Sidemount Diving Benefits – A New Age for Diving
Sidemount diving benefits. Sidmeount is evolving into the super model of the dive configuration world – sexy and sleek, versatile and comfortable, and easy yet safe. Moreover, its total cool factor and potential for awesome conversation starters potentially are quickly driving it into the diving spotlight. A closer look into sidemount diving benefits and considerations can highlight just why these statements are true.
A Short History of Sidemount Diving…
Around 50 years ago, cave explorers used new methods for going deeper into the world’s unexplored caves. One of these systems included a minimalist approach of attaching scuba cylinders to one’s legs to pass through small wet zones, or ‘sumps,’ in caves. As more and more underwater caves were being discovered, the need for better dive equipment came about. Do-it-yourself units were created using ‘Camelbak’ buoyancy devices. Since then sidemount cave diving really took off and has continued to produce new systems to keep tanks off divers’ backs. So why is it becoming so popular outside of its native overhead environment?
Wearing scuba tanks along the side, secured under the shoulders and along the hips, streamlines a diver and reduces drag. Since each tank attaches separately, tanks can be transported individually avoiding a lot of exercise before and after diving. The riggings for cylinders are adjustable which allows all kinds of tanks to be used. First stages and tank valves move to the front of the diver making it easier to see and solve problems. Multiple sidemount tanks allow for technical dives where staging of tanks or switching of gases is necessary. Additionally, when a sidemount diver uses two or more tanks, a fully redundant gas supply is available making out of gas scenarios or equipment failures quick and simple to handle. Lastly, its true advantage over other dive equipment configurations is its ability to detach and reattach whilst diving. This allows penetration divers (caves or wrecks) access into small spaces.
It seems sidemount gives divers endless possibilities, but what exactly are the considerations when diving side mount? First, managing gas consumption between the two or more side mounted tanks requires more attention. The pressures must be kept rather close so the diver can keep balance. When diving mixed gases, such as trimix, physical characteristics of the gas must also be understood to better position and attach cylinders along the body. Secondly, wearing sidemount underwater offers comfort and trim, yet it is not the most pleasant kit out of the water. For the most part, it is best to put on and take off tanks in the water. Lastly, although sidemount is gaining popularity fast, there are still many divers unfamiliar with its use and configuration. More careful pre-dive safety checks must be done so divers know what to do in emergency situations.
Sidemount offers divers a lot of flexibility, comfort, and safety without huge complications. It can easily be integrated into other forms of diving, such as solo and technical diving. It is a great alternative for tech divers without twin sets, or simply for those who can not carry multiple tanks on their backs. Moreover, sidemount adds a redundant and fully independent gas supply without the need of a manifold system (another potential failure point).
Given that sidemount diving has so many benefits without needing a lot of special equipment or training, it is not surprising to see sidemount diving spread so fast. Certainly, it gives divers many opportunities for exploration.