All scuba divers know the pointer stick by different names. Whether its shark or reef stick, muck or lobster tickle stick, they all refer to the same accessory.
The pointer stick is one of the most versatile tools you have at your disposal while diving. It’s a short stick that usually is made from non-rusting, sturdy metal of fiberglass. Some models have a noise maker like a rattle on one end to be able to produce some noise. The other end usually has a hole which allows to attach a lanyard to it to prevent any chance of loss.
There are a variety of uses for this accessory while diving. We listed them below for your reference:
The use as a pointer is pretty obvious as the name already includes the word ‘pointer’ in it. It is the primary purpose for a scuba diver.
If diving in a group or with a buddy you can point out interesting things like coral or sealife without having to get close or scaring the animal.
In many cases you might want to keep your distance to not disturb or risk your fingers when pointing sights out to others. Just think of how a moray might enjoy nibbling on your fingers. Pointing a metal stick is definitely the better idea…
If you’re making a lot of pictures under water then you soon will appreciate the use of the shark stick as a monopod. It can help with keeping yourself stable as well as supporting a heavier camera while you make a shot.
We all learn to avoid touching anything while diving. At times that’s easier said than done. Diving in caves or wrecks, it’s often impossible to avoid touching anything surrounding you.
A pointer stick can help you stay away from all surfaces so you can reduce your need to touch anything to the bare minimum. It also helps a lot to keep your distance to some nasty ‘friends’ like urchins and the likes.
If you need to touch any surface then a pointer stick usually allows to minimize the area you disturb. This is especially important if you dive in sensitive environments like corals and reefs.
Using a metal stick to bang against your metal tank is a sure way to get some attention from your buddies. Unfortunately, it also scares the fish away but in case of an emergency is the perfect way to get anyone’s attention.
Alternatively, you can get a pointer stick with a rattle. It’ll allow you to get the attention of your dive group without making too much noise. You still can bang the stick against your tank if the rattle doesn’t do the job.
One of the most annoying things happening during a dive is if you have perfect sight and then you or one of your dive buddies ends up disturbing the silt or sand on the bottom. All visibility is gone within a short period and the clear water surrounding you turns into foggy soup.
Using a pointer stick allows to disturb less area and cause less or no silt and sand to rise. It allows you to stay off the surface if you end up having trouble to stay buoyant. The best is to master buoyancy so you won’t run the risk of ending up on the surface in the first place. However, in those rare occasions where you suddenly get pulled down, the stick can help you tremendously to stay off the surface.
In strong currents a dive stick can be super helpful to allow to anchor yourself into the seabed. You won’t have to work as hard to stay in place and reduce your air consumption this way.
Be aware though that you need a sturdier model of a scuba pointer to be able to use it as an anchor. A thin pointer might bend or break and be of no use in those circumstances.
Last but not least, a shark stick can be helpful to defend yourself. This is not the primary purpose but in case of a curious shark or an aggressive fish it’s always better to have a metal stick to keep between you and the animal than trying to use your hands or diving fins.
A few quick jabs with the stick to the gills either scares the animal off or at least buys you enough time to get some distance. It certainly won’t stop an attack of a large underwater predator but it will help keep you safe against nearly all curious or territorial fish you might encounter.
The scuba pointer stick is without doubt the Swiss army knife of a divers. It is useful for many situations and should be your trusted accessory for any dive.
One thing that many new divers learn quickly is the intricacy of the swim kick. Because, while it may seem straight-forward, choosing the right swimming style is a huge asset to a successful dive, especially for filming and underwater photography.
And of all of the styles that you can learn, figuring out how to swim backwards is one of the more useful and probably one of the the trickiest techniques. After all, if when you want to get up close to reef without touching anything or if you’re interested in filming a moving object like a shark or your fellow divers from the front, you’re going to need to swim backwards. And it seems simple, but there’s more to it than just switching directions.
It’s no secret that divers can impact underwater life. Yet, for a long time, we had no idea how damaging that impact could be. It was common practice for divers to touch coral reefs, either to fulfill a curiosity or push off to change trajectory, and even to reach out to make contact with wildlife.
Of course, we now know that humans pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems as a result of this close proximity. Simply touching a reef or the fin of a passing fish can pass on deadly bacteria or inflict a critical injury. And we’re witnessing the effects of our unknowing actions. Reefs are easily damaged and do not easily recover. Marine life populations, which are already in distress due to factors like damaging fishing practices and climate change, may be increasingly vulnerable to negative human contact.
