Now this is something different!
That was my immediate thought shortly after Sidemount class began. From the rigging of the cylinders, to the adjustment to my Hollis SMS-100 BCD…it was going to be different…..and it just continued to get different and better!
Why Sidemount? Well for starters, I decided to begin the journey to become a full PADI technical diver, and my instructor teaches the course in sidemount. He explained how sidemount facilitates solutions to many of the challenges encountered in technical diving, like carrying additional gas and decompression bottles. And, of course, being able to walk upright to the dive site with all that air!
Turns out that these same benefits are very alluring to the recreational diver as well. As a result, it is becoming more popular in the recreational arena. Who might want to dive with more air on those shallow reefs? You could almost stay all day! ….and not have to carry those cylinders in and out of the water! Sound interesting?
- An alternative way to streamline in the water (and the cylinders can be easily moved for wreck penetration!)
- Easier equipment transportation when topside (one cylinder at a time)
- Reduced lower back strain (Don’t put ‘em on until you are in the water!)
- Provides redundant gas supply (Dove two Steel 100s all weekend)
- Ability to monitor all equipment because it’s in front of you (now this was nice!)
- Increased gas supply for longer dives (Did I mention I did ten 20-minute dives with only one refill?)
Because you are able to move the cylinder from your back to your side, it instantly takes the pressure off of your back and gives you more flexibility to move and enjoy your dive. Imagine if you didn’t have to walk to the dive site with the cylinders on your back. You can enter the water, clip them on, and go!
It was great to unsnap the cylinders at the water and then walk back to the dive tent or back on the boat without the Winnebago on my back, light as a feather! This is definitely for me – stop by the shop sometime and let’s talk about whether it’s for you too!