When planning an underwater excursion, there are a few essential pieces of diving gear that you definitely shouldn’t forget to bring with you. These should include your buoyancy compensators (BCD), diving tank, scuba regulators, scuba masks, diving fins, and other basic pieces of equipment that will enable you to dive safely.
But as much as you would want to keep your gear to a minimum, there are still a couple of things you should consider bringing for your convenience and safety.
Essential Scuba Diving Accessories
In this list, we give you 10 must-have diving accessories that you may not have thought to add to your arsenal. We’ll explain what makes them useful and why you should bring them with you on your next dive, plus we’ll provide a few product recommendations to help you decide on what to get!
Every other article will talk about equipment that you’ll need to wear and keep close to you while underwater, but what some divers may not realize until they actually start preparing for the dive is that a gear bag is also very important. It’ll allow you to stash all of your gear in one place, so you won’t have to worry about losing any of them or leaving them scattered on the floor of the diving boat.
We recommend that you get a medium or large-sized bag that’s sturdy and specifically designed to protect your gear from water, at the very least. The Cressi Gorilla Pro XL Duffel Bag ($80.29), for example, is big enough for your fins and has waterproof zippers to keep the inside safe and dry.
In case you can’t lug around a huge gear back, you can go for smaller, airtight dry bags that will keep water and moisture out. Choose the right size (usually specified in liters) depending on the number of your personal essentials, like your wallet, cell phone, change of clothes, and towel. It’s also the ideal option when you’re going to be using a much smaller boat and transferring to multiple dive sites.
Instead of having to choose from different brands to have dry bags of different sizes, you can go for Seattle Sports Dry Bags ($15.95). They’re made of vinyl-coated nylon with radio frequency (RF) welded seams, have heavy-duty abrasion-resistant bottoms, and come in 6 different sizes: X-Small (5L), Small (10L), Medium (21L), Large (41L), X-Large (55L), and X-Long (55L).
Even the brightest daylight will only be good until around 30 feet underwater, so you’ll definitely need some sort of underwater light source to be able to appreciate the beauty of the underwater world. This becomes even more important if you’re going wreck diving and peering into crevices at any time of the day.
Choosing a dive light can be confusing at first, but all it takes is for you to learn about the types of dive lights available and which ones are better for particular activities and depths. A popular choice is the Underwater Kinetics C4 eLED (L2) Rechargeable Dive Light ($134.95)—a primary dive light that comes with an easy-to-grip handle and offers a lot of power for murky waters.
Surface Signaling Gear
A surface marker buoy usually comes in the form of a long and colorful inflatable tube. It sticks out above the surface of the water and is used to indicate a diver’s position underwater in such a way that makes it visible to their dive boat, as well as other boats that are passing through. For this accessory, we recommend the Dive Alert Deluxe Surface Marker Buoy ($59.40) for its high-visibility colors and its closed-circuit construction, which prevents air spill at the surface of the water.
Other signaling devices include a loud whistle and a signaling mirror, all of which are small enough to fit in your BCD.
GPS Rescue Signaling Device
Getting lost at sea is definitely one of the most critical situations you should prepare for as a diver. After all, it’s not that impossible for it to happen—especially if you don’t have a dive buddy. But if you have something like the Nautilus Life-Line Marine Rescue GPS ($199.95), it will help you feel much more at ease.
GPS rescue signaling devices work by sending your GPS position to all nearby boats when activated. The Nautilus, in particular, floats and can be submerged up to 425 feet underwater with the cap closed. It’s definitely one of those things that you wouldn’t want to do without if you’re far from the shore.
Back-Up Dive Computer
You may have one of the best dive computers on the market, but it will still be completely useless to you if it crashes or malfunctions in the middle of your dive. Be prepared for this eventuality by carrying an extra dive watch with you so you can keep track of important data, especially your dive times and no-decompression limits.
There’s no need to buy two of the same expensive dive computer. Go for a more simpler device like the Oceanic B.U.D. Backup Dive Computer ($199.95). It’s already nitrox capable up to 50% and comes with two algorithms to easily match your primary DC. But while this is proof that a dive watch doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, we would still recommend that you use a full-featured primary dive watch.
Many of today’s dive computers come with digital compasses, but if you want to sharpen your navigation skills (or your dive computer doesn’t have one at all), it may help to get an old-fashioned analog compass in case you need directional assistance in the water.
The Sherwood Compass ($59.95) is designed to be paired with your Wisdom Dive Computer, if you have it. For best results, go for a dive watch with a separate manual compass, so the latter won’t be rendered useless when your dive computer crashes.
If you were to pick just five from this list, we highly suggest that you include a dive knife—not as a weapon, but as a safety tool for escaping tangled fishing lines and nets. These may come at a price, but it should be worth the investment if you’re going for a sturdy aluminum one (instead of stainless steel) that is resistant to corrosion and rust.
Aside from choosing a good aluminum blade, decide whether or not you want a blunt or drop point tip, where you want the serrated edge and line cutter, and how long you need the knife to be (5 inches is usually long enough for most emergency applications).
One of the most important deciding factors is the knife’s sheath, which typically varies in terms of its locking feature for keeping the blade secure when not in use. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why many divers like the Aqua Lung Squeeze Lock Dive Knife with Tanto Tip ($79.95), which allows you to lock your knife securely in its sheath and release it easily with a quick squeeze of the handle.
Spare Tools Kit
For longer dives, it becomes more important to bring along a spare toolkit that contains a variety of parts and other extras that you may need for basic gear repair.
We recommend the Princeton Tec Save-A-Dive Kit ($14.95), which already includes a mask split strap to keep your scuba mask in place, an adjustable heavy-duty fin strap, a snorkel keeper that fits most snorkels, a comfortable regulator mouthpiece that is compatible with a wide range of breathing regulators, a versatile tie wrap, and valve O-rings for leaks.
A small but very useful scuba accessory that you can get without spending a fortune is a tank banger. It’s what practically every diver uses to tap their tanks to create “clank” sounds that will catch the attention of their dive buddies, whether it’s to communicate something or to point out critters underwater.
Compared to audible underwater alarms, simple tank bangers are small and way more affordable—as is the Aqua Tank Banger ($8.95). It fits the body of most tanks and you simply pull the colored ball (which comes in many other different colors, by the way) to make a sound. Other divers use their knives to tap on their tanks when they don’t have a banger available.