Originally posted 2018-03-07 23:56:37.
The $1200 Budget Sidemount Diver
by Andy Davis.
Sidemount really got popular over the last five years, but one factor that causes some divers to hesitate to convert to sidemount is the issue of cost.
Sidemount can cost a lot if you look at the pricing for leading manufacturers on the market; that scares off many divers for investing in the kit they need. It’s hard to rent sidemount kit in many locations and the rented kit is never going to provide the performance that that properly configured and tweaked sidemount rigs are famous for.
I see a lot of posts on online forums where novice-intermediate divers are looking for economical options to convert their equipment for sidemount use. These are often short-cut type solutions; seeking DIY fixes for adapting backmount wings and ways to make use of less than optimal regulators that cause big hose routing problems. They are compromises that undermine the whole, wonderful, sidemount experience… because of cost factors.
As a full-time technical diving instructor, I have to live on a tight budget (like you wouldn’t believe!), but I still have to equip myself for a range of diving needs and demands. I pay close attention to price and quality for that reason. From personal experience, I can vouch that it’s entirely possible to get yourself kitted out with the right kit on a limited budget.
For that reason, I’ve decided to showcase some truly economical options on the market that many prospective sidemount divers won’t be aware of.
Here’s how you can become a fully equipped – no compromises – sidemount diver for under $1200
The Deep 6 Sidemount Regulator Package – $880
Yep, you read that right….$880
Deep 6 is a new manufacturer on the market and already making waves for supplying high quality, very economical gear. They offer a full-specification sidemount regulator package for only $880. You can even specify personal options like hose lengths, SPG type and 2nd stage colour.
Product Review and Links: http://scubatechphilippines.com/scuba_blog/review-deep-6-sidemount-regulator/
Whilst on their website, also check out their $100 neutral sidemount fins and $600 sidemount canister light!
Other economical sidemount regulator sets include:
DGX Custom Hollis DC1/212 Sidemount Regulators – $549.00 (DGX LINK)
HOG Sidemount Regulator Set – $635.00 (DRIS LINK)
Deco Sidemount BCD – $275
Deco Sidemount sells a very flexible modular sidemount rig, starting from $275. You can specify harness type (Y or H style), buy the wing as a stand-alone… or even just the wing-only without LPI attachments for just $69.
With 22lbs/10kg of buoyancy, it’s a perfect solution for warm-water/tropical recreational sidemount. Those with perfected weighting and buoyancy can make this BCD work up to extended range technical diving levels, with aluminium cylinders and wetsuit.
I’ve got a couple of these wings and they really do a nice job. If new to sidemount, do get advice on how to rig the harness and attach the wing. But don’t worry, it’s not rocket science.
Product Review and Links: http://scubatechphilippines.com/scuba_blog/deco-sidemount/
The Other Bits and Bobs
So…. with sidemount regulators and BCD covered, all that’s left are a few accessories.
Dive Gear Express sells the following:
- 7.25”/18cm diameter, 316 stainless steel cylinder bands, with nylon webbing sheath for$5.95 each ($11.90 total)
- 3.75″/9.5cm medium bolt snap with large swivel-eye for $3.95 ($7.90 total)
The just add some small-change to buy a few meters of 8mm bungee and a few inches of 44o paracord. These can all be bought for small-change at many diving centres or marine chandlery shops.
….. and there you are. Fully kitted for sidemount diving at a price equivalent (or cheaper!) than equipping yourself for single-tank recreational diving.
About the Author
Andy Davis is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC and SSI qualified independent technical diving instructor who specializes in teaching advanced sidemount, trimix and wreck exploration diving courses across South East Asia. Currently residing in ‘wreck diving heaven’ at Subic Bay, Philippines, he has amassed more than 9000 open circuit and CCR dives over 27 years of diving across the globe.
Andy has published many magazine articles on technical diving, has written course materials for dive training agency syllabus, tests and reviews diving gear for major manufacturers and consults with the Philippines Underwater Archaeology Society.
He is currently writing a series of books to be published on advanced diving topics. Prior to becoming a professional technical diving educator in 2006, Andy was a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize and Cyprus.
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