Recently I bought a Custom Divers Sportster Wing. There is hardly any information to be found on the web. I could not find one review. The Custom Divers site or the Owner’s manual (which is not on the Custom Divers site) does not contain a lot of information.
Even Scubaboard does not have an opinion on this wing. Perhaps starting a discussion would be nice, since this will probably evolve in a backplate discussion. Since the Sportster has a small backplate of synthetic material instead of steel or aluminium it does not cater to the BP/W folks.
So I decided to put a few of my experiences here. I’m just a recreational diver and sometimes assist at a diving course. So don’t take it too seriously
I have a SeaQuest Pro Unlimited vest. This vest is, at least for me, a nice vest. Even after dozens of swimming pool sessions (chlorine) it is hardly faded, and I don’t rinse it every time. It’s stuffed with options, buoyancy is good …..but it’s heavy (about 4.5 Kg) and especially bulky, and thus takes a lot of space in the travel-case.
Size and weight
The Custom Divers Sporster weights slightly over 3 kg, which is more “travel friendly”. But even more travel friendly is that it folds into a nice little package.
The BCD inflator unit is rather heavy. It really tugs at the wing, so the hose retainer becomes necessary. For a travel wing, perhaps the use of less metal would have been better. However underwater it is fantastic. The hose is much longer than I’m used to, but it operates nicely. The inflator is also a pull dump valve.
There is one attached to the inflator and one in the lower back. I was used to dump valves on the right. Left is fine too. However I find the lower dump valve a bit tricky to find. I liked my two dump valves on my SeaQuest where the cords were lead to the front. Hose pull dumping is not something I use.
Back Comfort pad
The optional Back Comfort Pad is sucking up water like a sponge. After a day of drying the wing is completely dry, but not the comfort pad. A slight press on the comfort Pad and water pours out. The use of some quick drying material would have been better.
The site (not the manual) shows an Adjustable anti wing wrap stay. I had no idea what that was. Anti-wing? Wrap-stay? It took me some time to figure out that this is something helping against wing wrap. Fortunately there was one place (that’s all I could find) where this is explained Wing Wrap explained
In short, if the bladder is too big… it floats up and wraps around the tank….. so you then find it difficult to dump.
It would have been nice if this feature was in the manual and explained. And since it is a small single cylinder wing, wing wrap seem highly unlikely…. Perhaps I’m wrong.
The first dive the wing was tilting me sideways, which was rather uncomfortable. The second dive I moved my tank somewhat higher as well as my weight-belt (I’m still waiting for my weight pockets). This solved the problem completely and it behaved excellent under water. Since then I’ve used it at a PADI openwater course, during the open water sessions, which is fine. In the swimming pool I prefer my vest for now.
I too have a Custom Divers BC. In short, I really like. I appreciate the simplicity of it’s design. Although it only has one dump valve, there is less to go wrong. The inflator hose is a bit long, which I plan to replace. I have about 70 dives on it and still find the Sportser to out-perform my SeaSoft Pro BC. Living in Southern California where the water is 55F/15C to 70F/21c, I wear a 7mm wet suit and find that I have to place at least 1/2 my lead on the top tank band to keep my feet from sinking. I also removed the comfort pad after my second dive and have not missed it at all! Even in Hawaii, wearing a 3mm suit, I felt no discomfort from the back plate. The only real complaint I have is the rubber, anti-slip pad holding the tank in place; it slips off. I had to remove the old rubber cement and experiment with other adhesives. I still have to re glue that strip about every 15 dives.
Los Angeles, USA
i’ve been using my sportster wing for just over a year now and the only real problems i have had is that the kidney dump is on the inside of the wing not outside which makes it a pain to dump air when your swimming and according to custom divers (who i emailed about it)it is incase you invert and need to dump air rather than prevent yourself from inverting.the other problem i found are the d rings on the end of the adjuster straps being a short person there is a lot of strap hanging down when adjusted right and the d rings hang down, i ended up using cable ties to secure them just above the waiste strap so i could make use of the d rings.other than this 2 problems the wing is great and easy to use.
@John T. Yes the comfort pad is definitely not needed. I used the wing without the comfort pad in the hot waters of Indonesia and Malaysia and I did not miss it (mind you I used 5 mm) About the anti-slip pad: that one is not giving me problems
@Alan I’m 1:85 and even for me the adjuster straps are a bit long. But did you not get the bands (lack of word) where you can put them in?
All: It is a great jacket, but for travel. And definitely not for a drysuit. Then I need a lot of lead and I want to put some in my jacket next to my lead belt.