What Is Sidemount Diving?
Sidemount Diving has been made popular by the cave diving fraternity. This form of equipment configuration is such that the tanks are worn on the diver’s sides instead of their back. This typically involves two cylinders, although side mounting a single cylinder or a rebreather is also possible. The main reason for wearing the cylinders on the side is that it reduces the diver’s vertical profile significantly, but it increases the diver’s horizontal profile slightly. This allows for the diver to enter smaller spaces than with traditional Scuba Equipment setup.
Who Should Take The Course?
The Sidemount course is not just for technical divers but also for recreational divers who wish to be more streamlined and have a redundant air supply leading to safer diving and less reliance on a buddy. For technical divers, side mount has several advantages over traditional back mounted doubles and increases streamlining and versatility in the water. The prerequisites to start the course are Advanced Diver with 20 dives experience.
Why Should You Sidemount?
Lightweight – Gear is typically lighter and less bulky making it ideal for travel and loading. This also makes getting into small boats and/or back to shore much easier.
Redundancy – Losing all your gas is almost impossible. With two completely independent cylinders and regulators, sidemount provides a redundant system and much safer gas management. All valves and regulators are directly in front of you so they are easier to manage. A faulty regulator or tank becomes a minor problem instead of a major emergency.
Versatility – Alongside further training and some additional equipment, the same BCD and harness can be used in other applications such as technical, wreck, and cave diving.
Comfortable – Your back is much more flexible in sidemount, as there is no tank or back plate held up against it. This greatly increases comfort during dives. Cylinders can also easily be donned and removed in the water, eliminating the need to walk around with heavy dive equipment on. Sidemount has made diving for some people with disabilities and or injuries much easier since all the heavy equipment can be donned in the water.
Streamlined – Sidemount design and thinking is typically one that involves a minimalist approach, so BC’s and harnesses tend to have smaller profile but same functionality than typical back mount equipment.
- Equipment considerations
- Gas management
- Attaching cylinders
- Trim and buoyancy
- Deployment of surface marker
- Different water entries
The course is strictly non-decompression and is designed for any diver interested in learning to dive with sidemount configuration. This course is not brand specific and any side mount unit can be used to teach this course. Maximum depth is 40 meters or within the limit of the students current certification, whichever is shallower.
- PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent
- Minimum 15 years of age
Qualifications After Certification
Upon successful completion of the PADI Recreational Sidemount course, graduates may engage in sidemount diving activities with maximum two (2) independent tanks without direct supervision provided the following limits are adhered to: Planned dives do not exceed diver’s current certification level.
Number Of Dives & Course Duration
- Four (4) dives are required with complete briefs and debriefs by the instructor
- Minimum three (3) days
- Maximum of 4 students per Instructor for Open water dives
- Course Duration: 3 Days, including 4 Dives