Browse Category

Side Mount Diving

Side Mount Training

Side mounting is mounting one cylinder on each side of your body. A BC harness system is responsible for holding the cylinders in place. Side mount was originally developed to allow the exploration of restrictive underwater cave passage that was not accessible by standard back mounted cylinders. Side mount configurations allowed the diver to maneuver through much smaller passage by placing the cylinders on the divers side, thus reducing the overall girth of the diver. Side mount rigs also allow for the easy removal and replacement of cylinders underwater, enabling the hard-core cave explorer to squeeze through even smaller restrictions by removing one or both of the cylinders and pushing the cylinder in front of them through the restriction.

Because side mount diving is unique and a very specialized form of diving, very few training organizations offer this kind of training. There is no official certification for side mounting. The NSSCDS does offer an introduction to side mount diving course that exposes you to alternate cylinder, harness, and BC configurations when you can’t use back-mounted cylinders.

There are side mount divers who can provide information and tips for side mount diving, gear configurations, trim, streamlining, and building a side mount rig. Some instructors who side mount can also provide help and training if you want to get into side mount diving.

Side Mount Diving Overview

Side mounting is mounting one cylinder on each side of your body. A BC harness system is responsible for holding the cylinders in place. Side mount was originally developed to allow the exploration of restrictive underwater cave passage that was not accessible by standard back mounted cylinders.

Side mount configurations allowed the diver to maneuver through much smaller passage by placing the cylinders on the divers side, thus reducing the overall girth of the diver. Side mount rigs also allow for the easy removal and replacement of cylinders underwater, enabling the hard-core cave explorer to squeeze through even smaller restrictions by removing one or both of the cylinders and pushing the cylinder in front of them through the restriction.
Side mount cave exploration is not a new technique by any means. It has been around for many years, but only since 1999 has it gained any type of recognition as a viable method of exploration. Some of the first side mount cave explorers where Woody Jasper, Lamar Hires, Brain Kakuk, and Wes Skiles. They pioneered their own side mount rigs in their garages and made them work. Continued modifications to these original rigs brought side mounting into the more mainstream.

Frequently Asked Questions – Side Mount

What is side mount diving?

Side mount diving is mounting one cylinder on each side of your body. It is used mostly by cave divers for exploring into restrictive underwater cave passage that isn’t accessible by standard back mounted cylinders. A BC harness system is responsible for holding the cylinders in place on your side.

What are the advantages of side mount diving?

Side mount configurations allowed the diver to maneuver through much smaller passage by placing the cylinders on the divers side, thus reducing the overall girth of the diver. Side mount rigs also allowed for the easy removal and replacement of cylinders underwater, enabling the hard-core cave explorer to squeeze through even smaller restrictions by removing one or both of the cylinders and pushing the cylinder in front of them through the restriction.

Do you need a special certification to side mount dive?

No, you don’t need a side mount certification; however using a side mount system does require training and practice. Before diving a side mount system in a cave, practice in open water to get your buoyancy, technique, and kicking technique correct.

Do you need special equipment to side mount dive?

You need a special BC harness system that accommodates attaching a cylinder to both sides of your body. You need two cylinders, two regulators, and two pressure gauges. There are a couple of manufactures such as Dive Rite that uses the Transpac system and Advanced Diver Magazine that makes the Armadillo system. Proper sized tanks, such as steel 80s are extremely important for proper technique. Using large steel tanks are cumbersome and difficult to swim. Tank valves with a left and right handed post are also important so that it’s easy to access the valves when diving.

How much does side mount equipment cost?

A side mount BC harness system can cost $450 to $550.