July 01, 2016


Photograph by
Pete Nawrocky

Side Mount diving has been around for decades. It was originally designed to explore cave systems that required long treks underground to sumps. This necessitated the need to break the kit down to smaller and more easily handled components for entering and exiting the water, diving, and moving through dry passages. Gradually the technique migrated to different parts of the world to be used in caves with high water flow where the diver needed to remain neutrally buoyant as large rooms were navigated before entering the low claustrophobic passages. Side Mount diving stayed in the cave community. In the last 10 years open water divers have looked upon Side Mount diving as an alternative method to wearing double cylinders.

There are a few distinct advantages to diving Side Mount with one being it is not necessary to commit cylinders to permanent doubles. Divers that only occasionally use double cylinders see Side Mount as a cost saving feature. This is particularly true for the traveling diver as it is no longer necessary to “reserve” a set of doubles. An additional benefit is instead of carrying heavy twinsets to the water’s edge, the diver can carry individual cylinders and then kit up just before entering or even after entering the water. Obviously this also applies to divers that have special needs and are unable to walk with a cylinder(s) on their back. It often helps maintain proper trim in the water as a properly fitted Side Mount diving configuration actually assists the diver in maintaining body position in the water column. Because of these benefits, many divers have elected to make Side Mount diving their primary method of enjoying the underwater world.

OMS Side Mount System.
Photograph by Pete Nawrocky.

To be forthcoming, Side Mount diving also has a few obstacles. For example, kitting up on a rocking boat is not as easy as donning a back mounted configuration. Hose routing is varied to each diver’s selection and specific needs and hoses for air cell inflation and drysuits are connected after cylinders are in place. Accessing dive boat ladders may require removal of a cylinder. Yet all of these issues are addressed in proper training and with practice become mastered quickly. 

Many divers would like to dive Side Mount but don’t want to make the investment in a dedicated system. The OMS approach is different to most equipment manufacturers because we offer a MODULAR solution. With the addition of an OMS Side Mount Adapter, the diver can make a BC into a Side Mount configuration. First the diver selects or possibly already owns a harness with or without a backplate. The one requirement for the harness is the placement of two holes 11 inches apart. The air cell or wing with approximately 28lbs of lift with has corresponding holes 11 inches apart. Then the OMS Side Mount adapter is placed on top of the air cell. Two book screws hold all three pieces together.

Larger air cells can be used including the OMS Deep Ocean, Tesseract and Trieste wing. These wings use the OMS Retraction Band System. To keep the larger air cells from folding up (known as “taco-ing”) the bungees need to be rerouted.

Retraction Band routing (also known as bungee routing) for Side Mount is different than the standard configuration. The photo on the left shows the standard retraction band routing on all OMS wings. The wing on the right includes the Side Mount Tec Adapter. Note that the retraction bands are hidden from view.

“The OMS approach is different to most equipment manufacturers because we offer a MODULAR solution.”

The 2016 OMS Side Mount Adapter is designed for the open water side mount diver. This allows the diver to mount the adapter on a variety of wings and harness systems. Book screws are required to hold the adapter in place on an IQ Pack of Back Plate.

The OMS Side Mount Adapter is available in two versions – Rec and Tec.


Both versions include:

  • Made with heavy Cordura material for durability and long life
  • Available in both black and red
  • Compact profile easily fits on most OMS BC designs and many other manufacturers harness/wing/backplate BCs
  • Slots allow divers to mount single cylinders and deco gasses
  • (6) 1” D-Rings for attachment of bunches or other accessories
  • The butt plate is hinged so the diver can sit down
  • Butt plate includes two large bungees to carry a large SMB or lift bag
  • Rebreather divers can carry bailout bottles in a side mount configuration

The Tec version includes:

  • Upper flap is designed to reduce the chance of line entanglement in overhead environments
  • Two lower straps are to be routed through slots on the wing
  • Designed to work best with the OMS Tesseract Wing

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