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Gearing Up: What SCUBA Gear Do You Need for Your First Dive?

   October 3rd, 2018   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

What SCUBA Gear Do You Need for Your First Dive?

Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Has scuba diving always been on your bucket list? There are more than 2.5 million active scuba divers in the United States, so if you’re planning your first scuba dive, you’re in good company.

Before you get started, there are a few items of gear that you should buy. Preparation is key, so we’ve made a list of the scuba gear that every new diver needs to have. Keep reading to find out.

1. Mask and Snorkel

When you’re looking for the right diving gear, it’s essential to find a mask and snorkel that work well together. You might not feel comfortable going too deep into the water at first, and a snorkel will help you breathe while you’re close to the surface.

What should you look for in a diving mask? You need to find a mask that has a tight, comfortable seal –even with a snorkel or mouthpiece in place. You’re looking for a mask that doesn’t touch your nose and adheres to your forehead and upper lip. The reason you have to be so careful in selecting a mask is that once you’re underwater, any leaks will let in water. Your sight line will be ruined and you won’t be able to breathe.

Snorkels are interchangeable, but you should buy one that is lightweight and durable. If you know that you’re going to be doing a lot of snorkeling, you should buy one that attaches securely to your face mask and won’t give you much drag in the water.

scuba gear2. Fins

You might be surprised to learn that water is almost 800 times denser than air. In order to move through it, you’ll need to find the right set of fins. While the pros on television make diving look easy, it might take you a while to adjust to using fins underwater. If you’re already athletic, you might want to invest in a set of stiffer fins. On the other hand, if you’re new to snorkeling and diving, you should get a more flexible set of fins. You don’t want to wear yourself out within the first few minutes of your dive.

There is a wide range of scuba gear for sale online. Take the time and find the set of fins that will work best for you. There are fins that cover your entire foot: these are best for tropical and warm water conditions. Warm water, full-foot fins also don’t require a “diving bootie,” so you’re saving money in that regard. Open-heel fins are adjustable and easy to remove. You will have to buy diving booties, but your spouse or children will also be able to use the same fins. Open-heel fins are much easier to walk in and provide more protection on rocky beaches.

3. Wetsuit

There is a wide variety of wetsuits available, and it’s vital that you buy the right kind. If you’re going to be snorkeling or scuba diving in a tropical climate, you don’t have to get a full wetsuit. There are suits that have short sleeves and legs. They still help you retain heat and act to repel the water.

On the other hand, if you’re going for snorkeling or scuba diving in colder water, you will need a wetsuit that goes from your neck to your ankles. Water removes heat from your body about 25 times faster than air does, and you’ll need to make sure that you are fully covered.

When you’re shopping for a wetsuit, you don’t want to have any loose areas. If it’s loose at the neck, you’ll need to find another one. Check out retailers that offer custom fit wetsuits, and invest in one that fits you perfectly. Connect with your wetsuit manufacturer to make sure that you’re getting the right material: wetsuits come in spandex, lycra, and neoprene.

4. Buoyancy Compensator (BC)

If you’re serious about scuba diving, you’ll want to invest in a BC at some point. Before you buy, ask your scuba instructor if they provide BCs to students. If they have several different kinds, try them all before you decide to buy one.

A BC looks like a vest, but it serves a vital function underwater. It adjusts your buoyancy so that you’re not constantly bobbing to the surface. All BCs have a “bladder” that can be inflated or deflated, depending on how close you are to the surface. If you’re in the market for a buoyancy compensator, do some comparison shopping. When you try it on, does it fit snugly? Inflate the bladder all the way and see how the BC feels. You should be able to breathe comfortably and stand up with it on.

In general, all of your scuba equipment should be tight, but comfortable.

5. Additional Scuba Gear

Once you’ve gone diving a few times, you’ll know for sure if you’ve got the right scuba gear. If you’re just getting started, there are a few things you might want to bring with you when you go for a dive. You should get a “dry bag” to make sure that you have a dry change of clothes to put on after you’re done diving.

In your dry bag, you should bring some electrolyte replenishment, either a sports drink or re-hydration salts. You might be surprised at how thirsty and hungry you are right after a dive, so bring some sports bars or trail mix for a snack. If you notice that you’re always starving after a dive, pack a lunch and leave it in your car.

Getting Started with Scuba Diving

The first thing to do if you want to scuba dive is to find your destination. Knowing where you’ll be diving will impact the kind of gear that you buy. Second, contact the local scuba instructors and ask them what you should bring. Make sure to ask whether they provide underwater cameras.

We offer a full range of wetsuits and scuba gear. If you have any questions, send us a quick email or chat with us online and we’ll help you figure out what you need!

Chris "Mole" Moleskie is the Founder, President, and CEO of Wetsuit Wearhouse. Mole grew up in the water on the East Coast. After graduating from Salisbury University, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he headed to San Diego to find the eternal Ocean City. Wetsuit Wearhouse was formed a few years later in 2001. He swims, surfs when he can, SCUBA dives, wakeboards, SUPs, snowboards 15-20 days a season, and recently fell in lust with wakesurfing. Mole spends his summers at the not so secret Wetsuit Wearehouse Testing Facility on the Potomac River.

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