Scuba diving is undoubtedly a popular ocean activity, especially for those who love to explore the hidden beauty of the ocean. However, it requires quite a bit of preparation. Before you can attempt a safe and enjoyable foray into the ocean’s depths, you will need to acquire the physical skill, knowledge, and technical training necessary to complete a successful dive.
But most importantly, you will need to equip yourself with the right scuba diving equipment.
Scuba Diving Equipment Checklist
Ready to experience a different kind of excitement and see incredible life forms and new seascapes? If you’re planning on going scuba diving for your next vacation activity but are still unsure of what gear you need to bring, don’t sweat it! Here’s a comprehensive dive packing list to ensure that you don’t leave anything behind!
Human eyes were not designed to work well under water—particularly saltwater. Therefore, one of the most important things you will need is a diving mask. After all, what’s the point of going scuba diving if you can’t even see the breathtaking surroundings?
A comfortable, high quality mask can make all the difference between fed-up dives and a fun time under the sea. Renting a diving mask is one option, but do you really want to use a rental mask that hundreds of people may have spit in? Believe it or not, regular old saliva is commonly used to treat masks and prevent them from fogging up. Gross, right?
Buying a new one that fits you perfectly and meets your individual needs is best if you want complete comfort throughout your dive (and if you want to avoid wearing something on your face with saliva on it).
Drysuit or Wetsuit
Though traveling with a drysuit or wetsuit is a bit of a pain due to its weight, it’s absolutely essential for protecting your skin and keeping you warm. It is usually made of neoprene rubber, which acts as padding by locking in a thin layer of water alongside the skin.
Obviously, you’ll want a thicker wetsuit or drysuit if the water is colder.
Fins are another important component of your diving gear. They give you control over your movement and allow you to propel yourself through the water with speed and agility. There are basically two types of scuba fins available on the market: open heel and full foot fins. Within those two categories, you’ll find two more variants to choose from, which would be blade or split.
Efficiency and comfort are vital when looking for scuba diving fins, so make sure to do your research before picking out a pair.
Scuba or diving gloves are made out of strong, durable materials that help prevent punctures or skin abrasion when exploring underwater caves and other tricky diving environments.
They work just like a wetsuit by trapping a thin layer of water between skin and material to slow the loss of heat. Aside from protecting your fingers and palms, these gloves help keep your hands warm underwater.
A scuba tank or diving cylinder is obviously another piece of equipment that you’re going to need when you go diving. It is a component of your breathing apparatus and serves the purpose of allowing you to store and transport large volumes of simple compressed air or specialized gas mixtures such as Nitrox.
Most tanks have a maximum pressure rating of around 2000 to 3500 psi and are commonly made from either steel or aluminum. You can choose to rent or buy, although if you plan to do more dives in the future, you may want to invest in your own.
The regulator makes it possible for you to breathe the air from your tank by converting the high pressure air into ambient pressure. It has something called a first stage, which connects to the tank or diving cylinder you wear on your back, and a second stage—the part of the regulator that you put in your mouth. It also has a backup second stage and gauges.
When choosing a diving regulator, make sure to pick one that gives you the highest level of comfort and performance for your own needs.
Depth Gauge, Submersible Pressure Gauge, & Compass
A depth gauge records the current and maximum depth reached during a dive. Meanwhile, a submersible pressure gauge (SPG) displays the amount of gas remaining in your scuba tank or cylinder, which can help you in monitoring your gas supply during your dive.
A compass is also crucial for proper dive navigation. Knowing where you are is essential during a dive, especially when there is low visibility. It keeps you from getting lost, plus it helps prevent you from panicking and using up more air than you need to.
Depending on your preference, these devices come in both analog and digital forms. You can also choose to purchase a 3-gauge console, which combines all three in one device.
