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Building Homemade Sidemount Equipment Setup

Homemade sidemount gear can be cheap, but it takes some expertise to make it safe and fully functional

It’s worth bearing in mind that improvised rigs rarely, if ever, provide the same performance and diving experience as rigs that are specifically designed for the task. That is especially true of sidemount diving.

Be able to gauge if a homemade sidemount rig is optimal

To a relative novice, unaware of how sidemount can (or should) perform when optimized, those deficits will be entirely unobservable. This is one reason why you’ll frequently see comments such as “it works okay for me” on sidemount social media. People don’t know what they don’t know, and that can stimulate a very flawed perception of contentedness with objectively sub-optimal solutions.

m-bungee sidemount rig
Ultra-minimalist sidemount rig (2012)

Sidemount innovation comes AFTER expertise

I’d suggest that building a homemade sidemount rig is far from ideal until *after* gaining a robust awareness and experience of what truly optimized sidemount systems should deliver to the user.

That provides a realistic qualitative benchmark from which to gauge the performance of an improvised system. In turn, having that ability to benchmark one’s equipment performance is a vital aspect of both risk management and the development of all-round diving capability:

  • How can someone recognise if/when their equipment is impeding their physical and cognitive performance unless/until they understand what unimpeded performance feels like?
  • How can someone set specific goals for the deliberate practice necessary to improve their diving competency whilst remaining unaware of whether observable performance issues are a result of inadequate or inappropriate equipment; or their current skillset competency?

Get the right training before doing homemade sidemount projects

I’d suggest, at the least, making the investment to undertake high-quality sidemount training using optimized equipment and configuration. After which, you’ll be self-capable of answering your own question in this thread.

The outset of one’s experience in a new field (of diving) is the most critical stage to get things right. Cost-cutting on one’s foundations has significant long-term detriments.

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Andy Davis Technical Sidemount Wreck Diving Subic Bay Philippines RAID Courses Training

About the Author

Andy Davis is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC and SSI-qualified independent technical diving instructor who specializes in teaching sidemount, trimix and advanced wreck diving courses.

Currently residing in Subic Bay, Philippines; he has amassed more than 10,000 open circuit and CCR dives over 27 years of diving across the globe.

He has published numerous diving magazine articles, designed courses for dive training agencies and tests/reviews dive gear for scuba equipment manufacturers. He is currently writing a series of advanced diving books and creating a range of tech diving clothing and accessories

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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