Welcome to Part II of How To Choose The Best Scuba Diving Gear, so if you missed that article make sure to read that one first! In Part I, we covered all the basic gear needed for beginner scuba divers such as masks, snorkels, fins, and exposure suits! And now we are going to go a little more in depth with the more advanced gear that beginner divers will need.
A BCD (buoyancy control device) is one of the most complex pieces of equipment that you will own and it is one of the most important for multiple reasons. So make sure you choose carefully when you chose the best BC to purchase- no pressure. The BC does a lot which is why it is so important. 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 all depths.
What to Look For - Sizing and Fitting: is important when it comes to your BC. You will want to try your BC on with the exposure suit you wear most often. You want it to fit snug, but make sure when it is inflated that it is not too tight. It should not be squeezing you at all. Also, make sure to 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. Though this can be a bit expensive- it is an important piece of gear, it is a good idea to rent one before you purchase to see what feel you like before you buy your own.
Regulators have been perfected to the point that even budget regulators can offer high performance which is great for divers! However, make sure to do your homework before buying this piece of scuba gear, since it is a vital piece of gear to own. Regulators convert the high- pressure air in your tank to ambient pressure so you can breathe it- which here at Born of Water- we think is pretty important! Your regulator will also deliver air to other places such as your BC, computer and octopus.
What to Look For- High performance: is a must for when looking to purchase a regulator- which does not necessarily mean expensive. Comfort is another very important aspect of this scuba gear. Look for a comfortable mouth piece that does not rub your mouth the wrong way. Remember, this will be used regularly so you want it to fit as comfortable as possible so try as many regulators as you can in real- world diving situations. Unfortunately, breathing on a regulator in a dive store will tell you very little about how it will really preform under water, so rent and try different ones before purchasing.
Octopus (Emergency Regulator)
An Alternate Air Source is also called an "octopus" because this is attached to the SCUBA Regulator with an extra air hose which makes the regulator look like a multi-tentacled octopus. The Alternate Air Source is an additional regulator second stage that attaches to the regulator first stage. The Alternate Air Source is required for diving safely. If another diver runs out of air they can come to you and breathe from this extra regulator to safely get back to the surface.
What to Look For- Unlike your main regulator, the octopus is a back up therefore it is not as important as your regulator but is still a very necessary piece of gear. You will want to purchase an emergency regulator that you are comfortable with and that is easy to access. Ultimately it all comes down to personal preference for the regulators.
Dive Computers are a vital piece of equipment used for diving. 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, which in turn, tell you when it's safe to fly, log your dives and much more. There are multiple different ways to mount your computer such as on your wrist, attaching to BC, or gauge console. Mounting is all a matter of preference.
What to Look For- User friendliness: is important when it comes to dive computers. 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. There are different computers, some that show both numeric and graphic displays, so pick whichever you are most comfortable with. 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- there is no point in having a diving computer if you are uncomfortable using it! So get familiar with it. Play around. That’s the joy of new gear!
Hope this helped all our new divers get a little more comfortable with how to choose the best scuba diving gear- happy diving!