This article was originally written by Jeff Loflin, TecRec Instructor Trainer, and published on the TecRec blog on February 16, 2010.
Sidemount diving originated in cave diving. Sidemount cave diving is a method of gas management. Instead of carrying a redundant primary air source on the back, sidemount utilizes the ability of the advanced cave diver to split the typical twin cylinders and relocate them under each arm. In doing so, the cave diver minimizes direct physical contact with the cave, and is able to proceed through unusually tight passages.
After sidemount diving became a standard practice in cave diving, it then progressed into Technical Open Water Diving. As well as all of the advantages gained by the cave diving application of sidemounts, the configuration offers the tec diver:
- Safety – All valves, regulators, hoses and o-rings are in the diver’s view.
- Convenience – Tec divers gain the ease of carrying cylinders to and from the site as opposed to doubles.
- Trim – Sidemount diving makes it easy to achieve diver’s trim and to adjust trim.
- Accessibility – Acquiring single tanks is simpler worldwide versus doubles.
Sidemount Diving for Recreational Divers
If both cave divers and tec divers benefit from sidemount diving, would the configuration have benefits for recreational divers as well? The answer, is yes, definitely!
Recreational divers can benefit from sidemount diving in several ways:
- Buoyancy – The equipment configuration facilitates “spot on” buoyancy within minutes and results in a more streamline profile than a conventional gear configuration.
- Continued Education – Sidemount can be used for all recreational, reef, wreck, and wall dives. Interested in technical diving? No need to purchase another set of equipment as your sidemount gear will carry you through these advanced levels of training
- Safety – A different approach to gear configuration which allows the diver to carry both of their tanks on all dives provides greater safety due to the volume of gas.
Ready to dive in and try this different gear configuration? The good news is that recreational divers can no be certified as Sidemount Rec Divers, and you only need a PADI Open Water Diver certification to take the course. Get started today with PADI eLearning!