The traditional back mount system is two tanks worn on the back with independent regulators on each tank. The sidemount system involves tanks worn on the side of the diver not the back, each with it’s own regulator. Side mount diving originated from cave diving, the divers could ‘squeeze’ through small restrictions in the rocks easier than if they had bulky double tanks on their backs.[singlepic id=251 w=320 h=240 float=right]Sidemount diving is now a rapidly growing part of diving and PADI offers a recreational course to get certified. The advantages of this type of diving include a very streamlined package in the water which reduces drag and avoids contact with the environment.
Increased gas supply, and when used with Enriched Air means no decompression limits are increased. Two tanks mean you get to enjoy more of this dive time with the larger volume of gas.
In sidemount, the regulator first stage and valves are in front of you which makes it easier to spot and deal with problems such as leaks.
Easier equipment transport, most people find it easier to carry two small cylinders instead of of one large tank, also it’s really easy to put them on in the water.
Diving with sidemount is a lot of fun, there is a sense of real freedom. Look out for sidemount diving courses in the future, it takes about 3 days and you can start the course as an open water diver.