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How To Build Your Own DIY Custom Sidemount Harness

It’s pretty easy (and cheap!) to make a DIY custom sidemount harness for yourself. All the components can be bought off-the-shelf at any decent dive center; with the exception of the sidemount shoulder and lumbar plates, which you’ll need to either get from a good specialist sidemount retailer or design your own and have the plates cut to order.

Configure it using these detailed instructions:

DIY Custom Sidemount Harness – Shopping List

  • Shoulder and Lumbar Plates: made to order or bought from a specialist)
  • 4-6m of 50mm/2″ Webbing: Depending on your body size. These vary in rigidity, buy what you find most suitable
  • 1.5m of 50mm/2″ Crotch Strap Webbing: This shouldn’t be as rigid.
  • 8x Metal Weight Belt Retainers / Tri-Glides
  • 10x D-Rings:  I much prefer the low-profile ones
  • Weight Belt Buckle: or sliding pin buckle
  • 3m of bungee:  6mm bungee suits most divers, unless diving high capacity steel (8-10mm)
  • 2x Off-Set D-Rings:  if using a sidemount pouch

Webbing is very cheap and easy to replace, so I’d advocate going for comfort rather than brute ruggedness and ultra longevity. It’s not fun if your harness rubs you. That said, you must have some stiffness in the spine and waist webbing to stop the harness kinking under load.

A really luxurious harness will use three or four different types of webbing. The spine strap should be stiff rigid polyamide (resin reinforced) webbing for stability. This can also be used for waist webbing if you aren’t going with a continuous approach. The shoulder harness can be a softer polypropylene webbing for comfort. You can buy crotch straps as ready-made kits, and they should be very soft and thin webbing.

Locate the shoulder plate

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 1 shoulder plate

Measure down to the lumbar plate (just above the cleft of your buttocks). Prepare a spine webbing strap to match that length.

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 2 lumbar  plate

Attach the rear bungee hardware on the spine strap and thread the webbing between the shoulder plate and lumbar plate.

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 3e rear bungee attachment hardware

Thread the shoulder webbing onto the shoulder and lumbar plates.

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 3 shoulder webbing

Note the webbing route through the sidemount shoulder plate

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 3b shoulder webbing

Thread the shoulder D-rings and bungee attachment retainers onto the harness shoulder straps.

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 3d shoulder webbing hardware

Complete rigging the shoulder harness straps

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 3 cshoulder webbing

Adjust the sidemount harness shoulder webbing to fit. The spine strap should not be loose once the shoulder straps are correctly sized.

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 4 adjust the sidemount harness shoulder straps to fit

Thread on the waistbelt hardware: 2x rear offset/square D-rings and attachment points for the sidemount cylinders

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 5 add the waist belt hardware

Position the belt buckle centrally on the left-side waist belt webbing

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 6 position the belt buckle

Trim off any excess harness webbing

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step7 trim excess harness webbing

Position the shoulder D-rings just beneath the collarbones

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 8 position the shoulder D-rings

Position the waist belt D-rings appropriately for you cylinders and bungee method

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 9 position waist belt D-rings

Measure from waist buckle to lumbar plate to determine crotch strap length

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 10 measure from waist buckle to lumbar plate

Measure out and thread on the crotch strap

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 10 measure and install the crotch strap

Check that the crotch strap is snug, the waist buckle is just above the pubic region and the lumbar plate is just above the cleft of the buttocks

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 10b ensure crotch strap is at the pubic area, not high on the waist

Attach your sidemount bungees

how to configue a custom sidemount harness: step 11 attach your sidemount bungees

If setting up for loop bungees, you’d also need:

  • 1x Metal Weight Belt Retainer / Tri-Glide: or dedicated rear loop bungee attachment
  • 2x Metal Weight Belt Retainers / Tri-Glides w/20cm 55o cord:  or 50x8mm (2″ x 0.3″) rubber o-rings

Click here for full details on how to setup Sidemount Loop Bungees.:

If you are assembling a harness for the Deco Sidemount wing, read these specific instructions:


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 three decades of challenging diving across the globe.

Andy has published numerous diving magazine articles and designed advanced certification courses for several dive training agencies, He regularly tests and reviews new dive gear for scuba equipment manufacturers. Andy 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.

In 2023, Andy was named in the “Who’s Who of Sidemount” list by GUE InDepth Magazine.


Originally posted 2018-03-07 23:56:41.

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