It seems over the last year or so we, the general punter at the end of the conveyor belt in the scuba industry, have been fed a diet of many new diving trends and buzz words. One that is on the tip of my tongue is side-mount diving.

So what is side-mount diving? Let us put it in its simplest form and ask you to take your cylinder/s off of your back and mount them at the side of your body. It is important, for the perfectionists amongst our forum, to mention at this point that the top of the cylinders should sit just under your armpit, and the bottom of the cylinder should touch your mind thigh area. This cylinder position will ensure perfect placement and optimum buoyancy characteristics as well as looking professional.

The two cylinders operate much like an un-manifolded, back-mounted twinset system, providing the the diver with similar gas management characteristics. The rig that I am currently using to support my side-mount system is the new Dive Rite Nomad XT. This is simply a case of personal preference, but interestingly Dive Rite was one of the major pioneers  in side-mount diving and developed this system initially for cave diving (oh another spill over from cave diving I hear you say!). More recently, recreational scuba divers have started using the side-mount system in open water, and most of the major training agencies have started running, or plan to run side-mount courses in the very near future. These courses are available for the recreational and technical diver.

A side-mount qualification generally means that the diver has been trained to manage a two cylinder system (one cylinder each side). A Tec side-mount diver qualification generally means that the qualification holder can manage a minimum of three cylinders.

The configuration of hoses and regulators pose a couple of small routing puzzles, and various configurations exist. Your configuration has alot to do with personal preference, but your awarding training body will guide you. These first fin kicks into hose spaghetti are soon easily smoothed out, and before you know it you will be asking what all the fuss was about. We, the aquatically insane at Planet H2O, have developed some new ideas of our own regarding routing of hoses and mounting of cylinders (Look out for these in future blogs).

PADI has now launched its new range of side-mount courses, and a number of local dive centres  in our region offer the new PADI Side-mount and Tec Side-mount programmes. So don’t delay get yourself to one of the regional dive operators and get side-mounting, it really is great fun. If your looking for a side mount buddy, give me a call.

Jon F

Side-mount Diving

By: Jon F