Primer for the Beginning VideographerSeptember 25, 2016
When you say: Sidemount diving, people tend to think of tech diving, multiple cylinders and dark places. In the 90’s you would be right to think that.
Who would have thought in the 70’s that you would be able to surf down a snowy mountain. Nowadays snowboarding is as mainstream as skiing.
Sidemount diving originated with cave divers, the reason was they could penetrate restrictions with greater ease by not having all their tanks on their back. It also allows the diver to carry cylinders one at a time vs. hauling heavy and extremely awkward doubles around.
In recent years cave divers have applied the benefits cave configuration to non-overhead environment diving. It has a few benefits, and slowly but surely it is making its way to mainstream/ recreational diving.
So what are the benefits of diving in a sidemount configuration?
Redundancy of Gas
For the purposes of Solo Diving, recreational divers have traditionally resorted to using ‘pony cylinders’ or ‘ascent bottles’ as contingencies against out-of-air emergencies.
It is easy to bring two side-mounted cylinders and also have the advantage of being able to identify problems because you can see all your hoses, first & second stages. This does require some training to comfortably be able to handle the additional equipment and understand the configuration.
One of the benefits of the sidemount diving configuration is that the weight of the scuba cylinders is distributed vertically - which unlike back-mounted cylinders is much more comfortable for a diver on land, and less likely to cause the diver to lean forward or tip backwards, or generally be unsteady due to the large load of back-mounted scuba cylinders.
A sidemount scuba configuration allows the diver naturally to stay in ’trim’, unlike a conventional BCD. Another advantage is that side mounted cylinders are easily clipped and unclipped in the water, allowing the diver to reduce the amount of weight with which they enter and exit the water.