Dive Equipment: Phase Two

Life-Support Equipment

BCDs (Buoyancy Compensator Device)

The BC is one the most complex piece of dive equipment you’ll own and one of the most important. So choose carefully based on the style of diving you’ll be doing most.

What It Does – It holds your gear in place, lets you carry a tank with minimal effort, floats you at the surface and allows you to achieve neutral buoyancy at any depth. It also has pockets to allow you to store extra things you may want to carry.

What to Look For – Correct size and fit. We can’t stress enough how important this is. Before you try on a BCD, don’t forget about the Exposure Suit you plan to use. If your BCD is very snug without any exposure suit, remember that with a 5mm to 9mm wetsuit or even a dry suit that the BCD may not fit you very well anymore. Look for a BC that fits snugly but doesn’t squeeze you when inflated. The acid test: inflate the BC until the overflow valve vents. The BC should not restrict your breathing. While you’ve got the BC on, test all valves for accessibility and ease of use, then make sure the adjustments, straps and pockets are easy to reach and use and are comfortable to your liking.

Pay particular attention to the inflator hose. Is it easy to reach and extend over your head? Make sure there’s a clear distinction between the inflate and deflate buttons and that you can operate them easily with one hand.

There are two core types of recreational BCDs. Back Inflate and Jacket Style, while majority of them being jacket style there are a few back inflate BCDs available on the market which you may want to consider.

Cost – Rs. 20,000 to more than Rs. 80,000

Our Advice – This is an important piece of equipment that you can expect to use for many years. Don’t skimp; go for quality. Test as many different models as you can in real diving situations before buying. Rent different brands if you have to and see what you like best.

How Much BC Lift Do you Need?

Tropical Diving (with little or no wetsuit protection) – 12 to 24 pounds
Recreational Diving (with a full wetsuit or dry suit) – 20 to 40 pounds
Technical Diving (or diving under other demanding conditions) – 40 to 80 pounds

Regulators

What we love about Regulators is that amongst the usual brands available in most Dive Shops around the world, you can’t go wrong by buying even the most basic Regulator. Regulators have been perfected to the point that even budget regulators can offer high performance. However, you must do your homework before buying this vital piece of gear. We can help: Scuba Lab has tested hundreds of regulators in thousands of breathing machine tests.

What It Does – Converts the high-pressure air in your tank to ambient pressure so you can breathe it. A regulator must also deliver air to other places, such as your BC inflator and alternate second stage.

What to Look For – High performance. The best regulators can deliver a high volume of air at depth, under heavy exertion even at low tank pressures. Some regulators also have diver-controlled knobs and switches to aid this process, so it’s important to understand the controls and how they work.

Comfort. Look for a comfortable mouthpiece and have your local dive store select hoses of the right length for you.

Try as many regulators as you can in real-world diving situations. Breathing on a regulator in a dive store tells you nothing about how it will perform under water. over your courses or regular dives you can try rented equipment and keep an eye out on the Regulators they use. These regulators are used nearly every day and usually have nearly a thousand dives on them so you know you can’t go wrong.

Cost – From Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 1,50,000

Our Advice – You’ve got to do your homework to find the best regulator available for your budget. Talk to dive store personnel, experienced divers and read objective reviews. If you want a good workhorse which would last for a really long time, then be ready to shell out anywhere between Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 for the Regulator Set. Look for packages which include the Regulator 1st Stage, 2nd Stage, an Octopus and an SPG (Submerssible Pressure Gauge which tells you how much air you have left)

Dive Computers

Dive tables are essential but boring. While being an invaluable tool for safe diving, dive computers are an amazing tool for the same reason a laptop is better than a slide rule.

What They Do – By constantly monitoring depth and bottom time, dive computers automatically recalculate your no-decompression status, giving you longer dive times while still keeping you within a safe envelope of no-decompression time. Computers can also monitor your ascent rate and tank pressure, tell you when it’s safe to fly, log your dives and much more. That’s why dive computers are almost as common as depth gauges these days.

What to Look For – User-friendliness. The most feature-packed dive computer does you no good if you can’t easily and quickly access the basic information you need during a dive: depth, time, decompression status and tank pressure. Some models have both numeric and graphic displays for at-a-glance information.

Mounting options are an important feature to consider and let you position computers on your wrist, gauge console, hoses or attach them to BCs.

Some computers are conservative in their calculations, automatically building in safety margins; others take you to the edge of decompression and trust you to build in your own safety margins. Only RSD publishes a chart ranking the relative conservatism of dive computers on the market today.

Before you buy, ask to see the owner’s manual and check it out. Complete and easy-to-understand instructions are important, especially on feature-packed machines.

Cost – Rs. 15,000 to more than Rs. 1,50,000

Our Advice – Begin with an honest evaluation of your diving needs — do you plan to use mixed gases someday to do decompression diving? Study the features of different computers and choose the one that offers the mix of features you need at the best price. For most recreational diving needs in our opinion, the Suunto Zoop Novo has stood the test of time.