XDEEP NX Zen Wing Review
We thought it was time to write an XDEEP NX Zen Wing Review review, as it is by far the most popular wing system of choice at Scuba Leeds. Most divers out there learned to scuba dive in a jacket style BCD, and I was no different. At the time I didn’t even realise that there were any alternatives out there. I then went on a liveaboard with Scuba Leeds, where as part of my rented kit they gave me a brand new XDEEP NX Zen wing (I know right?!). It made such a difference to my diving experience, that a month after returning from the holiday I made that wing my very first substantial gear investment.
With Scuba Leeds now teaching all their students in single tank wings and long hose, and me owning my NX Zen for a while now, I figured it was time to review this great piece of kit and share my experience so far.
XDEEP NX Zen Wing Review: Unboxing & First Impressions
It’s always exciting when your new shiny bit of dive gear arrives, but it’s even nicer when said gear arrives in packaging that makes it feel like a luxury. You instantly know you’ve invested your hard-earned money in a high-end piece of kit. This is exactly what you will get with an XDEEP product. The NX Zen wing comes in a lovely branded box containing the following:
- The NX Zen Wing
- An NX Series Backplate (Steel or Ali, Large or Small)
- Complete NX Series Harness (Standard or Deluxe)
- One NX Series Twin Point Crotch Strap
- An NX Single Tank Adapter (Steel or Ali)
- Two Tank Bands
- XDEEP Instructions Pack and brand sticker
The wing, backplate, and harness already come fully assembled straight out of the box. All you need to do is fit the tank bands to the Single Tank Adapter. Lift the system out of the box and you immediately understand what the fuss is all about – not just do the materials feel like high quality, but the whole thing just looks absolutely stunning and just makes you want to put it on and jump in the water.
Unfortunately, if you did do that, you’re likely not to have the amazing diving experience you had hoped for, as you need to do a bit of adjustment work to the harness beforehand. The shoulder straps, waistband and crotch strap can all be adjusted to fit you perfectly, and you should put the time in to do that. Once sorted, you’re probably not going to have to adjust it again (except for minor tweaks and if you make modifications yourself).
Fortunately, the guys at Scuba Leeds have had lots of practice in adjusting XDEEP systems for their customers and will be more than happy to help get it just right!
XDEEP NX Zen Wing Review
Now, I think it’s time we looked at the different elements of the system in a little bit more detail.
XDEEP has taken the classic backplate design we are all used to and completely redesigned it, really looking closely at the anatomy and ergonomics of the human body. The result is a stunning looking backplate – it has a wider upper part which removes the load from the lumbar region and improves the weight distribution during a dive, whereas the lower part helps spread the weight across and allows the attaching of accessories and weight pockets. All this makes the system very comfortable and protective of your back, not just during the dive but also if you have to stand around for a while kitted up or having to walk to get to the water.
There are a few options when choosing your backplate, mainly the material and size. You can choose between aluminium or steel, and large or small. The sizing is simple: if you’re taller than 175cm, go for large! Your choice of material should really depend on what you are going to use the system for. If you only ever travel abroad, then the lighter aluminium plate is perfect, you may just need to use a little bit more lead on your dives. If you don’t plan to travel much and dive in a drysuit, for example, steel is the one, as it will reduce the weight you need in pockets around your waist, and instead nicely distributes some of it across your back.
If you struggle to choose and your budget allows it, you could even have one of each, as they can be easily swapped around in a matter of minutes.
Multi-purpose Backplate System
There’s also some great news for anyone who is a twinset diver or is considering doing this in the future – the backplate and harness can be used with the NX Project wing – simply unbolt the plate and harness from your wing and tank bands and bolt it on to the Project, nice and simple! The benefits are obvious – you will have a harness that is perfectly adjusted to you every time, no matter what you fancy diving that particular day.
It is worth reiterating at this stage that taking your time adjusting the harness is well worth the initial effort. Once adjusted properly, you will not need to make any changes to your set up, whether you’re in a wetsuit or drysuit. Finding your d-rings will never be easier, and your comfort and trim in the water will be noticeable, not just for you but also your buddies!
The NX Series Harness
It doesn’t take an expert to recognise that the XDEEP harnesses are made of top-notch high-quality materials, able to withstand whatever tough environment you fancy diving in. The webbing is very stiff, especially when new, which may take some getting used to, especially when it comes to adjusting the harness. The advantages of this are however quickly noticeable, as it makes donning and doffing the harness a lot easier and contributes toward making your scuba unit overall stable and comfortable both in and out of the water.
The harness comes equipped with 5 super strong d-rings that are made of 6mm thick stainless steel wire, and I can’t honestly imagine anything that would break or deform them during a dive. You will find one on each shoulder strap, which should be adjusted to be approximately at mid-chest height, and are perfect for clipping off your long hose, a stage, torch, compass, your Go Pro, you name it! It also has a d-ring on your left hip for your SPG, and 2 d-rings on the crotch strap at butt-level, great for accessories, SMBs and spools, etc. And if you find that that’s just not enough, you can just as easily add more d-rings wherever you feel that you need to.
