ABOUT SIDEMOUNT EQUIPMENT
Sidemount is an equipment configuration where the cylinders are worn on the side of the body instead of on the back. The cylinders rest parallel to the body, between the armpit and along the hips.
The cylinders are independent, not connected by a manifold, and so bottom mix usage must be manually balanced. The diver does this by breathing from each cylinder in short turns, switching between them, to maintain similar gas pressures in each.
The cylinders are clipped to the shoulder d-rings and a d-ring mounted on a butt-plate below the hips. The cylinder valves are secured and pulled back tight to the diver’s body by a bungee system.
Sidemount configuration gives a lower profile in the water than backmounted tanks. Cave divers and wreck divers found they could get into new, tight places previously impassable. Sidemount configuration makes it much easier to get in and out of gear on a boat as the diver can attach the cylinders in the water or immediately before entering the water, instead of carrying them around on the diver’s back. The ability to avoid carrying the weight of the cylinders out of the water is also useful for divers with back problems or insufficient strength to comfortably carry their equipment.
Increasingly, technical divers are mounting deco cylinders and CCR divers are mounting bailout cylinders, using sidemount rigging because it is a cleaner and more streamlined method of carrying side cylinders.