Cutting-edge scientific inventions often eventually filter into everyday use. Switching from drum brakes in cars to disc brakes came from engineering advancements in Le Mans and Formula 1 motor racing, and the famous Nike Air sneaker, with its air-cushioned pockets, came from a partnership with a NASA engineer’s design for air-cushioned, padded astronaut helmets. The dive industry is no different. Technical divers are on the cutting edge when it comes to advanced equipment, which they use for their mission-based dive planning. Although many of the below items are already commonly used by recreational divers, it’s easy to up your wreck-diving game by following the tec divers’ lead. Here are some key pieces of tec gear for wreck divers.
If you’re using one of those big plastic (or even small plastic) bulb lights that resemble a 70’s sci-fi laser gun, it’s time to ditch it and invest in a light that has evolved from a technical/cave-diver’s kit. Lights that were developed for this style of diving tend to have longer burn times, are more energy efficient and offer a brighter output. They’re more compact and can easily be stowed in a BCD pocket or accessory pouch. Finally, they tend to be made of more durable materials, so they’re less likely to break, especially in transit. DiveRite offers a number of top-selling models, and you can even get a hand mount to make your light hands-free.
Just as with recreational lights, reels that were designed for recreational use tend to be bulkier and often have more failure points. They’re more prone to entanglement than the reels, or rather spools, favored by cave and technical divers. While SMB deployment off a spool may require a bit more finesse, a spool is less likely to tangle and is ultimately easier to deploy. Additionally, many spools are made of high quality material, such as delrin, and are less likely to break, particularly in transit.
You don’t need to be in doubles or sidemount to consider attaching a 5-foot or 7-foot (2 m) long hose to your regulator. The hose could be looped around your body if breathing as a primary, or stowed with bungees onto the tank if using as an alternate. A long hose is more comfortable for some divers if they’re sharing air in an out-of-air emergency, especially when wreck or cavern diving.
This is one piece of equipment originally favored by technical divers that we feel every recreational diver should use. Rather than having slates dangling off your BCD like Christmas tree decorations, where they can knock into corals and become entangled with your other equipment, consider replacing them with a wrist slate, which you wear over your forearm. This streamlined instrument provides data and information at a quick glance, is easily accessible, and offers multiple layers of efficiency. Divers who use these for scientific, recovery, research or mapping purposes may also add small compasses or timing devices to a wrist slate.
The traditional dive knife resembles a prop from an underwater scene of a James Bond or Rambo movie — large and aggressive-looking, and likely to be confiscated by airport security if mistakenly packed in your carry-on baggage. This style of knife can do more harm than good if not handled correctly, and can create further problems if you’re trying to free yourself from entanglement behind your body. The Z-knives and cutting shears favored by tec/cave divers are safer to handle and more functional, and you can more safely use them behind your body if you become entangled in kelp or fishing line. They’re easy to store when you’re diving, and you’ll likely be able to pass through airport security with them as carry-on items.