Scuba diving equipment allows you to visit the underwater world by making it possible to breathe, see and move comfortably while below the surface. Gear helps you change from being a land-dweller to somewhat of an aquatic being – if only for a little while. Whether you’re just starting as a scuba diver or you’re an experienced diver looking for new equipment, you’ll find helpful suggestions and tips in this section. Keep in mind that fit, comfort and suitability are the three most important considerations when choosing gear, but you don’t have to sacrifice color coordination and looking good.
You can dive almost anywhere there’s water, and the scuba gear you use will vary slightly based on the dive environment. There are four general categories for dive equipment, but some gear fits in all categories – for example, the same mask is fine for all environments.
A mask is one of the most important, and personal, pieces of scuba diving equipment you own because it lets you explore with your eyes.
A snorkel is a very personal piece of equipment. It lives with your mask, spends time in your mouth, and lets you breathe while you look below, until you’re ready to submerge on scuba.
There are fins for swimming, snorkeling, free diving and body surfing. You’ll want fins for scuba diving because you’ll be much more comfortable with fins designed to move you and your gear through the water with minimal effort and maximum efficiency.
Imagine scuba diving while hovering, weightless underwater – eye to eye with a fish. How is it possible? It starts with your buoyancy control device (BCD).
Most people float, which is great if you like to stay at the surface. However, scuba divers want to descend and need a weight system to help them offset this tendency to float. You want just enough weight to allow you to sink slowly. Having the right amount and proper distribution of weight allows you to fine-tune your buoyancy.
If you think about it, breathing underwater is pretty remarkable, and it all happens because of the regulator. The scuba regulator is a great invention that delivers the air from your scuba tank to you just the way you need it to breathe.
Your SPG displays how much air remains in your tank so that you can end your dive well before you get too low. An SPG can either be a mechanical gauge connected by a hose that reads the pressure in bar (metric) or psi (imperial, pounds per square inch) in your tank, or it may be built into your dive computer.
You can track your dives using dive tables, a depth gauge and dive watch, but most scuba divers use a dive computer – it’s easier. A dive computer provides the real-time dive information you need to dive well. A dive computer takes depth and time information and applies it to a decompression model to track the dissolved nitrogen in your body during a dive.
In the 1970s and 1980s, divers wore dive watches because it was the standard way to track bottom time while scuba diving. Today, with dive computers being the norm, divers wear watches as symbols that identify them as scuba divers.
A dive knife is a general tool that scuba divers occasionally use to cut entangling fishing line or rap on theirtanks to get a buddy’s attention. Dive knives and tools are not weapons and should never be used to harm aquatic creatures or deface the underwater environment. Visit your PADI Dive Center or Resort to get advice about dive knives and tools.
Primary lights are generally large models with powerful, wide beams, however, you can also find very bright small lights. Backup lights are usually smaller with narrower beams – something you might carry on every dive and definitely on night dives so you don’t end up without a light if your primary light fails.
Whether you’re driving to your local dive site or getting on a plane headed for the tropics, a sturdy gear bag will help you organize, protect and carry your scuba diving equipment. Your main bag needs to be big and tough enough to hold all your gear and stand up to the abuse of salt water.
Wetsuits get their name because you still get wet while wearing one. Your body quickly heats the thin layer of water that gets in and you’re insulated from the cooler surrounding water by the wetsuit material. You choose your wetsuit style and thickness based on the water temperature where you’ll dive.
Dry suits keep you dry by creating a seal at your wrists and neck. Because your boots are usually attached to the suit, you just need to keep your head and hands warm with a hood and gloves. Dry suits also keep you more comfortable in cooler surface temperatures and in a brisk wind.
With the rise of digital photography capabilities, there are now numerous options for capturing images underwater. From simple point-and-shoot cameras that take both photographs and video to more high-end equipment that shoots high-definition images, you’re sure to find a system that meets your needs.
An accessory is defined as an item that can be added to something else to in order to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive. With scuba diving equipment, there are plenty of accessories that add function and convenience to your primary gear, and can add a bit of style too.
High-pressure cylinders are relatively small, yet very strong containers that hold large volumes of compressed gas. Being able to carry your gas supply with you is what defines SCUBA (self containedunderwater breathing apparatus). Whether it’s filled with regular filtered air or enriched air nitrox (higher oxygen and lower nitrogen content) or trimix (three-gas combination) for technical diving, a scuba tank is one of the most important pieces of gear.