‘The Basics’ Equipment

Renting gear constantly can be quite expensive and depending on how often you dive, it may be more economical to just purchase some of your own gear that you can begin to call your own!

  1. Buoyancy control device (BCD)
    • BCDs are the key component to having proper buoyancy underwater and owning your own will help you better learn proper positioning and trim techniques without the added variability from rental gear.


      Back inflate vs. jacket style

    • BCDs come in two distinct varieties. Jacket style BCDs are probably the ones you learned on; it resembles a jacket and the air bladder surrounds the diver. This surrounding bladder can exacerbate the effects of rolling from side to side while underwater, since minor angle changes causes the air pocket to shift to whatever side is higher. Back-inflate BCDs have air bladders that only provide lift from the back, favoring a proper, horizontal position underwater. Rolling is much more difficult with back-inflate bladders.
    • Weight integration is an extremely valuable aspect of most modern BCDs, providing easily dumpable pockets for hard or soft weight. Not only does it take heavy and cumbersome weights off of a waist belt, integrated weight systems also facilitate a more even distribution of weight. However, weight integration systems are not usually found on basic models.


      Integrated pockets vs. belt

    • Trim pockets are pockets usually located behind the shoulder blades of the BCD in order to improve trim weighting. Spreading out weight, from the hips to the back as well, aids in proper positioning while underwater. However, trim pockets are not found on all models.
  2. Regulator
    • Regulators can be quite pricey, however given their vital task of supplying breathable air at depth, a decent regulator is a great investment!
    • Unbalanced regulators are a group of regulators where ease of breathing can be noticeably different between depths, temperatures, and as tank pressure decreases. Balanced regulators are typically more expensive and have the added ease of breathability over all conditions.
    • Environmentally sealed regulators can be more expensive, but are a necessity for those diving in cold water environments. Being environmentally sealed means that the regulator inner working are isolated from the ambient water and are less likely to freeze as high pressure air rapidly cools upon expansion. Thus, non-sealed regulators can freeze up even well-above freezing water temperatures.apeks_xtx200_xtx50_stage3
    • Regulator packages typically come with an octopus or secondary emergency regulator for buddy out-of-air situations. These should be brightly colored to avoid mis-identification. They should also be able to attach and quickly disconnect from the BCD in the triangle formed by the chin and corners of the ribcage.
    • Regulator packages also generally come with a console or gauges. Consoles should have a depth and pressure gauge at the very least. It may also be helpful to have space to add an analog compass for navigation. Most consoles nowadays are luminescent at night, but require a dive light to activate. Certain higher-end models replace consoles with digital dive computers (more on dive computers in the Advanced Upgrades section).
  3. Safety Equipment
    • Safety sausages,or inflatable surface signaling devices, are useful tools to signal to boats while on the surface. They come in many sizes and colors and easily roll up and attach to accessory gear loops on a BCD.hog0038
    • Whistles provide audible signaling during an emergency when visual signals may not be as effective.
    • Cutting tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, however a dive knife or shears will prove useful if a diver ever becomes entangled. They are also helpful for clearing dive sites of marine trash, such as monofilament fishing line.
    • Dive lights are a necessity for diving and signaling at night. Choose a primary and secondary back-up light based on brightness and the type of diving you plan on doing.