearance between the top of the wing, LPI attachment and the cylinder valves
I really enjoyed diving the XDeep NX Project wing and it’s already taken pole-position as my default rig for backmount technical diving. Sadly, my Halcyon Evolve is now relegated to the storage cupboard – no small achievement as I’ve used Halcyon wings for over 12 years. I was impressed that the XDeep design team managed to find some truly innovative new features that improved the form and function of basic tech wing design. Those innovations aren’t just the typical dive manufacturer gimmicks to promote more sales; they really do have a positive effect on diving the rig and reflect some genuine diving expertise and experience influencing the design team.
Buoyancy: 23kg / 52lbs
Max Cylinders: 2×18 L
Total Weight: 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs)
2x Harness Sizes: Small (for divers less than 175 cm tall) and Large (for divers 175 cm and more tall)
Material: Double Bladder wing – (Outer) Cordura 1100 dTEX and (Inner) Nylon 440 dTEX