When I first began diving sidemount in 2011, there were only a couple of commercially available units on the market. Sidemount diving has grown leaps and bounds and has become more accepted in the mainstream diving community since. Having said that, nowadays, new sidemount harnesses seem to be released pretty regularly, some are a resounding success, while some are lackluster in their reception among the dive community. Of course, this is to be expected as sidemount diving is still rather new to the mainstream dive community and presents great opportunities in research and development for dive equipment manufacturers. With that in mind, I was excited to see the latest units to come from two of the powerhouses in sidemount diving equipment, Dive Rite and Hollis. So, let’s take a look at these two new units, the Nomad LS from Dive Rite and the SMS Katana from Hollis, shall we?
The Nomad LS from Dive Rite
As the next step in the evolution in the “L” series of sidemount rigs from our good friends in Lake City, FL, the Nomad LS is a response to diver feedback from previous units. Featuring a diamond shaped bladder, the Nomad LS allows for more lift where the sidemount diver needs it, the hips and midsection. In addition, the LS features a zero-lift baffle that prevents air in the wing from settling at the top of the wing, but still allowing it to be vented from the pull dump. This serves to lower the diver’s profile and further reduce drag. The LS features 35 pounds of lift, a deluxe style webbing harness that is replaceable, and the new Dive Rite adjustable bungee system. The Dive Rite Adjustable Bungee System (ABS) allows fast and easy customization to fit any sidemount diver. The bungee cord is weaved through a custom designed, laser cut Delrin plate providing an infinitely adjustable bungee. The Adjustable Bungee System can also be quickly changed between Dive Rite’s standard ring bungee system, loop bungees with a snap, or traditional loop bungees.
The SMS Katana from Hollis
As the result of extensive testing in the caves of Florida and Cenotes of Mexico, the SMS Katana is the latest great product to come from the good folks at Hollis. Coming from the long line of SMS sidemount systems, the Katana features a number of excellent characteristics that are sure to please any discerning sidemount diver. With a travel friendly 35 lbs of lift, the Katana is able to tag along with you for any diving adventure you go on. The H Harness and bulletproof construction is sure to give you years of comfortable and reliable performance. Going further, the Katana features a low profile wing, one size fits all design, reversible inflator and dump assemblies, three weight pockets for refined ballast adjustment and trim, retainers to reduce overhead clearance, and a bungee system designed to pull the cylinders up and away from the diver’s torso. Of course, all of this comes in a well made package that is backed by a trusted name in dive equipment, Hollis.
As you can see, both Hollis and Dive Rite have produced sidemount systems based on improvements not only from past models, but also feedback from divers and instructors. I’m sure that you are as excited as I am to see the sidemount style of diving becoming increasingly refined and mainstream. Have questions about either of these systems or any other sidemount diving product? Just ask, the DRIS crew is here for you!