Stay warm with a scuba wetsuit
To make your dive as easy and as comfortable as possible, choose a well-insulated wetsuit that fits your body and lets you breathe and move about easily. Most wetsuits are made of neoprene, a material that compresses and becomes less insulated the deeper you dive. If you plan to dive in deeper, colder waters, consider a thicker wetsuit. While a 1/8-inch thick neoprene suit is fine for 70-degree (or warmer) waters, a 3/8-inch thick suit is ideal for water with temperatures between 35 and 65 degrees.
Dry suits: Dry suits with seals and straps at the neck, wrists, and ankles keep out excess water. Most are designed for use in water colder than 60 degrees and on deeper dives. You may want to add a hood and booties if you venture into waters below 50 degrees.
Full-length wetsuits: A full-length wetsuit covers your arms and legs to the wrists and ankles. Scuba divers typically wear them in 65- to 72-degree waters.
Full suits: One-piece full suits enclose you from the neck to the ankles (some are available with shorter legs). Scuba divers typically wear them in 60- to 65-degree waters.
¾ wetsuits : Short-sleeved, ankle-length, ¾ wetsuits are one-pieces worn in 72- to 80-degree waters.
Shortie: Shorties are short-sleeved, short-legged, one-piece wetsuits worn in 72- to 80-degree waters.
See underwater with a scuba diving mask
Consider size and construction when purchasing a scuba mask.
Scuba mask sizing: Masks are available in small, medium, and large sizes with smaller masks delivering the tightest seal. Low-volume scuba masks offer less distortion and greater peripheral vision, while double-flanged face seals keep your mask even more water- and airtight.
Scuba mask construction: Most scuba masks are made of durable, lightweight plastic and non-allergenic silicone masks. Manufacturers often employ distortion-free tempered glass for lenses. Both single- and double-lens masks are available (the latter offer enhanced peripheral vision).
Fit your scuba fins
If you’re male, use your usual shoe size when choosing scuba fins. If you’re female, subtract one-half to two sizes from your usual shoe size. Next, pick a model ideal for your body type: larger, stiffer fins are best for divers with strong legs and hips, while the smaller, flexible fins are ideal for smaller divers. Both open-heel and full-foot fins are available.
Open-heel scuba fins: Open-heel scuba fins are worn over neoprene booties.
Full-foot scuba fins: Full-foot scuba fins are worn over bare feet or thin Lycra or neoprene socks. They are not designed for use in water colder than 70 degrees, near coral reefs, nor in other potentially abrasive settings.
Take the Pressure Off With Scuba Tanks
Packing sufficient air and monitoring its pressure are crucial when you scuba dive.
Choose a scuba tank
Your scuba tank should be lightweight, yet roomy enough to hold all the air you need on your dive. A 50 to 63 cubic foot tank is sufficient for shallow diving; the 80-cubic-foot tank is best on deeper (130-foot) excursions. There are also 100-cubic-foot tanks available for “heavy breathers” as well as pony bottles of 40 cubic foot or less (used as a backup air supply).
Regulate your airflow
Scuba tanks contain high-pressure air that must be converted to breathable air by scuba tank regulators. Monitoring your air pressure is an important prevention against the bends. Be sure to choose a hose and mouthpiece ideal for your use.
Buy buoyancy compensators (BC)
The buoyancy compensator (BC) keeps you and your tank afloat at varying depth levels. Pick a BC ideal for your size, shape, and diving style and test its valves and vents before use.
Accurately calculate decompression time
Dive computers track your decompression time at various diving depths, as well as stop times, breathing rates, total dive time, and other crucial information. Some even sound alarms when problems occur.