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Sidemount gear configuration practices - 4 questions

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by Colliam7, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. KodyWalley

    KodyWalley Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vancouver, B.C. Canada
    Yea Progen that is why these forums are pretty cool there are all kinds of reasons for doing things all kinds of different ways ... I learned to sidemount the same way :))
  2. Colliam7

    Colliam7 Tech Instructor Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kents Store, VA
    OK, I am following up on this description to make sure I understand.
    The long hose on the left I understand. And, you are saying you use a 90 degree adapter on that - left - hose? And, that (left) long hose second stage is also on a bungee necklace?
    So, no adapter on the short hose? And, you deploy the hose from under the inner tube bands, and restow it after using it each time?
    Help me understand this a little better. Are you saying the valve openings face outward - i.e. toward the sides of your body? Or are you saying the valve handles face outward? I am not sure I understand how this looks.
  3. bada3003

    bada3003 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indiana
    Sidemount is just a rig selection. A cave diver who's too adamant about it, one way or the other, I'd be wary of. Shows too much immaturity to be safe around. My cavern instructor has been a cave diver for decades. He dives doubles. When the occasion calls for it, he dives sidemount. That's a rational attitude. Sheck Exley dove mostly doubles. I understand he sometimes dove sidemount, I assume when the occasion called for it. The hard lessons learned from cave fatalities are summarized in the cardinal rules we all learn: rule of 3rds, etc. There is nothing there that say what rig (doubles/sidemount) to use. Unless I'm mistaken, sidemount v. doubles has not yet been identified as a causal factor of dive fatality.

    I don't foresee diving anything but sidemount in the foreseeable future, for the many positives touted by some, and despite some of its potential drawbacks noted by others which are duly noted. I'm comfortable with the rig configuration, open water or overhead environment. When an occasion arises where doubles is clearly preferred, then that's what it would be.

    ttew likes this.
  4. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    You are right sidemount and backmount are tools,and both have their place. A well rounded cave diver is one that masters both,for example,sidemount is the best choice for bedding planes,and backmount for fissure crack systems,so in a way the best choice of configuration has been defined. Your comment about being" adamant shows a lack of maturity",is something you can only decide. I too have been cave diving for 20 years,and made approx. 1500 cave dives,and have been cave diving in sidemount for many years. There is an issue that is present that perhaps you can discuss with your cavern instructor. There are many cave divers buying sidemount rigs and using sidemount configuration,but the problems is they use the same Hogarthian configuration of long hose/short,and this can be problematic when entering sidemount cave. So if being adamant is immature, so be it,but too bad somebody wasn't adamant about proper weighing for new sidemount divers when negotiating restrictions,then we may have less two fatalities. If you talk to the people close to Sheck,he primarily dove backmount,because sidemount hadn't really evolved until later,but as most will tell you he really hated small cave. There were so many caves that his maps ended and he said that walled out,but later people returned,and have pushed well past original exploration. For example,Shecks map will show you Slimmy Slough only went 1100ft,but others came back and tripled the distance. Even if sidemount was readily available at that time,it was doubtful he would have pushed small cave. Good luck on your cavern certification and hope you enjoy many dives.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
  5. ShootnStr8

    ShootnStr8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499

    I apologize for not providing a clear description.

    Yes, I use a 90 on the reg attached to left hose. That reg has a bungee necklace. The hose is routed behind my head. I find it to be a comfortable arrangement.

    There is no adapter on the short hose. I have thought of clipping the reg to a shoulder D ring but I don’t find it much of a hassle to reach back and stow it by pulling on the bottom of the loop.

    I messed up the wording about the valves. The valve handles are perpendicular to my body and the handles are pointed outward.

    I probably should have mentioned that I do weight the AL80s that I use to prevent them from tipping up. I am also a big fan of Dive Rite Nomad weight plate that comes in handy when using a 7mm farmer john. It is used in conjunction with a Dive Rite stainless back plate and 32 pound wing.


  6. bada3003

    bada3003 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indiana
    Thank you for the comments. I did quote you hence I was responding, in part, to what you said, but the intent was more general. Someone who has completed 1500 cave dives clearly knows what he (or she) is doing, and I would listen carefully to you say. I spoke to less experienced cave divers after my cavern certification who were "adamant" about sidemounting and that attitude put me off (and I like sidemount diving) by seeming to know everything and coming across as narrow-minded. The most important thing I learned from cavern training: the myriad things that can go wrong and how important "awareness" is. That requires a rational, open-minded, observant mind, quite contrary to what some of the sidemount divers were saying.

