Reviewed by Instructor: Bob
The best thing about octos is that there is really no “right” nor “wrong” to your decision. Basically so long as you have one, and your dive buddy is aware of what you have and where it’s located, all’s good! The key to an out of air emergency situation is both divers knowing how to solve the issue and locating the means to correct it safely and efficiently. The Genesis Sidekick Octo does this perfectly while also helping to streamline your equipment profile and in some ways help to protect our reefs and underwater environment.
When choosing your octo or safe second it’s always a comforting thought to realize that there is truly no “wrong” or “bad” choice. It basically comes down to how much money you are willing to spend for what level of streamlining and/or convenience you desire. There are standard second stages that are nothing more than another back-up version of your primary second stage. They get located next to your right hip someplace and add a hose and piece of gear to your set-up. If not properly secured to your gear, they can drop down below the diver and drag across the reef, breaking off coral or getting entangled in the plant life causing breakage that can sometimes take years to regenerate. Also there is the issue of additional wear and tear to your equipment. It’s never a good idea to misuse an item you may have to rely on to save your life. Generally speaking this type of octo is the most inexpensive and affordable way to go.
Another version is the Integrated Octo or Octo Inflator. This design streamlines your gear by completely replacing the low pressure power inflator on your buoyancy compensator. It integrates all the features of both units into one convenient and easy to use piece of gear. It streamlines your equipment by removing the need for an additional hose and clunky second stage. Being on your bcd keeps the unit off the reef or from dragging in the sand during your dive as well. This option is usually the most expensive of the three.
The last option is the Inline Octo, such as the Genesis Sidekick Octo. This type of octo is basically your middle of the road choice in all ways. You’ll almost always find it priced someplace between the standard octo and the integrated octo, and offers features of both of its cousins. While still an additional second stage, and in essence an extra piece of equipment, it helps to streamline your gear and protect our underwater environment by plugging into the existing power inflator on your bcd. You still lose the hose and the additional bulk of the extra unit at your right hip but now instead of one clean unit on your bcd you have both the second stage and the power inflator. In some ways many divers actually find this to be a benefit, as in the odd case that the diver is suffering a primary second stage failure and has to make use of the Sidekick octo it will allow you to breath easily and takes the inflate/deflate functions of your low pressure inflator out of the front of your face and off to the side a little bit. This will allow the diver to have unobstructed view during an aborted dive with an ascent during a potentially stressful situation.
While there are great choices from various manufacturers the Genesis Sidekick is one of the more attractive choices a diver can make. It evolves from Genesis’s very successful SKO octo. They’ve put a very high performing second stage and placed it into a neat, compact case that is light weight and tiny but still very convenient for the user. The entire face plate is also the purge button, so there is no fumbling around for the right spot when the unit is in your mouth and cannot be seen. Being a flat design allows the octo to be used by either the owner or his/her buddy without the worry of a large 2nd stage body or exhaust “T” dislodging a mask. The large faceplate is clearly recognized as an octo when needed as it uses an extremely bright, high-viz yellow color. The last innovative bit of design with the faceplate is in the way it’s designed to reduce the chance of a free flow. It’s made to allow any air inside to escape and equalize as the diver ascends and descends during a dive but won’t allow sudden rushes of water during an entry to cause the diaphragm to be depressed suddenly creating the free flow wasting the user’s precious air supply. Combined with the fine tuning of the internal parts specifically designed for this very need, its almost assured the diver will never have to worry about a free flowing octo.
In short, if you are looking for a streamlined octo that is dependable, high performing, and easy to maintain then the Genesis Sidekick should be a strong candidate for any diver’s gear.