When you look at a professional scuba diver, the first thing you notice is all the gear he or she is wearing when they hit the water. There are different types of equipment, some needed for certain types of diving, and others needed for different dive trips. So what exactly is underwater scuba gear, and what is its purpose?

Categories of Dive Equipment

Anywhere there is water is a potential dive site. What type of underwater diving equipment you need will vary based on the dive environment. There are four general categories of dive equipment. Some items, such as a dive mask, can be used in all categories.

• Technical diving scuba equipment: This equipment is used by highly trained, experienced divers when they explore environments that are outside the normal sphere of recreational diving.
• Cold-water scuba equipment: You’ll need this for diving in water cooler than 15ºC/60ºF.
• Temperature scuba equipment: This equipment is for diving in water that is moderate in temperature, usually cooler than 24ºC/75ºF.
• Tropical scuba equipment: If you’ll be diving in warm, clear water with temperatures of 24ºC/75ºF and up, you’ll need this type of equipment.

Here’s a comprehensive list of general underwater diving equipment and a short explanation of what it is used for:

1. Mask:

This lets you explore the underwater world with your eyes. You’ll want a good quality mask that fits your face.

2. Snorkel:

A piece of personal equipment, it works closely with your mask. The mouthpiece fits inside your mouth and lets you breathe while you’re looking below the surface. You use your snorkel until you’re ready to submerge with your scuba gear.

3. Fins:

The activity you’re planning determines what type of fins you’ll need: swimming, snorkeling, free diving, or body surfing.

4. Buoyancy Control Device (BCD):

When you think about scuba diving underwater, you are essentially weightless. It is only through the use of a buoyancy control device (BCD) that you’re able to hover eye to eye with a fish. Your BCD needs to fit well and include a weight system to fine-tune your buoyancy. The BCD also houses your tanks.

5. Weight system:

Most people will float if left to their own devices. To descend into the depths, you’ll need a weight system to offset this tendency of floating. You’ll need to adjust your weights to obtain just the right amount that lets you sink slowly.

6. Regulator:

This is the device that delivers air from your scuba tank to your lungs, in just the right amount and mixture that you need in order to breathe.

7. Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG):

this device displays for you how much air there is remaining in your tanks. This way you can end your dive well before your air gets too low.

8. Dive computer:

Dive computers are used by most scuba divers because of their convenience. A dive computer will provide dive information and let you know how much dive time you can safely endure.

9. Dive watch:

These aren’t as important as they once were, thanks to the introduction of the dive computer. A good dive watch can serve as a backup dive timer.

10. Dive knife:

This general tool for scuba divers is handy to have in case you encounter entangling fishing line, or to rap on your tanks to get your buddy’s attention.