The number of divers in the United States is suspected to be between 2.7 and 3.5 million. Globally, there are an estimated 6 million active scuba divers. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned diver, it’s always useful to have a handy checklist of scuba gear available when packing or preparing for a dive trip.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget a thing or two, which can mean the difference between an epic shipwreck dive or waiting on the boat.
So, check out the following scuba gear checklist before heading on a plane for the Bahamas. Print it out and carry it with you, consulting it as you pack.
Let’s dive in!
1. Snorkel and Mask
Every scuba diver needs to own a snorkel and mask set.
Some may find the snorkel unreasonable, but it can be a life-saver. If you were to run out of oxygen and needed to tread water on a wavy surface, you’d really want the assistance of a snorkel then.
Additionally, you can use it for hanging out near the boat if you finish your dive early, or for exploring lesser depths closer to shore sans tank.
And the mask if a given!
Pro tip: make sure to bring some defogger with you on board. If you forget defogger, give your mask a quit spit, spread it around, then rinse it out.
A BCD, or buoyancy control device, is like a vest that allows you to smartly control your buoyancy to enable you to rise or sink in the water.
You’ll attach your regulators, gauges, and oxygen tanks to your BCD. You can also connect small items like your flashlight, a dive knife, mesh bag, or whatever other gadgets you have.
Additionally, if you need to add weight to yourself, many BCDs have pockets for inserting weights into.
3. Regulator and Gauges
Your regulator is what allows you to breathe in low-pressure oxygen from your oxygen tank.
Most regulators come attached with a second regulator, called an octopus. This secondary regulator is necessary in worst-case instances where, for example, your dive buddy runs out of oxygen in their tank.
The gauges measure both depth and pressure. Depth allows you to regulate your buoyancy at smart intervals to prevent developing the ‘bends.’ It’s also important to know how deep you are because that correlates to the oxygen you’ll use.
The oxygen gauge lets you know how much pressure is left in the tank. Before you dive, your dive instructor will go over the numbers, and everyone will agree to come up around a specific pressure indicator.
4. Wetsuit or Drysuit
Depending on the temperature, you’ll likely want to invest in a wetsuit or drysuit.
Not only can these keep you comfortable in a variety of temperatures underwater, but they can protect your skin from scratching upon particular surfaces, like coral (which can be extremely painful in some instances, too).
Both wet- and drysuits are designed to keep you warm by insulating your body heat, protecting you from chilly temps. Their difference is in the design, in which different materials lend different functions.
Wetsuits, unlike drysuits, are not waterproof. They’re made of rubber neoprene and hold a small amount of water in the suit, which your body heat then regulates while the suit insulates. These flexible suits are meant to keep you warm.
Drysuits are waterproof. They fit more loosely than wetsuits and are designed to keep all water out.
For diving, wetsuits are typically the more common choice among divers.
5. Fins and Booties
To propel you at both slow and fast speeds underwater, you’ll need the assistance of your fins.
Fins must fit well to be effective; otherwise, you’ll be concentrating on the blister forming on your heel instead of enjoying the dive. Sometimes, divers use a little bit of lubricant in their fin or boot to keep it from sticking.
Booties add extra protection and warmth to your feet. They make the fins more comfortable, providing padding between them, and you can wear them on-land when walking. (As you can imagine, fins are not easy to walk in!)
Many divers prefer to rent tanks at the diving facility, but you can buy and fill your own — it’s a personal preference based on space, budget, and needs.
If you’re a frequent diver who doesn’t always have to travel to dive, investing in oxygen tanks is a convenient and affordable option. But if you dive more sporadically, you can get away with renting tanks.
Some dives require one tank, while others require two tanks. This depends on the length and depth of the dive.
7. Optional Accessories
Some miscellaneous items can provide some comfort or assistance to individual divers.
For example, some divers prefer to scuba dive with a dive computer.
This commonly comes in the form of a watch, and measures your dive, offering insight such as depth, time, location, and more. Many come with a compass for more straightforward navigation, and computers calculate stats from your dives.
There are many other features available, such as air/nitrox integration, memory, and life-saving decompression calculations.
If you’re going on a night dive, it could be useful for you to bring your own underwater flashlight.
Other add-ons include diving gloves (to protect your hands) or a dive knife (can be used to cut fishing wire if found underwater, plus other uses).
Does Your Dive Bag Have These Scuba Gear Essentials?
If you’re a seasoned scuba diver, it’d be wise to invest in the supplies mentioned above.
And remember, if you’re a first-time diver or you accidentally forget something, most (if not all) dive shops can provide rentals or scuba gear for purchase.
If you’re heading to Nassau, be sure to contact us. We offer both AM and PM dives, shipwreck locations, five decades of Bahamas experience, and more!