There is a large variety of scuba diving gear out there and there are many things to consider when buying your own diving equipment. After all, the things you buy have to be ideal for you and your ambitions as a scuba diver.
If you only dive in tropical waters, you do not need a drysuit or a regulator that can handle rigid cold water, and if you dive in Sydney using a shortie or rashguard would not cross your mind. With that in mind, I tried to compile a comprehensive list of scuba diving gear for women and men that is suitable for different environments. Therefore, you should be able to find suitable diving equipment for your specific needs.
I can by no means say that I know every piece of equipment available on the market, but the gear listed herein is what I believe to be the best scuba diving gear based on all the items I have rented or bought since becoming a scuba diver.
There is definitely more gear I would love to test so I can see if it would be a good option for me and divers with similar interests, but I will not list them until I have had the chance to dive with them.
Note: I want this list of great scuba diving gear to be useful for new divers and experienced divers alike, so you are bound to read some information you will already know if you are an advanced diver.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see the full disclosure for further information.
When to buy your Scuba Diving Gear
There is no need to buy all of your scuba gear right away, but it makes sense to buy things in a certain order. The first diving equipment you should buy is your mask and snorkel. Having a mask that fits your face makes it much easier to learn how to dive, as it will not flood again and again. And if you decide that diving is not for you, you can always use it while snorkeling.
The next thing to buy is fins, as unsuitable fins can lead to leg cramps and blisters. I personally recommend renting fins during your scuba class and then buying them if you like them and they suit your needs. Also buy a good pair of boots, as they might influence which fin size you need.
The next scuba diving gear to buy is a dive computer. It is crucial to use the same one if you are continuous dives because the computer tracks your individual dive profile. Therefore, having your own computer is ideal if you make continuous dives and dive several days in a row. It also allows you to download your dive profile.
After that, you should buy the exposure gear you need for most of your dives. Buy a wetsuit that is thick enough for most of your dives and that fits like a glove.
A wetsuit that is too wide won’t keep you as warm, so try different ones until you find a brand or style that works for your body type. When it comes to some brands, the men’s cut might end up being better for you than the women’s cut, so try both (if you cannot browse around).
When it comes to regulators and BCDs, you should know who you are as a diver before you buy them. If you travel a lot, it might be better to buy a lighter option, and if you also want to dive in colder waters, you have to get a regulator that is certified for colder temperatures. There are different BCD styles, so try different ones while diving before you buy something.
Diving equipment like torches, a scuba knife, and a compass are always good to have, so buy them as soon as possible once you have obtained your open water certificate.
Dive Equipment: Mask
Different masks are ideal for different face structures, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ mask when it comes to diving gear. Go to your dive shop of choice and try on a variety of masks to see which one is best for you. And do not let anyone tell you that it is a perfect fit if it does not fall off your face once you have inhaled through your nose.
The mask that is best for me is the Tusa Freedom Tri-Quest. Funnily enough, I discovered that it is ideal for me during my Open Water course while swapping our masks to practice mask clearing.
Of course, I decided to buy it right away, and they only had a hot pink one, which ultimately led to my entire diving gear being pink.
Get the mask here to see if it is a good choice for you.
While some prefer translucent seals, I prefer black ones, as they do not change color because of the sunlight. And another bonus? No one sees it if your nose is running at the end of the dive!
Snorkel — As some areas and liveaboards require that you have a snorkel on you while diving, so having one is always good. Especially as you can also use it for snorkeling. I love being able to detach it from my mask and store it in my BCD pocket, which is why I like the TUSA Hyperdry II.
Mask Strap Cover — If you have longer hair, it will likely get tangled up in the mask strap, so get a mask strap cover. There are branded ones, but some dive shops also sell location-specific ones.
Antifog — If you have a mask that fogs up often, it is good to have antifog spray. I love the reef-safe Stream2Sea antifog spray.
Scuba Diving Gear: Fins
The Apeks RK3 fins are ideal for divers that love the frog kick and tech divers. They are available in a lot of colors ranging from bright pink to black and have a bungee spring strap. They are a good choice for open water divers and instructors alike.
If you dive in a drysuit, you might want to buy the HD (high density) version that is heavier and therefore counters floaty feet.
I bought them when more and more of my dives included caverns, sandy grounds, and wrecks, and love them. I would love to get some tech diving training, so these fins are here to stay.
Buy Apeks RK3 fins now!
Tusa Imprex Duo
I started out with the Tusa Imprex Duo, and actually still love them. They are very versatile, do well if there is a stronger current, and are great if you use the flutter kick. The only downside is that they are far from ideal for frog kicking.
While I have switched to the very frog-kick-friendly Apeks RK3, I still use my Tusa Imprex Due for blue water diver or sharks dives during which bright-colored or white scuba gear is not allowed. I firmly believe that they are great fins for those just starting out or divers that do not use the frog kick.
Buy them now!
Diving Gear: Boots
If your dives regularly include shore dives, boots with a thick sole are essential scuba diving gear. After all, they allow you to walk over pebbles and rough terrain without stepping into sharp things. Having heavy-duty boots is a must if you want to dive at dive sites like El Cabrón in Gran Canaria.
