Dive Equipment: Phase One

The Basics

These are the equipment you can buy without a certification and even before your first course.

MASK

While nearly every dive equipment is an essential and most basic item to purchase for most divers is a Mask.

What It Does – The mask creates an air space in front of your eyes that allows them to focus underwater. The nose pocket allows you to equalize the air pressure in your mask as you go deeper.

What to Look For – A good watertight fit. The good people at ScubaDiving.com have come up with this six-step plan for foolproof mask fitting:

  1. Look up at the ceiling and place the mask on your face without using the strap. It should rest evenly with no gaps.
  2. Place a regulator or snorkel mouthpiece in your mouth. Does the mask still feel comfortable? Any gaps yet?
  3. Look forward. Place the mask on your face without using the strap and gently inhale through your nose. The mask should seal easily on your face. Caution: A strong inhale will close minor leak areas and invalidate this test.
  4. Repeat the sniff test with a mouthpiece in place.
  5. If the mask is still in the running, adjust the strap and put it on your face. Make sure the nose pocket doesn’t touch your nose and that the skirt feels comfortable on your upper lip.
  6. Put the regulator mouthpiece in one more time to make sure you can easily reach the nose pocket to equalize your ears.

Any mask that passes this test is an option for you to purchase. You’ll find a whole range of options on masks, including side, top and bottom panes for a wider field of vision. Some also have purge valves for venting any water that leaks in, and others have quick strap adjustments. These options (and a range of color schemes) are a matter of personal preference–just make sure the mask you choose fits right.

Cost – From Rs. 3000 to Rs. 15000.

 

SNORKEL

As simple as it seems, a curved tube that lets you breathe while floating face-down on the surface. Yet, as you look at the giant wall of snorkels at a dive store, you’ll see an array of options and features to choose from. Don’t worry. Stay focused on the basics. Especially for Scuba Diving.

What It Does – As a diver, you primarily use a snorkel to conserve air in your tank when on the surface. But, most Divers don’t carry a snorkel unless they are expecting long waits for the boat or longer swims to the boat. While not expensive, its good to have one for emergencies and also enables you to Snorkel if you so desire.

What to Look For – Comfort. You want a mouthpiece that feels good in your mouth and breathes dry and easy. The problem is that most attempts to keep snorkels dry also make them bulkier and harder to breathe through. The snorkel for you is one with a good compromise between ease of breathing and dry comfort. Remember, the bigger a snorkel is, the more drag it creates in the water. Also important: how the snorkel attaches to your mask. Look for a durable, yet simple and easy-to-operate attachment. If you are interested mostly in Diving and Snorkeling doesn’t excite you a foldable snorkel can always be packed away in your BCD pocket for emergencies.

Cost – From Rs. 300 to Rs. 6000

FINS

We know that many of us love swimming underwater and usually have no issues with moving about. But, with heavy life support gear donned on us and to ensure we can cover a distance and apply as minimal effort as possible; fins become your best friend underwater.

Unlike Snorkels and Masks, fins are more sensitive to choice, with the number of options such as Split Fins, Jet Fins, Short Fins, Long Fins, etc the choice can be endless.

What They Do – Fins translate power from the large leg muscles into efficient movement through water, which is 800 times denser than air.

What to Look For – Comfort and efficiency. When trying on fins, look for a snug fit that doesn’t pinch your toes or bind the arches of your feet. If you can’t wiggle your toes, the fins are too small.

Full-Foot or Open-Heel Fins?

  • Full-foot fins don’t require dive booties and are best suited mainly for warm waters.
  • The straps of open-heel fins can be adjusted for the different booties you may wear or for different family members and children as they grow.
  • Open-heel fins require less effort to put on, especially if a pull tab is added to the strap.
  • The dive booties required with open-heel fins also provide foot protection and comfort while diving and walking.
  • At the end of it, Open-heel fins are the most versatile for all weathers and our recommendation without a doubt.

The efficiency of fins is largely determined by their size, stiffness, and design. Divers with a strong leg and hip muscles can efficiently use a bigger, stiffer fin. Smaller divers or less conditioned divers will be more comfortable with smaller, more flexible fins. Finally, make sure buckles and straps are easy to use. Jet fins are the go-to set of fins for professionals and really last long, but due to the same material which makes it long lasting and good makes it heavier which is not for everyone. For recreational diving, split-fins are catching momentum but are still frowned upon by the serious divers. Go with what you’re comfortable with and if the Dive Shop you’re buying from lets you rent different options over a few dives you can always try and buy.

Cost – Rs. 5000 to Rs. 20000

EXPOSURE PROTECTION

We will elaborate more on Exposure Protection in two different branches.

If you are going to be diving mostly in Warm Water then 98% of your dives won’t require anything more than a Rash Gaurd and your existing swimming costume. Unless you feel cold more than others than you don’t need a wetsuit for most diving at areas like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

If you do feel cold, maybe a 1mm or 2mm full wetsuit or 3mm shorty is the way to go.

In the event you prefer to dive with a wetsuit for your own comfort, if you are planning deeper dives or maybe even colder dive sites then the following guide will help you pick your wetsuit. Remember, if nature calls then people do answer in their wetsuits so a rented one may not be best option.

What They Do – Exposure suits insulate you against the cooling effect of water, which can rob your body of heat 25 times faster than air. The thickness and type of exposure protection you need depends on dive conditions. Simple Lycra suits provide little thermal insulation but do help protect against scrapes and stings.

Cost – Wetsuits and skins range from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 30000. Drysuits start at around Rs. 40,000 and since most of the market we cater are not going to be using dry suits anytime soon we will gladly answer your questions via email if you have any questions on the same.

As long as a wetsuit fits correctly, it will do the job. If you’re going the budget route, your choices will usually be limited to basic models. Bright colors and graphics aren’t necessary but do make you more visible to other divers.

Here’s a guide to choosing the right weight for the conditions you dive in.

Exposure Suit Comfort Zones

Water Temp
24-30C – 1/16″ (1.6mm) neoprene, Lycra, Polartec
20-30C – 1/8″ (3mm) neoprene
18-24C – 3/16″ (5mm) neoprene
10-20C – 1/4″ (6.5mm) neoprene
1.6-18C – 3/8″ (9.5mm) neoprene, dry suit

Once you’re a newly minted diver, the anxiety you had about buying gear will likely be replaced with a rush of excitement — a desire to max out the plastic or buy a heap of the latest and greatest in scuba gear.

Having your own gear is essential to enjoy this sport fully and to maximize your comfort and safety. But, just remember that your experience with equipment is limited when you start out. You’ve got to study the field and understand what you want — and need — out of each piece of gear and don’t buy everything in one go.