Appeared in DIVER May 2006

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WING Zeagle Ranger LTD

They were right and they were wrong. No BC is a life-jacket, and by simply re-arranging my weights, I countered the forward-push effect when it was fully inflated at the surface.
Zeagle, a US manufacturer, had a brief flirtation with Apeks before the British company became part of Aqua Lung. Zeagle made Apeks wings and Apeks made Zeagle regs.
After that, the brand seemed to dip below the horizon.
But now a Danish company has taken up the Zeagle torch and is attempting to run with it.
Besides being in the forefront of wing technology, Zeagle came up with another idea - integrated weights. How everyone huffed and puffed about that idea, too!
The Zeagle system had to drop all the weights with a tug on a single toggle if the company was to persuade ultra-conservative divers that such a system would be acceptable.
It managed this by hanging the weights on a wire ripcord threaded around the waistband of the harness of the wing. Pull out the ripcord using the red toggle provided, and there was nothing to keep the weights where they were stowed.
Should you survive the drama, you would need to buy new weight-pouches - unless the person onto whom they had fallen survived, and kindly brought them back up.
I last reviewed a Zeagle wing in the 90s, but when the Zeagle Ranger LTD arrived it was like meeting an old friend, and I was able to pick up where I had left off.
The Ranger LTD has the same buoyancy-cell in the shape of an inverted U, contained within a tough 1050 denier ballistic nylon outer covering. It has a maximum lift of 20kg.
A bottom dump on either side of the U makes it straight-forward to drain water from the bag between dives, or even while floating at the surface with the bag fully inflated.
The weight system has been improved. The weight-pouches are now simple yellow zipped net bags, positioned in the red-zippered bottomless weight pocket and stopped from dropping out by the ripcord.
The weight-pouches themselves also have wide webbing tags that allow you to hoick them out when you need to pass them up to the cover boat. You would use the ripcord only
in a real emergency.
I had to be circumspect about how I stowed the weight-pouches to avoid losing the webbing tags. Because the weight-pockets are positioned so well back, if the tags are
not easily found you will be embarrassed to find that you cant access them when you need to.

Spare Air pocket
Second pockets alongside the pouches, one on each side, have a black zip that works in the opposing direction. They are useful for stowing items such as current-hooks and, in my case, a neoprene camera-lens cover.
The Ranger LTD tested even had a special pocket for Spare Air, though the sort of diving I do would make that pointless. It was interchangeable with a 2 litre pony cylinder pocket.
The wing also has zippered trim-weight pockets attached on each side of the lower of two tank cambands - invaluable when using the wing with a floaty aluminium tank.
Uniquely, these pockets also have a rip-away dumping system, so however much weight you carry with this wing, you can drop it all in an emergency.
All emergency zips and tags are red, as is the tag to access the accessory pocket. This is where I found it convenient to stow a delayed SMB, accessed by yet another rip-away flap.
The Zeagle harness is contoured, so hardly needs its massive sternum strap. There seemed no danger of the shoulder strap slipping off even my sloping shoulders.
The cummerbund is closed with Velcro, with the usual 5cm webbing with pinch-clip over.
Tailor this to fit by moving the cummerbund from where it is attached to the harness, because it is fitted each side with three plastic nuts and bolts. Concealed within the cummerbund is a fold-out redundant-mask pocket. There is also a fitting for a crotch-strap, if you think you need it.
A soft cushion separates your back from your tank. If you want to use a banded twin-set, the grommeted holes are already waiting, 25cm apart, for the bolt-ends to pass through. Otherwise, simply extend the cambands.
Zeagle was at the forefront of the technical diving revolution and I think the first big stainless-steel D-ring I ever saw was on one of its wings. This one has 10, and two can be repositioned along the length of the shoulder straps.
The Ranger LTD wing reminded me of how wings are meant to be. The pull-dump on the corrugated direct-feed hose is positioned at the highest point of the buoyancy-cell, so air goes out as readily as it goes in.
The lower, wider part of the buoyancy-cell that keeps you high out of the water when fully inflated at the surface is prevented from flapping and wrapping itself round the tank by a pair of little 2cm straps with pinch-clips attached between it and the harness. No drama, but it works.
In fact the whole thing works. I guess if it did not, Zeagle would have changed it by now!
The Zeagle Ranger LTD comes in five sizes from XS to XL and costs£529 complete with removable weight-pouches. A zip-on accessory such as the Utility pocket (for DSMB) costs£22 extra. Mounts, either for a pony cylinder or for a Spare Air, cost£18. Bigger buoyancy-cells are available.
  • Ocean Dive Europe. www.zeagleuk.com
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    The
    The Ranger LTD has all the classic Zeagle features
    new
    new pouches for the improved weights system
    mask
    mask pouch
    one
    one of the trim-weight pockets
    Divernet
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    + Technical divers wing in its original and most effective form


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    - No-one said it would be cheap