While it may be difficult to remedy the damage that has been done, divers’ commitment to ocean health can ensure that there is no further contact with these living organisms. So, when you’re getting up close and personal, you also need to know how to back out.
At first glance, this is a truly awkward kick, in which you must scoop water inward when you would otherwise push it away. It may help to think of it as the opposite of a frog kick: the motion is essentially the same. Start, then, with straight legs, flex your ankles out in a duck stance and bend your knees out or down. This motion will move water towards your torso, allowing you to slink slowly backwards.
You’ve probably done something similar with your arms, turning your palms forward and moving them away from you in order to propel yourself back. It’s a similar motion, here.
Some divers say the trick is not to overthink it. Your body instinctively knows the physics, you may just have to practice it a few times.
The advantage of this kick is that you can back out of a situation without using your hands at all. This not only keeps you from touching anything fragile, but also allows you to continue filming or taking pictures. It also allows you to back away without taking up too much space, which is helpful when you’re in a tight space like a cave or sunken ship, or are surrounded by other divers.
In other scenarios, maybe you’re not trying to back out of a tight squeeze but instead trying to get just the right shot of the fish swimming overhead. With the proper training and practice, you can actually maintain your buoyancy on your back while while also pointing the camera up towards the surface.
So, how does it work?
Tip number one: think about switching to a closed-circuit rebreather. This breathing apparatus, first designed and used for military operations as early as the 1800s, allows you to dive without intrusive bubbles being released into the water around you. Not only does it help to keep the surrounding wildlife calm, but it also allows you propel backward without finding yourself lost in a cloud of your own bubbles.
Tip two: find your buoyancy. Flipping over in the water is not exactly as easy as it sounds. You have to worry about maintaining your position while also making sure that none of your equipment is suddenly dangling too close to your surroundings. It’s probably best to try this out in an area that you know is clear and also with people who can help you out. One suggestion to help with the change in buoyancy is to lower your BCD before you flip.
Whether you’re trying to back away from a pristine underwater scene or getting up close and personal with a majestic manta ray, swimming backwards is a critical skill for your development as a diver. Not only is it useful for getting out of tight situations, it’s absolutely necessary to know how to swim backwards for your own safety and the maintenance of ocean safety.
So, get out there and start practicing your reverse kick and on-the-back swimming style!
Most people only think of scuba diving as the magical sightseeing tour under water where you somehow reach the right depth and then enjoy the sights. Barely anybody thinks of the descent to get to that depth or the ascent to come up from it.
Yet, both going down and coming up have their own safety hazards that you need to understand. Most divers experienced their ears starting to hurt when they descended too fast or that their buddy or teacher grabbed them to slow down their ascent.
A controlled and safe descent and ascent during diving is important and can prevent harm. First, we need to look at what makes both of these transitions unsafe and then we’ll show how to avoid those factors. Your dives will be safer and more enjoyable.
Let’s look at the different factors which you have to consider when diving. Most are of importance for your ascent and a few impact both your descent and ascent.
Going down or up too fast does not give your body time to adjust to the changing pressure around you. You should take your time on the way down as well as up to let your body adjust to the changing environment.
Going too fast can lead to issues when you try to equalize. The problem is that you cannot adjust the changed pressure inside your ear quick enough which leads to discomfort. Take your time and you won’t run into those issues.
Coming up too fast can lead to more serious complications, namely decompression sickness. Ascending at a rapid speed can cause nitrogen gas to build in your tissue as your body can’t release the nitrogen fast enough. The simple remedy for this is to take your time and follow the ascent rates from your dive tables or dive computer.
Another, even more serious condition potentially being caused from rapid ascents is pulmonary barotrauma. This can cause the alveoli in the lungs to rupture. Such a serious injury can be caused when ascending rapidly or when you hold your breath when coming up!
You can avoid any of these speed related injuries and sicknesses by following the rates specified in your dive tables. Alternatively, and probably even safer is to follow the ascent rates and decompression stops that your dive computer suggests.
A dive line or rope can be of great help to control the speed of your ascent and descent. It ensures that you won’t be surprised by sudden currents or other conditions that can impact your rate.
