Planning for your scuba diving holidays and unsure what are those essential scuba gear you need? Come equip yourself before you explore the ocean depths. Scuba diving is the least inexpensive sport and you can dive at any time of the day all year long. There’s no modern sport that gives you that return for your leisure dollar.
For those who have not dived before, the question is, we don’t need a reason to go diving. But a reason not to. Diving can be any beautiful spot in the world, every destination brings out its own charm and exciting picturesque adventure. Not every dive is the same, even in the same spots. Even exciting if you have your buddy to go diving together to share your experience.
Once the scuba diving bug caught on you, you and the deep blue ocean becomes inseparable. Discover the underwater world in all its glory for the first time. Find marine life that you only see in magazines. Living for a moment among the fishes in their living natural habitat is so surreal. Literally caress the fishes as they swim by, a big tiger shark, notwithstanding. Let them inspect and accept you. And you will let out a euphoric feeling of calm and peace upon you.
Explore the Underwater World
Scuba divers, actually explore these places, live in them, and breathe in them, even though it’s only for a little while. As a snorkeler, you’re merely a tourist but as a diver, you’re a part-time denizen of the underwater planet.
- Explore the Underwater World
- Specialized Scuba Gear
- Risks of diving
- So, What Is A Scuba Gear?
- Where Will You Use Your Scuba Gear?
- How To Choose The Right Scuba Mask
- Choosing The Right BCD
- Choosing the Right Fin
- Dive Computers
- Buying Your Own Kit
Only your thoughts have you to keep each other company once you descend into the waters. You hear nothing except the sound of bubbles when you breathe out through the mouthpiece of your mask. Very soon you’ll forget about the loneliness once you are engrossed with the beauty that surrounds you. You would feel a bit weird to draw breath for the first time below the surface. But with the help of specialized equipment, you can breathe easily.
Specialized Scuba Gear
But you may be snorkelling before. I can understand your frustration for not going underwater for a much longer time than it should. Soon you have to surface gasping for air before you can go down again. The corals that you longed to see are not reachable. All because the grasp of air is insufficient to sustain the depth. Is time to step up the ante and enter the world of scuba diving. It allows you to stay underwater longer and go deeper. All you need is specialized diving scuba gear to ensure your comfort and safety when you made your first plunge and beyond.
Risks of diving
Uses of malfunctioning Scuba gear
Most divers are unaware of the risks you have to undertake if your diving gear is faulty for may pose your life danger and unnecessary harm. Divers who are travelling in backpacks are not likely to carry with them a full set of gear. They only bring the bare necessity. If it’s only a few dives throughout your holidays, it is a hassle to drag along a full set of gears with you. BCDs, fins, wetsuits and tanks are among the heaviest items that don’t seem to fit inside your bag. So they tend to rather rent than own the equipment for obvious reasons.
In popular diving locations around the world, you can possibly rent your scuba equipment right in front of the beachfront. Practically everything that you need to dive can be loaned out, from scuba masks to air tanks! But it has its drawbacks, those gears have been used by thousands of divers before you and due to their excessive use and long abusive wear and tear, the scuba gear may become faulty and could be malfunctioning without you knowing it.
Pre-Dive Safety Check
For the uninitiated going through the safety check for your scuba gear for the first time could be a bit overwhelming because you are unsure where the fault lies.
Having a great scuba diving experience required meticulous equipment checks to ensure they are safe and comfortable for underwater use. If you have not been using your scuba gear and equipment for a while, inspect them thoroughly for potential issues.
Make sure you have a suit suitable for use in the right climate you are going to dive in. Different thickness material is used for tropical water and in cooler water conditions particularly, where you need a bit of thermal protection. You may need a bit of sun protection if you dive or snorkelling in sunny weather. That is to protect you from sunburn and harmful ultraviolet rays. Also, check for tears or damage in your suit that may cause unwanted exposure or leakages. The zippers might not be working due to long exposure to salty water and abusive wear.
Gauges and Regulator
Check whether your Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG) and your diving regulator are in good operational use and whether the indicator shows accurate readings. The SPG displays how much air is in the tank so that you are well prepared to know how long you can stay underwater. This is important because if the SPG doesn’t show accurate readings, going deep could be fatal if you’re suddenly running short of air, provided you have in you a Reductant Air Supply. Cressi CPD3 3 Gauge Console Shop at Walmart
If you only do 20-30 dives a year, it’s a good idea to have your regulator serviced once a year. But if you’re diving in the marine or you have not been diving for too long, the diaphragms and exhaust valve of the regulator might have deteriorated badly. The regulator does a fantastic job to filter the air from the tank. And for any source of filtration, sooner or later it will begin to clog up. Imagine you have 300 psi air pumping through the filter, could that be effective? For safety reasons, all the parts and components inside the regulator need to be checked.
