PADI SideMount Scuba - Twin Cylinder Speciality

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PADI SideMount Scuba - Twin Cylinder Speciality

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What Is Side Mount Diving / SMS / SideMount Scuba?:

Sidemount Scuba diving is diving with one, two or more scuba cylinders mounted down your side instead of on your back.
Side mount Scuba diving is best when using a specially designed sidemount harness/buoyancy compensator such as the SMS 100 or SMS 50 from Hollis.
this is because the cylinders or tanks are clipped on the sides instead of being standard backmounted.
Side mount scuba systems has advantages for most any type of diving, including boat, shore, cave, and wreck diving.
Can be used with steel or aluminium cylinders / tanks or even a mixture. 
Here at TAL Scuba Bournemouth / Christchurch we teach a sidemount method that allows using cylinders with standard valves and left and right handed valves so you will be able to use almost any cylinder as you travel around the world without having to stress about the valve type available. We believe this to be important and while handed valves are easier to teach and master, it's a right pain when you can't dive because they only have standard cylinders available.
Types of SMS diving
We have
  • Single Sidemount Scuba - where we only hyave one cylinder usually mounted on the left. This is very handy if your just going for a simple shallowish dive.
  • Twin Cylinder or Double tank - Where the diver has a single cylinders down each side.
  • SMS TEC where we have 3,4,5 cylinders with upto 2 cylinders down each side and maybe a deco cylinder as well for TEC diving, Good option for PADI TEC 40, TEC 45 and TEC 50 on onwards.
  • Rebreather SMS - Sidemounting cylinders for rebreathers and even when using a twinset, more stream lined than it just hanging by your side.
Learning to properly sidemoiunt cylinders has many application within scuba diving, It's not hard but training saves you lots of trial and error, It's more than JUST hanging 2 cylinders off your sides... Done well it's great and much easier...Done wrong it's a pain in the....
So why would I want to go Sidemount advantages of SMS include.

  1. Comfort - This is the main reason I go sidemount instead of twinset diving. Less weight as I do not have the extra weight of the manifold and back plate. Reaching the valves for shiutdowns for TEC diving is so much easier on SMS. When you stand thew weight goes strieght down and you do not have to lean forward (If your doing it right) making it easier to stand and move around both on shore and on a boat. You can also kit up in the water so entry and exits can be made easier this way in some situations.
  2. Flying / Holidays / transport - With the costs of flying with baggage ever increasing, SMS is less weight to carry as again, no back plate or manifold, cheaper to rent as all you need is 1 or 2 normal cylinders not a banded twined upset of tanks. It also generally takes up much less space in your bag.
  3. Shutdowns or failures - For training drills or for a real emergency, it is much easier to shutdown/turn off a faulty regulator with sidemouth because you can see the problem and it is easier to reach the regulator. MUCH EASIER.
  4. Remote locations / bad backs / knees - You can learn to easily put the kit on in the water, this means less heavy gear to walk around in or carry up and down ladders or paths. If you have the right training (Not all SMS courses include this) you can quickly kit up or even kit up as you swim. Clip your tanks to a line, enter the water with your BCD, mask and fins and kit up quickly and easily and slip below the water... so much less effort.
  5. Swim with ease, Use less air / gas, Dive for longer - When you have learnt to properly configure your sidemount system, when you have your cylinders in line with your body and cylinder valve under your armpits you create much less drag and use less air and swim with more ease.
  6. Squeeze through gaps, access small areas - When you have the training and properly configured sidemount setup, you can riggle through some very narrow gaps, when wreck or cave diving. Remember though it is dangerous and silly to dive beyond your level of training and experience. Wrecks and caves can be very dangerous without the correct training. 
  7. Better protected - Your kit is much better protected as you swim through a ship wreck or rough ground as the cylinder valves and regulators are under your armpits and insight. No more banging you first stage as you pass through a door or hole in a wreck.
Where is it? and When?

We run regular courses though out the year so give us a call or pop in to book a course.

Classroom sessions will be in our purpose built classrooms at our Dive Centre in St. Leonards and the Hands on practical Cylinder filling and Compressor operation sessions will be at our shop  TAL Scuba Ltd, Fairmile Road , Christchurch 

How do I do it? - What do I need to be already?

We run 2 different sidemount courses,

The standard PADI speciality where you need to have, (this can count towards your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course as an adventure dive).

  • You need to be PADI Open Water and 15 years old
This course involves
  • 4 Dives 1 confined water dive and 3 Open water dives

and our more involved PADI Distintive Single and twin Sidemount Speciality, aimed mainly at more advanmced sidemount diving for TEC, Wreck and Cave diving, this course that requires you to have

  • Advanced Open Water Diver (or have an equivalent rating)
    Have at least 10 logged dives (Single cylinder)
    Have at least 25 logged dives (Twin cylinder).
    18 years old (minimum age)

This course involves
  • Single cylinder sidemount - Theory & Practical Application (single cylinder)

  • 3 Dives, Confined Training Dive 1 and Open Water Dives 1 & 2

  • Twin cylinder sidemount - Theory & Practical Application (twin cylinder)

  • 4 Dives Confined Training Dives 1 and Open Water Dives 1, 2 & 3

What's Next?


Course Details:


Prerequisites: None
Length Approx 4-5 Hours Classroom Plus Practical Participants: 1-8
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