Welcome to the Cave Diver's Forum.
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 13 1 2 3 11 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 125
  1. #1

    Default no doubles experience going into sidemount

    I am sure this has been asked about 100 times in the past but here it goes. I was at my local dive shop and a couple of the instructors were diving sidemount. I was talking to them about it and they both had the same response to why they decided to make the switch back problems. This really interested me. I asked them about going into side mount and they both said well u should start with doubles first. I was wondering what the general opinion is on jumping into sidemount with no real experience in doubles. I have been diving for 13 years and over the last few years have been diving alot and decided to go the tech route which is to include cave. My question is there any harm in going sidemount without any real experience with doubles?

  2. #2


    I dove doubles for about 3 years prior to trading in a manifold for SM, so I'm probably the wrong person to ask, but personally, I don't see the full need to dive doubles first. Given that it's an entirely different set up it should not be hard to make the switch from a single to side mount, IMHO, the most dificult part of the switch is gas management as you need to keep both tanks fairly close in psi (some say 500 psi, smoe sya 300psi.) There is the advantage of a simple gas drill*: left tank is leaking, turn it off, turn dive and head back on right tank while doing a quick check to why it's free flowing. If you can't solve the problem, breath off the free flowing tank unitl it's empty and go back to the good tank and make all the plans you need for surfacing including deco as needed. (*Gas drill very VERY simplified for demonstration - please take a class and don't take advice from some unknown guy on the internet)

    Both doubles and sidmount have advantages and disadvantages which don't necessarily need to have one before the other.

  3. #3
    Administrator Forum Admin
    Join Date
    Oct 2000


    The Cave Diving Group of Great Britian had been diving sidemount only for decades, with no adverse effects

    There is always OW sidemount, to get used to sidemount diving, before taking a cave class.

    Forrest Wilson (with 2 Rs)
    Any opinions are personal.
    Sump Divers

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    SW Florida


    I see no reason why you should have to dive doubles first. Now with that said, I had 9 years experience in doubles before I switched to sidemount, and I am new to sidemount. I have not taken a class, and have taught myself through research, questions, and video taping my dives. I have only 25-30 sidemount dives now in the past month or so. I don't really think my doubles experience helped, as they are different beasts. the only reason I did not take a class is because I have no instructor here.

    It's not the years in your life that matter, but the life in your years.

  5. #5
    Time Out User
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Lost in space


    I agree with everyone else, there is no need for doubles experience. I had very little experience with doubles myself when I went to CCR, basically because of going to CCR I have been diving SM (for my bailout) ever since. So go for it, SM rocks.

  6. #6
    Honorary Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    SE Coast of Arizona


    From this newb's experience, there is no gain in diving doubles first; I did not and no one has pointed out any problems from that.

    The only thing specifically different is that the sidemount doubles are independent, so it adds a teeny bit of task loading in that you swap regulators. In planning, you need to be aware of two volumes instead of one.

    Much easier to dive than BM doubles, according to the stories I've read.

  7. #7


    Unless you want to get into back mount and develop proficiency with a hundred dives, in my opinion doing back mount just to check a box before sidemount can be costly, a waste of time, and complicate sidemount training. Especially if you're new to tech.

    Find a good instructor that feels the same way.

    Enjoy the ride!

  8. #8


    I have a different opinion. There is value in diving doubles for a year or two before going into sidemount (if you decide to go into sidemount in the end):
    1. Doubles are simple. It is nice to have a simple setup that you can get together by yourself not asking a thousand questions and making a thousand trial and error dives to get the thing going, see sidemount. I did take time to improve myself on doubles but putting together the hoses and everything else it was simple I could read it in a book or ask on a board.

    2. Simple transition to tech diving: having a nice simple setup I was able to complete cavern to full cave and Advance nitrox and deco procedures, on doubles in all my classes. Then I would focus on the details of these classes.

    3. Maturity to understand why I want to move to sidemount:
    I do not have any health issues, back problems etc. So I could keep diving my doubles and be fantastic, rig my stages easily etc. Health problems are a different category. If you choose sidemount because you cannot carry doubles, that makes sense to me as the only time you may not be able to go through the transition from doubles to sidemount.

    Personally, I wanted to get into tighter places. Not the crazy tight places that require no mount, but every now and then even a superman passage is OK if it leads to a nice part of the cave that I have never seen. This is the main reason that I am on sidemount. I reached the point that I was on a passage that the doubles were hitting, I could not get in, and I was craving to see what is there.

