A Comparison of Sidemount Bungee Systems
Diving sidemount has several advantages over back-mounted configurations, one of which is the use of sidemount bungee systems to secure tanks.
Tank valves secured by sidemount bungee systems can be pushed away when they must be manipulated and hold tanks tight to a diver’s body at other times.
Several types of sidemount bungee systems are available to technical divers, each of which offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
Sidemount Bungee Systems: Loop bungee
Loop bungees are an easy option for divers who have no trouble donning/doffing tanks. The system is composed of two separate bungees secured to the upper back and chest/shoulder areas of the sidemount harness. The bungees are stretched around the tank valve on either side and gravity keeps the tanks in proper orientation while diving. Major advantages of this system are fully independent bungees that, if properly sized, hold tanks tight against the body. Disadvantages are mainly in securing and removing tanks. Some divers find it difficult to stretch the loops around tank valves or to locate them at the beginning of dives, especially with dry gloves. Clips or retaining straps may be used to secure bungees until they are attached to tanks to help solve this problem. The Armadillo system, by Golem Gear, pioneered this type of sidemount bungee system and has tested it extensively. Read the owner’s manual for a thorough introduction to the system.
Sidemount Bungee Systems: Continuous Loop Bungee
Similar to the loop-bungee system but with a single, longer bungee connected across the back. Advantages to this are that the longer bungee can stretch further when donning tanks and that tanks will hang at the same distance on either side. Disadvantages are that more stretch may not secure tanks as tightly, allowing for more movement and drag while finning, especially if one tank must be removed. If the bungee breaks, both tank valves lose their connection to the harness, doubling the problem created if a non-continuous bungee were to break.
Many popular harness systems, such as the XDeep Stealth, make use of loop bungees and can be configured for continuous or separate loops.
Sidemount Bungee Systems: Ring Bungee
The ring bungee system attaches a metal ring to the end of bungees to help a diver easily secure tanks. The ring is attached by a metal fastener to a boltsnap, which is then attached to a shoulder/chest d-ring. If used with a choker/clip system, a metal-on-metal connection is created between tanks and the diver’s harness. This allows tanks to be walked to the water without weight resting on the bungees, which begin to bear the load as a diver becomes horizontal. Disadvantages of this system are that it has more components, creating more points for possible failure.
Sidemount Bungee Systems: Single Clip Bungee
A single boltsnap is attached to the end of either bungee. When donning tanks, the bungee is passed around the tank valve and clipped to a shoulder/chest d-ring, where it stays for the duration of the dive. It is easier to secure and detach bungees using this system, but the tanks may not be held as tightly. The clips will be attached to the d-rings for the duration of the dive, which may clutter these attachment points. The SMS 100 and SMS 50, two popular sidemount systems by Hollis, make god use of this bungee system.
Each sidemount bungee system has advantages and disadvantages. Because most harnesses can be configured with whichever system a diver chooses, it is ultimately up to each diver to test different systems and select one that suits their preference and diving needs. Enroll in a sidemount course, or check out some of the links included in this article for further information.