Scuba diving equipment and snorkeling gear tips by: Laura Jackson, a PADI certified dive instructor and travel counselor.
Hello, everyone! My name is Laura and I come from the UK. I have been an instructor since 2007 and have been lucky enough to dive into some beautiful places and see awesome creatures and wrecks. My favorites include Mexico with Bull sharks, The Red Sea, St Lucia, Frogfish in Bali, the wrecks of Gozo, and Scapa Flow.
As a dive instructor, I am always asked about which is the best scuba diving gear to buy as a new diver. I wanted to tell you about a few bits of kit I have used and love, plus some tips for buying your scuba as a new diver. Like with other things in life, it is an investment, your kit should last you for years, especially when you look after it and service it as required.
1. Mask and Snorkel Set
The first place to start is the mask (and snorkel). You will probably know from your training that you don’t like water coming into your mask, maybe it didn’t fit properly and leaked through all your dives and you became a master of clearing it very early on. As I wear glasses, I went for the Aqualung Look2 with the prescription lens. Cressi Focus is an alternative option you can go for.
I was able to try the mask on as my dive buddy had the same mask, with a normal lens and it fits like a dream. I advise you to try masks on, go to your local dive shop, and buy from them as they will advise you on fit. I started wearing contacts, so I also have the Oceanic shadow, I love the big field of visibility.
2. Scuba Gear
The Scuba diving equipment that one diver has can differ so much from that of another. Deciding on cold v warm water diving, is normally where I would start when I am talking divers through the right scuba diving kit to choose. That is really important when looking at a set of Regulators, some are not for use in cold water. You also need to make sure your travel BCD has the needed lift for when you then decide to dive in colder water.
It would be a great idea to make a scuba diving equipment list, compare the kit you learnt to dive in to what you are researching.
2.1. Scuba Regulators & BCD
With diving regulators, again think about what conditions you’ll be diving in and I wouldn’t always go for the entry-level set. Go for the best you can afford and look after them. Scubapro regulators are what I would go for.
However, it will always come down to personal preference and of course color with some divers. Remember, you have to feel comfortable in the kit you wear, especially the buoyancy compensator, suits, and fins and you need to seek expert advice if you are unsure.
It has taken 4 different BCDs over the years but for now, when I am warm water diving, I love this BCD, I prefer rear inflation, lightweight to pack and travel with plus the integrated weight system.
2.2. Dive Computers
When it comes to the best dive computer, do think about where you want your diving to be in a few years’ time – will you want to dive with Nitrox for example, and more specifically will you be diving a site regularly that makes the most of a nitrox fill.
Plus, what about going for a little luxury, like air integration? For me, it was a luxury I am glad I went for. The transmitter is permanently on my first stage, so if you only plan to rent scuba equipment when you are on holiday then it wouldn’t be worth it. I recently upgraded from my trusted VT3 to an OCi as I could wear it as my daily watch too.
2.3. Dive Tank
A scuba tank is worthwhile when you dive locally, perhaps with a dive club. They can be expensive to buy and maintain with the required test and 02 cleanings with Nitrox, but again consider how much you plan to dive to see if it worth it to you. It’s a great feeling to own your own kit, call your buddies and head out to the local dive site you love when it suits. Personally, as a shorter person, I love the ‘dumpy’ 12l.
2.4. Fins – Not Flippers!
The scuba fins I would use depending on where I was diving and I have two sets of scuba fins. I had a nice pair of open heel fins which I use with 5mm diving boots when I was on my annual holiday to Malta and at home as they git my dry suit too.
When I was in the Caribbean I use a pair of Aqualung hot shots, I love the white, makes me easier to follow when I’m guiding certified divers.
The best scuba fins are again down to personal preference, I like a slightly stiffer pair and shorter than normal so they can fit in my dive bag.
2.5. Semi-Dry v Dry Suit
It’s not cold water diving that I don’t like, but being cold when I dive. As a diver who spent many years in the cold Cornish waters of the UK, I learnt very quickly that selecting and investing in either a semi-dry or a dry scuba suit was key. Both are great and have their own advantages.
I also take a hooded 2mm vest for an extra layer, just to add under my semi-dry for that second dive. Make sure you take the proper training to be able to use your Dry suit safely. I use a 5mm semi-dry and I would look to the Scuba pro range. For me, they are comfortable and importantly practical.
2.6. Weight Systems
Your diving weight belt is also another that you might like to think about. I felt very uncomfortable wearing block weights in a belt but didn’t like the feel of a harness. I love a Scuba BCD with integrated weights and don’t like diving any other way now.
2.7. Dive Bag
My gear bag has traveled the world with me and still looks new! I also had a bag just for my regulators.
So that’s it for this blog, I hope you have been able to take a few ideas away with you and also like the kit I use too.
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