How do you know which scuba diving accessories are unnecessary and which are must-haves? More good news — we’ve compiled a list of the ones you’ll want to make your dives safe and enjoyable, and we even tell you where to keep them so that you can remain streamlined and keep your hands free. Here are six top scuba diving accessories you’ll want to pick up.
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy
Bottom line: if you want to be a safe diver, you’ll invest in a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB). You can deploy one from underwater to make your position known to moving boats or on the surface to request a pick up. Think they’re too cumbersome? Too complicated to use? The protection this nifty piece of equipment offers you is well worth any small inconvenience you can think of.
Your DSMB doesn’t even have to take up much space. When empty, it can be rolled into a neat little package, small enough to keep in one of your BCD pockets. If you’re lacking in pockets, you can tie it with bungee cord and clip it to your BCD.
Depending on the type of DSMB, you can orally inflate it or use your alternate air source, so it doesn’t necessitate any other extra gadgets. Well, except maybe for your…
You must attach your DSMB to a reel, otherwise it will take you with it when you send it to the surface. Some divers are happy to attach their DSMB to a ticker, but these are often only 16 feet (5 m) long, prone to entanglement and frustrating to pack up and put away. Go with a reel: it does the job, and so many others. If you want to try wreck diving, practice search-and-recovery patterns, or measure distances for mapping, you’ll need a reel. A reel comes in its own casing, and often with a double-sided clip, so all you need to do is clip it to a D-ring on your BCD. It’s also small and light enough that, as long as you stay neutrally buoyant, it won’t dangle and cause damage.
Now that you have your visual signaling device, you need an audible one — the whistle. It’s cheap; it’s tiny; and it can really come in handy when you need surface support. No need to think twice about adding the whistle to your cart. Keep it in a pocket or attached to a D-ring. It’s so small it’s can even share a ring with one of your other accessories.
A knife or cutting tool is one of those things you don’t want to need, but it’s better to have it in case you do. There are so many kinds to choose from: Big and intimidating, small and elegant, pointed tip, blunt tip, stainless steel, titanium, serrated, knives with hooks on the edge — there is surely a knife out there to suit your tastes and budget.
Keep it on your inflator hose, or secure the holder to your BCD if your BCD permits it.
If you’re thinking of going for that Lara Croft look and attaching it your leg, be warned: Water will get caught in your long suit between the two straps, and might ruin the action-hero image you were going for. Wherever you choose, just be sure you can reach your dive tool with either hand and that it stays out of your way while you dive.
A good torch, or flashlight, will serve you well on your night dives, deep dives, cave dives, wreck dives and even macro dives. Specialty diving aside, if you can do without it, leave it behind. Why crowd your BCD with accessories you won’t use? If you do need it, secure the lanyard to your hand. On day dives, you can also tie the lanyard to a higher-up BCD ring so you can easily manage it.
Slates are great for Fish ID, for surveying, for mapping, or for teaching. But there’s really no need to bring it along on fun dives. Your hand signals are plenty enough for you to communicate underwater. And isn’t that one of the nice things about diving — that it’s an escape from our chatty world? For hands-free diving, go for a flip-book slate you can keep on your arm. It’ll keep you streamlined, and even though it’s tiny, one of these will still provide ample surface area for writing.
DSMBs, reels and knives are important enough that you’ll want to have them on every dive. Flashlights and slates are examples (among many others) of accessories you might need for dives with specific objectives. Whatever you decide to bring with you, make sure that it’s not in your way, that it doesn’t dangle, and that it doesn’t alter your position underwater.