You also will stay with the rest of your dive group with no risk of drifting away and having to correct to stay in position. Another very important advantage is that you can slow yourself down during the ascent. The air in your BC will expand when the surrounding pressure from the water is reduced. This in turn will increase the speed at which you are ascending. If you hold on to a dive line you can easily control that impact and slow yourself down.
No matter what your dive tables suggest or what your dive computer says, it is a good idea to always put a safety stop at the end of your dive. Even if there’s no need for a decompression stop, it’s good practice to do a three minutes (minimum) safety stop at 15 feet.
The safety stop provides a chance for your body to get rid of nitrogen and as such to prevent any chance of getting decompression sickness or the bends. If your dive tables or dive computer require you to perform multiple safety stops or a longer one then follow these rules to reduce any chance of bodily harm!
In rough conditions or strong currents it can be problematic to perform a safety stop. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a line reaching that depth which allows you to hold on to it. Alternatively, perform your safety stop at a slightly deeper and calmer depth like 20 feet or so.
To stay safe you always should calculate your air requirements including a slow ascent and a safety stop on the way up. Don’t deplete your air with no safety when you come up. You should always have air left when you surface just to be on the safe side.
Most dive operators will require you to have a minimum air level when you return to the boat. This is good practice which can prevent injuries from having to ascend too fast due to having no air left! You’re always better off to surface with too much air left than to not have any air left while you’re still under water
The best way to both ascend and descend is to do it in an upright position. So, in both directions you want your feet to point down. It’s also important to get into this upright position when you perform a safety stop.
Using the upright position when going down or up will provide you with better control. When you’re weighted properly then it’s much easier to maintain this position. This is certainly more difficult for a novice diver and chances are that a beginner diver will have to make more adjustments with their hands and arms which can and will impact the ascent or descent rate. It also will affect the air consumption negatively if a diver has to correct continuously to stay in that position.
Stay ahead with equalizing on both going up and down. If you don’t then the pressure in your ears can cause tremendous pain. In the worst case, the pressure can cause injuries. Avoid both pain and the risk of injuries by equalizing often.
It can sometimes happen that a specific technique you try to equalize does not work. If you don’t know of alternatives then stop your ascent or descent and adjust your depth slightly into the direction you came from. Then again try slowly to rise or sink depending on what direction you’re going to.
It is prudent that you are able to equalize in more than one way. The most common technique is to pinch your nose and gently blow into it. This usually does the trick. Sometimes it’s not working though and you should be able to know of at least one other way to equalize. Click to read a guide on different techniques for equalizing.
Your nutrition and lifestyle can also impact your ability to equalize. Alcohol, tobacco and dairy can influence your ability to equalize. It is best if you would avoid these three factors before a dive.
You also should never dive if you suffer from a cold or have sinus issues or a sinus infection. It most likely will prevent you from equalizing and force you to call a dive.
Using a dive computer provides you with a trusty partner that watches out over you. It will monitor your rate during ascent and descent and alarm you if you’re going too fast.
It records all information regarding your dive and provides you with the correct rates for your ascent as well as makes sure you have correctly timed decompression stops on the way up. It’s your best chance to prevent decompression sickness and to not come up too fast from a dive.
A commonly used tool to warn others that a diver is underwater is to use a surface marker buoy. A delayed surface marker buoy is deployed while you are under water.
The risk with these devices is if you accidentally have the line of them attached to your BCD while you inflate them. The buoy will speed up to the surface and if you are attached to it, you will be dragged along at the same speed. This can very easily cause decompression sickness.
You have to know how your buoy works and make sure that the line is not attached to you during deployment. Make sure that you are also ready to immediately deflate your BCD if for whatever reason you are dragged up. This will counteract the upward movement and give you a chance to stabilize and free yourself from the buoy.
One of the ground rules is to not lose your dive buddy. Make sure you stay with him or her all the time with one exception. If your buddy is going down or up and a rapid speed then catch their attention to make them aware to slow down. Do not try to match their rapid speed!
Inexperienced divers can sometimes speed up during an ascent when they fear that they will run out of air. This will unfortunately often increase the air consumption and get them to increase the rate of their ascent. It is important to check both your own and your buddy’s air levels to reassure each other that you’re not running out of air. In the worst case you at least are able to buddy breath if one of you indeed runs low on air.
One thing you have to remember is to keep breathing when under water. Never hold your breath when you’re diving. There’s no situation during any dive in which you want to hold your breath.
