I signed up for a sidemount cave course with Steve Bogaerts, and first impressions are amazing.
One thing about sidemount – it’s a very liberating way to dive. Hadn’t thought of how it’d feel to dive in sidemount much. I had only considered it as a tool for tighter passages. The one thing I kept hearing was that it’s extra task loading to gas balance the tanks.
As such, I had very little preconceived notions before getting in the water.
It really surprised me how free I felt. Steve’s harness is very simple and well thought out. As the result, the tanks are snug against the body and there is little or no “swing.” While diving stages, this is one of the annoyances. The stage tanks momentum is separate from the body, and movement occurs with every kick.
With the rigid backplate gone, the spine and shoulders feel light. With no tanks and manifold behind me, I can look straight ahead in prone position.
I need more in water time to be proficient, but there are just things that I can do now that I wouldn’t have considered in backmount. For example, swim on my side. Should be able to rotate laterally and hold any position. I’m not quite there, but it’s only been a couple of days in the water.
There is more complexity (equipment and logistics) in the system compared to backmount, but in water performance is quite remarkable. Definitely a valuable tool, but I don’t know if this will become a regular kit. At the end, it’ll really depend on the dives and systems.
After my 4th post course dive:
EL’s first dive ever in sidemount: