One of the most important things to do before diving is familiarizing yourself with the equipment. It can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but I promise you it isn’t as complicated as it looks.
To help you get your feet wet (pun intended) I have created a basic scuba diving equipment list, plus a few other items that you might want or need depending on the type of dive you are going on. I will go over the basic purpose of each item and why I have it on the list.
Whether you have been on 20+ dives or have never been diving at all, this list will inform you about all the different pieces of equipment that go into a successful dive.
Importance of Proper Equipment
Making sure you have the proper scuba diving equipment is essential in order to dive safely. Let’s face it, when you really think about the concept of scuba diving it sounds pretty insane. You are basically strapping a tank of air to your back and swimming around underwater for an hour without breaching the surface for oxygen.
A lot can go wrong in that scenario. However, don’t let your anxiety kick in. Ensuring that you have the proper equipment and are comfortable with each item will allow you to enjoy the incredible experience of diving comfortably and safely.
The more familiar you are, the better. You don’t want to be spending time figuring out how to use the equipment properly or worrying about what to do if something were to go wrong. The equipment should become second nature to you so you can focus on enjoying your surroundings on the dive instead. This scuba diving equipment list will provide you with the necessary information to dive safely and allow you to relax and enjoy your dives even more!
- Mask: Everyone needs a mask to dive. There are many different masks that would do the job, however, it is very important to buy one that covers both your eyes and nose. This will provide you with maximum comfort and allow you to equalize properly.
- Snorkel: While technically you don’t “need” a snorkel, I added it to the essential list because most dive guides will require you to have one. One reason is if something were to go wrong and the dive boat lost you, you could tread water without using your regulator for air. Generally, the rule is if you are at the surface you should be using your snorkel to conserve the air in your tank.
- Fins: Fins are extremely important for multiple reasons. The main one being speed and agility underwater. It is very difficult to move anywhere quickly underwater without fins, and you expend a lot more energy without them. The goal of every diver is to spend as much time as possible underwater, and fins allow you to move freely and easily so you can cover a lot of ground without much effort.
- Buoyancy Control Device (BCD): The BCD is the vest that divers’ wear that helps them reach neutral buoyancy at various depths underwater. In other words, it helps you not sink to the bottom or rise to the surface. By controlling the amount of air you store in the BCD, you can become neutrally buoyant and achieve the “weightless” feeling that you hear divers’ talk about.
- Regulator(s): A regulator is the piece of equipment that allows the diver to breathe from the air tank. It is the piece that goes in your mouth and connects to the air tank. Tanks are filled with high pressure air and the regulator reduces that air into a pressure that is breathable.
- Tank: There is no way around this one, you are going to need air in order to dive. While there are different types of tanks you can choose from, everyone needs an air tank. The standard is using simple compressed air, however, other options include nitrox, trimix, or heliox (I won’t be going into depth about the differences of each in this article).
- Pressure Gauge: The pressure gauge is essential to have because it is the device that allows you to see how much air is in your tank. You should ALWAYS check your pressure gauge before each dive to ensure you have the right amount in your tank. During the dive you should always be aware of how much air you have left, especially towards the end of the dive when you know you are probably running low. NEVER LET YOUR GAUGE HIT 0. You should always end the dive with some air left in your tank for safety precautions (I will go into much more detail in upcoming articles).
- Depth Gauge: This device allows you to see your current depth while diving. This is also essential to make sure you are following the plan for the dive and remain safe at all times. When you are underwater it can sometimes be difficult to know how deep you are, this will take care of that for you.
- Weight Belt: Divers need weight belts to help them “sink” toward the bottom. You have a positive buoyancy in the water and depending on the size and composition of your body, you will need a certain amount of weight attached to you in order to descend and ultimately reach neutral buoyancy. Too much weight and you will sink too fast, but not enough weight and you will have a hard time descending.
- Dive Computer: This is a digital device that attaches to your wrist like a watch that tracks the dive time and depth. It can also calculate the required time for the safety stop based on the time and depth of the dive. While you don’t technically need one to dive, it can be very nice to have for safety and comfort reasons. If you are diving with a guide, he will have a computer of his own for the group. However, if you aren’t diving with a guide either you or your partner NEED to have one.
- Wet Suit: Depending on where you are diving and what time of year it is you might need a wet suit. It is always better to be safe than sorry because the temperature of the water decreases as your depth underwater does. However, if the water is very warm you would be fine in a regular swim shirt. If you aren’t sure on whether or not you need one, I recommend asking a local dive shop for advice.
Other Potential Items:
- Dive Knife: This is not an essential item, however, it is nice to have for extra safety. In case of tangling underwater in stray fishing nets or line, a dive knife would come in very handy. It is not used as a weapon.
- Dive Light: A dive light would be needed in the following situations: night dive, cave dive, or a wreck dive. It is an underwater flashlight that will allow you to see much better in those scenarios.
Review The List. Check It Twice!
There you have it, the basic scuba diving equipment list. As I mentioned before, learning your equipment is extremely important to dive safely and be able to relax and enjoy your dives more. While this isn’t an in depth guide it is a great way for you to learn the basic function of each piece of equipment so you can begin to get an idea of what goes into a successful dive.
Before each dive make sure you have everything that you need and that each piece is functioning properly. I hope you found this list to be very helpful and informative, feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions. Happy Diving!