This is specifically important during your ascent. If you keep your breath while you’re coming up, the air in your lungs will expand which can in the worst case rupture your lungs and cause permanent damage or have fatal consequences.
During both going down and coming up the pressure around you changes. If you hold your air then the air in your lungs will either compress or expand. This can lead to serious lung injuries. Your number one rule is to continue breathing!
Is your experience during diving that you float effortlessly through the water or is it work and struggle to stay neutral? Buoyancy control is not that easy to achieve and takes quite some experience to master. Once you master it, you’ll experience a tremendous difference under water.
Being able to stay neutral without effort makes the whole diving experience more enjoyable and also reduces your air consumption as you don’t have to work that hard.
Buoyancy Control is important as it helps you stay neutral under water. That way you neither float up to the surface nor go down to the ground. It’s one of the fundamental things you learned during your open water scuba course.
Not being able to achieve good buoyancy results in increased air consumption which in turn shortens your dive. Constantly having to work to stay neutral also means that you will get exhausted pretty fast. Being able to stay neutral through buoyancy results in a much more relaxed dive which reduces air consumption and fatigue.
Being in control of your buoyancy also helps to keep you safe. It avoids accidentally diving into corals while you swim over them. Not only does that keep you safe but also helps keep the marine environment safe.
Mastering it helps tremendously with controlling your ascent and descent rates. Good control results in going up or down at exactly the right rate which significantly reduces the risk of decompression sickness.
Lastly, you will just feel better and more confident during a dive. It’ll be effortless and you can enjoy the underwater sights instead of concentrating to stay neutral. For cave or wreck diving it is a top priority that you master your buoyancy control. Tight environments like this require your full attention and concentration on your surroundings without risking to hurt yourself on a piece of metal or rock because you can’t seem to stay neutral!
Without understanding the fundamentals it’ll be pretty impossible to master buoyancy. It’s like any other sport or activity you try to master, you have to understand the basics first. You’re trying to find the perfect balance under water.
Neutral buoyancy is the point where the weight of your body pulling you down is equivalent to the force that tries to lift you up. When you dive your own weight will drop you down to a certain depth.
When you reached that depth you’ll simply stay there with no further movement up or down. A scuba diver has more weight due to the gear and also through the weights. Which means that you will simply dive deeper simply from your weight.
You control your lift upwards through your air bladder in your BC. Pump more air into it will generate more lift which will compensate and equalize the downward pull from your weight. Achieving neutral means that the forces trying to sink you deeper equal the forces that want to lift you up.
Diving at different depths requires a different balance of weight and lift to stay neutral. Your weight is set before you dive depending on how much weight you add. The lift you control through your BC and during a dive you have to adjust the lift regularly. Mastering these adjustments allows you to go up and down effortlessly without wasting energy.
To master buoyancy you will have to master for key elements. These are weighting, trim, breath control and use of your BC. Mastering those four elements will make you a master of buoyancy.
An important factor with regards to buoyancy is correct weighting. Specifically, divers with not a lot of experience often tend to overweight.
That additional weight results in a lot more compensation required through the BCD. Requiring a nearly fully inflated air bladder to stay neutral doesn’t leave much room (or any) to compensate again at different depths.
If you are weighted correctly, then you should gently sink when wearing an empty BCD with a full tank while breathing through your regulator. The rule that you should float at eye level under those conditions is true when you’re at the end of your dive. You’ll typically be around 5 pounds lighter due to the air you used from your tank.
If you want to calculate your weight instead of trying it out then have a look at the calculator that you can find at ScubaDiving.com.
Trim refers to your position in the water. You want to achieve a flat and steady position which allows you to swim forward with no additional effort needed to keep you flat.
It’s the most efficient position in the water. Your body needs to be completely flat and your knees being bent at 90 degrees while your fins point backward. This way you have the least surface area when swimming forward.
Such a streamlined position requires in turn the least amount of power from your kicks. You achieve perfect trim through positioning trim weights on the back of your BC.
If you want to do slight adjustments under water then you actually can do that simply through breathing. Your buoyancy is impacted depending on how much air you have in your lungs.
If you want to rise a little in the water then you simply breathe in a little more air into your lungs and you will minimally rise up. The same works if you want to go down a little. You exhale more and you will go down a bit.
You can’t play this game endlessly but you can do some minor adjustments while you’re on a dive. Your lung capacity adds up to around 10 pounds of lift if you fully inhale. Learning to inhale and exhale a little while you keep your lung inflated more or less gives you a great mechanism to rise or sink just by using your breathing!