Also, check whether your rubber hoses that connect to the regulator are coming off the cover. It’s no longer attached because it has been bent so many times before. So this is an indication that this regulator needs to be serviced, or you may have your hose replaced. altogether.
Buoyancy Scuba Gear
A Buoyancy Compensator Device (BCD) helps you to establish neutral buoyancy when you’re underway or at the surface. You want to remain sunk underwater and you want to float once you are done with diving. This is made possible with a BCD jacket that you would be wearing if you’re seriously diving.
It is a jacket with inflatable tubes placed all around inside the jacket. It inflates if you want to stay afloat and you deflate it when you want to sink. You can get the right amount of buoyancy by adjusting the air in and out of the tube.
Even though you have BCD doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with it. Sometimes when you are afloat but your over-inflated back tube kept you floating on your back. Or if your front tube is overly inflated, you are floating face downwards. You can overcome this by putting weights of various sizes either to the front or the back pouch of your BCD or a combination of both. This way you can adjust and neutralize the weight imbalances. You will need a few dives before you can adjust correctly and to your satisfaction. Once you know how much weight you must carry, you’ll have a wonderful diving experience.
Masks and Fins
Generally, a scuba mask provides an air space in front of our eyes so that we can see underwater. Most importantly, the mask has to fit the contour of the face. Put it on to your face and make sure it sticks to it. If it doesn’t hurt your nose bridge then it is a nice fit. If the mask constantly leaks it will cause great stress on your diving. Remember don’t go for a cheap mask or a rented one, it’s better to invest in one as your own scuba gear. Scuba Pink Dive Mask FARSIGHTED Prescription RX 1/3 Optical Lenses Shop at Walmart
Generally, there are two types of fins, namely the Closed Foot Fin and Open Heel Fin. Which one you choose will depend on what type of water you are diving in. If you are diving in warmer waters, where there is no need to keep your feet warm, you’d probably need a Closed Foot Fin. Closed foot fin is generally very light and inexpensive.
For all other places of diving, you may want an Open Heel Fin because it allows you to wear booties. These booties help keep your feet warm if you dive into colder water. They’re a little more comfortable than the Closed Foot Fin. Choose the type you’re most comfortable in because only you can tell whether you’re comfortable. They should form the part of must-have of your diving scuba gear itinerary.
So, What Is A Scuba Gear?
Scuba gear enables you to move easily and comfortably underwater. It also allows you to breathe and see below the surface. Scuba gear has transformed you from being a land-dweller to somewhat an “Aquaman” sort of, if only for a little while.
A mask lets you see clearly. A scuba tank and regulator supply the most needed air. Fins at your feet to manoeuvre through the waters efficiently and a wetsuit aids buoyancy and keeps you warm.
Let’s start with these considerations when choosing your scuba gear: fit, comfort and suitability.
Where Will You Use Your Scuba Gear?
The type of scuba gear you would use will depend on the environment you’d dive in. The 3 environments are:
In a tropical climate, where the water is around 24℃ or 75℉ or warmer, you need minimal exposure protection, and therefore, you can choose lightweight and streamlined scuba components.
In a temperate climate, where the water is cooler, around 15℃ to 24℃ or 60℉-75℉, you enjoyed the versatility where you can use your scuba gear interchangeably both for the tropics as well for the temperates.
This is where things are getting more exciting. Cold climates often bring incredible experience in diving. If you are diving at a temperature below 15℃ or 60℉ you need good exposure protection and the right scuba gear to make your dive more comfortable and safe.
How To Choose The Right Scuba Mask
Do you know that the mask is the most underrated item among all the scuba gear? Everybody doesn’t regard them highly as a useful item until you run into trouble. It’s the number one item that will determine whether it will make or break your diving holidays. But how do you choose the right scuba mask? US Divers Malibu LX Frameless Scuba Diving Snorkeling Mask-Black Shop at Walmart
Presumptuously, everyone thinks it would be a piece of cake, putting on your mask. Just fit it on your face and tightened it up and hope it would stay and would not leak. If it keeps leaking on your face, fogging all the time or pinching on your nose it can drive you insane and you may want to give up your vacation altogether.
