Sidemount is an alternative equipment configuration, originally used by cave divers to reduce their profile allowing access to smaller spaces and restrictions. Sidemount has found its way into Technical Wreck, Open Water Tec and now recreational diving because of the added benefits it provides divers.
Traditionally divers have worn tanks on back mounted BCD or backplates, whilst used by many divers it does present a few problems.
For one most of your life-supporting equipment is out of sight behind you head, should it develop a leak it can take a while to react resulting in a lot of lost gas, also valves may difficult reach. Sidemount places your valves in front of you making it easy to see, and much easier to access, if there is a leak you will know the instant it occurs and the valves are perfectly placed to deal with the problem.
There are added safety aspects that appeal to recreational divers. Recreational divers typically carry a single tank, recreational Sidemount divers typically carry two. This provides more breathing gas, easing concerns for big breathers, and provides a redundant alternative if you experience an equipment failure. Added benefits include easier equipment transportation out of the water, reduced back strain and more freedom of movement. The most comfortable setup I use is two 5.5 liter tanks, I can hardly feel them during the dive and they couldn’t be easier to handle out of the water.
Technical divers, accustomed to two tanks, may question the benefit of Sidemount, the answer is true redundancy. Typically twin tank divers connect their tanks by an isolator manifold which joins the two tanks for a normal dive, and can isolate them from each other in an emergency.
Doing this in an emergency steals valuable seconds from a diver, and potentially lots of breathing gas, not a good situation if you have a long deco schedule ahead of you. As with recreational Sidemount the valves are in front of the diver, you will see hear and feel a leak the instant it occurs. Unlike twin tanks, with an isolator valve, the gas in your second Sidemount cylinder is unaffected during the leak, and resolved quicker with less effort, simply put its safer and easier.
Carrying bulky equipment around on your back can easily result in injury, especially on moving platforms such as a boat, with Sidemount you may enter the water fully geared up, have your tanks handed to you and clip them on, simple, easy and relaxed.
a common way to don your tanks in rough waters is to descend with your left tank in place, you can don this on the boat, and retrieve the remaining tanks from line hanging under the boat.
In addition to these factors, Sidemount still provides all of the same benefits it did to the cave divers that pioneered it, expect to see more and more divers diving Sidemount as this catches on.
PADI offers two levels of certification, recreational sidemount and technical sidemount. Both programs complement your current certifications, allowing you to use sidemount within the parameters of your existing training and experience.
Recreational Sidemount is a 4 dive program using two cylinders, Tec Sidemount is a 5 dive program using 4 or more cylinders and includes some simulated decompression practice.
Contact us today to book your program