Sidemount diving is a way to assemble scuba equipment so that the cylinders are worn on the diver’s sides rather than their back. It typically involves two cylinders, although sidemounting a single cylinder or rebreather is also possible and becoming popular.
Although sidemount has its origins in cave diving, it is becoming more and more popular in open water technical diving and recreational diving.
What are the advantages of diving in sidemount?
Streamlining – The entire sidemount configuration is designed to be completely streamlined. The sidemount mentality is one that involves a minimalist approach, so wings and harnesses have smaller profile, but the same functionality as an ordinary recreational BCD.
Comfort – Your back is much more flexible in sidemount since there is nothing rigid (tank or backplate) held against it. This greatly increases your comfort and freedom of mobility during dives. Cylinders can also be easily donned in the water, eliminating the need to walk around in heavy dive equipment. Because of this, sidemount has made diving for people with injuries or disabilities much easier and in some cases possible at all.
Safety – With two completely independent cylinders and regulators, sidemount provides a completely redundant system and a much safer way to manage gas. Complete gas loss becomes virtually impossible with sidemount.
Versatile – Alongside further training and some additional equipment, the same wing and harness can be used in technical, cave, and wreck diving.
Lightweight – Sidemount gear is lighter and less bulky, making it ideal for travel and loading.