Different Materials Used
A scuba mask is commonly made from these three materials namely PVC, rubber and Silicon. A rubber mask degrades over time and dries up when put inside the closet. PVC mask would get hard and it is made up of cheap material. The best quality mask is, of course, made from silicon. It will last you a long time and you don’t have to buy a mask after one or two dives. This would save you money in the long run. Scuba Diving Classic Free Dive One-Window Silicone Purged Mask Shop at Walmart
Black or white mask
The proper way to fit your scuba mask is how you feel wearing it on your face and not how it feels on your skin. If you experienced anxiety and uneasiness then that mask is not for you and you have to choose another one. Your scuba mask will sometime get foggy but generally, it is fine for use in any water conditions.
A mask comes in either a clear mask or a black mask for you to choose from. If you wear a black mask it helps you to concentrate and focus on what is in front of you. But if you wear a clear or frosted mask it allows more light in. After several dives, you would know whether the clear mask or the black mask is most suitable for you.
How Tight Be Strapped In Your Face?
If you strapped too tightly to your face, it may cause nosebleeds and may cut off blood circulation which is not a pretty sight. In addition, it may cause headaches and creases in your face. That’s not the way it should be, your mask should just sit lightly on your face, barely snug at your face and it should able to touch the skin of your face all around and that’s the result of the inner seal. cressi big eyes & supernova dry, clear/clear Shop at Walmart
Any good quality scuba mask has an outer rim seal and an inner lip seal. If you don’t have both the outer seal and the inner seal in your mask, your mask does not fit your face. If you choose a mask too narrow for your face, it will cause a gap in between your eyebrow, it will not make a good seal and water may trickle down.
You must have enough lip space when you fit your mask so that there is space for the regulator and that it will not create a gap under it. Therefore a good soft silicone mask will make a good inner and outer seal and if both touch your skin you have a well-fitting mask.
Everybody’s face is of different shape and one mask doesn’t fit all. It makes a lot of difference in how you see underwater.
That’s why scuba mask comes in different shapes. Some are squarish, some are rounded on the edges, some are taller and some have a single lens and some have two lenses, all have their reason.
If you have a wider mask or a square mask closer to your face, you will have peripheral vision to see more to your side.
If you have a taller lens (top to bottom) you’ll have a greater range of top and bottom vision. It allows you to use your eyes rather moving than your neck up and down. It would be a great relief to free you from the fatigue caused by raising and lowering your neck repeatedly. IST M9 Saturn Twin Lens Dive Mask (Clear) Shop at Walmart
Choosing The Right BCD
How do choose the right BCD (Buoyancy Compensating Device) for your diving? They are so many in the market out there. Some are highly specialized and are suitable for the only type of diving and some are suitable for travelling and for this reason, they are made lighter. A BCD makes all the difference once you’re inside the water. How flexible and stable are you depends on what type of BCD you’re wearing.
The design of the BCD for occupational divers and recreational divers is different. Occupational divers or professional divers require to carry different equipment to perform some tasks that may require something technical in their make of BCD. This is not so if you are just a person who dives for leisure.
Even as a recreational diver out for vacation is worth knowing what these professional BCDs can offer and learning or adding in some of the components that will dive more comfortably and safer. You may learn some tricks that will help in your buoyancy control.
Here are the reviews for the most popular BCDs:
Entry-level BCD (Stab Jacket)
For beginners who are still learning to dive, we have the jacket BCD. So-called because it looks like a jacket and you put it on and wear it like a jacket. But it has an inner air tube that is sewn around the jacket. This will inflate around the back and the front of your vest. It usually has large pockets integrated into the vest to store your tools and weights for buoyancy adjustment. If you do not have pockets to store weights using a weight belt is a bit hassle. Mares Prestige SLS Dive Scuba Diving Men’s BCD Buoyancy Compensator Shop at Walmart
Hug you like A Bear
Having an Inflated tube around you gives a hug around your body and also it gives a good lift. When you’re on the surface it enables you to stay upright. This you have your weights in the front and back pockets adjusted for buoyancy correction beforehand. If your back is inflation greater than the front, you tend to float on the back. Similarly, if your front tube is inflated greater than the back, you’ll float facedown.
You’ll find yourself in a similar situation when you are underwater. If your tube is not inflated correctly you’ll tend to have your body inclined at an angle rather than horizontally, which make forward pedalling difficult.
Economize The Use of Air
One thing to bear in mind, especially for new divers, the constant inflating and deflating of your air cells will soon deplete the air of your tank. Ask any experienced divers how they economize their air consumption.