The purpose of this gear is to measure how long you’ve been under the water, how deep you currently are, and how long you can stay at the depth you are in. A dive computer can be used along with the three previously mentioned items to ensure a safe and smooth dive. Renting a dive computer can cost you more money, so it’s often better to just purchase one.
The buoyancy compensator or buoyancy control device helps keep you from floating up to the surface or sinking to the bottom of the sea. It’s basically a vest or jacket that you wear during your dive to help manage your buoyancy. Air can be added to the BC’s internal bladder if you want to rise, or a certain amount of air can be released if you want to sink deeper.
Aside from allowing you to control your buoyancy, certain buoyancy compensators may also have pockets and straps that allow you to secure all of your essential scuba diving equipment (if that’s something you’re interested in).
Divers are taught to carry a snorkel during a dive, but for more experienced divers, it’s usually a matter of preference. Whether or not you deem a snorkel necessary for your own dive, it can be an important piece of safety gear for newer or less experienced divers, and can be useful during instances when you don’t want to use up precious air from your tank.
An underwater camera is obviously an optional piece of equipment that isn’t necessarily essential to the success of your dive. But if you want to capture those incredible sights and experiences, it’s definitely a must-have. There are plenty of great underwater cameras that allow you to take clear photos and videos, but nowadays, most divers use GoPro cameras along with waterproof housings and cases to allow them to go even deeper.
Other things you may need for scuba diving include tank bangers, a defogger, dive knives, writing slates, underwater lights, a dive logbook, and of course, a first aid kit.
A great addition to your scuba diving equipment list, tank bangers are hard materials on elastic bands that can be wrapped around your cylinder. They’re used to make noise (by snapping the hard material against your tank) in order to get your dive buddy’s attention quickly, such as when you need to warn them of an underwater creature’s presence or of some other emergency.
Tank bangers help enhance your communication underwater, making them good safety devices to have on hand during a dive.
Having a fogged-up mask can prevent you from having a fun and safe dive, so it’s important to treat it with a defogger before every dive. There are many defogging products that are specifically made for scuba masks, but you can also use baby shampoo or, believe it or not, spit.
Made out of either stainless steel or titanium, dive knives have either a sharp cutting edge or a serrated (sawing) edge, though some have both. They’re occasionally used by divers to free themselves from entangled fishing lines or underwater plants. They can also be used to tap on tanks to get another diver’s attention. You can mount one on your BC or keep it strapped to your leg or wrist by using a sheath with a retainer.
One of the most commonly-used underwater writing devices by divers, writing slates or dive slates are pieces of white plastic with special underwater pencils attached to them. They’re used primarily for communication or for writing down specific details about a picture you just took.
They’re available in various types, such as wrist slates and erasable magnetic slates.
Also known as dive lights, underwater lights are carried by divers to illuminate dark underwater environments. Aside from being used during night dives and cave dives, they also provide critical light when exploring cracks and crevices or for observing color during day dives.
First Aid Kit
When you’re always indulging in adventurous activities, you learn pretty quickly that a first aid kit is always a smart thing to have with you in case of medical emergencies. A good medical kit should have medications for pain and allergies, wound care items, and survival items like an emergency reflective blanket.
Divers often use a logbook to record the details of their previous dives, either for safety or personal purposes. It has various sections such as the header, which contains basic dive information such as the date, time, and location; the dive log profile, which allows you to record your bottom time, maximum depth reached, and more; and other sections that allow you to list the equipment you used, the conditions during the dive, wildlife encounters, and other aspects of the dive.
While certainly not a necessary item, many divers use logbooks at the start of their dive careers, as dive records are required when taking additional courses or when venturing to certain dive locations. Divers then ditch their logbooks once they dive more regularly, relying more on their computers for record keeping.
Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily need to get everything on this scuba diving equipment list. Every diver—and every dive—is different. You may need more or less gear, depending on the conditions of your dive and what your goals are. These are just some of the most essential items that will help keep you safe while allowing you to enjoy your dive to the fullest.