Picture atmosphere

Recreational SideMount Diver


The SideMount configuration is one where the dive tanks are carried on the sides of the diver’s body. Its roots are in cave diving. Cave divers that had to navigate restrictions tried various tank-carrying configurations until hitting upon the structured configuration known today throughout the world as SideMount.

Due to its numerous advantages this system was adopted by many divers for open water diving. Today the SideMount configuration is acknowledged worldwide, with leading equipment companies producing SideMount systems in different configurations.

The SideMount configuration has many advantages, including an immediate improvement in diver trim, comfort underwater, breathing supply redundancy and more.

Today every diver can purchase a SideMount system, but in order to make correct and efficient use of this system and fully enjoy its many benefits, the diver should take a specialized class where the required SideMount skills are taught.


Learning objectives:

The goal of this class is to introduce the diver to the world of SideMount diving, utilizing a unique buoyancy and tank configuration method. Divers which have dived with a single back mounted tank, allowing for shorter bottom times only, will now find that they need to be acquainted with a new system, additional gear, new skills, as well as improve their existing skills:

  • Using two separate tanks and dealing with potential failures
  • Using a long hose
  • Trim and propulsion techniques


  1. Must be certified as a Two Star diver or equivalent – Junior Two Star certification not applicable.
  2. Must have a minimum of 50 logged dives, of which at least 10 are to a depth of 20msw or deeper.

Class structure and topics:  

Divers will spend most of their class time underwater in the open sea dealing with dive planning, simulated failures, teamwork, trim and propulsion techniques.

The class is very practically oriented, aimed at giving the diver the foundational skills needed to dive SideMount.

The in-class sessions will include the following topics: The new environment, procedures, dive planning, and more.

The equipment sessions will include the following topics: The SideMount configuration, correct fitting of a SideMount system to the diver, dealing with breathing supply failures, efficient gear setup when entering and exiting the water, introduction to navigating restrictions.

The skills taught in this Specialty Class are the basis of SideMount diving, and form the foundation of using this configuration in technical diving, cave and wreck diving.


Class duration:

A minimum of 3 days overall.

A minimum of 4 hours of in-water sessions.

Three classroom and equipment sessions.


Requirements for completion:

  1. Must have achieved a passing grade for all in-water skills.
  2. Must have successfully passed an in-class exam.

Certification and limits:

  1. May enroll in the Advanced SideMount class.
  2. May dive with two gas tanks within the diver’s recreational certification limits.

Class recommendation:

Due to the long bottom times attainable with two gas tanks, it is recommended that the diver be certified for NITROX use before or during the SideMount Specialty Class.

A Deep Diving Specialty certification is recommended as well.


Equipment requirements:

Personal dive gear.

Fins: Non-split fins!

Spare dive mask.

The following may be supplied by the instructor if required:

  • SideMount BCD and harness.
  • Two aluminum 12L tanks – one with a right hand valve.
  • Specialized tank bands.
  • Two regulators set-up in SideMount  configuration.


 It is recommended divers consult with the instructor before purchasing gear