Technical Sidemount Diver
One of the most significant changes in the equipment cave divers use has been the shift from backmounted doubles to sidemount.
Sidemount can provide a number of benefits for any diver, but is especially well suited for cave diving. (It was, after all, cave divers who invented sidemount.) Among these benefits:
- Sidemount provides total gas redundancy. Even should you lose the use of an entire sidemount bottle, you should be able to exit the cave on the remaining cylinder and not have to share gas with a teammate.
- With sidemount, you don’t need eyes in the back of your head. You can check to make sure cylinders, valves and regulators aren’t leaking just by looking down at them. Similarly, you don’t have to remember how an isolation manifold operates or reach behind you to shut down a leaky valve or regulator.
- Go where others can’t. Many Florida caves have low, wide areas known as bedding planes. Many of these are too tight for backmount. Sidemount, however, can give you access to areas backmount divers can’t go.
Tech Sidemount vs. “Normal” Sidemount
International Training, the parent organization for Scuba Diving International (SDI) and Technical Diving International (TDI) offers both SDI and TDI versions of their Sidemount Diver course. Both courses are very similar. Both use the same learning materials, so what’s the difference?
- The SDI Sidemount Diver course is aimed specifically at recreational divers who will not be using sidemount in caves or wrecks, or going beyond sport diving depth and time limits.
- The TDI Sidemount Diver course, on the other hand, specifically targets those who will use sidemount in caves or wrecks, and possibly with the addition of stage or deco cylinders. It covers everything in the SDI course, plus additional tech skills, such as SMB deployment from depth.
Although we can teach the SDI course if specifically requested, by default we offer the TDI one. It is possible to take this as a standalone program; however, our students generally combine this with our Cavern Diver course.
If you will not be using sidemount during your cave diver training, it is recommended that students take Intro to Tech or the NSS-CDS Basics Course.
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be certified to the Advanced Open Water Diver level or equivalent
- Possess Nitrox Diver certification
- The Technical Sidemount Diver course generally takes two days and approximately four dives.
- If your goal in taking this course is to get ready for cave diver training, your best value is to take this course in combination with our Cavern Diver course. Doing so will save both time and money.
- With sufficient notice, we can usually accommodate requests for specific course dates.