Sidemount is a great primer for more advanced diving such as Technical or cave diving. If you are interested in technical diving it will be pretty clear why sidemount will be beneficial to you, as a recreational diver it might be harder to see these benefits.
Added Safety - Longer Dives
|Apeks Sidemount regulator|
|PADI Sidemount instructor Specialty course|
Let me explaining why I love it so much. I have logged plenty of dives, both in cold and warm water in icy lakes and on tropical reefs, before trying sidemount. I now live since 5 years in Asia and one of the reasons is because i much prefer the tropical diving, including the temperature and the reduced hassle with gear - No dry suits or thick gloves which makes getting around trickier. Same goes for me in sidemount, my chest is clean and free from clutter, my back is free from restrictions and tanks. I can bend and flex as much as i like with out having the gear holding back. This makes for a truly "free" experience underwater. Sure i am actually towing around 2 tanks but they are tucked in under my shoulders and out of the way and streamlined.
Add even more time to you dive
Quite often divers come to Exotic asking for 15 liter tanks, they use more air then their buddies and want to be able to stay down as long as their friends. Sure we have 15 liter tanks and sure they hold more air then a standard 12 liter tank. However 2 x 12 liter tanks, now that's allot of air! This is great for a couple of different reasons. You can make really long dives as well as having a bigger reserve in case anything goes wrong.
If something goes wrong underwater, your most valuable resource is time, underwater time is directly linked to the amount of gas you have to breath, the more the better!
Of course there is downsides as well, after all, I can say that sidemount is not for everyone even though i do believe it can benefit most divers. One downside is simple, the cost. You need to either invest or rent at least one more first stage and long hose and an additional SPG. Walking with 2 bottles on land is obviously trickier, however you can just as easy don both cylinders in the water. Of course you have to learn additional skills and procedures to safely dive with sidemount. With this being said the many benefits outweighs the costs, which can be kept small depending on the gear that you choose.
|Even rebreathers can be sidemounted|
To me diving equipment is a tool needed to go and see or do something. Some dives requires more and some less. Shallow reef dives only requires a single tank and BCD while a deep cave dive might require multiple re breathers. Sidemount is in my book not the only way of diving but the most versatile way of diving!
If you have questions about the sidemount course, equipment configurations or want advice in general, just pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
PADI Master instructor
Tec sidemount instructor