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    Author: James Hurley

    BC & Harness: I use a Dive Rite Transpac-I (the old one) with an even older 55# air cell. I tried the newer ones, but could not get the "flat" air cell effect I wanted out of them, so went back to this one. The entire air cell, harness, and methods of mounting the bottles, is a variation of Rennakers, with some modifications. The air cell is held down in variable increments around the perimeter of the wing, to the harness, with SS quick links. To facilitate this, I had 1" webbing tabs sewn onto the edge of the wing, that the quick links slide through. This serves to hold down, and to "fold" the air cell's outer edges downward and inward, to keep the entire wing tucked in and around, low, and flat. The air cell has (12) 1" tabs sewn into it's edges, of which (2) connect each side at the top shoulder harness, (2) each side at the bottom of the cell (small of the back), (2) each behind the armpit, and (2) on each side for the waste webbing. (2) remain unattached to the actual harness but serve as a location to secure the bungie, that comes from around back for holding & supporting the top of the primary bottle. Theinflator hose is 8" long, and lays just in front of the top of my left shoulder. This allows you to vent gas from the cell, in a tight horizontal position where you cannot raise your head. The harness has a 2" crotch strap with a D ring in both front and back. There is a 1/4" braided bungie chest strap, across the chest (this serves to pull the head of the bottle in also), which is where I keep my markers. Lastly, on the front of the harness I have installed neoprene sheathing to cover the D rings I do not use and to make it cleaner.

    Primary Bottles: Currently, I am using OMS Faber 85's for a LOT of my dives, and 112's for the longer, or deeper dives. I connect the top of the primary bottle's tank valve, into the bungie shown here, and connect thebottom band of the bottle, to each D ring on the butt plate. The bottles have opposing valves and I point the knobs out, and face the DIN opening up and toward my torso. The position of the bottles is such that the first stage and tank valve lay underneath my armpit, and a little behind. The bottle's butt ends at the hip. They do not hang below the profile of the diver, nor do they maintain anything but a horizontal attitude. Lastly I would say they need to "move around" a little bit. Not too stiff. I like some play in the bottles, as movement is easier in small places.

    Valves: I use Thermo modular manifold valves, as I like the extra post sticking out from the other side of the valve. Works well for hanging in the front bungie. I also have the burst disks doubled up. As indicated above, these valves I face up, so that when the regulator's first stage is screwed into the valve, it is protected and against my torso, instead of being pointed into the rocks and clay. The bottles are rotated so that valves lay facing up, and flat or horizontal when in the water. I can then access each valve knob quickly from each side.

    Regulators: For my primary regulators, I am currently pleased with the performance of two Poseidon Xtream's. For the left bottle, and off of the first stage ports, I route a 24" LP hose for the BC, a 6" HP gauge with a brass gauge, and (1) second stage with 28" hose . I direct the HP and LP hoses backwards and across the shoulder of the tank. The LP comes under my arm and behind my shoulder, across the top and into the inflator. I tuck the HP gauge in my armpit. This means I have to reach for it to see it, but I like that better than sticking out in front of me bending backwards on everything. It lays in the "direction of forward travel". The regulator comes across my chest, lays flat (no extra hose) and is housed in a regulatorbungie on the RIGHT shoulder, where it can be "snatched" from, and also easily replaced. For the right bottle, I have a 12" LP hose for the dry suit inflator, another 6" Hp with brass PG, and a second reg on a 28" hose, which is housed on the OTHER side, the left shoulder.

    Bottle Connections: There are specific right side and left side bottles. I keep a small L or R on the neck to discern between the two, if the scratch patterns don't tell me first. Reason for this is of course that they are "rotated" and "set" to hang a certain way (valve presentation) and need to be on the proper side for the knobs to face the right way. That being said, I use a 2" cam band, a SS retainer, 18" of 1/4" braided line, and a #2 brass swiveling snap clip. Over all of that, to keep it smooth and confined, is about 6" of tubing cut out of the front of a tractor tire. You want it tight, snug, and thick so that rocks don't slide them off, they present a "smooth" sliding surface, and they wear well. Loose, thin rubber is a hassle. The main connection is 1/4" line so that it can be cut in emergency. No "metal-to-metal" on these two. The clips swivel, but are always clipped face down, NOT up. The cam buckle is on the bottom. These are clipped to each side of the butt plate first, one at a time, which rests...well...on my butt. pic1 pic2 The top of the bottles are then hung in the bungie that comes acrossfrom my back. This is again secured to one of the SS quick links, and then connected via the red carabiner you see, onto the shoulder strap. This bungie runs right under your arm if you are wearing the harness.

    Exposure Suit: When I dive dry I wear a Zeagle (basically an Otter) 4 mil, neoprene, with thin wool underwear. Fits like a wetsuit except for the exhaust valve, pee valve, and inflator protruding some. When it gets really low and nasty (and as long as the duration is not too long) I dive wet in a Harvey's Cobalt 7/5 mil one piece, wrists to ankles, with a 3 mil vested hood.

