So, you want to explore the world beneath the water’s surface. Who can blame you? The fact that we are capable of scuba diving is impressive seeing as humans aren’t designed to see, move, keep warm or breathe underwater. Because of this, however, scuba diving is a sport that requires a lot of gear. Don’t let this put you off though, as much of the equipment mentioned in this article can be rented from the diving school where you’ll go to learn the basics. It’s advisable that you do this before purchasing your own equipment – that way you’ll understand the ins-and-outs of the gear that you’re working with. Below is a list of the essentials…
While everything on this list is pretty important and will end up saving your life underwater, your mask will help you navigate and appreciate the beauty of the underwater world. This mask from Phantom Aquatics is perfect for anyone just starting out. It is made from high-grade crystal silicone to create the softest, most secure seal possible and offers the best downward vision for an item of this price. Your mask should create a pocket of air that encompasses your eyes and nose. This will enable you to see and will equal out the pressure on your ears.
Snorkels are rudimentary breathing apparatuses that attach to the left side of your mask and enable you to breathe while you are submerged slightly below the surface of the water. Your snorkel is personal to you. It spends time in your mouth and is key to your enjoyment in the water. Whether you use it a lot or just to get from the cove to the boat, make sure you pick the right one. While the mask above does include a snorkel, it is always best to pack a spare with you when you go diving. This one from Cressi has loads of great features that may encourage you to use it instead of the one above. I’m a real fan of the dry top which prevents water from entering the snorkel when it is submerged.
3. Regulator / Octopus
Breathing underwater is pretty incredible, and it would be impossible without your trusty regulator. A regulator helps you breathe underwater. It connects to your oxygen tank and supplies you with air for the duration of your dive (or until it runs out – keeps an eye on the time). An octopus, in scuba gear terminology, is your emergency regulator and can be used by you or a friend if necessary. This regulator from Scubapro [prides itself on one handed operation and ‘self-flush’ system which quickly and effectively purges dirt from the system. For an octopus, I recommend this one from Mares. It is bright yellow, which makes it easy to locate in an emergency.
4. B.C. / Power Inflator
B.C. stands for buoyancy controller. This handy piece of equipment is your key to exploring the wonders of the deep sea and without it, you would find that staying level with all your gear would be pretty tricky. It works a lot like a ballast by adding and removing air from an internal bladder. This pack from Aeris is the ultimate solution for an airline carry-on and transporting the gear to and from the dive site. Make sure you know how to maintain your B.C. as it can cause you some real problems if it starts to malfunction. If you have any doubts, I recommend buying this piece in a store and having an associated talk you through it.
5. S.P.G. / Depth Gauge
An S.P.G. is a submersible pressure gauge that tracks the amount of air you have left in your tank and must be checked regularly (time flies when you’re having fun). This classic content and depth gauge from Northern Diver is great to start you off. This gauge shows its readings in metric, so be sure to purchase the measuring system that you’re familiar with, either bar (metric) or psi (imperial, pounds per square inch) and have it fitted by a trained professional.
6. Dive Computer
Dive computers monitor and display your depth, how long you’ve been under and how much longer you can safely stay under. Some models will also keep track of how much air you have left. If yours does, don’t be tempted to go without a mechanical S.P.G. as it’s better to be safe than sorry and you won’t notice the extra weight.
7. Scuba Fins
Scuba fins extend the surface area of your foot and help you to achieve forward motion in a medium that is eight-hundred times denser than air. Without them, you’d find yourself floundering, never traveling very far despite your efforts. I think that these fins from Aquatics are great. They are made with Aquatics’ patented split blade technology, which reduces drag and increases lift and propulsion. The best thing about these fins is the adjustable strap, so you can tailor these fins to your own feet to ensure the perfect fit. Aquatics do not recommend using classic neoprene boots with these fins.
You’ll find that proper scuba fins will be much more comfortable as they’re designed to move you and your gear through the water with minimal effort and maximum efficiency.
8. Wet Suit
No matter how warm the water you’re swimming in, you’ll find that it saps rapidly from your body. Wetsuits provide insulation from this effect. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from the heavy brass suits from years ago and the suits available today are lightweight. They come in two common varieties: 3mm-thick suits in both full and shorty (bare arms and legs) styles for warm water and full-length 5mm or 7mm full suits with a hood and gloves for cold water.
Men should look at either this shorty for warm water or this all-season suit. Both suits are from Cressi and offer the same standards of protection.
While women are best off choosing between this shorty or this longer version, again from Cressi. A properly fitting wetsuit is snug all over, but not so tight that it restricts your movement or breathing.