Not surprisingly, you need quite a bit of gear to successfully and comfortably scuba dive. A lot of this gear you can rent from a dive shop or dive operation where you plan on diving, but some of it you should purchase yourself.
The gear that you will wear most likely wear while scuba diving is:
- Wetsuit Boots
- Buoyancy Compensator Device
- Regulator & Octo
- Submersible Pressure Gauge
- Dive Computer
What do you wear when you go scuba diving?
There are some pieces of gear that are absolutely mandatory while scuba diving, and some pieces of gear that are not required. This is largely going to depend on the conditions that you are diving in. If you are planning on diving in cold water, the gear that you wear will be significantly different than if you are planning a dive in the tropics.
A good dive mask is most likely going to be the first thing that you purchase when getting into diving. Outside of your BCD, regulator & octo, SPG and dive computer, it is easily the most important piece of gear to provide you with a comfortable dive experience.
Dive masks are going to form a nice seal on your face to keep water out while diving. There is no worse feeling than going on a dive and having your mask leak the entire time. Water filling up inside your mask can even move from just being an annoyance to dangerous, depending on how much it distracts you from your surroundings on a dive.
Fins are another crucial piece of equipment for every diver. With everything, there are different types of dive fins for different situations. You are going to choose different fins for a cave dive than you would for a relaxed ocean reef dive.
For beginners you are probably going to want a basic fin that won’t hurt your feet, and will move you around in the water just fine. Our top pick for beginners is going to be the Mares Avanti Quattro dive fins. These are going to be super easy to handle, firm enough to move you in the water at a decent rate, and have a bungee strap on the back which makes it incredibly easy to put on and take off (even while wearing the rest of your gear).
Firm, high acceleration fins with a bungee strap. Great for beginnersBuy Now on Amazon
Having a snorkel can get you out of some pretty bad situations when it comes to diving. It also makes it super convenient to scope out dive sites during a shore dive. Instead of having to bob up and down taking breaths while scoping out a reef, you can keep your face in the water and continue to breathe normally.
In addition to that benefit, most certification agencies require you to wear a snorkel on your mask while diving.
That being said, we recommend that you pick up a rollable or foldable snorkel that you can fit inside a pocket of your BCD. We recommend this because a lot of the time while diving outside of a class, you aren’t going to want a snorkel in the way of everything else that you have going on.
Foldable/Rollable snorkel with a soft silicone mouthpiece. Fits directly in a BCD pocket.Buy Now on Amazon
Depending on the temperature of water that you are diving in, you are going to want a different width of wetsuit. In colder water, divers will wear up to a 7mm thick wetsuit before moving on to donning a drysuit.
The main thicknesses of wetsuits are going to be 3mm, 5mm and 7mm thick neoprene. The 3mm is great from 65-80 degree water, although some divers will find that as the water warms up close to 80 degrees it is no longer cold enough to even wear a wetsuit.
Check the water temperature of the places that you plan on diving so that you can make an informed choice on the thickness of wetsuit you will purchase. Some dive shops will also rent out different thicknesses of wetsuits if they are used to diving in colder temperatures.
Wetsuit boots are important for more than just temperature protection. Your feet are going to thank you ten times over for putting some neoprene between them and the hard rubber of your fins. It may not seem super uncomfortable going without boots at first, but wait until you’ve been kicking for about 10 minutes and you’ll wish you had some wetsuit boots.
These come in variable thicknesses and styles, same as wetsuits. Your choice of boot thickness will depend on the temperature of the water that you are diving in.
Buoyancy Compensator Device (BCD)
Controlling your buoyancy while diving is a key aspect to scuba. This is where a BCD comes into play. BCD’s typically have integrated weight pockets and a fillable air bladder. Not just that but this is what you are going to attach your cylinder to.
In the beginning of your dive career, you will most likely rent a BCD from the dive shop you dive with. As you get further in your diving adventures, you will figure out what type of BCD you prefer to dive in, and make a purchase then. You can find BCDs as cheap as $300 and then they move upwards of $1000+ once you get into high-end models.
Regulator & Octo
Your regulator and octo are the MOST important thing when you dive. This is your lifeline underwater. It attaches to your cylinder and handles the pressure of gas that you are going to breathe. An octo acts as a secondary regulator in case of emergencies with your primary regulator. Having an octo also helps when diving with a buddy, if something goes wrong with your buddy’s gear while at depth, you can share your cylinder’s air with the person you are diving with while you two ascend to the surface.
Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG)
A SPG is how you are going to keep track of your air consumption. You should be checking your SPG while underwater frequently. If you check your pressure gauge every couple minutes, it is going to be incredibly hard to run into an out-of-air emergency.
Typically your cylinders are going to be filled up with around 3000psi, and most SPGs are going to have a nice red indicator showing when your tank has reached around 500psi. It is good practice to start ascending just prior to hitting 500psi. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 500psi in your tank at the very end of your dive. If you do this, your dive shop will thank you.
Having a dive computer is not an absolute necessity when diving, as you will have learned to manually calculate your no decompression limit(NDL) times based on your agency’s version of air dive tables.
Having a dive computer though will provide you with a much more accurate profile of your dives. Even the most basic dive computers will track your depth and update your NDL time accordingly. As you get further up in price and functionality with dive computers, you will get more and more nice-to-have features such as choosing a gas mix (like nitrox), having a receiver that attaches to your tank to track remaining pressure and much more.