    I still fight with the configuration even though I was lucky to have great mentors. I also still fight with the danger of getting somewhere that I cannot turn around. Sidemount is wider than doubles and can get you in trouble since you can easily slide in a passage but it is a mess to try to back up on sidemount, you got to turn!

    I think one should have a good reason and maturity to move to another stage (sidemount, rebreathers, scooters etc.). The best transition for me is to reach a point that they cannot achieve what they want with their current setup, then you may try something different. But that's just my opinion.

    Xenia, a.k.a. Local Zip Code Diver

    "I'd rather lose myself in passion than lose my passion." Jacques Mayol

  9. #9


    My thinking is pretty consistent with Xenia. Fundimentally a backmount rig is a one configuration fits all concept (I am over generalizing a bit), with relativley consistent hose lengths and routings. When getting into tech "type" diving, for many it nice not having to try to tune your rig itself while learning new skills.

    SM offers so many configuration variations related to hose routing/lengths, lights mounting, access to drysuit pockets and the like is sometimes can be a bit complex. Also with BM you get to just jump right in (now of course this is can be a curse as well) and not have to deal with rigging up in the water. I am still at the point where seemingly small changes to my SM rig have a bigger impact on my dives that I sometimes realize going in. Not enough to make me turn a dive, just a bit discomforting.

    Now if you have lots of time to train/dive and you don't plan to do a great deal of rough water boat diving, the initial challanges of SM can be overcome without a too much of a problem. I did start BM and continue to do so while wreck diving, and I am still working on settling my SM configuration, so you can take my comments with the grain of salt they most likely deserve.


  10. #10


    Top Ten Reasons to Back Mount before going to Side Mount

    10. It's a tradition (Come on, let's support upholding traditions, people.)
    9. Rite of passage (Got to prove you are "caveperson" enough to do this sport.)
    8. Physical fitness (What else is going to motivate you to train to lift that load and stay flexible enough to reach those valves?)
    7. Mental fitness (All those decisions right in front of you instead of behind your head? Not much problem solving challenge there.)
    6. Boat entry conciseness (This one is actually serious.)
    5. Environment (Think of all those hoses already made up for BM, who's going use them?)
    4. Cave Conservation (Us newbies don't stay off the ceiling because we are concerned with the cave; it's 'cause we don't want to have to do a valve check!)
    3. Much too hard for instructor to turn off your air or a buddy to load you up with rocks.
    2. Always leaves that DIR option open.
    1. Somebodies got to buy our old Back Mount gear!

    admission - I am a BM diver just getting ready to explore SM this spring. I have thought for quite a while that the best advice to a new tech diver, especially a cave diver, would be "go direct to SM". Save your time and your money.
    After reading a few threads and thinking about SM diving, I am not as sure about my percption on that advice. There are a few points further thinking cause me to wonder. Even thought several respected divers have told me that SM with three more stages is no big deal, I harbor doubts that will likely only be removed by trying it myself. Also, the maturity remarks struck me as odd, but after a little thinking, I might have some agreement there. For one thing, the BM is quite a bit more 'standard' and some pretty solid rationale behind why were things are. From my reading and observation, SM is more variable. I could alter my BM setup with more confidence now as I have 'maturity' in understanding why I might change something now. I don't think going in I had that same level of understanding.

    So, I read this thread with interest, but NO sidemount experience, and hope I added a bit of humor.

    p.s. if the Mods see it necessary, please move this to the "Anyone want to buy a backplate and manifold" thread

    When you're there you know there's a There there.
    Jobst Brandt


Similar Threads

  1. How Do You Experience Narcosis?
    By AB8CD in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 64
    Last Post: 04-15-2016, 07:44 PM
  2. My sidemount experience
    By stairman in forum Sidemount Forum
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 11-08-2009, 06:40 AM
  3. Pinnacle Freedom - Does anyone have experience?
    By TonyDCaver in forum Gear, Equipment & Tools for Cave Diving
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 01-21-2009, 03:31 PM
  4. First Drysuit Experience - Not so dry
    By inkdiver in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 09-29-2008, 12:22 PM
  5. Want to Trade a Gun for Doubles (or Sidemount Tanks)
    By BgDadddy in forum Gear Exchange
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 01-29-2008, 03:56 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts