23 Aug Regulator Configuration For Sidemount Diving – Another Hose Routing Option [Video]
Divers who want to switch to sidemount diving have to make their decision which sidemount system or sidemount harness they should take. Then it comes to tanks and how to rig them perfectly, followed by the question about regs. This is what I want to talk about in this thread. But, there is no general answer to all that points at all.
How to setup sidemount regulators was, and still is an interesting advanced topic on sidemount configuration. Actually, there is a huge discussion going on regarding the “right” hose configuration for sidemount diving. It all started with a recommendation from Achim Schlöffel for ISE (Inner Space Explorers) sidemount dive courses. It was like a BOOM. The ongoing discussion on the ISE´s Facebook page went viral, but in my opinion in a wrong direction and for some times also off topic. So I decided not to add anything onto this, however it´s time to get open minded, I think.
First things first.
I am diving the whole year around in both, warm and cold waters and in different environments like wrecks or caves. For me it is not important what kind of system I use, either backmount, sidemount system or rebreather, my approach is that different dives need different equipment. So I use a backmounted single tank for shallow dives far off any decompression obligation, double tanks (sidemount or backmount) for nitrox and trimix dives with max. two deco stages. For deeper dives and also for long dives I use a rebreather.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” (Marcus Aurelius)
Playing around with different systems to learn about their advantages and more important their disadvantages is absolute essential for me. “What would happen when…” is the common question connecting all different systems together. During my dive courses, I never taught any strict way how to do things. Every diver and particularly diving instructors should think about the why and how. We should not simply copy a system or setup what we get taught or have read somewhere.
The worst thing happening on a dive is when someone run out of gas.
Never flouting the safety rules we all should end up at the same- or not!? For those who are trained on backmounted twinsets will already know: Deploy the regulator you breathe from, which is usually the longhose or your deco gas. Deploying the reg you breathe from is crucial, not only in the DIR community. First, this regulator is definitely working. Second, you breathe the right gas, so you donate the right gas. This is the golden rule, invented by DIR divers long time ago and maximizing the safety on every open circuit configuration.
On sidemount diving it is not so easy. Some people have a short and a long-hose on their tanks which is in general a good idea because of the benefits of having a long hose, specially in overhead environment. With this short/long hose sidemount system configuration you always deploy the long-hose because the short hose is attached with a necklace and can not get removed quickly. On a sidemount system you change the regulators regularly so the deployed long-hose is most probably working.
But honestly, probably working is not definitely working!
Try to imagine what will happen when you deploy a not working regulator to an out of gas diver. His eyes will become bigger and then he will grab your reg without asking you. You think that´s funny? You think it´s easy to handle such a situation? You can try it, but most probably only once!
The initial idea for diving a sidemount system was the ability do remove the tanks from your body to pass restrictions. This require the weights to be on the diver and the usage of neutral buoyant tanks to stay in position. In the unlikely case of an OOG situation it is easy just to pass one tank after granting the gas supply. Running out of gas on a double tank configuration, either sidemount or backmount, happens very rarely and there must have been some other unfixed problems before.
But there is also a second side of the medal. You give half of your gas away. This is not an excuse! Imagine the opposite way around. As long as you have done an accurate gas calculation this should not be a problem at all.
So why using a long-hose on sidemount then?
There might be some situations where it is appropriate to use the longhose to make it more comfortable instead of passing a tank. For example you are right before to change to another gas or in front of an restriction. Exchanging the tanks can also be a solution and then you do not need the longhose anymore.
So why not taking two short hoses on a sidemount system?
Routing a 1 meter hose streamlined can be very tricky. I know from myself and a lot of other sidemount divers, specially on the left tank when you breathe from it, it is almost impossible to route the hose streamlined. When using a turret on the first stages then a hose with less than 70 cm is long enough to breathe comfortably from it and it is routed streamlined without any unnecessary wide bends. On the picture on the left I used a black 90 cm hose and a yellow 100 cm hose. The yellow one I tried to fix on the tank to get it tight-fitted. But due the tank´s neck it does not hold good. Using two 70 cm hoses can force problems when donating them…
There are many pros and cons, but giving away the advantage of a longhose by using two (bad routed) short hoses can not be the perfect solution for proper sidemount diving.
Using two longhoses on sidemount diving!?
Let me point out some things using two long-hoses without a necklace. This sidemount hose configuration gives you maximum flexibility. Let´s see the facts:
- You always can deploy the regulator from which you are actually breathing from.
- There are not more weak points compared to other configurations.
- You can benefit from having a longhose.
- The long-hoses are tight routed onto the tanks, it is easy to adjust their length to your size and they are easy to deploy.
- Same OOG procedure on both sides.
- With a doublender or a boltsnap attached to both regulators they can be stored perfectly streamlined when not in use.
- Using two different mouthpieces (or simply make a little cut in one) make it easy to remind from which side you are currently breathing from without touching it in case of a free-flowing regulator or any other malfunction in your system. Different boltsnaps on them can work as well.
- No need to unclip the regulator in an OOG situation.
- You do not need to pass your tank if you really worry about your own gas calculation.
So why not using two longhoses for sidemount diving?!
I am always trying to avoid weak points and unnecessary dive gear on every diving system I use. But on sidemount hose configuration, to say the truth, I did not find some reasons why not using a longhose on both cylinders. There are not more o-rings, its not more complex, regular regulator changing is very easy and quick,… it´s just a bit more streamlined and safely stored breathing-hose which gives you more possibilities in the unlikely case of any OOG situation on your dives.
Here is the video I made to show you an example of this sidemount hose configuration in action under water.
If you can not play the video from here, try this link.
This should show, that there are other ways to do it. So think yourself about it and build your own opinion. I´m always open for new ways and surely you´ll have some suggestions on this. I´m looking forward to your comments!
Always stay open minded!