A proper diving equipment is essential to make a beautiful dive. The equipment has not need to be in bad conditions and must be your size so that you can feel comfortable underwater. There are several top quality dive brands such as Cressi, Aqualung, ScubaPro and Mares, it’s up to you to choose which one you prefer.
Now let’s see specifically the components for a complete equipment for your dive.
Wetsuit: for this item it is essential that it is the correct size so that you can move comfortable underwater, avoiding breathing and circulation problems… it must be neither too big nor too small! There are three types of diving suits and their choice depends on where you want to use them (cold or warm waters) and your tolerance of temperature. The first wetsuits you will come into contact during your first PADI Open Water Diver course will most likely be neoprene wetsuits. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber used a lot in the field of diving. This wetsuit is called wet because water enters inside it but creates thermal insulation: the water is partially imprisoned between the neoprene and our body, protecting the diver from hypothermia. Wet suits may have the hood integrated, it may seem annoying, but having the extremities of the body (such as hands, feet and head) covered helps to maintain your body heat during the dive. Depending on the water temperature, you can choose between different thicknesses: 3mm wetsuits are usually used in warm waters; 5mm wetsuits can be used both in the Mediterranean Sea and in Tenerife, where temperatures rarely fall below 19°C; wetsuits with greater thickness are used in colder waters, but in this case, is recommended the use a Semi-dry suit or Dry suits. Semi-dry suits are recommended not only for the slightly colder waters but also for those who dive regularly and perform several dives a day (during the second dive with the human body already wet from the first dive, it is easier to suffer the cold). This type of wetsuit is thicker and has a more watertight zipper that allows an increase in thermal insulation.
Finally, there are dry suits, mainly used in cold waters. This type allows a total isolation of the diver from the aquatic environment that after the dive, the diver will come out dry! Since it is designed not to let water inside the suit, we recommend you wear clothes underneath. To properly use the dry suit, you will need the PADI Dry Suits Specialty Course, and the instructor will teach you to use it properly.
The diving suit not only has the function of thermal insulation but also protects you from possible injuries and abrasions during diving.
Fins and Boots: A diver tries to use his arms and hands the least possible to move underwater, which is why the choice of fins is essential for a good dive. We recommend fins that need boots. Boots are diving shoes that keep your foot warm and allow you to walk to the dive point without feeling pain in the feet. The ideal model for fins with shoes is the wide and medium length.
BCD: An acronym for Buoyancy Compensator Device is a sort of backpack that allows you to float at the surface and adjust your buoyancy underwater through a corrugated mechanism that enters and releases air. Also, in this case it is essential that the BCD is your correct size, otherwise the movement of the tank on your back can cause problems at the lower back. There are two types of BCD: the normal ones, which have only the function of buoyancy and trim and those with integrated weights, highly recommended for proper weight balance on your pelvis and for comfort underwater.
Regulator: allow the introduction of breathable gas into our lungs. It is important that they are always inspected annually.
Cylinders: Cylindrical containers carry the gas mixture that we breathe underwater. There are from 10L 12L, 15L and 18L according to your air consumption.
Mask: this is a personal item; it is important that every diver has his own. How to choose your own mask? Easy, place the mask on your face without tearing on the upper part of the head, inhale from the nose and hold your breath for a couple of seconds. If the mask does not fall to the ground, it means that it is suitable for you!
Weight: essential to counterbalance the positive thrust of the suit. The weights can be inserted into an easily detachable belt that will be placed on your hips or directly into the BCD through special pockets that can also be easily detached in case of need.
In Spain it is mandatory to dive with a knife, always useful to avoid getting caught in ghost nets, a whistle, and a signal buoy. These items can be easily inserted into your BCD. In addition to these objects necessary for the fulfillment of Spanish laws, it is also mandatory to record during the dive, the bottom time, the depth, the maximum depth reached and the amount of air present in the cylinder. This data can be detected by a diving computer, which not only monitors these values but continuously calculates the partial pressure of the gases in the body based on the depth and diving profile of the diver, warning him if the non-decompression curve is exceeded; or by digital pressure gauge, article connected to the cylinder through the first stage that provides you in addition to your air consumption also the mandatory data.
How to check if the diving equipment is complete before the dive?
As you learned from your first PADI Open Water Diver course is forbidden to dive alone, you always need a buddy in case something happens. You and your partner will start your diving activity by checking your dive equipment before diving. The PADI Association has adopted a phrase that helps remember the steps to be taken before diving:
To help you remember this acronymous you can associate each letter with a word and compose your own sentence. For example, we use Blue Whales Really Are Fat!
B is for BCD: be sure to check your buddy’s BCD by pressing the air inflate and deflate buttons and valves.
W is for Weight: Check that the weights are correctly positioned on the hip and make sure that in the belt (or in the pockets connected to the BCD) the quick release is clearly visible and well positioned
R is for Releases: First, check all releases to confirm they are secure. Releases are – tank straps, shoulder and chest straps, and belly straps. (Check to make sure there aren’t any hoses or other items positioned in a way that might prevent a diver from getting out of their equipment in an emergency.)
A is for Air: Make sure the cylinder vale is completely open by checking the pressure gauge and taking a couple of breaths from the secondary regulator.
F is Final Check (from the face to the fins): Now you can give a general control to all the equipment. To help you, you can imagine an isosceles triangle where the apex is the neck, where your mask will be placed, and the other two corners are on the left, where the LPI (low-pressure inflator) of your BCD will be present, and right, where there will be the clearly visible secondary regulator.