Buying Your First Diving Equipment: Our Top Recommendations
Posted on 10/11/2019
By Ran/ ranrambles
Welcome to the world of diving! So you’ve decided you want to get into diving, and you may be wondering if you need to buy scuba gear. After all scuba gear is bulky to travel with and most dive shops have rentals right? Yes, while all dive shops will have all the scuba gear you will need for a dive, we still recommend a few pieces of scuba gear that will make your dives more enjoyable. Better yet they only take up a minimal amount of luggage space!
Image by @alfredminnaarphotography ⠀⠀
There are a few items that Manta highly suggest to purchase and take with you when travelling:
1) Dive Mask
This by far is the most important scuba gear purchase you can make. You go diving to see stuff. Nothing is more annoying than having a poor-fitting dive mask that is always leaking water!
So what should you consider while looking for a dive mask?
- Always buy your dive mask in person at a dive shop. Dive shop personnel will be able to help you try on and assist with any questions.
- Look for a dive mask with a silicone skirt rather than a plastic one. A silicone skirt will have a better seal around your face and will be more comfortable.
- Look for a dive mask with the lens made of tempered glass. Plastic easily scratches. Both non-tempered glass and plastic are prone to cracks and breaks.
- Prioritize fit over style and price. This is not the place to go budget on! So how do you know if a dive mask is a good fit?
- Place the dive mask on your face without the strap
- Lightly inhale through your nose
- Remove your hand from the dive mask
Does it stay put? If yes, it's a good fit! Now is also a good time to check whether you can easily pinch your nose for ear pressure equalization. To release the dive mask, exhale through your nose. Check if any red lines are left on your face. If so, the dive mask might be too tight-fitting.
2) Dive Fins and Boots
Dive fins are obviously important, they increase the area in which a diver can push against improving efficiently in the water. Therefore minimizing physical exertion and air consumption. As shoe size is always a tricky thing to get right. We again suggest visiting a dive shop for help. We also recommend buying your own set of dive fins or at the very least a set of dive booties. Dive fins come in a variety of styles, so which are right for you?
Closed Heel Fins
Also known as “pocket type” fins. These dive fins function like a slipper, pop them on and you are ready to go! Due to their simple design, they are often the budget option. As they offer no thermal protection these are only appropriate for warm water conditions. They can also be more uncomfortable if they are not a perfect fit, causing blisters or cuts.
Open Heel Fins
Manta Dive recommends these as your own personal dive fins. These dive fins are a bit more expensive and you must use a dive booties with them. They are a better choice for a few reasons. They are more versatile, as the booties offer thermal protection they can be used in both warm and cold water conditions. Open Heel dive fins are more adjustable, slip your feet in and tighten the strap behind your heel till snug, that’s it!
Even if you don’t want to pack the fins themselves. You could just pack the booties and get a near-perfect fit with the dive fins are available at the dive shop.
There are two different shapes of fins commonly available:
Paddle dive fins are the traditional dive fins. They may require more strength compared to split dive fins as they are stiffer, but they provide more propulsion and can handle heavier loads (ie. towing or against currents). At Manta, we recommend this fin shape as they are more versatile.
These dive fins have a split down the middle and are often made of less stiff material to cut down resistance. They are designed for efficiency, and exert less strain on the legs, but only in calm water conditions. They derive their power from the speed of the divers kicks rather than the force of the kick.
3) Rash Guards
Rash guards are popular clothing for water sports. They are often made of spandex, nylon, polyester or neoprene. Manta recommends investing in a rash guard when you travel, for a few reasons:
- Sun protection: All rash guards have at least some UV protection. If you are stuck on a dive boat all day it's a good idea to protect your skin. It also helps cut down on the usage of sunscreen, some of which are harmful to coral!
- Warmth: Extra layers will help trap water and help keep you warmer longer. Remember even though in the tropics the water can be very warm, the water is still lower than human body temperature. Any great length of time in the water will still make you feel cold!
- Abrasion protection: Having a rash guard is helpful in accidental run-ins with coral, rocks and other rough surfaces.
- Hygiene: Wet suits are worn by many people, having a rash guard between your skin and the wetsuit is a good idea.
If you are planning to become a frequent diver, Manta Dive recommends purchasing a dive computer. A dive computer is a small device often worn as a watch. It monitors the time and depth of a dive so that a bottom time and ascent profile can be calculated. This is displayed in minutes for the diver to determine how long they can stay at depth and how long they need to say at 5 meters to properly off-gas nitrogen.
This is extremely important for divers, as it prevents a potential life threatening condition called decompression sickness or the “bends”.
A dive computer will often log your dives metrics, temperature, depth, duration, etc. This makes them handy to refer to while filling out your dive logs.
There you have it! These are some pieces of gear we recommend first time divers to purchase. Easy to store, but highly functional! As you become more experienced in diving you could start thinking about investing in BCDs, regulators, camera equipment and wetsuits, but perhaps that’s a topic for another day.
Happy diving! We hope to see you soon in the Gilis!