Equipment

In scuba diving no topic causes more debate then the gear needed to perform the sport. Whether you just start your adventure or are making deep technical dives on dayly basis, we dont belong under water and it shows.

I started my diving career using rental equipment during my open water and advanced open water course and later used the equipment available at my dive club. But pretty soon I wanted my gear to suit my personal needs. With 50 or so dives in my log I bought what looked like good equipment for a decent price. After a while, i was diving a nice fitting wetsuit, a simple, but comfortable weight integrated BCD and coldwater regulatorset. It was great to dive my own gear but it never felt totally right – too much gear just dangling around.

About a year ago – after another 300 dives – i tried a dive with a back plate and wing and was sold. Since then I changed a lot of my gear to the Hogartian standard and started technical training to be a more self sufficient team diver. The gear I use works for me, and if you want a discussion on BCD vs. BP/W or other gear choices, have a look on any scuba forum – there is enough to read on that matter to keep you out of the water for years. What follows is a review of the gear I use on most of my dives and what works for me – YMMV.

Exposure protection

Depending on water temperature I either dive in my Bare Artic 7mm wetsuit or my Typhoon Prosport drysuit. The first two years I even made ice dives in my wetsuit (using the body as an extra layer), but since I got my drysuit, I’ve become pretty prone to being cold 😉

The Bare Artic wetsuit fits me like a glove and with 7mm of neoprene, it keeps me nicely warm. When water temperatures become chilly – as they always are in Holland – a cap, gloves and finally the extra body piece can keep me warm enough for an ice dive. But the suit is getting thinner with each use, so now I mainly use it in the pool and in the tropics.

I bought my drysuit in the winter of 2009 and since then have been using it when water temperatures are below 18 degrees C. It’s not the most comfortable dry suit ever made, but it was cheap enough to afford as a student and it beats being cold. Under the cordura trilaminate suit I wear a Craft base layer and the Bare CT200 thinsulate undersuit. When the water temperature is below 8 degrees an extra layer is added.

Buoyency Control

I use a steel backplate and wing, rather than a conventional jacket style BCD. The steel backplate and harness provides a comfortable way for wearing both a heavy twin set or a single tank when I’m on vacation in the tropics.

When diving doubles I use the DTD Stream 20 bladder and for a single tank set up I have a Cub 15. They provide enough lift to user anything up to twin 12l. cylinders with a stage bottle or two. The backplate weighs about 3kg, taking some weight off my weight belt. On the waist belt of the harness are a small knife and my canister light.

Dive lights

As my primary light I have a battery canister on the right hip which connects to the light head by a cable. The canister is also used to route my primary regulators long hose.

tt2

The Tilly Tec TT2 battery and 35W halogen light provide 90 minutes of burn time in a focused spot to be able to communicate with my team members while providing enough spill to see my surroundings. If this light should fail, two backup lights attached to the shoulder D-rings on the harness provide plenty of light to safely end my dive.

Regulators

As most of my dives are cold water dives and regulators a prone to freezing and free flowing in these conditions, having two of them seemed to make sense. Being a rather expensive piece of kit I’m using what I started with and upgraded and adapted those regulators to fit to the Hogartian standard. I am using DIN connectors rather than A-clamps as this gives a more reliable connection.


The Mares MR22 1st stage and Abyss 2nd are my primary regulator and are connected by a 2.10m long hose which runs from the first stage to the battery canister and then up over the chest and around the neck. If a buddy should run out of gas, this regulator is donated and I switch to my backup. The backup is a Mares MR12 1st stage and Proton Metal 2nd stage that hangs under my chin – a great place to keep something you want to put in your mouth in an emergency.

Cylinders

My first cylinder was a very heavy 15l which got replaced by a long 12l one pretty fast. Not happy with this tank either i sold it again and bought a 7l twin set providing me with 14l of gas and being very comfortable under water. For most of my dives this gives me enough gas to breathe up to two hours under water, but on deeper dives it gives me too little error margin. So for those dives I use twin 12l cylinders, and although great under water, they are a pain on the surface weighing in at almost 40kg. On decompression dives another 7 liter aluminum stage tank is hanging on my left to provide me with 50% oxygen for accelerated decompression.

Instruments

When diving you want to know a couple of things: how much gas do i have left, how deep am I and how long have I been under (and how much longer can I stay down here) and where am I.

My SPG is just a simple device hanging on my left hip being checked every now and then to check if the numbers in my head match with reality. The depth and time are measured on my Mares M2 dive computer. This ugly device has proven very useful on all of my dives, both recreational as technical. I use it in computer mode and set the nitrox setting anywhere from 21% when diving air up to 36% when diving mixed gas on recreational dives and it keeps track of nitrogen in my body and tells me when it is time to go shallower or end the dive. A great tool when on holiday and diving to watch pretty fish and colorful corals. But on decompression dives the computer part is switched off to gauge mode and it tells me only how deep I am and provides a stop watch – which is all I need as I’m using tables.

My compass is a Suunto SK7 – simply the best compass there is in my oppinion and it always points north, so if I’m careful enough to keep track of where I’m heading, it can tell me how to get to the exit again.

Vins, mask and accessories

A low volume Subgear mask with a Velcro strap make sure I see where I’m going. The black skirt prevents seeing stuff that isn’t there caused by back scatter. A set of heavy rubber Scubapro Jetvins with spring straps gives me propulsion and maneuverability.

When diving there are a lot of small items that I take with me. In my drysuit pockets the are a backup mask, a backup spool, wetnotes, a surface marker buoy and spool. Sometimes also a drink goes in my pocket to have something to drink on long dives.


Happy diving!


Eén reactie to “Equipment”

  1. A bit outdated, hope to update this page soon.

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