Updated: January 2019
I use my dive gear a lot. It all needs to be as light as possible, and extremely reliable. I don’t want to have to think about it while I’m underwater – I want it to do its job, so I can do mine. With that in mind, I try to buy good gear in the expectation that it will give me years of trouble-free operation.
In case you were wondering, or if you’re looking for equipment recommendations, this is what I’ve settled on:
This was the first BCD I’ve had that doesn’t have a backplate, to reduce weight. I love it. It wraps around me, and it’s far more comfortable than most BCDs, especially if I’m diving in the tropics and just wearing a rash shirt. It feels a bit like I’m being gently spooned the whole dive…
I also like having pockets and things, as I often have gear in them. I know a lot of people like wings for the trim assistance, but I’m often sitting quite upright in the water (or head-down) while I’m working or taking photos, so I still prefer a jacket-style BCD.
This was a new purchase in 2017, based on the recommendations of a lot of my friends – many of whom use Apeks regulators for tech diving, or in their dive centres because of their reliability. It’s been perfect for me.
Apparently, the Apeks regulators are all pretty much the same inside, there are just cosmetic differences between them. If you don’t care about shiny chrome exteriors, you can get one of the cheaper models, like I did ðŸ™‚
These are my go-to diving fins, and they’re quite good for free-diving too. They’re stiff, powerful, and no-nonsense all-rounders. They’re wide for their length, so they can push a lot of water when you need to move quickly.
Excellent for chasing whale sharks around. The LD stands for “long distance”, as these are more flexible than most fins that are designed purely for free-diving. If you’re going to be doing a lot of snorkelling on the surface, with some dives too, these fins are brilliant. They allow you to keep up a fast snorkel speed without getting tired.
They’re also okay for diving. I wear them a lot when I’m working, or trying to photograph large animals in current. I switch to the Reaction Pro’s if I’ll be doing a lot of macro or reef photography, though, as they make it easier to do subtle corrections in posture.
Great mask. Excellent visibility. Fairly low-profile, too, which makes them fine for the amount of free-diving I do.
The snorkel you get can make a huge difference to your whole experience. I’ve used one of these for years, they’re awesome. You don’t get anywhere near as much water coming in as you will with an inferior snorkel.
Warm, stretchy, comfortable. Winner. The selling point is that the “reactive” material makes them relatively warm, i.e. a 5 mm feels like a 7 mm. They’ve certainly got excellent seals.
When my old computer finally died in 2017, I decided to go for a major upgrade. I asked for recommendations from my experienced diver friends, and Shearwater kept coming up as a great option. I’m really glad I bought this computer. It was expensive, but it’s just so nice to use. The air integration works perfectly, too.
If you’re a long way from home, having one of these in your BCD pocket is a really good idea.
Protect your feet! I like full-foot fins, as I think they’re more powerful and comfortable, but wearing some foot protection is still a good idea.
The gift of warmth, for next time we get two weeks of rain and cold water on a research expedition (I’m looking at you, Galapagos 2017).
For sunnier times. It’s an Australian company, but it’s important not to be racist against Australians.
Though it can be pretty funny:
“They’re like, where’s the car?”
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I write a few articles just for my mailing list. They normally focus on something interesting, and possibly hilarious, that I've learnt about sharks (or other random animals) that week. There may also be groan-inducing jokes.
Real talk: there will be groan-inducing jokes.