BC System X-Deep Zeos38

archive – Diver TestsBC System X-Deep Zeos38

LAST MONTH I REVIEWED A WING-STYLE BC with a horseshoe-shaped air-cell, alloy backplate and single-strap DIR harness designed for twin-tank set-ups. This month it’s the turn of a recreational single-tank wing system with a doughnut-style air-cell, stainless-steel metalwork and DIR harness. It’s the Zeos38 from Polish gear-maker X-Deep.

The Zeos38’s air-cell is a streamlined, double-shell doughnut design that uses a tough 1100-denier Cordura fabric for the outer shell and 440-denier Nylon with a 0.215mm TPU coating for the inner bladder. Both fabrics are treated to give them anti-bacterial properties.
The inner-bladder seams are high-frequency welded for longevity, and those of the outer shell are triple-folded and stitched to avoid fraying. There is a K-style balanced piston inflator and single pull-to-dump valve on the lower left side of the wing.
Two sizes of air-cell are available. The Zeos38 tested provides 17kg of lift, and the Zeos28 has a 13kg lift capacity. Colour scheme on both is all-black.

Backplate & harness
The system tested had an all-metal backplate and single-tank cradle fitted with a one-piece continuous DIR-style harness.
The backplate is made from formed 2mm-thick 316 stainless steel and has laser-cut holes and slots in a classic configuration. All the edges have been bevelled at 45° to avoid sharp edges that could cut through the outer bladder shell or harness webbing.
The harness is formed from a single length of 50mm-wide stiff webbing and fitted with a stainless waist-buckle and three adjustable stainless-steel D-rings, two on the shoulders and one on the waist-belt for attaching gauges.
There is also an adjustable rubber loop on the left shoulder to keep the inflator hose in place. A single crotch-strap with front and back D-rings completes this simple design.
The tank-cradle is attached to the backplate with two m8 stainless hex bolts with large thumb nuts and flat washers.
The air-cell is sandwiched between the two via a series of grommeted holes, allowing for adjustment of height and final trim.
Twin 50mm webbing straps with polymer cam-buckles and Velcro keepers clamp the tank securely in place. The whole set-up including the wing pulled my digital scales round to just over 6kg.

An alternative adjustable harness system is available for the Zeos, a traditional design with breakpoints on the chest-straps provided by ITW Nexus buckles.
3D mesh pads for the shoulders and backplate are also available, as are two-part integrated weight-pockets and camband-mounted trim-weight pockets.
The wings can be supplied with an aluminium backplate for those who prefer a lighter rig, and you can choose from three inflator hose lengths. According to X-Deep, these choices provide a “bespoke” single-tank recreational wing system.

In Use
With the likelihood of blown-out days off the South Coast, I took the Zeos to inland sites to put it through its paces, starting with some dives at Leicestershire’s Stoney Cove and finishing with a photo-session at my regular haunt of Wraysbury.
A water-temperature of 16°C in the Midlands called for a drysuit, and I had to re-adjust the harness to account for the extra bulk. One of the aspects of a DIR harness system is ease of adjustment, and all I had to do was reposition the shoulder-straps to fit – the rest took care of itself.
The stainless buckles at the base of the chest-straps act as a stop, so once the alterations had been made, everything stayed in place.
I had already pre-fitted X-Deep’s optional weight-pockets to the waist-belt. These are actually bolted to the backplate, with the belt sliding through loops for adjustment. I would (in normal conditions) need around 8kg of lead with a drysuit and traditional BC, but with the intrinsic weight provided by the stainless-steel metalwork I needed only half of that with the Zeos.
Under water the wing seemed to disappear. There wasn’t the slightest hint of drag or “bladder-flap” as I finned briskly around the wreck of the Stanegarth.
The whole set-up felt extremely balanced throughout the dives, with the air-cell holding me in my preferred orientation – horizontal and slightly heads-up while finning forward and completely horizontal when hovering.
The Zeos isn’t fitted with a pull-dump at the inflator-hose junction with the bladder, which meant lifting the hose above the top level of the bladder to expel air. I noticed that the rubber keeper-ring could hinder this simple operation if placed too low on the left shoulder-strap.
The kidney-level lower dump was easy to find, but I found the pull-toggle a bit on the small size to ensure a good grip with gloves on.
The doughnut shape of the bladder allowed air to migrate unhindered and evenly throughout the cell, so I didn’t have to contort myself or wriggle about to expel it when I needed to adjust buoyancy.
I couldn’t feel the harness or solid backplate through the layers of exposure protection, which made the set-up feel very inconspicuous and extremely comfortable.
Add to this the uncluttered nature of the harness at the front of the torso, and I had the impression that I wasn’t diving with a BC at all.
The integrated weights sit on the outside of the waist-belt and are secured with large trident-clips. They could be released effortlessly with one hand, but remained securely in place during the dive phase.
At the surface, the 17kg of lift delivered by the Zeos38 became apparent.
It raised my head and shoulders clear of the water but, like nearly all wing-style compensators fitted with steel backplates and tanks, it tended to tip me over onto my back.
This isn’t normally a big issue, but in this case it left me having to backstroke my way to an exit point. I’m confident that lighter-alloy metalwork in tandem with an aluminium tank would have left me in a more upright posture.
One last observation – the crotch-strap is essential to keep everything tied down in place, especially at the surface, because it prevents the wearer slipping down through the harness.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of testing the lightweight X-Deep Ghost BC on a trip to Cuba.
I came away with the opinion that it was possibly the most robust travel-wing I’d ever used.
The Zeos is no different, and the high quality of the materials used in its construction and the attention to detail are outstanding. In the configuration I had on test the system is on the heavy side for air travel, although there is the option of aluminium metalwork to reduce the overall weight.
The stiff webbing on the DIR harness may prove uncomfortable when using thinner exposure suits, but again options are available to overcome this issue.
Overall, the Zeos38 was a pleasure to use – customisable, completely adjustable and built like a brick outhouse. It did a brilliant job under water, and I liked it a lot.

PRICES: With stainless-steel backplate and one-piece harness £449
EXTRAS: Integrated weight pockets (pair) £75. Trim-weight pockets (pair) £33
BACKPLATE: 2mm 316 stainless steel
HARNESS: One-piece, 2mm heavy-duty webbing
OVERALL WEIGHT: 6.2kg (with weight-pockets)
CONTACT: www.blue-orb.uk

Appeared in DIVER November 2016


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