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Sidemount Diver Course
Rochelle - 10/02/2012 9:04 AM
Category: General
Replies: 4

Just read this info about sidemount diver course training from PADI (h-+++-ttp://
As a very new OW diver, and being a little ’older’, the idea of having the tank on the side sounds very apealing. But I have to ask, does anyone have any experience with this? If so, what are the pros/cons of this configuration?

Thanks in advance for your insight!
SeaGoat - 10/02/2012 1:13 PM
The main pro of this for open water divers is that this is a more comfortable configuration for a lot of people. Instead of having an single 80 cu in tank on your back, you can divide the weight and have two smaller tanks on your sides. You can also take the tanks on and off in the water (and you can carry a lot more tanks on a sidemount configuration if you need to). It also allows for a wider variety of configurations so you can really customize it for your comfort. What I like most is that I feel a lot more balanced when I dive sidemount and it’s easier to keep a good horizontal position in the water.

Here’s why I haven’t completely converted to sidemount:

If you want to don your stuff in the water, it’s nice if you can get your car close to the dive site or you’ll have to do a lot of schlepping. (If a hike is involved, I prefer just plain old back mount.) Diving from a boat also requires extra work - a lot of people like to tie their tanks off to a line and don and doff them in the water (a backwards roll wouldn’t work). Finally, you’ll have to invest in two of everything - first and second stages, gauges, etc.

Also, as a new diver, you have to remember to change to breathing off the other tank every 500 psi or so to keep from becoming lopsided - especially if you are using aluminum tanks which become lighter as they empty. To do this, you’ll have your two regulator hoses draped over your neck. I felt a little confined at first and it took some time before I felt comfortable.
Rochelle - 10/02/2012 1:21 PM
Wow ... two of everything - really? I didn’t think about that, nor the idea that I would have to change takes (mid-dive) for a new diver like doesn’t sound like I’m something I’d be ready for.

Plus I was wonderful if a "regular" BCD worked, or do you have to get a specifically designed BCD to accommodate this configuration. Just looking at the pictures, it seems awkward, yet you also state that it’s easier to "keep good horizontal position". Would love to try... but gee it looks odd.

... thanks so much for your response!
btw2459 - 10/03/2012 1:24 PM
I’ve been seriously looking at going towards side mount diving. A good shop website to look at is Dive Gear Express. They have lots of great information on sidemount. They sell the appropiate harness BCDs and will even sell completely set up sidemount regulator rigs (two regulators, hoses, gauges, etc). I have also had a conversation with my LDS the other day about side mount and they would be reluctant for people to dive off their boat while wearing, for example two AL80 tanks (difficult to manage that amount of tanks on the boat while others were trying to get their own gear on at the same time). However they would be OK with smaller tanks, for example two AL40s - I had never considered AL40s, but in the end that would equate to the standard AL80 that most LDSs use.

Another reason I’m looking at sidemount is to eventually go and take a self reliance dive course so that I can solo dive.