The sidemount diving approach offers divers significant benefits to the
flexibility of their approach. Unlike back-mounted twinsets, acquiring and
transporting sidemount suitable cylinders is often much more convenient
and accessible. Sidemount diving configuration allows the travelling diver
to conduct technical and/or overhead environment dives without having to
source traditional back-mounted twin cylinders. When diving in remote
locations, the transportation of diving cylinders, especially by hand,
is considerably easier.
Unlike back-mounted cylinders, the sidemount diver has immediate access to,
and observation of, the regulators and tank valves of their cylinders.
This enables immediate problem identification and allows swifter resolution,
without recourse to ‘behind the head’ shut-down exercises that require a
higher level of flexibility and freedom to operate.
Sidemount diving configuration places the cylinders under the diver’s
armpits, in line with their body. This decreases water resistance improving
air consumption and reducing fatigue. The flexibility to remove tanks, and
propel them in front, allows the diver to pass through very small passages
and holes when penetration diving – being limited only by the size of their
bodies and exposure protection.
The ability to attach, remove and replace cylinders whilst in the water
allows the diver to avoid ever having to carry heavy-weight back-mounted
cylinders. This is combined with reduced physical exertion when conducting
regulator shut-down procedures, which is a major benefit to technical divers
who suffer from shoulder or back discomfort or reduced mobility from old injuries.
Increased accessibility to life-supporting regulators, first-stages and
valves improves efficiency and speed of critical cylinder shut-down
procedures, allows immediate gas-loss identification and provides the diver
with quick access to alternative safety procedures; such as regulator swapping
(between cylinders)... or even breathing directly from a tank valve.
In addition, stowage of the cylinders next to the diver’s torso, and
beneath his armpits, serves to protect vulnerable valves and regulator
first-stages from collision, impact and abrasion damage, or accidental
shut-down through contact with a ceiling. It also significantly reduces
the risk of entanglement behind the diver, where it is least easy to rectify.