Proper placement and use of sidemount clips will first depend on the type of tanks you dive with. The buoyancy and weight different that exists between aliuminum and steel tanks will make a huge different when manipulating the tanks in order to ensure they are streamlined as at all times.
When initially learning the intridictes of sidemount diving, the first apparent differnce is the added ‘rails’ that exist on almost every sidemount unit available. This can cause some confusion for those unfamailiar with how to use (or not use) such systems.
With all the tanks here at Dahab Divers Technical primarily being aluminum, there a few additions that must be made to most stock units. Because of the buoyance that exists with such tanks, its important to realize that you dont have to start on the back rails, which most think is what makes a sidemount unit a sidemount unit. Because aluminum tanks are fairly neutreally buoyant even when full, the tanks sit better and more streamlined down the side when they are started on the side clips, just behind the back hip. If the tanks are cliped to the back rails, you will find that the rear or the tank will be pulled up and sit on an angle in reference to the diver. Each diver is going to have to move all clip slitghtly depending on their body type of size. Its the small things eventually combine for that perfect streamlined postiion in the water that was a striving for.
As you breathe and rotate between alternate tanks the buoyance of each tank will differ. The FIRST MAJOR change i make to any unit is to add additional clips to the front of the system. As each tank becomes more buoyant you will find the rear of the tank will float, once again on an angle to th diver. For myself, i find that it is usually around 140 bar when a tank needs to be moved to the newly added front clip, thus pulling the rear of teh tank back to the desired horizontal position. Once again it may take a couple dives to find the ideal positin depending on body size and type. I personally find the takes sit perfectly when the clips are about an inch to either side of the fornt buckle, just infront on the front hip bone.
Once the tanks have become positively buoyant and moved to the front they will remain there and not have to moved again. It realisticly doesnt matter if a tank is slightly positive, or massively positive, as the rules of displament will cause the tank to wrap nicely around your body regardless and sit nicely down your side, again in that perfect streamline position we are searching for.
A new idea that is sure to take over the clipping systems used today for sidmeount diving was developed by good friend of Dahab Divers Technicals Tom Steiner. By developing a buckle system with a built in fixed D-ring, it is now possible to have a fully adjustable clip that can moved up and back the waiste belt to customize the position of the d-ring through the dive accourding to specific buuyancy of each tank. Rather than 2 fixed rings now it possible to have one adjustable. a perfect solution.
Additional clips are not nearly as important when diving on steel tanks. Because of the added weight, the tanks will not become nearly as buoyant throughout the dive. The tanks can be clipped to the rails on the back and left there through the majority of the dive
Its almost imperative to add addition clips to any unit in order to keep the tanks streamlined along your side as bouyancy of the tanks changes.