    The following is just my own take on the hose length issue and why I'm following this thread closely. I find the discussion of hose sizes and rigging is interesting and relevant because I too considered the question -- two long hoses v. one short/one long (two short I didn't consider) -- after my certification, especially in relation to diving with my buddies who are mostly backmount. With my instructor we did OOA drills with blacked out masks following a guideline using touch communication. Once I was the OOA lead diver breathing from his donated 7 foot hose, another time I was the one donating my primary second stage attached to a 7 foot hose. We were doing single file and a 7 foot hose was clearly useful in giving us space to move. But in one of the drills I did not tuck in the 7 foot hose well after an OOA drill and it got entangled. So, yes, having two of them being a potential entanglement hazard is not just an academic what-if for me.

    With my backmount buddies, I want to tell them in OOA I'll donate the one in my mouth (a simple protocol) but that doesn't work since every 400 psi or so I switch between my primary and backup second stages to balance the gas in the two cylinders. It's a no-brainer to fully utilize redundancy from independent cylinders, as well as conducive to trim/buoyancy control. So, when an OOA situation arises, my primary may be clipped to my shoulder D-ring and I'm breathing from my secondary (shouldn't even call it "secondary" or "backup" since it's not when gas balancing) and I'd be breathing from the short hose whose 2nd stage is attached to a necklace. Hence a panicked OOA buddy ripping the 2nd stage from my mouth wouldn't quite work well due to the necklace. That's why I'm considering not using a necklace but using a snapbolt (as in my primary 2nd stage) that attaches the secondary 2nd stage to a D-ring when not in use. When the OOA buddy is not panicked and trying to rip out my 2nd stage from my mouth, I would calmly unclip my primary 2nd stage and donate it to my buddy before engaging in controlled ascent. Anyhow, my 2 cents to the different options and their trade-offs.

  7. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    Great comment and observations!
  8. ttew

    ttew Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: London
    In an out of air situation you swap to your other regulator and close the cylinder you are breathing from. That's the point behind having a redundant system. Donate air is definitely not the first option. In theory, the gas left should be enough to abort the dive, that's why we use at least 1/3 as reserve. should it not be the case, Once you are on your spare cylinder you have time! there are many options, e.g. try to fix the problem or feather the free flowing cylinder.
    On the other side, if something fails in the z-system I would wonder how to save as much air as possible while being able to breath it.
    That's jus my 2 cents.
  9. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    IMHO, both regulators should be 'pull-free' or 'break-away'. Traditional (zip-tie secure bungee to the regulator mouthpiece) bungee necklace isn't optimal at all for sidemount. There are advantages to using a 'looped' bungee necklace that permits the regulator to come free. See this article: How To Tie A Regulator Bungee Necklace

    I use a longer (40-42") hose for the short-hose (on the left side, as worn). This permits some initial gas-sharing capability, even if the OOA diver rips the wrong hose (from the mouth, rather than the long hose wherever it is). In all cases I have rehearsed thus far, it provides initial air - whilst transfer to the long-hose for egress/exit can be managed once the initial drama is resolved and both divers are breathing.

    Because the long-hose will be clipped off at stages of the dive, the bolt-snap needs to be break-away, not cut-away. This permits not only a very timely donation when required, but also mitigates against the bolt-snap jamming.
  10. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    figured this could get revived a bit

    40" hose on left bottle, routed down through a retainer then back up to 90* adapter on a lefty reg. Clipped off to left D-ring from the hose so I can still breath on it with it clipped off. LPI hose follows suit, with a 6" HP hose going down.
    7' on right bottle when needed, 40" in recreational, routed like a paperclip, down, up, back down on the inside, then back up to mouth. 90* adapter, with clip on right shoulder D-ring. Drysuit hose always on, and runs down to stow when not being used *always leave a LPI hose on all bottles except O2 for IP checks before dives as well as a backup in case of regulator failure on either post. 6" HP hose going down.

    I donate whichever hose is in my mouth at the time to deliver a guaranteed working 2nd stage that is already free of water. If the short hose gets donated, after things get less exciting and calmed down, the switch and deployment of long hose occurs for single file exit.

    I use Hog D2's for primary bottles because I don't care for turret first stages on primary bottles. Started out diving D1's but didn't like how the turrets kept moving while underwater, especially since all of my hoses route downwards. I wish Chris would come out with something like Apeks Tek3 1st stages because those would be perfect mainly with the HP going outwards instead of inwards, but I can't justify spending the money on them and they never come up used.

    Currently using ring bungees most of time so knobs down, first stages out. Key to this is to actually add at least one if not two quick links on the chest side of the strap to help pull that ring up farther instead of having the the extra links on the back side which just keep the valve way too low. When using loop bungees the tanks swap sides with knobs kind of out and firsts down ish and in ish.

    Bolt snaps are tied on but since I can reach them while clipped off I don't see a need to go to a zip tie so they are break off.

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