Back-mounted and sometimes called the horse-shoe BCD. Essentiationly, the only difference between the jacket BCD (better known as the Stab Or Stabilizing Jacket) is where those air cells are. They are lighter than the jacket BCD which makes them very suitable for travellers. In fact, they are half the weight of the full-sized Stab jacket. Unlike the jacket BCD, there are no air cells in front, except your stomach straps.
This winged BCD is very slim and everything’s focused on the back jacket but it has its drawbacks. With only a strap belt in the front it has got rid of all the weights but there are no pockets to carry your tools in its design.
There’s only a back cell for inflation. Once inflated it looks like a horseshoe thus how its name came from. The amount of air is not less than that of the jacket BCD, there’s lots of lift considering how big is the inflated tube, normally it carried 30 to 40 pounds of air. One advantage of the winged BCD is that all the inflated cell is at the back and you don’t have the whole body squeeze.
The winged BCD once inflated tend to tip you forward but from the practical point, this can be overcome with a simple weight compensation in your buoyancy. The critical thing to ensure you are safe and comfortable whether you are using a winged BCD or a jacket BCD is the correct placement of the weight. You cannot put all in the front either do you place all behind? They must be unevenly spread out to see what suits you. Cressi R1 Weight Integrated BCD Shop at Walmart
Choosing the Right Fin
One guiding point in choosing the fin, as a beginner may not know, is the amount of energy you would expend to drive the fins forward and the amount of air needed to consume as you breathe. This has an impact on the amount of air you carry. If you breathe heavily enough the air in your tank will be used up very fast. See Split fins below.
If lots of air is consumed and lots of energy is expended caused by the fins you’re wearing you’d soon tire out. So choose the right fin so that you could pedal effortlessly, save energy and have more stable air consumption. Can you figure out how hard is it to paddle uphill on a bike with no gears? See what happens if your bike has gears now? With minimal effort, you could climb up the slope easily.
Naturally, simple design fins are cheap and the more highly specialized fins will cost more. When you buy, ensure you are comfortable with it.
Open heeled fins
Open heeled fins are designed to allow you to wear booties. These dive booties keep you from having blisters caused by the skin of your feet being rubbed against the rubber of the fins. Notice that our skin becomes very soft when staying underwater. The booties will also keep your feet warm. mares Avanti super-channel oh open heel scuba fins, blue x-large Shop at Walmart
Closed Heeled fins
These closed-heeled fins have no thermal protection and can cut and cause blisters to your foot. It might even slip off your feet while you swim or move. They are generally least expensive than open-heeled fins. It is still very popular among divers despite the availability of the more modern and designed fins. U.S. Divers ProFlex II Dual Composite Enclosed Heel Soft Foot Pocket Shop at Walmart
Types of Diving fins
Paddle fins are made to paddle in an “up and down” motion. If you have strong legs and calf muscles and nothing fancy this is one for you. If your feet are small-sized, choose one that fits your size. The smaller the size of your feet the paddle size will be smaller. In case if your feet are big, the fin will come in a bigger fin.
These split fins are specifically made to split at the angles of the pedals. Unlike the paddle fins which you paddle on an up-down movent, the split fins act more like a propeller in a boat.
These help the diver to kick more efficiently and forcefully without much effort. With less energy to paddle, less air is consumed. Atomic Aquatics High Performance Full Foot Split Fin for Scuba & Snorkeling Shop at Walmart
Any serious diver, worth its salt, will have a dive computer strapped to his wrist whenever he goes diving. It’s an all-important and absolute scuba diving equipment you don’t want to go diving without. It’s a fine tool to tell depth, safe ascent rate indication, decompression stop calculation and safe ascent rate calculation.
Depth Gauge and decompression
Depth measurement is a basic and primary feature you can find in a dive computer. For your safety, it tells how deep you have gone. It addition, it would determine how much time you’ve spent on each depth. In the meantime, it calculates the decompression times freeing you of calculations and letting you enjoy your dive safely.
In-syn with smartphone
You’ll find one that has an app to sync with your smartphone and social media. You can keep track of your dive profile and perhaps share it with your dive buddies.
There are basically two types of scuba dive computers. They are similar in their functionalities but of a different form.
Wrist Dive Computers
Usually, wrist dive computers have a big large face like in watches, and they are worn around your wrist. They are very popular among recreational divers as they are so easy to put on. Every information you want to know about your dive is displayed on one screen with a push of a button. Garmin Descent Mk1 GPS Dive Computer Titanium w/ Silicone Band Shop at Walmart
Console Dive Computers
Unlike the Wrist Dive Computer, console dive computers are not worn on your wrist but a pressure gauge attached from a hose to the other scuba gear.