I personally love the ScubaPro heavy-duty boots. They are super comfortable and high quality, and you will not feel a thing when walking over uneven terrain. I do not think that one’s foot can be too warm, so I use the 6.5 mm boots even if I dive in tropical waters.
Buy them here.
There are different kinds of exposure gear that are suitable for different environments ranging from rashguards to drysuits. And of course, there is also scuba diving gear like hood and gloves that also fall into this category.
I might be a little bit unusual when it comes to exposure gear like wetsuits, as I do not use every single thickness. If the water temperature is above 28°C, I only use a rashguard, and when the water is between 28°C and 26°C, I use a 3mm wetsuit or shortie.
If the water is colder, I use a 5mm wetsuit and then switch straight to drysuit diving. Do not ask me why, but I cannot stand how much a 7mm wetsuit restricts my movements.
Rashguard — Rashguards are great if the water is warm, and you only need protection from the sun and stingers. They also make it easier to put on a wet wetsuit, so I consider a rashguard a scuba diving gear must-have. I love the rashguards of ‘Fourth Element’. There are long sleeve shirts that I usually pair with running leggings, but they also sell a full-body rashguard.
Wetsuit — When it comes to wetsuits, you have to find the cut and brand that creates ones that are ideal for your body or they will not keep you as warm as they should. I recommend trying on a wider range of different wetsuits at a local dive center or at a diving-related trade show like the Boot or DEMA.
Hood — Your body loses a lot of heat via your head, so a hood is important if you are scuba diving in cold water. I love the Waterproof H1 10mm Polar Evoluted hood as it does not feel restrictive and due to the integrated valve thanks to which the hood cannot trap air.
Gloves — Gloves are crucial when diving in cold water, and I really like my Mares Flexa Fit 5mm with their water-stop barrier. When boat diving in warmer waters, the Aqualung Cora Gloves are great when you have to hold on to the line due to strong currents or if you are a photographer.
Drysuit — While there are many great, high-quality drysuits out there, not every single one will be ideal. In fact, finding the right drysuit is my personal pandora’s box of scuba diving gear, as I have yet to find one I really like. There are many great neoprene and trilaminate options on the market, so you have to browse around until you find one that suits you and your needs. And do not forget to buy a drysuit undergarment that is suitable for the temperatures you plan to dive in.
Scuba Gear: Dive Computer
I started out with a Suunto D4i, and liked it. However, I wanted to be able to synchronize my dive log with my phone, so I ended up getting an Aqualung i200c when the strap broke mere days before the battery died.
I still believe that the D4i is a good dive computer and I for one like that it was more conservative when it comes to the bottom time, but switching to another dive computer was the right choice for me. Eventually, I will buy a new strap and replace the battery so I can use it as a backup that is attached to my BCD.
The i200c is a great dive computer that can also be used as a regular watch. It is lightweight and available in six colors. The battery is user-replaceable, which is a definite bonus when compared to other models on the market. This great dive computer also allows you to switch between dive modes and free diving before the ‘no flight time’ is over.
You can log your dives in the DiveLog+ app that is available for iOS and Android. You can also use the app to share your dive data with friends. Be sure to routinely download your dives into the app, as the internal history only saves the last 24 dives.
Buy a dive computer here.
A good regulator set is the most important scuba diving equipment, as it is what allows you to breathe underwater. Therefore, it is crucial to buy a good regulator set that is suitable for the conditions you dive in. While some prefer a lighter set as it is more convenient when traveling, I prefer a versatile one that is great in warm and cold water.
I bought the Aqualung Legend LX Supreme and love it as it also is great with water temperatures under 10°C (50°F). It has since been replaced by the Aqualung Leg3nd MBS (3rd generation).
Both feature Aqualung’s Master Breathing System (MBS), which allows you to simultaneously adjust the venturi effect and the ease of airflow and the venturi effect.
Love this regulator? Buy it now.
Pressure Gauge — Of course, you also need a pressure gauge so you know how much air is left in your tank. I use the Suunto CB – One. It is available with a bar (Suunto CB – One 300) and a PSI scale (Suunto CB – One 4000).
Regulator Adaptor Kit —If you scuba dive while traveling, a regulator adaptor kit is a crucial piece of scuba diving equipment. After all, a Din-to-Yoke Convertor or a Yoke-Din Conversion Kit might be the only way to connect your first stage to the tanks. I can only encourage you to buy them from the same brand as your regulator set, as that is the only way to avoid severe issues.
Scuba Gear: BCD
After trying a lot of different BCDs before buying my own, I ended up getting a wing jacket instead of a vest-style BCD. Diving with the ScubaPro Hydros Pro improved my position underwater and is more comfortable. It also does not move around like a vest-style jacket often does.
At this point, I would not want to dive with a regular vest-style BCD again, and would only trade my Hydros for a backplate and wing or a side-mount setup when I finally tackle my tech diving ambitions.
