Sidemount Diving

‘Around here we don’t look backwards for very long… We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.’ Walt Disney

What is Sidemount Diving?

  • Sidemount diving is when the tanks are placed on the side of the diver rather than the back.
  • This configuration is very popular amongst cave divers because smaller sections of the caves can be penetrated with greater ease.
  • Sidemount diving is growing in popularity amongst both recreational and technical divers.
Cave divers find sidemount configuration makes penetrating caves easier

Cave divers find sidemount configuration makes penetrating caves easier. Courtesy of Steve Martin.

Sidemount vs. Backmount

  1. Sidemount diving allows the individual to have better buoyancy control and trim, which in turn gives a more streamlined profile in the water. It reduces drag and makes finning more efficient.
  2. Entries and exits are easier and safer in sidemount configuration because cylinders and weights are attached in the water.
  3. In terms of air control sidemount diving is the safest option. In sidemount configuration it is possible to see all your cylinder valves. In case of an emergency Sidemount allows you easier access to cylinder valves and first stages if an accident does occur.

BUT! Backmount diving is ideal for novices or those who don’t dive often. Your first few dives were probably the most stressful; you had so much to think about whilst doing training it was probably the easiest to have your tank on your back and to completely forget about it. It was one less thing to have to worry about when you had so much on your mind.

When you watch a sidemount diver you usually see someone with two tanks, one on each side of their body. This is a great for Technical Divers who want to go deeper for longer, or who want to explore caves. What about the recreational diver? Not to fear! You can still dive in sidemount configuration but you just use a one cylinder. . This configuration will improve your position in the water and it is safer!

All equipment

Cylinders are attached in the water, making entries and exits easier. Photo of Peter the sidemount diver 🙂

As awareness is rising about sidemount more and more people are beginning to trying it out. I have a friend who has only ever dived backmount once since he learnt to dive sidemount. He loves sidemount and I am curious as to exactly why he enjoys it and be able to feel the difference, for myself, between backmount and sidemount.

Sidemount diving is the future. 

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