What Is Sidemount Diving?
First thing first; what is Sidemount?
In a precise definition quoted in SDI/TDI Sidemount Diver Manual;
“ A sidemount dive is any dive that involves the use of one or more cylinders, mounted along the side of the diver. Each cylinder has its own first stage, second stage, submersible pressure gauge and low pressure inflator hose as required."
Due to the fact that it was originally made for cave diving, sidemount diving has long been regarded as a technique exclusive for technical divers.
However, sidemount configuration among recreational divers is on the rise as they have discovered the benefits of sidemount.
There are various reasons for divers to use sidemount configuration. One of them is to improve their trim, air consumption and buoyancy.
In this article, get to know numerous benefits of sidemount diving and how you can get started your journey as Sidemount Diver.
Why Sidemount Diving?
Redundant Air Supply
Yes, you would have an additional air supply.
As long you are diving within the NDL (No-decompression limit), you can increase your bottom time. This is a great solution for divers that have a high breathing rate that cause their dives to end faster.
Imagine you are incorporating sidemount with Nitrox; now you have increase your NDL with additional air supply!
Not only you benefited from the redundant air supply, your buddy can benefit from it as well in any emergency situation.
Having two regulators that are completely separate from one another provides a safety net in case a first stage leak occurs. In sidemount diving, you can see exactly where the issue is located, which allows you to quickly identify the cause and come up with a solution.
Easy Valve Access
Your cylinders are on your sides with the first stages are under your armpit.
With this configuration, you can see the first stages and have access to the handwheel of the valve.
By switching from backmount to sidemount, this change might increase your safety percentage in case of emergency.
Having easy access to the first stages and valves lets you solve problems before they can get worse.
For instance, you will be the first to know if a valve connection or first stage is leaking without having anyone to let you know.
In overall you will be a self-sufficient diver.
OK, streamline by definition is a contour that offers the least possible resistance to water.
Human are definitely un-streamlined in the water. Our body shape is not built for underwater world.
Sidemount configuration is a great solution to achieve streamline and reduce drag. We tend to slow down and use more energy to achieve effective propulsion.
By placing your cylinders in alignment with your body and the direction you are traveling, helps to improve your propulsion and lessens the amount of energy you spend while diving.
It also provides a more comfortable and relaxed experience.
Proper Trimming and Stability
It is unreasonable to assume that good stability and trim are not achievable in a backmount configuration.
Still, sidemount configuration is the best way to achieve perfect trim.
Positioning the cylinders on our lateral plane, it allow us to achieve better stability and balance in horizontal position.
Imagine both of our cylinders in have the same bar, we can naturally stay horizontal and level in all planes!
That means when we are at 90 degrees on our side, we will remain stable which you can see in the video.
Divers With Limited Movement
Among the challenges faced by disabled divers (multiple sclerosis or other major back problems); are getting to and from the water. Sidemount can help them do so, as it allows them to dive without having to carry heavy cylinders walking to the water.
Sidemount gives you the option of donning and doffing your cylinders whilst in the water.
OK. Imagine this situation;
You are wearing your sidemount BCD at the dive center. Remember, you are wearing BCD only, without the cylinders.
And then you carry your fins and mask, and walk to the boat. Wait, how about my cylinders? The assistance from the dive center will carry them for you to the boat provided you have already assembled your regulators, tank bands to your cylinders.
Once you reach the dive site, enter into the water with everything; fully-inflated BCD (orally-inflate), fins, mask except the cylinders.
The boat man will give the cylinders to you one by one. Just clip your cylinders one by one and you are ready to explore the ocean!
In this respect, sidemount diving is like another door opening more possibilities in the diving world.
Underwater Videography and Photography
As stated before, sidemount configuration give you more streamlined and proper trimming and stability.
As A result of these benefits, you can take underwater video and photo in optimal position to take the perfect shot.
Sidemount enables divers the ability to look up without hitting their head on the cylinder valve or manifold while taking underwater shots.
Sidemount diving give you the ability to detach and reattach cylinders and BCD while diving.
This is the greatest benefit of sidemount and the main reason sidemount configuration was originally created; so that divers can fit through narrow spaces, particularly for cave diving, sump diving or to penetrate wreck.
A Step Into Technical Diving
If you are constantly improving your skills, you will find that sidemount diving provides you a natural path towards technical diving.
It would help you to realize that you love and appreciate diving, and make you want to pursue technical diving.
In some cases, divers would appeal to the simplicity of single tank, recreational diving after trying sidemount diving.
Divers will benefit in either case; either they will prepare for technical diving, or if they want to be more versatile, they will be able to dive sidemount.
Sidemount course able to introduce to you the different aspects of diving.
Not overly exaggerated to state that sidemount course is the first step in a recreational diver's journey to becoming a fully qualified diver. It usually happens at a critical point in their life where they decide that they want to improve their skills or they are already content with where they are at.
After taking the sidemount course, many divers discovered that their passion for diving has grown stronger. They also started to look into technical diving.
Even though technical diving isn't for everyone, taking the course will allow you to improve your skills and knowledge of diving.
Are You Ready To Be A Sidemount Diver?
For instance the answer is YES!
Nowadays there are few divers share their knowledge about sidemount diving in Youtube, social media or their own website.
However, there is only so much to learn in a one-sided manner.
It’s important for you to learn sidemount diving from a qualified instructor.
You may learn on your own and it is very easy to make a few mistakes without realizing it, and turn it into a bad habit that is hard to unlearn later on.
If you are taking the course with Qoshki Dive, you would have several training sessions at the 5m pool before going to the sea for final evaluation.
You are definitely learning new skills and upon polishing those new skills, you are very much ready for the final evaluation at the sea.
Head on to our Sidemount Diving Course to know more about our course tentative and book your slot right away!
Or if you want to have a Sidemount Try-out first before deciding to be a dedicated Sidemount Diver, book our Sidemount Try-Out Session.