Contrary to popular belief, having scuba tanks mounted on your back isn’t a requirement to explore the underwater world. Although back mounts are certainly the conventional way of diving, many divers have found that diving with a side mount setup is also an enjoyable experience.
Side mount diving offers divers more flexibility and streamlining options both in and out of the water. People who have tried side mount diving rave about not having to walk around with heavy tanks on their backs. All divers need to do is enter the water, clip the tanks on the sides, and go exploring. Additionally, the setup allows easier access to the tank valve, allowing for safer air management.
If you are interested in trying side mount diving on your next trip, know that doing so will require you to gain a whole new certification. Before planning any trip that involves side mount diving, make sure you are properly certified first. Similarly, you will want to follow these quick tips to ensure you’re fully prepared for a whole new world of scuba diving:
Purchase the Right Equipment
Although the main difference between side mount diving and back mount diving is the location of the tanks, don’t think that your standard gear will work well. A side mount setup uses a vastly different hose configuration. There are also special BCDs manufactured just for side mount diving. You’ll want to visit a scuba shop like Strac Scuba Shack to make sure you have the right equipment.
The 15 Minute Rule
Maintaining the balance of your trim is very important, especially if you are using a two-tank system. The general rule in side mount diving is to swap your regulator every 15 minutes. This should help you maintain your trim balance as well as enjoy a safe gas reserve. Although it sounds difficult, most divers get used to this technique fairly quickly.
Dive with an Experienced Buddy
Many diving experts recognize the superior safety benefits of side mount diving, but you shouldn’t become complacent just because your side mount is considered one of the safest diving techniques. Particularly when exploring caves or wreckages, it’s best to be accompanied by someone who is familiar with this diving method.