The gender-specific cut of the Hydros Pro makes it a great scuba diving equipment for women and men alike. It is the strap size that varies between the men’s and women’s versions, so try both if you do not like the shoulder and waist strap length.
Looking for a great BCD?
Buy the ScubaPro Hydros Pro now.
At first glance, it might seem like you only need a dive torch while night diving, wreck diving, or cavern diving, but that is not the case. Having a torch At first glance, it might seem like you only need a dive torch while night diving, wreck diving, or cavern diving, but that is not the case.
Having a torch is always on you while diving a good idea is always a good idea. After all, it is useful if there is a swim-through if you want to see the actual color of a fish or coral and also in emergency situations. And as a diving torch somehow tends to die in the most inconvenient moments, it is recommended to have a backup torch.
Buy a dive torch (or a backup).
I personally like the Aqualung Seaflare series that includes torches with 900 lumens, 1300 lumens, and 2800 lumens.
Other Crucial Scuba Diving Equipment
Aside from the bigger items, there are also smaller things that are crucial parts of every complete set of scuba diving gear. Gear like an SMB, a compass, and a torch is something even newbie divers should have as a safety feature.
SMB & Reel — Having an SMB is an important safety feature and even a necessity in some places. While some dive centers and liveaboards will give you a rental for the duration of your trip, it is best to have your own so you can practice this crucial skill.
Compass — Knowing where you are while diving is crucial, so having a compass (and knowing how to use it) is a must. The best form of this important diving gear is a diving compass with a retractor cord as this setup allows you to turn it without restrictions.
Dive Knife — Depending on where you are diving, you might encounter fishing lines or could even get stuck in kelp or in the worst case scenario even a ghost net. That is why complete scuba diving equipment should include a line cutter or a diving knife.
Reef Hook —If you are diving in locations with strong currents like Galapagos, you need a reef hook. There are single and double hooks, and while both have their uses, single hooks tend to be more versatile as you can use them to attach the line to smaller crevices.
Diving Trash Bag —We as divers love the ocean and want it to be clean, and the best way to contribute to clean oceans is to have a trash bag. Regular bags won’t do as they would drag, so you need a mesh bag. My personal favorite is the trshbg hip bag.
Gear Bag — If you travel a lot with your dive gear, you need a good dive bag. If you want one that fits all your gear and other clothes, the Aqualung Exploror II roller bag is a good option. I also like the Scubapro Hydros Carry Bag that comes with the Hydros BCD, but can also be bought separately. It is carry-on sized and usually fits all gear (unless you are bringing a drysuit).
While an underwater camera is not diving equipment, it is likely something you plan to add to your setup. After all, there is a good chance that you want to take some photos of what you are seeing. Unless you are a professional photographer, a digital camera is ideal for you as these cameras are not outrageously expensive, and because it is pretty straightforward to use them.
While there are cheaper knock-offs available, I do not recommend them, as the image quality will not be good and also because these cameras are usually more prone to leaks.
Said leaks will very likely destroy the cameras, and you will lose all images you just took, so do not risk it. Invest in a quality underwater camera and your photos will thank you.
Note for newbie divers: Ensure that you have a good handle on your buoyance and situational awareness before you start taking photos. Everything also would just be dangerous for you and the reef. Please do not start your journey into underwater photography before you are ready.
The GoPro range is likely the most popular underwater camera when it comes to recreational divers, as it shoots great videos. It is lightweight and does not take up a lot of space, which is a distinct bonus when you are already traveling with a lot of scuba diving gear. Additionally, there is a large range of accessories available, which makes it an ideal camera for all kinds of outdoor adventures.
Without additional housing, it is waterproof up to 10 meters, and with underwater housing, it is waterproof to a depth of 60 meters.
Buy a GoPro.
Olympus TG-6 with underwater housing
The Olympus TG-6 is another strong contender when it comes to great underwater cameras. It is a great compact camera that is waterproof to a depth of 15 meters, and with the PT‑059 housing, it has a maximum depth of 45 meters. Like the GoPro it is very versatile and great for activities like climbing or other outdoor adventures.
Buy an Olympus TG-6 with underwater housing.
Freebie: Liveaboard Packing List
Roundup: Scuba Diving Gear
It sure took me a while to find the scuba diving gear that is ideal for me and I will keep trying new gear to see if I like it, but at this point, I am quite happy with my current setup. It includes everything I need to dive in a safe manner, and I can only encourage you to check if you have all essentials or if there is something you should upgrade or have serviced.
If you are looking for diving equipment and are not sure what to buy, it is always a good idea to visit nearby dive shops with a large selection. That way, you can do a dry trail, and if you are lucky, they will even have it as rental gear which would allow you to test it underwater.
Obviously, there is even more diving equipment you need if you want to do things like wreck diving, cave diving, or are interested in rebreather diving. But if you plan to stay within the limits of recreational diving without specialties that border tech diving, the list above should have covered everything you need as a diver.
More about Scuba Diving
If you love diving, you might also be interested in these scuba diving guides:
Liveaboard Packing List
What was the first diving gear you bought?
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