Quality scuba diving gear is essential to keep you safe, warm, and efficient when you’re getting started in this underwater sport.
If you are signing up for your first class or want to go from snorkeling to scuba diving, there are many pieces of scuba diving gear you will need. Each piece of gear you buy will contribute to your overall enjoyment of the sport as well as your safety. This being said, it is well worth it to buy quality items that are tailored to you, your body type, and your dive style. So, we will give you a few tips and tricks for picking out the best scuba diving gear.
The Scuba Diving Mask
Think about all the different faces and bone structures around the world. Now, realize that each person will need a dive mask that fits their face snugly without being uncomfortable. So, make sure you try masks on in person to ensure the right fit for you. The following are a few tips to make sure it will be comfortable and airtight for years to come.
First, place the mask on your face while looking up. It should sit flush on your face without any gaps. Next, put a snorkel or regulator in your mouth. Does it bump the mask into a weird position? If not, you’re good and move to step three. Holding the mask on your face and looking forward, breathe in gently through your nose. It should seal on your face, again without any gaps. Do this again with a snorkel in your mouth. Finally, throw the strap over your head. The dive mask should not touch your nose and should rest comfortably on your upper lip. If you’ve made it through each of these steps, you’ve found your first piece of scuba diving gear successfully. Don’t be dismayed if you have to go through quite a few options, it is worth it to hold out for the right mask.
Choosing Your Snorkel
Snorkels can help you by conserving your air tank when you’re just swimming along the surface. By providing a way to breathe when you’re at the top, you’ll have more diving time later. Many divers rarely snorkel, while other love to. So, this can be a piece of scuba diving gear you can get pretty cheap if you don’t plan on using it often. But, when buying a snorkel, look for one that fits comfortably in your mouth and doesn’t interfere with your dive mask. It should be easy for you to breathe through. Keep in mind that the bulkier the snorkel, the more drag it will create in the water. So, depending on your desires, you could grab a cheap and simple snorkel if you’ll mostly be deep underwater, or spend a few more dollars on a more streamlined and comfortable one. Either way, this is still an essential piece of scuba diving gear.
Fins, Fins, Fins
The flip-flop of fins is one of those wonderful sounds to divers. Fins can also make or break a dive. Propelling you through water, this is one of the most needed pieces of diving gear, but can also be a hassle to find. You want to find a fin set that fits on your foot snuggly without crunching your toes or bind your arches. Either of those will be uncomfortable and quickly wear down your stamina, as well as not help the efficiency that the fins lend you.
Close heeled fins are most popular with snorkelers, as they are designed to be worn without booties. This is really only feasible in warm water. So, for this piece of scuba diving gear, we would recommend going with an open heel fin. The can be adjusted depending on your booty thickness and slightly as your feet grow if you’re getting started young. Open heel fins will also be a little bit shorter, which you’ll want for diving. Lastly, make sure you can produce a solid amount of thrust with your fins and that they work well with your swim technique. This piece of scuba diving gear will let you be like a fish among the fish, so it is worth getting it right the first time.
Wetsuits and Drysuits
Also called exposure protection suits, wetsuits and drysuits will keep you warm when you otherwise would be quite cold or possibly hypothermic. That being said, this is a piece of scuba diving gear that you shouldn’t skimp on. These suits are made with closed cell neoprene rubber which keeps air next to you, rather than water. As air is less conductive than water, less heat is being pulled from your body when you wear one of these. Depending on the water temperature, you will want a thicker suit. Here is a basic guide to go on. For a water temperature of:
- 75 – 85°F – 1/16 inch or 1.6 mm
- 70 – 85°F – ⅛ inch or 3 mm
- 65 – 75°F – 3/16 inch or 5 mm
- 50 – 70°F – ¼ inch or 6.5 mm
So, when you know how cold the water is you will be diving in, you can choose your suit accordingly. You want the suit to fit snugly without air pockets without being constricting. Bright colors on a suit will make you more easily visible to other divers. Additional features to look for in this piece of scuba diving gear are seals at the wrist, ankle, and collar. On top of that, there can be additional seals behind zippers, and a smooth coating inside the suit to lessen water flow. Keeping all these things in mind, you should be able to grab a solid wetsuit for your scuba diving gear kit.
Buoyancy Compensator Device or BCD
This next part of your scuba diving gear is what holds everything in place, including you. Your BCD should fit you well, and you should easily be able to access all the pockets, valves, and hoses. The BCD allows you to float at any depth in the water. When trying them on for fit, make sure to wear your most common wetsuit underneath. When fully inflated, your BCD will be snug, but not uncomfortable at all. Make sure you like the placement of all the features on your BCD, as they will need to be second nature to you when you’re one hundred meters below the surface. If you can, try multiple different vests out in actual dive scenarios. This piece of scuba diving gear is worth going for quality, and you should be able to have it work for years to come.
Each BCD will have a different lift capacity. For tropical diving where you’re in water without a wetsuit, it only needs about 12 to 24 pounds of lift. For recreational diving with a full wetsuit or drysuit, make sure to have between 20 and 40 pounds of life. But, if you’re going into technical diving, loaded with gear and incredibly deep, you’ll want between 40 and 80 pounds of lift. Keep all this in mind when buying your BCD.
Regulators convert the high-pressure air from your tank to breathable, normal pressured air. These are incredibly important, obviously. But, you’ll be happy to know that among most major labels and brands, they will all work well. As you get more and more experienced, you will notice little differences between them.
The best regulators will bring you plenty of air, even at intense depths and high usage. They should be able to regulate perfectly well on a full tank as much as a low-pressure tank. Depending on the regulator, there may be buttons and switches to help this process. So, make sure you are comfortable and acquainted with the features you may have to use deep under the sea. Lastly, make sure the mouthpiece fits you well and have the hose length adjusted for you at the dive store. All in all, this piece of scuba diving gear will keep you breathing, so do your research before purchasing.
Our last essential piece of scuba diving gear is the dive computer. These have replaced the dive watch, although those are still a staple among tried and true divers, with many amazing brands still making them today. But, dive computers do your calculating for you as far as time, depth, tank pressure, and other things are concerned. Knowing each of these elements is key to a safe dive, so you will want a dive computer that makes sense to you. With different interfaces and options, make sure you can intuitively scroll through all the options on the dive computer of your choice. You will also know best where you like to attach it, whether that’s your wrist, hose, or somewhere on your BCD. So, make sure that the attachment point is feasible with whichever dive computer you choose.
Lastly, know the safety that is built into your dive computer. Some companies and computers factor in safety margins ahead of time so that you’re never without air. However, some dive computers will be more precise, therefore leaving you making the calls of how far and long you can go. So, as you get more experienced, you may get a more precise and make the safety calls yourself.
All in all, the best scuba diving gear will be what matches your dive style and body type.
You will want to buy quality gear right off the bat when it comes to scuba diving gear. This isn’t the time to raid through a yard sale unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Quality, working dive computers, masks, and BCDs are what keep you alive and well. So, if you’re looking to get into diving, start with this list of scuba diving gear you need and how to choose it.
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