Finding the right diving equipment and scuba diving gear is essential to having a good and safe diving experience.
Whether you're a beginner scuba diver or an experienced diver, everyone needs to have the same high quality equipment and the knowledge about how to use it properly.
If you're diving in the UK, you'll need a different wetsuit than if you're diving abroad, or on your gap year. If you're wanting to cover large distances, you'll need different fins than if you were to do a short recreational dive. Knowing the difference between the different types of equipment, will make every dive a lot easier.
Unlike surfing and hiking, diving does need a lot of specialist gear that you definitely can't skimp on. Buy the basics first and slowly begin to move from renting to owning the more advanced and technical equipment.
Here's our guide to scuba diving equipment, for any level of diver.
One of the most important pieces of equipment for a scuba diver is their regulator.
A pressure regulator is used in scuba or surface diving, to reduce all pressurised breathing gas to ambient pressure and deliver it to the diver. The gas is delivered through a valve, that automatically cuts off the flow of a liquid or gas at a certain pressure.
Regulators are usually bought in three parts. The first buy is the 1st Stage clamp and primary together, then an Alternate Air Source and then the Gauges.
Most divers prefer to have their own personal regulator. Having a personal regulator means that you can be sure that it is regularly serviced and you know the frequency with which it is used.
A diving cylinder is tank that divers carry on their backs, which holds the pressurized gas, distributed through the regulator.
Gas cylinders are made up of the pressure vessel, which is the cold-extruded aluminium cylinder and the cylinder valve, which controls gas that is released from the cylinder.
Cylinders need to be looked after, with replacement pilar valves, protective meshes, carry handles, valve dust covers to allow divers to care for cylinders to prolong it's life.
Standard cylinders coat around £200 and many around the world are made by Faber Scuba Diving.
Buoyancy Control Device
BCD stands for buoyancy control device and is the name of the jacket worn by divers to adjust and control their buoyancy in the water.
The device works by adding and removing air to an integrated bladder within the jacket, adjusting the volume to change the neutral buoyancy in the ocean, in order to decend and ascend.
BCDs range from lightweight for backpackers to carry around, to heavy duty, for cold water divers, that have a lot of lift and usually also feature D locks, integrated into the jacket.
BCDs are sold by diving companies such as usually £250 and £300 at cheapest and then rise in price as they become more heavy duty and technical.
While you might expect diving computers to be used for GPS, in reality, they're necessary on dives for many more things. A diving computer can help to secure the safety of a diver and allow them to stay at the bottom fr longer stretches of time.
Decompression sickness or 'the bends' are a serious worry for all scuba divers and dive computers a necessary for measuring the time needed at each level of ascent, in order for the gasses in the body to dissipate safely.
Diving computers are now most console mounted, wrist mounted or integrated into the diver's mask and tend to be wireless and automatically send information and data on tank pressure to the device.
Divers who use nitrox need a computer that is compatible with nitrox diving. Generally, these computers only cost a little more, and buying one that can match your pace as you advance through your training will prove cheaper in the long run.
Scuba diving masks come in a variety of different styles, but they all serve the basic purpose of allowing a diver see underwater and protecting their eyes from the ocean.
The three main types of scuba mask are split lens which has two separate tempered glass lenses, single lens and multiple lens. Divers can also choose between frameless and framed, as well between different materials for the mask's skirt.
Always check for a good fit before using in the water by holding the mask to your face and breathing in through your nose. If the mask stays in place then it fits, if not or you feel air flowing into the mask as you breathe in, you need another size.
For freedivers and scuba divers, the internal volume of the mask is important, the volume is the confined airspace created when the mask is sealed against the face and most people find that a lower volume mask is the most comfortable.
Wetsuits are necessary for protection, buoyancy and temperature. A good wetsuit can be the difference between a good dive and a dangerous one.
Anyone who is into surfing. will be accustomed to wetsuits already, however when you're buying one for scuba diving, there are some differences to take in to account.
3mm wetsuits, popular with summer surfers, are only suitable for diving in the tropics, as sea water quickly drops in temperature, once you start descending. For cold water diving, 7mm wetsuits are usually advised and 5mm wetsuits a good choice for dives in the Red Sea and its surrounding areas.
For dives around Iceland and other locations of extreme cold temperatures, drysuits must be worn. These suits come in both Neoprene and membrane, which control insulation in different ways. Neoprene wetsuits a more mobile, but need a diving skin underneath for insulation, while membrane suits are more cumbersome but provide adequate insulation on their own.
When it comes to mobility, fins are an essential part of any divers equipment bag. The type of fins that you choose is dependent on both the type of diving you want to do and also your own personal preference on style. Here are the most popular diving fin types:
Paddle shaped fins- The traditional and golden boy of diving fins. These fins are the standard still used by most divers at most levels.
Vented Fins- Stiff paddle fins that have vents at the base of the foot pocket. These allow for the passage of water during the recovery stroke, but prevent passage during power strokes, making all movement more efficient.
Split Fin- Unlike traditional paddle fins, split fins have a small gap in the middle of the fin, which means that they cut through the water with far less resistance. Many divers stand by these fins for their ability to generate power and control with a flutter kick, instead of relying on a full power kick.
Free Diving fins- Free diving fins are similar to paddle fins, except that they are usually longer and stiffer. Freediving fin blades are sometimes made from fibreglass or carbon fibre reinforcement, these absorb but are fragile and more likely to get damaged. Freediving fins tend to stick to the full foot style and rarely have an open heel,
Open Heel fins- Open-heeled fins are designed to be worn with dive booties and are open in the back. The foot pockets are normally made out of more rigid material than the foot pockets of full-footed fins. Open-heeled fins are used in water of all temperatures, and are essential in cold water environments for thermal protection.
Full Foot fins- The fins have softer foot pockets that cover the whole foot. They usually worn without dive booties, in warmer waters, where thermal protection isn't a factor.
Knife - Carrying a diving knife is a great safety tip, a knife can be used to free yourself from entanglements while at the bottom.
Buddy line - A short length of line or webbing around two metres, with a small central float. A buddy line is used to tether two divers together in low visibility to avoid separation.
Torch - Divers should always have a light on their BSD or suit, however an extra torch is a good safety accessory.
Surface marker buoy - Indicates the position of the divers to people at the surface.
Hoods- Use the same thickness measuring system as with your wetsuit, to choose the right hood for the water temperature.
Gloves- Give both thermal and abrasion protection, they also come in different thickness and types, for different dives.