    Fins: I use ScubaPro Jets

    Mask: I currently wear a Oceanic low profile mask (mini shadow) as a primary UNDERNEATH my hood, and Mares Free Diving mask as a backup carried in a thigh pocket.

    Reels: This is subjective based on the dive I am doing, but basically the bigger the reel the larger the line diameter. I use Dive Rites, LG Gear prototypes, a spool, and enclosed reel as a safety. Some dives will required a reel with 600 feet of #36 on it for high flowing tidal caves, down to #18 in small sidemount passages. All of the line I use is braided, and knotted every 10 feet.

    Primary Light: Lately I have been using Dive Rites wreck-1 canisters, and have bought three of them. Never had any trouble with any one of them yet. I chose the 10 watt focusable beam for two reasons. One, I like focusable beams, and two, they take the Dive Rite video reflector. I mount this light on my right side waste webbing, in much the same location as Hogarthian waste mounted lights. I use a bungie or you can use the new big rubber bands as in this illustration, to connect the canister to the webbing. You want something here you can remove if necessary. When horizontal in the water it lays below the right hand primary tank, but above the lowest profile of the diver. HID lights have made this easier.

    Backup Lights: In addition to, two mini Q4's from UK mounted on my hood (not the mask strap) that I use a lot for surveying, I also carry two Mini Q4's in a waist pouch along with one Halcyon scout. This pouch is mainly for backup lights and is mounted on the left side, opposite my light canister. In this pouch I also carry extra pencils, a spare cutting tool, some kermantle and #24 braided line for repairs, a few extra markers, and air tables.

    Stages: I use aluminum 80's for stages, with the same valves, incorporating the same 2" cam band mounting system at the bottom. However, the type of clips and the way they attach are different, as are thetop mounting connections. Additionally, I use a 1# (old Healthways) lead weight (about 3/8") on the cam band to offset the positive characteristics of the bottles near the end of the dive. Again all of this is covered in tractor tubing. The top of the bottle connects to the chest D rings, running under the armpits, via the 1/4" bungie, that is 4" long. This arrangement of weight, bungie, and the placement of the cam band higher than the primary bottles, allows the stages to ride ON TOP and behind the primary bottles, laying nice and flat and streamlined. The stages lay about 4" BEHIND the primary bottles when swimming.

    Gauges/Computers: For shorter, not so deep dives I use a Nitek -3 backed up with cut tables for every dive. For the deeper/longer (trimix) dives I use two bottom timers (OMS and Uwatec) and strictly cut tables.

    Accessories: I carry a set of wet notes in my right thigh pocket (I am right handed go figure) with standard mix tables for Tx and Nx. I carry all survey tapes, and work line, (survey & expl reels) on my butt D ring on the crotchstrap. If I am carrying a survey slate(s), I will attach it to the left shoulder D ring and "tuck" the slate under the shoulder harness. There is also a D ring on my right shoulder harness, for deco gas, and one each left and right, on my waist.

    Summary: Myself, as a lot of others do, believe in the minimalistic approach. I take only what is needed, so simplicity is part of my gear configuration. Reduce drag, and keep things clean and streamlined. Everything (connections) uses line or small bungie, and everything is done in square knots, and burned. No ties. Sidemount systems, although using the same fundamental safety methods, are highly individualistic. They can range from old open water BC's, with weight belts and D rings, to the newest wing. Lastly, side "mounting" is NOT just for acessing small places, but more of a style of cave diving.



    Submitted by: Jack Wilhelm

    I have put together my rig using the TP2 w/Trek wings and sidemounting kit from DR. I personally like the setup with a few reservations. First, I use and prefer the "tech D-rings" for mounting the tanks. They keep the tanks in close and snug but with heavy tanks it's difficult to lift and snap on the tanks buy one's self. A buddy can be of great assistance here, but once in place it's a pretty cool and slick setup. Those "other" mounting devices that DR options for us might be better left on DR's shelf in the back of their plant. Next, I find it almost a necessity to wear a crotch strap to help keep everything in place, especially from sliding up. Next, I have bought and put in place on the appropriate location on the TP harness, those fabulous little inner tube bungee things that Halcyon sells for keeping backup lights in place when clip on the front of your rig (the streamlining thing you know). The latest TP2/Trek wings combo has no clips on the wings to help keep the wings from "wrapping up," like up around a single tank kind of thing. To solve this, any place that sell good ole small quick links is the solution. A couple of these secured around the compression bungee cord on the Trek wing and fasten to the plastic links on the side of the TP2 harness will more than solve the floating up problem. It's minimal anyway because the wing is placed inside of the TP2 harness when assembling the sidemount setup. And finally, I've replaced the factory cross-chest connection DR puts on the TP2 harness with my own setup of two clips, two quick links, and one fairly large metal ring. Needless to say your cross-chest connection isn't going to come loose, but the reason I've gone with a contraption like this is so I have a very convenient clipping point for that HID light head that I recently had to replace a bulb in ($100) as well as clipping off the reg I'm not using when side mounting. Hope this all helps some, Jack.

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