Seeking Advice on first BCD Purchase and Insights on Sidemount Diving in PNW

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krittkul
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Seeking Advice on first BCD Purchase and Insights on Sidemount Diving in PNW

Post by krittkul »

Hi everyone,

I'm a certified sidemount diver from warm water and I'm new to the PNW region. I just got my sidemount certification and I'm planning on buying my first BCD. I've noticed that not many people dive with sidemount here, and I'm curious about why.

I'll be in PNW for quite some time and I'm thinking of buying a sidemount BCD because I'm going for a cave diving training in Mexico this year, and I want to get used to the sidemount configuration. After finishing the training, if I can't find an opportunity to dive with sidemount here, I might only dive with sidemount twice a year, which is not many compared to backmount diving which I'll do at least once a month.

So, my question is: Is buying a BCD (e.g., Xdeep) for sidemount a good idea, or should I buy a BCD for backmount? Or should I buy a BCD that can go both configurations, like the Dive Rite Nomad XT or the Hollis SMS75? I'm not sure which BCD to buy, and I'm curious to hear from experienced divers in the PNW region about their thoughts on sidemount diving and whether it's worth investing in a sidemount BCD.

Also, I'm curious about why Sidemount is not popular in this region. It looks like more people are into double configuration than Sidemount. Can anyone share their thoughts?

Thank you!
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YellowEye
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Re: Seeking Advice on first BCD Purchase and Insights on Sidemount Diving in PNW

Post by YellowEye »

I suspect it might be based on what the tech instructions use in the area. As a case in point, if you go just a couple hours north to Vancouver bc, you'll find lots of side mount. From what I understand, it is one instructor who made it very popular there.
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sava6e
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Re: Seeking Advice on first BCD Purchase and Insights on Sidemount Diving in PNW

Post by sava6e »

Yeah it’s just not big here, I’m in Oregon, have dove up in hood canal and a lot of heads turned and were in awe. I think it’s lack of knowledge, down here in Oregon, it’s a lot of shore entry or climbing over boulders for jetties, which isn’t conducive to side mount.
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60south
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Re: Seeking Advice on first BCD Purchase and Insights on Sidemount Diving in PNW

Post by 60south »

Regarding local popularity... Lots of us know about sidemount but few use it here; I think there's still a lot of inertia with back-mounted doubles.

I'd like to practice sidemount 'just because', if I could find an instructor to help me set up the configuration. But would probably not use it locally unless I had two half-empty tanks (like I do right now, darn it!).
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Nwbrewer
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Re: Seeking Advice on first BCD Purchase and Insights on Sidemount Diving in PNW

Post by Nwbrewer »

I dive both backmount and sidemount locally. I like both systems for different reasons.

Once in the water, SM is awesome, gearing up in the summer sun sucks because you roast in your drysuit putting all your gear on. I use steel 72's which can usually be found pretty cheap on CL and give me plenty of gas for a deeper dive, or two shallow ones. The butts get a little floaty, so you do need sliding D-rings, or move them to some forward D-rings when they drop below 1500psi or so. That's actually good training if you plan to dive in MX though since there you will be running AL80's usually. I does kind of suck to pay for 2x the fills though.

BM is just simple. I have a BP/W with a simple webbing harness, so it's just throw it on your back an go.

My SM system was put together from bits and parts, so I can't comment too much on the commercially available units. X-deep seems to be really popular with the handful of local SM divers I've met, but the Hollis system seems like a solid unit and YSS dive carries them.

Either system is fine for PNW diving, you just have to decide what you prefer, this is all for fun after all. I would caution against buying a BM system that says it works for SM, or a SM system that says it works for BM. Those systems tend to do neither very well.

Happy Diving.

Jake
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