Scuba diving is a very gear-heavy pursuit. To go diving at all, a diver needs a regulator with all its complicated valves, a weight belt, dive mask and swim fins. When diving anywhere but tropical waters, a wet suit becomes necessary, too, and the dive computer and buoyancy control device, or BCD, are standard parts of the kit as well. Beyond this, there are several useful accessories. Choosing the best gear is usually about matching need to quality since not all divers go into the same conditions. For example, a diver in Florida waters only needs a shorty wetsuit while diving off New Jersey demands a full wetsuit that is 5 to 7 millimeters thick.
Divers in cold, northern waters fear freezing within the regulator. The sudden drop of air pressure when air is released from the tank chills the mechanism, and in cold waters that can cause hazardous ice to form in the regulator, endangering air flow. The best regulator for divers in places like New England or the North Sea is the Mares Abyss 22 Extreme. It's expensive ($900 in 2009), but its Dynamic Control Flow system moderates the pressure system that causes freezing in cold water. Mares includes it as part of their standard Dry Cold Water Kit, and it is a must for cold-water scuba divers.
Dive knives are handy tools for divers, and they see plenty of work in either cutting away entanglements or disabling lost crab traps and fishing nets. The classic dive knife is the Aqualung Dive Master Knife. It is the knife recommended by the U.S. Diver's Manual, which in turn makes it the blade of choice for U.S. Navy SEAL divers. A knife does not come better recommended than that.
Many recreational divers do a little local diving to keep their skills sharp and then go on a big diving vacation every year. A good choice of BCD for this kind of diver is the Zeagle Zeus. Travel BCDs are meant mostly for warm water use; they lack the buoyant lift capacity of standard BCDs, but they are light and compact enough to be folded up in a suitcase with little fuss. That is where the Zeagle Zeus shines, weighing only a little more than 6 pounds. It does require the diver to tread water a little while waiting for pick-up in cold waters. It also tested as comfortable and comes with plenty of thoughtful features like rings for hooking on accessories and weight pockets.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.