The Razor sidemount system has been my companion on shipwrecks for the past year. I have configured the rig in many different ways and still feel there is so much to be done to it.
Sidemount divers are inherently minimalist minded. However we are gadget people that want as much down there as possible. So how do we overcome this? It’s actually incredibly simple, all we need to do is think of where we want our centre of gravity and how we want to propel through the water.
While a sidemount diver can be considered to have as much equipment as a twinset diver, the feeling of the gear on their body is completely different to backmount. It is in fact so different that a single 12 litre cylinder on your back will feel heavier than two 10 litre cylinders when you enter the water. This is primarily due to the cylinders being bound in a way that follows your center of gravity. While twin sets and back mounted cylinders completely put off your center of gravity, causing you to feel very unbalanced during shore entries.
When you enter the water the sidemount rig starts to completely outperform any discipline out there. Trim is a breeze, mainly because you don’t need to do anything, the rig does it all for you! Penetrating wrecks and caves becomes a challenge as you can now fit through places only freedivers would attempt. Energy consumption goes down significantly as the rig cuts through the water with minimal drag… I could go on for hours on the benefits of this discipline, but in this article I want to talk a bit more about weighting and things to consider when setting up the rig, as this is biggest weakness of this system. You need to be prepared to really take time and slowly consider the length of every strap (most sidemount systems fit individuals of XS all the way through to XXL, so there’s a lot of adjustment space), you also need to consider where the weights are places, as this is the determining factor of whether your trim will put you in the perfect position or if you’ll be finning all over the place to keep your trim.
The razor system has been incredibly innovative in its specialized weighting for sidemount diving. The famous T-weight system has definitely given it the upper hand over the SMS 50 from Hollis. Not only does the T-weight system allow for lots of weight to be added in to a space you would never expect to fit up to 6kg, but it also allows these weights to be placed high up your back, where you need them the most.
After diving the Razor for 6 months we decided to start playing around with the weighting system. Our biggest concern with the system was that you could feel the weights on your back, and for those of us diving drys uits and need around 5 kg on our rigs found it a bit uncomfortable on the boat. So we sat down with our friends from Breight Weights and thought of how we could add 5 kg to the rig and how we can make it even more flexible. The Bright Weight bullets are a milestone in the dive industry, a solution to a problem no one wanted to address in the past. And now we have managed to incorporate two major innovations in to one neat streamlined system.
We made it in such a way that when you use the BC to travel it can still take the standard block weights, this added no extra drag or snag points to the system.
The bright weights are incredibly easy to take out and put in, so when a diver adds a stage or moves from a fresh water to salt water the weight adjustment goes nice and fast. Bright weights can also be adjusted in 500g increments, making weighting much more exact.
These changes can be made with any of the sidemount systems. We have recently modified a Hollis SMS 50 to have this weight set up and we are also busy with the modification on the new Apeks system. If you want your sidemount rig working even more efficiently then we can change it up so it works like this or give you the necessary advice to go out and do it yourself!