Buying Your Own Kit
Rather than renting why not buy your own scuba kit? You don’t have to break the bank, just get what is necessary. Comfort and practicality are key. I have listed out a few to get you started.
Best Scuba Mask
Mares X-VU Sunrise Mask Source: Amazon
- Bi-Silicone strap
- Tricomfort technology
- Wide range of colours
- Great for Wide Faces
Best Single Lens Scuba Mask
TUSA M-1003 Freedom Elite Scuba Diving Mask Source: Amazon
- Wide field of view single lens
- Equipped with Freedom Technology
- 180° Rotational Buckle System
- Medium-large frame with a minimal internal volume
- Five-position strap angle adjustor for micro-adjustment
Best BCD for cold water
Apeks By Aqua Lung Black Ice Back Inflate BCD Source: Amazon
- SureLock II Mechanical Weight Release System (patented)
- There are 4 dump valves in all, one in each corner
- The triple bladder retraction system
- The left pocket is a fold-down design
- The right pocket is a large utility pocket
Best for warm water BCD Source: Amazon
• Zeagle Scout BCD with Inflator, Hose & RE Valve. Great for travel, the Scout BCD has a 20 lbs.
Best for travelling BCD Source: Amazon
ScubaPro GO BCD Source: Amazon
- Ergonomic Harness Design for Comfort and Fit
- Versatile and Easy to Use Power Inflator
- Lightweight Compact Travel BCD
- Durable Fabric Material Construction
- Weight Integrated BCD System
Best for beginners BCD
Aqua Lung Wave Scuba BCD Source: Amazon
- New technologically advanced ResisteKTM material resists fading and abrasion.
- A proprietary backpack has a built-in carrying handle.
- A scooped octo-pocket on the top front of the right lobe and a new octo-sleeve on the right shoulder strap provide two options to stow and deploy an octopus. In either location, the octopus remains visible and accessible throughout the dive.
- A detachable, double-adjusting crotch strap with neoprene centre for extra comfort
- Features 2 stainless steel flat D-rings for all of your accessories.
Best Budget BCD
Cressi Start Jacket Style BCD Source: Amazon
- Made in resistance 1000 Denier Cordura (outside panel) and 500 Denier (inside layer). Ideal for Dive Centers where the jackets are often inflated to their maximum capacity. The size is clearly visible on the shoulder strap.
- The Denier Nylon Cordura is more resistant to erosion caused by long-term friction and extends the duration of the weldings, as it is harder than Nylon.
- The waist strap is independent of the air bladder. The strap can be tightened while the jacket is deflated without squeezing the diver’s stomach when the jacket is inflated.
- Inflator with double air filtration system; under the hose connection stem and around the valve. The inflator can easily be rinsed to remove sand and other debris.
- The backplate system is made of ultra-durable thermoplastic truly small and compact for lightness. A rubber damper help grip the tank, and a second tank strap can be added. A nylon locator strap is included to ensure proper tank position every time.
- 3 exhaust valves for buoyancy adjustment in any position.
- 2 large pockets of cargo pockets with Velcro closure. On top of each pocket, there is a compartment to hold the pressure gauge and the octopus.
Cressi Start BCD Shop at Walmart
Best Wrist Dive Computers
SUUNTO Zoop Novo Wrist Dive Computer Source: Amazon
- Backlit Display, Enlarged Segment / Matrix Screen
- Excellent contrast and Information with Bigger and Clear Digits
- 4 buttons to enable a more intuitive/ easier user interface
- Same as for D-series (easier to move into other Suunto devices)
- Battery housing reliability improved, Improved Optional USB PC Cable
Best Open Heel fin
Mares Avanti Quattro Plus Open Heel Bungee Strap Fin Source: Amazon
- Non-Vented Fin
- Exceed the Established Performance of Traditional Model
- New Composite Materials, Optimize Efficiency
- Greater Responsiveness and Thrusting Power
Best Closed Heeled fins
Mares Superchannel Full Foot Scuba Fins Source: Amazon
- New blade design with a large central super channel and two traditional lateral channels
- Provides excellent thrust while maintaining hi-efficiency to reduce leg fatigue
- The foot pocket is moulded for maximum comfort
- Channel thrust technology system for optimal water channelling
“Don’t Ask Me Why I Dive … Ask Yourself Why You Don’t”– Anonymous
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