The NX Series Crotch Strap
The v-shaped crotch strap is another bit of evidence that XDEEP have really thought things through. Due to its shape, the crotch strap noticeably distributes the weight when at the surface, meaning you can sit into it very comfortably. The 2 attachment points on the backplate stop the system from slipping from one side to another during the dive, and the positioning of the 2 d-rings makes it super easy to reach for your accessories.
You can choose between 2 harness designs, Standard and Deluxe. The Deluxe version does have a couple of additional features that the Standard set up does not, which explains the slightly higher price point. The main differences are the adjustable buckles/quick releases and the 3D mesh shoulder strap padding. I personally chose the Deluxe version, as I do sometimes find it quicker and easier to use the buckles to get out of my gear. This is especially useful after a cold dive in a drysuit, and I really appreciate the padding when I’m wearing a 2mm wetsuit in the pool. I know enough people however that prefer a DIR one-piece harness, so it’s really up to your own preference!
The NX Zen Wing
If by now you think that XDEEP have thought of everything when designing the NX Zen system, I haven’t even started on yet another piece of ingenuity. The NX Zen Wing. I will try to keep my inner geek under control and keep it short and simple, but there are a few things that make this wing stand out from the rest.
When comparing the NX wing to other more traditional variants, the design is quite narrow, meaning that it wraps neatly around the tank instead of protruding from the sides. But not to worry, you don’t have to compromise on the lift, as XDEEP have cleverly used the space where the backplate connects to the wing and reduced the “dead-space” that traditional wings have there instead.
The benefits of this are plenty. The design enhances buoyancy control and adds stability thanks to reduced air migration, so it’s easier to achieve wicked trim. It reduces the risk of entanglement when exploring tighter areas like wrecks or reef swim-throughs, making your dives that bit safer. It also significantly reduces drag and makes you more streamlined, so that swimming into currents for example is a lot easier, and it will undeniably reduce your gas consumption.
The XDEEP NX Zen Wing Inflation system
One of the things that stood out for me straight away and I thought was odd at first, was that the inflator comes mounted in the centre, right behind your neck, instead of coming out and over your shoulder from the left-hand side like with most other systems. All my doubts disappeared however as soon as I tried the system on, as the inflator falls nicely flat over the shoulder without creating any bulkiness.
The main benefit of this is actually quite simple but so important at the same time. As the inflator is in the middle of the wing instead of the side, any air you add will be immediately distributed equally down both sides, leaving your trim completely unaffected. Another benefit is that due to the compact size of the inflator, the whole upper part of the wing is a lot smaller, which means that it’s a lot more comfortable on the surface as it lifts you higher out of the water, while the underwater lift is in all the right places.
It’s no question that we put our dive gear through a lot, and we’ve all been guilty of not treating our (often expensive) gear with the utmost care all of the time. I have owned my NX Zen for about 18 months or so, and have done about 100 open water dives (fresh and saltwater) plus countless pool sessions in it. And I will openly admit that I don’t rinse and thoroughly clean my wing after every single dive.
That said, there is only one way you can tell that my wing is not brand-new. If you look really closely, there’s a bit of fraying where the Velcro from the cam bands have rubbed against the material (which is mostly my own fault due to not positioning the bands properly). The plastic buckles on the cam band have gone from black to dark grey, I presume either from the chlorine or the effect of the Egyptian sun across two liveaboards. Other than that, I have dived in a variety of rough diving conditions, and not once felt worried that the system wouldn’t be able to withstand this.
If you’re looking for more “technical” information, the bladder is made from 1100 DTex Cordura material. This is coated with a TPU layer which is as resistant to rupture as a double shell design at a fraction of the weight.
The XDEEP Factor
XDEEP is quickly becoming known worldwide, and it’s not hard to see why. They’re clearly passionate about doing things the right way. Starting with the overall design, right down to the tiniest of details. You can really tell they put the diver at the forefront of everything they do. They use their teams’ experience, expertise, and passion to create fantastic products for recreational and technical divers.
But they don’t just stop with innovative design. Once that’s nailed down, they identify and use the best materials and components they can find for the job. Whilst XDEEP has made a name for themselves with their wing systems, they are also expanding into other gear items. Which is very exciting! The NX Bolt Snaps have quickly become a new favorite amongst Scuba Leeds customers and Dive Team. A new mask is due to stock our shelves around September time, which I am sure will set a new benchmark for others to follow. One thing is certain – the combination of innovative design and high-quality materials have put xDeep on the map. We’re very excited to see what else they have up their sleeves!
XDEEP NX Zen Wing Review: Conclusion
The XDEEP NX Zen system is without a doubt a fantastic piece of dive gear. It’s meticulous, innovative and well thought-through design, combined with the use of the very best materials makes your diving more comfortable, more efficient, and most important of all, safer. The fact that it also looks very cool is just a handy (but no less important) side effect. Whether you’re a seasoned techie or just starting out, the NX Zen system is a fantastic choice.
Not sure whether to make the change from a BCD to a wing system? I would highly recommend you give it a go and see the difference for yourself – you won’t regret it.