Diving is something you can take to many levels of personal involvement. Often divers just starting out have no gear of their own, and are dependant on dive shops and resorts to equip them for their adventures. Many divers settle for owning “enough” gear, a few essential items they can’t do without or prefer not to rent. The handful who can afford it will often go the next step, the “everything but the tanks” level. A few nutters, professionals and techies (part of the afore mentioned nutter category) go all out, and often require a small shed or space in the basement to hold all of their gear. Today we’re going to talk gear, what you need, what you want and what you dream about.
I have a pretty short list when it comes to things you need as a scuba diver. If you’re an avid vacation diver, this should do the trick in most cases. Snorkel, mask, dive light and boots. If you’re feeling extra flush, a 2.5mm or 3mm shortie for your warm water adventures will round it off nicely and keep your costs below $500. Why no computer? Well, diving the tables isn’t a bad thing, and it’s an extra cost that you may not be able to swing initially. If you’re a cold water diver, still get the boots, but get a set with heavy soles; most rental shops have 7mm farmer john style wetsuits to rent to you, and having your own footwear is always nice. Regulators are possible in this range, but likely you don’t dive often enough to warrant the cost.
If you’re looking at going into diving seriously, then you’re looking at an expenditure of between $1000 and $4500 in equipment alone. An exposure suit suited to your preferred diving climate (always more for cold water, hence the $4500), mask, snorkel, boots (unless you have built in ones on your drysuit), fins, dive lights, compass, regulator set, BCD, gloves, hood and computer. If you’re a tropical diver, your bill will be towards the lower end of the spectrum, as the drysuit tends to skew the numbers for cold water enthusiasts. At this point a computer is a good idea, because odds are you’ll be diving often when you do dive, and may have even switched up to nitrox. At this point a computer is a great tool to make logging things easier and to keep better track of your residual nitrogen.
The next level up is where you find a lot of technical divers, commercial divers and other assorted professionals and dive enthusiasts. The top of this scale is limited only by your income and the tolerance your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse has for your dive gear taking up space in the house. Duplication and backup starts to take hold here. The save-a-dive kit is likely a small fishing tackle box and at least one room in the house has a persistent wet neoprene smell. There is also probably a pile of magazines somewhere, filled with gear you’ve been thinking about and locations you’re trying to fit into the budget. At this point it’s a good idea to get insurance for your gear, because you’ll have literally thousands of dollars of kit and equipment laying about that can be difficult to replace should something serious happen.
Dream gear is where the toys, gadgets and doodads that make diving extra cool come in. Wireless computers, DPVs, cameras, camcorders, strobe setups, electric thermals for the drysuit, mask computers… they all fall into this category for the most part. Of the items here, a camera and the always popular DPV are most likely to be added to the gear pile in the basement or shed. Cameras, as far as I’m concerned, are neigh indispensable once you’ve experienced showing your friends and loved ones the results, from your first blurry, blue washed pics to the coolest macro shot ever. A DPV is more of a big kid toy (unless you’re a cave/cavern tech diver), that adds a touch of fun and James Bond to a dive. Of the two, a camera you can always use, but a DPV is more limited. The rest of it is all cool if you can afford it, but not absolutely required to dive.
So there it is, my take on dive gear. Sorry it’s late this week (last week?), but the regiment had its centennial and my usual writing days were filled with foot drill, uniform preparation, celebration and recovery! Back on track this week, hopefully with some new additions to the photo galleries and the Zazzle store!