Is there a point to diving sidemount aside from looking cool?
We’ve all seen the photos of divers in their sidemount kits, looking cool diving in wrecks, looking cool diving in caves, and basically diving in the same places as us, but looking cooler. Although sidemount diving has been around for decades, it remains a bit of a mystery to most recreational divers, who generally view it as something that is out of their league. It looks so complicated, with all these bands and clips and bungee cords… but is it?
Let’s start with trim
What is this trim, and why do sidemount divers get so excited about it?
Trim is the central idea of sidemount diving. It means you and your kit become a very streamlined package. A good sidemount configuration allows you to fine-tune the way your equipment fits, so you can easily adjust and balance the weight on either side of your body.
Proper trim is not only more comfortable for you, but with all the dingly-dangly bits well secured, you also reduce drag and avoid contact with the environment. Basically, you transform into a super spy secret agent and float around underwater avoiding lasers and all manners of sensitive bottoms.
Bottom time is the best time
Do your mates not want to dive with you because they despise your air-hungry lungs? Did you spend an hour waiting for nudibranchs to high five only to run out of air as things just started getting steamy? Want to always be the last one up from a dive to annoy everyone else on the liveboard?
The awesome thing about sidemount is the ability to dive two tanks with ease. If you are a gas-guzzler and can’t get 15-litre tanks everywhere, then you can dive two regular cylinders and stay down for longer. If you are a photographer, or just hate getting out of the water, mount up two enriched air tanks and extend your bottom time exponentially. Boom.
Carrying gear is not my idea of a work out
There are lots of things about diving that we love, but carrying kit really isn’t one of them. Sidemount kits are generally lighter than backmount kits, and fold down much smaller for travel.
For the petite or vertically-challenged, you can wear two small cylinders instead of one large cylinder. For divers with physical challenges, sidemount simplifies entry and exit from the dive, even when mounting only one tank. Just jump in with your harness, and strap on the tanks in the water.
All the divers who are independent, throw your hands up at me
In sidemount, the regulator first stage and valves are in front of you where they’re visible and accessible. This makes it easier to spot and deal with problems.
If your buddy is a total flake, or if you’re just kind of a Lone Ranger type of person, then with two cylinder sidemount, you can handle an out of gas problem without someone else as your primary alternate air source. Because of this, being able to dive sidemount is a great asset for divers who are planning to become a Self Reliant Diver.
Tec is the new black
While sidemount works great with recreational diving, it is indispensible when it comes to expanding your capabilities into technical diving.
For aspiring cave and wreck divers, sidemount allows you the flexibility of detaching and manovuering tanks through small gaps, opening new doors for further exploration. The more indepth Tec Sidemount course trains you to manage and manipulate up to six tanks in a sidemount configuration for use in deep technical diving and advanced decompression.
It looks cool, because it is cool.
Time / cost
PADI Sidemount Diver
3 days / Php 18,000
PADI Tec Sidemount Diver
5 days / Php 32,000
To find out more about the PADI Sidemount or Tec Sidemount course, send us a message.
Some photos on this page are from XDeep. Check them out, we use and love their sidemount gear.