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Cold Water Diving pt.2

Last time around we covered exposure protection, this time around I'll be covering buoyancy control devices, regulators and computers.

Click here to read pt 1. 

While warm water gear can and will work under most cold water circumstances, there are a few things that make having a set of cold water specific gear more desirable.

Buoyancy control and weight are interlinked and inseparable in diving, and more so in cold water. Mostly because you need more weight to sink than you would in the tropics, and depending on how much you need, you might not want to have it all on your waist! Weight integration is common in the heavier, more versatile BCD’s you’ll see being used by cold water divers. A combination of weight belt and integrated weights can spread the weight you’re using more evenly on your body, taking the strain off your shoulders (especially if you’re shore diving!) and equipment. Ankle weights might be handy as well, particularly for drysuit divers, where your feet can get irritatingly buoyant at the least opportune times. Experiment with weights until you find the best combination for comfort and trim in the water. Also ensure your BCD is rated for the amount of weight you want to put in it, as repairs can become quite costly.

Regulators for cold water diving are generally a little more robust than dedicated tropical ones, and often feature designs made to limit potential freezing or icing up under most normal circumstances. In addition, they almost always balanced regulators (that’s a whole other article, just trust me, balanced is way better and safer than unbalanced). Your first stage should have at least five attachment points for hoses (2nd stage, octopus, gauges, BCD, drysuit), or more if you plan on having redundant gauges. Ensure your equipment is rated for the temperatures and depths you want to dive to before you hit the water, and you’ll save yourself and your dive buddy a lot of grief. Regular maintenance on your regulators is strongly advised, as foreign debris, normal wear from transport and storage and heavy use can contribute to failure.

Computers are becoming ubiquitous these days, with many divers having them immediately and then never looking at a table again until they decide to go pro or go tec. Most computers have working tolerances well within cold water temperatures, but it never hurts to check. If you’re planning to do ice diving or similar activities in the extreme cold, you definitely want to check your computer’s manual to ensure its rated for the dive you’re planning. If you can, pick a hardy model that can take a bit of abuse and is easily used with numb/gloved/lobster mittened hands and fingers. The last is probably the most important, since being able to work your computer is, well, essential.

That wraps up the second instalment on this series, where we’ve covered the basic equipment for cold water dives. The final article will be covering peripheral gear (lights, compasses, knives etc…), as well as some tips and tricks for pre and post dive activities plus a few things to do on your dive! Good luck and good diving!

Click here to read pt. 3

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