Aquamundo Sidemount – Diver Review
by Andy Davis, TecRec and ANDI Advanced Sidemount, Technical Wreck Instructor
I received the Aquamundo sidemount shortly before its release in October 2013 for testing and evaluation. The trial model was in lightweight 420 denier cordura nylon and produced initially to equip safety and rescue teams. After the official release, I got a retail version of the rig, in heavier 1000 denier cordura nylon. In the 18 months since, I have used the rig to conduct a variety of sidemount, advanced wreck penetration and technical decompression dives during my work. I have been very impressed with this sidemount system as a work-horse rig, capable of taking some hard abuse and providing a high degree of modularity and functionality for the demanding technical or overhead environment diver.
The Aquamundo sidemount is sold as a complete system, including; harness, plates, BCD, bungees, LPI hose, cam-bands, weight pouches and a storage pocket.
The harness utilizes shoulder and lumbar plates to secure a minimalistic and streamlined two-piece (shoulders/waist and spine) webbing system at the shoulders and waist, cinched with a soft-webbing crotch strap. As expected, there are shoulder and waist D-rings for cylinder attachment. The system includes two additional weight pouches that added at the rear waist or top-shoulders to help refine trim. Each weight pouch can handle a 4kg solid weight.
To help with cylinder trim, when using aluminum cylinders, I added two off-set D-rings to the rear of the waist harness, either side of the lumbar plate. These provide an optimal starting attachment for negatively buoyant aluminum cylinders. I then moved the waist D-rings far to the front, as a secondary attachment point when the cylinders become positively buoyant. I also added X-Deep Stealth-type moveable O-ring attachments at the side-torso as a lower attachment point for stage/deco cylinders.
The bungee system supplied is a two-bungee approach, knotted through retainers on the shoulder straps, as favored by UTD divers. This is a good starting point for many divers, but can be altered by the user to include bolt-snaps or replaced with a continuous bungee approach.
My personal preference for confined overhead wreck environment diving is independent bungees with bolt-snaps, threaded around the cylinder neck and looped around the valve handles. I find this a more secure method, especially when using rental cylinders that may not have left/right handed valves or extended stems. Changing to this bungee approach was one of my critical rig customizations.
The triangle-shaped BCD is optimal for effective sidemount horizontal trim, allowing more gas to be held lower over the hips, whilst restricting lift at the shoulders. It secures to the upper spine webbing via a stainless steel retainer and holds the webbing tight as it runs through a nylon sheath on the inside of the BCD. There are two lower, zipped, weight pockets integral on the BCD. They are located over the kidneys and can handle 6kg solid weights, or combinations of smaller weights, easily.
The BCD offers 21lbs / 9kgs of lift capacity and the wing is baffled internally to promote stable buoyancy and prevent ballooning of the wing. The upper corner of the wing is reinforced with an extra layer of 1000 denier nylon to prevent abrasion and damage occurring when passing tight restrictions in caves and wrecks.
A flexible Low Pressure Inflator routes from the lower left corner and can be secured on the front torso at either shoulder D-ring (I prefer the LPI to cross the chest and connect via a small bolt-snap on the right shoulder D-ring). A solid Over-Pressure Valve (OPV / dump valve) is located on the inside of the right lower corner of the wing. Locating the OPV on the underside of the wing provides good protection from abrasion or tearing. I have torn-off externally located OPVs on other sidemount systems, so this is an important factor for me.
I found that 21lbs/9kg of buoyancy was more than sufficient for comfortably carrying four AL80 cylinders on technical dives. This makes the rig an attractive light-weight option for recreational divers or technical divers up to Extended Range levels.
Having completed over 500 dives in the wing over 18 months, the material and components are still in full working order. The rig has been used to conduct several advanced sidemount courses; that include passage through very extreme restrictions on wrecks. I have damaged other brands of sidemount when conducting these courses, but thus far, the Aquamundo sidemount has proved equal of all the abuse given to it.
The rig comes with two stainless steel cam bands, bolt-snaps and 440 cord – ready for cylinder attachment. The bands are good quality and perform well. Also included is an expandable rear nylon pouch, with two double-ender clips for attachment to the rear plate. The pouch is a thoughtful addition to the ring and offers a good solution for stowage of critical spares, such as; spare mask, spare bungee/s, safety/jump spools, line markers and back-up light/s. A similar pouch comes as standard with the Razor 2.0 sidemount, and I know many sidemount divers (not Razor owners) search high-and-low for suitable pouches; so the inclusion of a pouch with this rig is a substantial bonus.
Overall, the Aquamundo represents a good quality offering on the sidemount BCD market for those wanting a lightweight, rugged and capable rig. It’s supplied with all you need to get yourself into the water, but the inherent modularity provides a high level of customization to suit the particular needs of any sidemount diver. On sale locally in the Philippines, the rig is cost-effective because there are no shipping and import costs to consider.
I enjoy diving with the Aquamundo – for several years it has endured a series of abuses on demanding advanced sidemount and technical wreck dives and remains impressively solid. The rig promotes good buoyancy and trim, whilst being easy to travel with. I highly recommend it.
Price: 30,000php (Philippines Pesos) + Shipping
( as at June 2015 – $665.00USD / €585.00EUR / £420.00GBP )
Available From: Scuba Tech Philippines Retail