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Sidemount as a first own setup?

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by Walde, Mar 28, 2020.

  1. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Dry too long. ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    The OP is curious about the feasibility of sidemount being the first setup they buy gear for, after a month of diving it in Thailand.

    They could have many reasons for wanting sidemount. Redundancy might be one of them, and yes backmount independent or manifold doubles are another solution to redundancy. They also might just think they look cool, or like the flexibility in the water or in renting tanks. Lots of possible reasons.

    One disadvantage of sidemount is some people just do not get wanting to do it, for anything short of confined no-mount passage dives. Or, that boats some dive from are fine with it. Pros and cons.

    The point about maybe eventually getting a bp/w is good to keep in mind. Once you've bought BC, regs, suit, fins, lights, strobe, DSMB, etc. the extra cost of a backplate/wing/harness to sometimes do back mount may not be that much. I'm not saying they need to. But its not like they can never dive anything but sidemount.

    Depends on the dive environment at home, but seems fine generally.

    ETA: Yeah, I'd work at figuring out your eventual rig in Thailand and diving and tuning it there. It will take adjusting for home, but less this way. Unless you've got good sidemount instructors or fellow sidemount divers at home.
  2. ChuckP

    ChuckP Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Cozumel
    I wouldn't start with side mount unless you can work with an instructor that is well versed in the side mount rig you expect to dive. I have enough dives, took the classes in such a way that I can teach PADI side mount and I wouldn't even consider teaching a class.

    I mess around in the pool in front of a mirror, change things around - sure it works, sure I'm trimmed out, I can do all the skills no problem but IMO, it's still a hot freakin mess.

    I think it'll work - I need to spend time with an instructor familar (not guessing this and that) with this setup - the benefit of longer run times, maybe multiple gases, it's all there - you just need great instruction to get you comfortable.
  3. jale

    jale Barracuda

    Sorry no picture as when I did that it was ages ago but I am sure that if you look around from some posts around the beginning of Internet you would find some.
    If I remember correctly, before SM was mainstream but still out of the caves :) and when it started to be made into courses, SM was taught in Mexico using jacket.
    But of course you are right, you can make a cheap harness and wing with not much.
    The 'trainwreck" you are seeing are in fact more a bad set-up of the tank(s) than the type of jacket.
  4. UTscuba

    UTscuba ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Sidemunted
    much as I love sidemount and can't see myself ever going back to backmount, I'd tend to agree here. There's too many other things going on that you have to think about: regulator switching so that you breath down each cylinder at the same rate, hose routing with multiple hoses draped around your body, your responsibility to your buddy for air sharing if required, attaching/detaching cylinders whilst in the water, and just getting your trim worked out on a system that you're not yet familiar with. I'd probably not recommend going the sidemount route until you've got 40-50 dives logged.

    But I've not yet had an issue with going SM from a boat, backwards roll is a little awkward with two tanks attached, but do-able, but every dive boat I've been on has been fine passing my second cylinder in if needed. Or you can dive SM with a single tank. The only time I've had a problem was showing up for a single dive when everyone was on a specific nitrox mix, there was only a single tank for each of us, and I had my hoses/regs set up on two first stages.

    edit: and when you're looking for an instructor, it's not just that you need one who knows their stuff, they also need to know what kind of diving YOU'LL be doing. I dive SM in cold water, so my usual rig is an SMS100 which has a huge amount of lift. While it's not an elegant rig to dive with it does exactly what *I* need and I'm very happy with it. I stupidly picked a warm water cave SM instructor to teach me because I'd dove with them before and liked their style. But it was a miserable experience for the both of us. I showed up with my beast, and they brought a BC that was smaller than a stripper's g-string. Their view was that everything on my rig was a snag hazard, and we wasted about half of the course and got completely p*ssed off with each other, trying to make my rig do things it wasn't supposed to do.

    @OP I just saw you were in Finland, but were proposing learning SM in Thailand. Just be a little aware that you'd probably need a different set up to dive back home than you would learn on in Thailand. I'm assuming you're in a 7mm or a drysuit back home, and a lot of the smaller SM BCs won't have the lift needed to deal with the weight you'd be carrying. I have a small SMS50 which is great for warm water diving, but I'd not trust it if I was wearing anything more than a 3mm.
  5. ScubaSquatch

    ScubaSquatch Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Kansas
    I'll throw in my $0.02 because I feel like I did somewhat similar to what the OP is asking about. I started learning/diving SM pretty early on. Do I dive SM all the time? No. Do I dive SM sometimes when probably don't really need it? Yes. Bottom line is I like diving SM, I like having total redundancy, especially when I dive with my son. Do I care what people people think when I gear up SM? Not one bit! It's not rocket science and who cares if you're in open water and out of trim or don't have your tanks perfectly adjusted? You have to dive to be able to sort that stuff out so why not dive?
    CodeS, Walde, saxman242 and 1 other person like this.
  6. ScubaWithTurk

    ScubaWithTurk Bubble Blowing Buddha

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    SM can absolutely be done from the get-go. So many people are saying it is information overload but a new diver doesn't know what they don't know. If you teach them in SM, that is how they will wire their minds as far as gas sharing, reg switching, etc. I believe it can be more difficult to teach someone who already has engrained behaviors from backmount.

    As far as it being harder on a boat...I call B.S.!! I easily gear up and backroll with no issues. I have also done giant strides on a Thailand cattle boat with zero issues. Like anything it is all about practice, practice, practice.

    I will say that finding a quality SM instructor who dives predominantly in that config is key. Also, if you are heading to Thailand, go check out my mate at Erik at Hydronauts on Koh Tao. He can teach you how to dive SM properly. Oh and tell him Turk says hi.
    racanichou, Walde and Mike1967 like this.
  7. SandyRobinson

    SandyRobinson Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Moultrie, Georgia
    I would like to see that on a boat with raised tank racks while you are carrying 2 steel 95s, an AL80 stage and a deco bottle.
  8. RainPilot

    RainPilot OC/CCR Instructor Trainer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
    In that scenario a twinset and two stages won’t be much easier than SM. I haven’t found many fixed tank racks that cope well with big twinsets but that’s just me.
    Walde and Diving Dubai like this.
  9. ChuckP

    ChuckP Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Cozumel
    Any diving with twin steels and two deco bottles is difficult............
    Walde and RainPilot like this.
  10. UTscuba

    UTscuba ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Sidemunted
    and unlikely to be a first set up as per OP :wink:

    mind you I'm SSI, maybe that's how good PADI AOW is now

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