Scuba divers, both new and old, should frequently check the presence and condition of their essential gear pack. Scuba is a gear-intensive sport; we’re not designed to swim and stay underwater for more than a few minutes. If you want to explore what’s beneath the surface, you will need to adapt—this is what dive gear will allow you to do. If you’re new to the sport, the gear can seem very confusing. However, once you understand the place and purpose of each piece, the picture will come together more easily. Here is what you need before your first dive.
Dive Mask and Snorkel—The dive mask creates a pocket of air for your eyes and nose, allowing you to see clearly underwater and equalize the pressure on your ears and sinuses. Snorkels allow you to inhale and exhale while swimming facedown. The snorkel goes on the left side of your head and attaches to your mask strap.
Regulator—The regulator allows you to breathe underwater. It connects to your tank and delivers air to your mouth when you inhale. You should frequently have an “octopus,” too, which is your backup regulator. Both regulators should be routed to the diver’s right side.
BC/Power Inflator—BC stands for buoyancy compensator. Similar to a backpack, this supports the weight of your tank above water and allows you to control your position in the water column. By adding water to the internal bladder, you can rise to the surface.
SPG/Depth Gauge—SPG stands for submersible pressure gauge, and it will tell you how much air is left in your tank. Similarly, the depth gauge tells you where you are in the water column. Be sure to clip your gauges to your BC (rather than letting them to float freely).
Dive Computer—This is essentially your instrument panel on electricity. Computers monitor and display your depth, how long you’ve been under, and how much longer you can safely stay. Some models can keep track of how much air you have left.
Scuba Fins—These make your kicks into smooth, efficient strides underwater. Foot pockets should cradle your foot like a good pair of shoes—not too loose, but not too tight.
Wetsuit—Wetsuits provide essential insulation against the cooling effect of water. The most common options are 3mm-thick suits, 5mm thick, and 7mm full suits. A properly fitting wetsuit is snug all over, but it should not restrict your movement or breathing.