History of Sidemount

By Bill Rennaker

In my early cave diving career I was very interested in the newer  concept of sidemount diving.  Being able to go into smaller passages,ease of getting into the water, easier getting into and out of boats, ease of walking on land and other small conveniences.

In 1989, My buddy and I took a sidemount course from Lamar Hires.  Lamar was one of the pioneers of this sport.  Wes Skiles and Woody Jasper were also prominent at the time.   Lamar was teaching the course and I really feel that was the best for me.  As I told a lot of my students and prospective students who were complaining of the cost  involved, I always say you can pay me for advice and knowledge or you can  do 25 to 30 dives to find out for yourself.  So I have always felt this  to be best.

I had  always thought that the popular caves had already been found and  explored and that future caves would be found and explored by sidemount, because of the small size and hard entrances.  I have been very  successful in finding and exploring new caves with this configuration.

The best of the reasons is being self-sufficient mentally and physically with your equipment. You are in complete control of your equipment, so at any time take care of yourself.  Solo diving is the  best of diving.

I know I am considered a pioneer in this sport but I feel I am new compared to the previous pioneers.