KISS Rebreathers Classic Explorer is a little bit of a DIY closed-circuit rebreather system, as it does not come out of the box fully assemble. For the purpose of mounting Dil and Oxygen cylinders Dive Rite’s narrow 1.5-inch wide low profile tank straps are a perfect fit.
While I am a big fan of KISS rebreathers Classic Explorer, I will be the first to say that this mCCR is a little bit of a DIY kit system, as it does not come out of the box fully assemble. In fact, there are a few things that are not included as standard such as cam bands needed for securing the O2 and Dil cylinders to the unit.
Oh yes, it does come with the four large diameter stainless hose clamps that will certainly do the job. But, seriously would you really want to use something that came from a hardware store on an investment like this?
A more appropriate option is the 1.5 in/3.8 cm wide, low profile cylinder straps (cam bands) from Dive Rite.
Dive Rite’s Low Profile Cylinder Straps
Appearance wise, they look the little brother to the most standard size, 2 in/5 cm wide scuba cylinder cam bands used on BCD’s. The difference is with the narrower (1.5 in/3.8 cm wide) nylon webbing and smaller, more compact cam buckle, the cam band has a greater ability to conform around smaller diameter dive cylinders in the 2 to 3 ltr range, thus holding them more securely.
The beauty with them is that they are carried by a large number of dive shops, and relatively inexpensive. Shop around, they be found for less than $25.00 USD a piece.
What you get for that is a 36 in/91.4 cm length of black 1.5 in/3.8 cm wide nylon webbing, a stainless cam buckle designed specifically for webbing of that size, one stainless belt slide, and a non-slip cylinder pad.
With the KISS Classic, or any other rebreather that can accept cam bands of this size for securing the Dil and O2 cylinders to the unit, you will need four total.
In addition the four straps, I suggest getting eight additional 1.5-inch wide belt slides. My preference is a combo of 4 stainless / 4 nylon plastic; which will be explained later, along with two pairs of Cam Strap Tension Pads (pictured far right) which are available online from from Deep Sea Supply for $10 USD a pair – you should get two pairs.
The DSS’s tension pads are molded from soft tacky durometer type Elastomer rubber designed purposely to compress slightly under the cam band’s webbing when the cam is locked down. This way, should the webbing loosen or stretch in the slightest, maximum tension around the cylinder is still maintained. Just as important, this compression of the pad limits the stress on the buckle, reducing the chance of breaking the cam buckle, which is almost virtually impossible considering they are made of marine grade stainless.
The purpose of the belt slide that comes with the strap is to secure one end of the strap to the cam buckle. This design does work, but not entirely to my liking, as they are prone to creep little, causing the tension in the strap to lessen enough for the cylinder to rattle with the cam buckle even coming open.
A more efficient approach for sure, is having the webbing folded over and stitched around the shank on the cam buckle like they are on standard 2-inch wide cam bands you see on just about every run of the mill BCD.
The main reason Dive Rite does do this is because they also like to have the strap readily available to work with their quick release adaptor. In addition to this single piece of stainless steel costing $18.00 USD, from my personal experience is that they really are not that desirable for application on small cylinders used on rebreathers. Namely, when the cam buckle(s) gets accidently popped they can allow the cylinder to completely fall lose from their mount.
I for one prefer to use the straps in a more basic straight on KISS fashion with the webbing stitched straight on the cam buckle like the big boys.
To do this, take the pieces you need to have stitched to some one who has an industrial heavy-duty sewing machine that uses nylon tread. I have found almost every shoe repair shop not only have one, but are also generally willing to do the job for a small fee. One near me only charged a total of $14.00 USD to do all four.
When taking them in, show them how and where you want to done on each strap.
I general have enough of the webbing over the cam buckle shank to provide about a 2-in/5 cm long surface area that can be stitched together.
Be sure the tab that is folded over is on the side of the strap that meets the surface of the cylinder. I also bring with me a 2-inch wide cam band off a BCD as a guide for how and where the stitching needs to go to insure the job is done the right way and in the right place.
Now you should have four cam straps ready to go, along with those four stainless belt slides.
The first belt slide can be used to keep the non-slip cylinder pad close to the cam buckle as it is shown here.
Next, starting running the webbing through the slot closest to the scrubber into the inside of the case where it will also need to be threaded through DSS Cam Strap Tension Pads like it is shown here, before exiting through the outer webbing slot.
Now, this is where the extra belt slides I mentioned earlier come in.
On their own the cam bands will slip or walk their way around the cylinders as you go about tightening the straps before flipping the cam buckle down. To stop this annoying problem stack two belt sides atop one another (preferably plastic one on top).
With the two belts slides stacked in this fashion, wherever the slides are position the webbing will not be able to travel back in the direction it was first brought through.
Done, the bitter end of the strap can be run through the other end of the non-slip cylinder pad before weaved through the cam band. Once all the hardware is installed, it should look like this.
At this stage you will likely need to make some minor adjustments to the positioning of the stacked belt slides to so that everything lines up just so when the Dil and O2 cylinders are installed. I have experimented a number of ways to doing this. So far, the best by far that I have found is having the staked slides pressed up to the slot in the counter lung case with the cylinder pad right behind it. This way when the cam buckle in the locked down position it is facing the counter lung case in a location that is still easy for me to snap it open with my finger, while at the same time pretty much out of the way getting caught on a snag and getting pulled open accidently.
Now the question is what to do with all that excess webbing dangling off the cam buckles once your Dil and O2 cylinders are in place.
The obvious, after the strap has been properly cinched down around the gas cylinder with the cam buckle in the locked down position, cut away the excess.
As for the length, since you are the only one who will know type/size cylinders you are using, I will use mine as an example.
All the Dil and O2 cylinders I own run the standard 4.4-in/11.1 cm in diameter aluminum for most aluminum 2L & 3L size gas cylinders. When in place on my Classic – straps cinched tight, cam buckles snapped down in place I removed just enough of the webbing to leave 3 in/7.6 cm long tab hanging loose from the end of cam buckle.
If you are prone to floating back and fourth between aluminum and steels, size it up the cylinders with the largest diameter so there is a least 3 in/7.6 cm webbing off the end of the cam buckle.
With the newly cut end cauterized with a cigarette to keep them from fraying, you can fold back a portion of the end of the tab upon itself to rest under the cam buckle as it is getting snapped down in place. Or, you can go the extra mile as I have done to give the end of the strap a more finished look, by folding about 1.4 in/3 cm long end portion of the webbing over on itself and having it stitched down flat.
So there you have it, my KISS cam band solution for fitting Dive Rite’s 1.5-inch wide, Low Profile Cylinder Straps to a KISS Classic Explorer, or any other rebreather able to accept this size and style cam band. Besides giving my Classic a cleaner, more finished look, it is the one method that has so far shown to really work. Not once, in the three years I have had them on, I have not had the experience of having strap accidently come undone or a cylinder feeling loose on the mount in or out of the water.
There may be a better way of doing it, but till I see it, I will stick with mine.