Sidemount rebreathers are specialized units worn on the side of the diver’s body rather than on the back. This configuration has become extremely popular with cave and technical divers, as it allows for better maneuverability in tight spaces.
The combination of a Sidemount CCR and the sidemount configuration results in less resistance and drag underwater, allowing the diver to move more swiftly and gracefully through the water.
“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”
Stewart Brand, Writer
Choosing a rebreather is always challenging. When you are new to rebreather diving, you have yet to learn the most important features: you read, you ask, and you try diving some units, but you only really get the true feeling once you get the hours underwater.
After a few years of diving my Megalodon, a reliable and well-built backmount unit, I now have some important criteria for choosing my sidemount rebreather. I dived the Kiss Sidewinder, a very popular sidemount unit, simple with great work of breathing, and very fun to dive. But it never met my expectations; I was somehow disappointed by the quality and could never quite reach the peace of mind I had while diving the Megalodon, a rock-solid unit that never let me down. Naturally, I wanted to move on to a better-built, more reliable sidemount unit with more redundancy. And the winner is the Liberty Sidemount rebreather.
Some criteria for choosing a Sidemount CCR
- mCCR or eCCR: mCCR with needle valve or Constant mass flow (CMF) or eCCR or eCCR that can be operated as mCCR
- Type of scrubber: axial or radial
- Scrubber duration
- Gases: onboard or offboard
- Flood Tolerant
- Work Of Breathing (WOB)
- Ability to plug offboard gases added in an emergency
- Size, Position on Body, Streamlined
- Weight of the unit
- Counterlung: type, volume, position, number, design (with or without a purge)
How does the Liberty meet my criteria
- eCCR or mCCR: eCCR is the best choice for deep diving, enabling the best control of the PpO2 during the entire dive. The Liberty can also be run as a full mCCR or as eCCR with a low set point for safety, maintaining the PpO2 manually to the desired value. That makes it ideal for shallow cave diving with many depth changes and deep diving.
- Type of scrubber: radial. Radial scrubbers are known for being more efficient and last longer.
- Scrubber duration: The duration will depend on the kind of diving and water conditions. The 2.5 kg, 5.58 lb radial scrubber offers the possibility for long dives or repetitive dives.
- Gases onboard: I found offboard gases to complicate donning and doffing the unit. Having all gases onboard makes it easier to manipulate and transport. On the Liberty Sidemount CCR, the tanks are very streamlined. Minor modifications allow offboard gases, indispensable if one of the tanks is empty or goes through a catastrophic failure. However, the rebreather is still fully operational; it enables continuing diving the unit. (Quite important for cave diving and decompression diving) Using offboard connectors compatible with other CCR divers in the team allows for greater redundancy and more safety.
- Flood Tolerant: the unit has a water trap in the exhaust counterlung and a dump valve. This prevents water from reaching the head and the scrubber making it highly flood tolerant. The scrubber is equipped with a water trap that removes the humidity during the dive.
- Easy WOB in all positions
- Size, Position on Body, Streamlined: slightly bigger than an AL80/12L tank, the unit takes the place of a side mount tank without any modification of the sidemount setup
- Weight of the unit, lightweight, easy to carry, and light enough to travel the world!
- Counterlung: the counterlungs are on the upper side of the body, close to the lung, and don’t affect the buoyancy and trim.
- Possibility to plug offboard gases with minor modifications.
If you are wondering what sidemount rebreather to choose, you will find below the technical specs of some of the units available on the market.
Our favorite: The Liberty Sidemount rebreathers
The Liberty Side Mount CCR is a revolutionary piece of dive gear that allows divers to explore the depths of any dive site safely. Incorporating the latest materials, engineering, and technology innovations, the Liberty Sidemount CCR provides unmatched performance in deep-water diving. It is the perfect choice for advanced and recreational divers looking for a reliable and secure system for deep dives.
The Liberty Side Mount CCR is easy to configure and streamline. The frame is self-draining and vented to avoid any buoyancy issues. The system is designed to be extremely efficient to minimize drag and maximize the divers efficiency in the water.
The weights and buoyancy of the sidemount configuration are evenly distributed across the diver’s body, providing greater stability and allowing for easier and more efficient control and great maneuverability
Liberty Sidemount Rebreather
Other Sidemount rebreathers on the market
Some of the sidemount rebreathers available on the market include (non-exhaustive, update April 2024):
Flex CCR Sidemount Rebreather
SF2 Sidemount Rebreather
KISS Sidewinder Sidemount Rebreather
Proteus Sidemount rebreather
SMS 200 Sidemount Rebreather
Halcyon Sidemount RB80 and RBK
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