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.
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.
My comprehensive guide to sidemount configuration and development as a diver.
178 Pages. PDF format. Fully Illustrated. $25
- Sidemount history, design styles and cylinder principles
- Harness and bungee setup and sizing
- Configuring deco/stage cylinders
- Diagnosing cylinder trim problems
- Regulators and hardware
- Training and skillset development
Sidemount cylinder trim is a headache for many sidemount divers. This illustrated guide will help you diagnose the problem & find the solution
I observe lots of sidemount divers experiencing frustration with their kit; and it's often due to their sidemount cylinder band positioning. There's actually a very simple principle that determines band positioning.
The history and evolution of Mexican and Florida cave sidemount BCD designs. Understand these principles to choose the right sidemount gear for your needs,
A comprehensive guide to sidemount diving. What it is, the history, the equipment styles, how it is configured, gear setup and everything else you need to know.
I occasionally hear sidemount divers report having problems reaching the XDeep Stealth dump valve. There are some simple solutions to this problem…
How to make a DIY sidemount helmet for wreck and cave diving. An illustrated and comprehensive guide.
There are just a few simple steps to the methodical setup of a sidemount harness system. Knowing those right steps can save you lots of time and frustration.
Choosing the right set of sidemount fins is an important decision. They have a profound effect on diver trim and control. With that recommendation in mind, here is my pick of the top 5 warm-water sidemount fins.
How to set up sidemount loop bungee : an illustrated step-by-step guide by Andy Davis. Take the guesswork & frustration out of kit setup.
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.