Diving Equipment Essentials That Everyone Should Own
Diving can get a bad rap as an expensive pastime. And while it can certainly cost thousands of dollars in order to get fully kitted out with certifications and gear, this is a cost that can be spread out over the years, making it a much more reasonable hobby with a little bit of planning and forethought.
To aid in this endeavor, we here at Dive Maui have compiled the following list of dive gear essentials, that while not exhaustive, should provide a good base of gear for any diver to aspire to. This can include items such as masks, snorkels, wetsuits, and more. Below we will look at the most important features for each item and what to look out for when purchasing your own.
Additionally, we will provide you with some helpful tips on what gear to buy when,
Figuring Out What You Need
This is the hardest part to do generally, as it will largely be based on figuring out what your own needs are. Those that live in landlocked areas will have different priorities than those that live near bodies of water that they might want to try diving in their spare time. Additionally, those that can dive regularly will be further divided into those that live in warmer climates versus those that are in the colder ones.
Once you find out what you’ll want to do with your diving kit you can start experimenting by renting different brands and seeing which ones you like. You can start with the following pieces of basic equipment and slowly but surely build up a quality diving set.
It would be hard to overlook the importance of a properly fitted mask to a safe and optimal diving experience. Fortunately, for most adults, an initial investment in a quality mask can pay off in years of use.
Some things to look out for when considering a mask:
- A good fit is essential. A leaky mask is basically worthless, so start with a quality silicone skirt before considering any other bells and whistles.
- Sizing tips. Make sure your nose fits inside the mask without pressing up against it and that you can make a good seal without relying on a strap.
- Try using it with a mouthpiece. Don’t forget to make sure that your mask doesn’t move around when using a snorkel or a mouthpiece and that it retains its comfortability.
- Everything else is personal preference. Strap styles, colors, field of vision, and more. These are all choices you will make based on your own preferences, budget, and desires.
A snorkel might seem like an odd choice to add to a diving essentials list, but a snorkel can be a great piece of equipment to have for informal diving and exploring places that can’t be seen with scuba gear. They are also a useful tool for conserving air when scuba diving near the surface.
So, what do you need really for a good snorkel?
Since it will be spending a long period of time in your mouth, comfort will be absolutely key. How does the mouthpiece feel? It should fit comfortably, and nothing should be poking or prodding the gums or lips in a way that causes discomfort.
Things to look for when considering a snorkel:
- What features do you want? A premium tube can have a variety of useful features such as water release valves and sealing systems.
- Larger snorkels create more drag. Keep this in mind when considering your snorkel’s height and weight.
- No need to spend a lot of money. Basic models can be fine for those that do not plan on utilizing their snorkels much.
A good wetsuit will be the base on which your diving gear can be built upon. By getting a wetsuit over a dry suit, you’ll be getting a potentially more versatile piece of equipment that should be able to last you for years.
When picking out a wetsuit of your own, it’s important to remember the following:
- Wetsuits for those in warmer climates: Go for a thinner neoprene suit that will be more flexible and won’t cause you to overheat.
- Wetsuits for those in temperate climates: If you live in an area where the water gets down below the mid-60s Fahrenheit, it is best to get a suit that is at least 3mm thick. While this thickness will most likely keep you from using your suit on a tropical vacation, you’ll find it much more suitable for the conditions you’re likely to encounter at home.
- Different wetsuit types: These styles are also largely dictated by water temperature and can include full-suits, shorty wetsuits, long johns, caps, and simple rash guards.
- Drysuits are pricey: For cost reasons alone, it is best to stick to more affordable wetsuits before you know that you are really committed to diving and want to look into a drysuit of your own.
Let’s face it, fins are a fun piece of equipment. Fins make your movement more efficient in the water, supercharging your kicks so that you can power through the sea like Aquaman or Katie Ledecky.
The most basic choice most divers will have to make when picking fins of their own is whether they want a full-foot or open-healed variety.
Full-foot fins are best for those in warmer water, as they don’t require the use of diving booties. If you will be diving in a variety of different water temperatures, go for the open-healed variety, which will allow you to match booties to the water conditions you are facing.
Miscellaneous Additional Gear
In addition to the above gear, there can be many pieces of equipment that can be nice to own yourself, including depth and pressure gauges, tank bangers, a compass, a diving computer, BCDs, and regulators. In fact, some divers may even argue they are more essential a purchase than items detailed above.
Because of this, it is important to know more about your own personal diving budget and preferences before purchasing such items, as some can be fairly sophisticated and expensive to own and maintain.
We’re Always Here to Help!
The best piece of advice that we can give is to try out any diving gear before you buy it by renting it and always make your purchase from a trusted local retailer. If you are in the Maui area or are planning to visit soon, be sure to stop in and see us at Dive Maui. We are always happy to help with gear recommendations and rentals (our mask, fin, and wetsuit rentals start at just $5 each) and we carry some of the most exclusive brands that divers around the world use and trust.