Basic Sidemount Course

Sidemount Course Outline

The Basic Sidemount Course provides structured training for recreational divers who wish to safely and effectively use sidemount configuration for their diving. The course includes, knowledge development and practical applications, allowing divers to learn how to properly set-up and configure sidemount kits. Divers also participate in a series of open water training sessions, enabling them to get the most out of this ground-breaking approach to scuba diving.


Sidemount Course Goals

Once certified, student divers will be able to use sidemount equipment comfortably for no stop recreational dives in conditions similar to, or better than, those encountered during training.

Sidemount Course Content

  • Knowledge Development
  • Practical Application – Equipment Set-up
  • Confined Water – Foundation Skills and Equipment Familiarity
  • 3x Open Water Dives (Double Cylinder) (min 3 hours)

Sidemount Course Prerequisites

  • Open Water Diver
  • 15 years or over


Divers meeting the standards of this training may be awarded either the RAID Sidemount or PADI Sidemount Diver qualification.


What is Sidemount Diving?sidemount-diving-course-philippines

Sidemount diving is the, now increasingly formalized, approach towards conducting dives with 2 or more primary cylinders secured at the side of the body and in line with the torso – with no cylinders on the diver’s back. A common feature that defines sidemount configuration is the use of bungee cords to provide an upper attachment on the cylinder valve, normally routed from behind the diver’s upper back, whilst the lower cylinder is secured to the diver’s lower harness (butt-plate or waist D-rings) via bolt-snaps.


What are the Benefits of Sidemount Diving?

Sidemount-Wreck-Diving Philippines

Combined with the Wreck Diving course - this is a passport to adventure!


The sidemount approach offers divers significant benefits to the flexibility of their approach. Unlike back-mounted doubles, acquiring and transporting sidemount suitable cylinders is often much more convenient and accessible. Sidemount configuration allows the travelling diver to conduct technical and/or overhead environment dives without having to source traditional back-mounted cylinders. When diving in remote locations, the transportation of diving logistics, especially by hand, is considerably less physically taxing. Sidemount equipment is also considerably lighter, and less bulky than back-mounted alternatives – allowing for easier and cheaper (considering the rate of many airline’s excess baggage costs) travel.


Unlike back-mounted cylinders, the sidemount diver has immediate access to, and observation of, the regulators and tank valves of their cylinders. This enables immediate problem identification and allows swifter resolution, without recourse to ‘behind the head’ shut-down drills that require a higher level of mobility, flexibility and freedom to operate.


Sidemount configuration places the cylinders under the diver’s armpits, in line with their body. This decreases water resistance (improving air consumption and reducing fatigue) whilst also allowing the diver to pass through smaller restrictions than would otherwise be possible in back-mounted cylinders. The flexibility to remove tanks, and propel them in front, allows the diver to pass through very small passages and holes – being limited only by the size of their bodies and exposure protection.


Increased accessibility to life-supporting regulators, first-stages and valves improves efficiency and speed of critical cylinder shut-down procedures, allows immediate gas-loss identification and provides the diver with quick access to alternative safety procedures; such as regulator swapping (between cylinders), valve-‘feathering’ to access gas within a cylinder whose regulator is malfunctioned/ free-flowing… or even breathing directly from a tank valve.

In addition, stowage of the cylinders next to the diver’s torso, and beneath his armpits, serves to protect vulnerable valves and regulator first-stages from collision, impact and abrasion damage, or accidental shut-down through contact with a ceiling. It also significantly reduces the risk of entanglement behind the diver, where it is least easy to rectify.


The Subic wrecks offer unparalleled challenge for sidemount diving!


Many divers will testify that sidemount configuration offers greater stability and easier-to-attain trim and control in the water. It is also less physically tiring to carry, and get into, sidemount equipment than with traditional back-mounted doubles – especially when operating from a small boat or a rough shore entry. The ability to attach, remove and replace cylinders whilst in the water allows the diver to avoid ever having to carry heavy-weight back-mounted cylinders. This is combined with reduced physical exertion when conducting regulator shut-down procedures, which is a major benefit to technical divers who suffer from shoulder or back discomfort or reduced mobility from old injuries.

Redundancy of Gas

sidemount technical-diving-courses-subic-bay-philippinesWhilst technical divers have always utilised a redundant gas system, either isolated-manifold or independent back-mounted cylinders, recreational divers have traditionally resorted to using ‘pony cylinders’ or ‘ascent bottles’ as contingencies against out-of-air emergencies. Whether attached to the primary cylinder, or slung at the chest, these cylinders often presented problems with stability and streamlining, whilst simultaneously only providing a bare minimum supply of air for emergency ascent. Sidemounting two cylinders helps resolve stability and streamlining issues, and ensures that a truly capable redundant supply of air is maintained.

To read more about Sidemount Diving, please see my detailed Article and Course Notes.


Sidemount Course Philippines Subic Anilao

Sidemount offers gas volume and redundancy for safer deep diving. Andy Davis and student explore the deep at 40m/130ft

Course Duration

4 days* with classroom, practical workshops and 4 dives

Day 1 – Classroom theory, equipment workshop and practical applications

Day 2 – Equipment set-up/configuration and extended confined water

Day 3 – Open Water Sidemount dives 1 -2

Day 4 – Sidemount dives 3-4

The course is performance based, not time based. Performance requirements for each section must be satisfied to allow progression and certification.

PADI Sidemount Course Philippines

Sidemount student practices precision buoyancy and proper trim - both critical aspects are covered on the course

Contact me to discuss your training requirements.

Read / Download the Sidemount Course Brochure

sidemount technical-diving-courses-subic-philippines