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Before every dive it’s a good idea to make sure you have all of your equipment. It’s unlikely you will forget your BCD and tank because you will likely be wearing them. Though the amount of times, we have had to borrow a spare mask or use the same dive computer is just embarrassing. A good dive centre will usually remind you to check your dive gear even so it’s better not to rely on someone else to remember. That’s why we created this dive gear checklist to help make sure we have all our gear before heading out to the boat. If you’re forgetful like us hopefully this will help you!
1. Buoyancy Compensation Device (BCD)
First and probably the most important is your BCD. Before setting off an any dive check it inflates and deflates before leaving the dive centre. And don’t just check it using your tank air, make sure you can inflate it using the mouthpiece too. If you do have a puncture it’s better to find out before leaving the dive centre so you can change it out for a working BCD.
Some dive centres won’t let you choose what size tank you take. However, if you get to know the people who work there or the owners, and are really good on using air, try asking for a 10 litre or 12 litre instead of a 15 litre tank. Your back will thank you for it in the long run. Also turn your tank on in case the O-ring on the tank is leaking better to find out on the surface than run out of air mid-dive!
Again a regulator is not something you are likely to forget completely but make sure to check it is attached correctly and check the air tastes good. Also check the octopus before leaving for the boat. If it tastes funky or the mouthpiece is broken on either stage swap it out because they can rub, and it can make for an uncomfortable dive.
Now this may seem like a stupid thing to put on the list, but there has been the odd occasion when we arrived at a dive centre and it’s been total chaos with people throwing bits of kit at you. You scramble around putting your kit together but forget to get changed until someone tells you you’re still in your shorts! *facepalm*
5. Weight Belt or Pockets
Most dive boats will have a couple of kilos in spare weights, but it’s not great if you need 8kg to sink and someone already borrowed 2kg. One of the best ways to remember this is to attach it to your BCD. After you have put the weights on the belt clip it around the shoulder straps and there is no way you can forget it. Same goes if you have integrated weights put your weight pockets in as soon as they are full. Another thing to think about is most of the world uses kilogram weights. However, the USA and surrounding areas are old school and still use pounds. Do not get caught out like we did in Jamaica and only take 8lbs instead of 8kg. You will not sink without great difficulty so check what units they are referring to when asking how much weight you need.
Seems obvious you will need a mask to see underwater. However, Lewis used to forget his mask all the time. I think it’s a side effect of wearing glasses because there was already something on his face, he doesn’t think about it. He has rolled back off a dive boat only wearing his glasses before! Nowadays I get him to put his mask around his neck before leaving the dive centre. It really helps. I like to use the small chest clip on my BCD to attach mine. But if you do this just be careful not to squash you mask with your tank when you put in down on the boat.
Not an essential for diving but really useful to have if the surface is choppy. Especially when you are waiting for others to get in the water before making your descent. You can use your snorkel instead of your regulator to save air and not get water in your mouth. Bonus!
Diving without fins would be like cycling with only one wheel. Not impossible but also quite difficult. Fins help to propel you through the water that’s why fish have them after all! If you’ve ever been snorkelling in a group and someone doesn’t have fins, you will know how far behind they get. The best way to not forget your fins is to tuck them into your BCD once it’s attached to your tank. That way you can’t possibly pick it up without seeing them.
9. Dive computer
A dive computer is an essential piece of gear for anyone who is serious about diving. Forgetting you dive computer is like leaving your right hand behind. We have both done it and it’s a pain in the arse to have to share. Not only will your dive not be exactly the same, but you will either need to keep an eye on your manual depth gauge or stay really close to your buddy for the whole dive. Best thing to do is put it on your wrist as soon as you put on your wetsuit that way it’s attached and you can’t forget it.
Hopefully when you put on your wetsuit you will remember to put on your boots. Sometimes this is not the case, like if your doing your second or third dive of the day and you don’t want soggy feet all day. In between dives it’s normal to put on your flipflops. Just don’t get carried away and wear them back to the boat. No one wants to wear fins that are made for boots without them. It is really sore, and you normally can’t tighten them enough, so they don’t keep slipping off.
11. Gloves and hood
If you are diving in colder climates you will need to wear gloves and hoods. Hopefully it will be cold enough that you remember these before you get in. If not you might want to stuff them in the pocket of your BCD so even if you get to the dive site, you will have them easily available.
12. Underwater Camera
If you like to take underwater pictures you will want to take your camera with you. I have mine on a handy carabiner clip so I can clip it to my BCD before I set off and not worry about leaving it on the boat. When the day is done, I just unclip it to take it home to charge and check my images. This is much safer than leaving it attached while my BCD dries in the dive centre ready for the next day. For recommendations check out this guide on the best underwater cameras.
13. Surface Marker Buoy (SMB)
Not really an essential for casual divers but a must for professionals. We are not professionals, but we have been on enough dives to know now that things don’t always go to plan. We invested in an SMB after a dive where we got split into 2 groups by the current and ended up far away from the boat. Luckily there was enough of us that the boat found us easily. But had we been on our own, we may have been more difficult to spot. It’s also a good backup in case the dive leader forgets theirs/accidentally let’s go of it/it breaks. We would recommend getting training in how to use an SMB if you do get one, because they can be dangerous if used incorrectly.
14. Boat essentials
Finally you have all of your gear for diving but don’t forget things you may need on the boat. Sunglasses are a must to avoid the glare of the sun from the sea. Don’t forget your regular glasses if you wear them too otherwise you won’t be able to see on the boat. We always take a bottle of water on the boat because it’s important to stay hydrated and it’s good to rinse the salt water out of your mouth when you finish the dive. Generally, we don’t take a towel with us because if you are diving somewhere warm you can just unzip your wetsuit and the sun will dry you out. But if you are diving in a colder place, unless you are wearing a dry suit, you will need a towel so you don’t freeze on the boat.
Once you have reviewed your checklist and you have all of your dive gear, it’s time for your pre-dive checks. These should always be done with your dive buddy so that you are both familiar with where your dump valves are and how to release your weights. You could even introduce your dive gear checklist to your dive buddy to help them out too. Also, if you get seasick don’t forget to take your travel sickness pills in plenty of time. You don’t want to ruin your dive by vomiting over the side of the boat or even worse in your regulator!
Once you have a great dive gear checklist you will wonder how you managed without it on all your previous dive trips. Trust me it will save you a lot of stress and panic and your fellow divers will definitely be happy they haven’t got to turn around for missed bits of kit.
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Did you find this post helpful? Would you use a dive gear checklist or maybe you already do? Let us know in the comments!
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