You need to be comfortable with your BCD and know how small adjustments impact your buoyancy. That is why it’s hard to get really good at buoyancy control if you use rented BCD’s. Every time you dive you will have a slightly different model and it will have a little more or less lift and you’ll have to re-learn to adjust your BCD.
One thing many novice divers confuse the inflate and deflate to match the up and down buttons you know from an elevator. If you’re at an ascent and want to maintain depth you have to release air. And vice versa if you descent and want to get neutral you have to inflate the BCD.
Knowing your BCD allows you to know how long to press the buttons for inflate and deflate. If you use rented equipment you often end up inflating or releasing air too much and then having to compensate. This not only depletes your air supply but also makes sure that you’re basically never neutral. Your depth level will look like a yo-yo going up and down around the neutral.
You can do several things to improve your skills regarding buoyancy. Most of these improvements will come slowly and you should not expect any magic improvement coming over night! Truly mastering your buoyancy will take you a while and will take experience.
Each will help to you to understand your issues and provide you with solutions to improve your buoyancy. Even if you are doing good with buoyancy it can be helpful to take such a course as a refresher and get your knowledge up to the latest and newest standard.
Depending on where your BCD’s exhaust valve(s) are located, you might not be able to completely deflate your BCD if you swim in some positions. Make sure you understand where the valves are located and what position to best have under water in order to completely deflate the air bladder.
Using your own BCD helps tremendously as you do it once and then you’re set. Diving with different BCD’s means that you have to run through this exercise every time you go for a dive!
Document all necessary information about every one of your dives. Get the basics down like location, water temperature, what wetsuit/drysuit you wore, tank weight, and certainly your body weight and how much weight you added. If you rent a BCD then also log what model it was and how it felt/handled.
Having a log simply helps you start to gain confidence in your own abilities. You can compare the information from the log and figure out what you could have improved in previous dives. It’ll also help you understand and pre-plan future dives based on data you collected!
Make sure that you do the calculations for your weighting according to where you intend to dive. Fresh water weighting results will differ from salt water calculations.
If you switch between both then make sure to adjust your ballast depending on the type of water you’ll dive in. You can assume that you will have to add a few pounds of weight if you go from freshwater to saltwater!
Your buoyancy control will improve with experience. To gain experience you will have to dive more. The more you dive and start to play with the factors mentioned above, the better you will get at controlling your buoyancy.
It will take time and require patience on your end. To specifically work on your buoyancy, you best do it in shallow water. Minor adjustments cause the biggest changes when you are in shallow water. If you get experienced and perfect in shallow water it’ll automatically provide you the same results when you dive deeper.
Buoyancy control is a skill that any diver can and should master. You have to follow some basic rules and then you have to put the time in to learn and perfect that skill. Theory will only get you so far. Go diving and practice your buoyancy control and over time you will be able to perfect it!
Rash guards over the years have become more popular for any kind of water sport including swimming. They are also known as a rashie or rash vest. A rash guard is a tight fitting piece of upper body garment that helps to prevent chaffing, rashes and can even protect from jellyfish stings.
They originally were designed for surfers so they can protect themselves from scratches and skin-irritations when continually having contact between the surfboard and their skin. Since those early uses, the rash guard has found a much wider spread use in all kinds of water sports including scuba diving and snorkeling.
Improvements have also been made in the materials that are used as you get many rash guards today with UV protection. Most common rash guards have a UPF 50+ protection but you can find some (rare) variants that protect even higher.
The UV protection is very important for both snorkelers as well as divers. During snorkeling the back of your body is exposed to sunlight and there’s a good chance to end up with a sunburn. Sunscreen can prevent that but it’s hard to get it consistently on the back.
Scuba divers appreciate the protection from UV when going out or coming in on a dive boat. Being exposed to the sun during that time can also easily lead to sunburn if you’re not careful. A full sleeved rash guard can protect you in those instances without having to worry about putting sunscreen on.
Many scuba divers also wear a rash guard under their wetsuit. This prevents any kind of skin irritation or rashes from rubbing against the wetsuit. It also provides a bit more insulation when in your wetsuit which can help to keep you a little warmer.
Furthermore, in warm environments you might opt to simply dive with the rashguard and forego to use a wetsuit when you dive. This will protect you from rashes and scratches from any kind of irritants in the water as well as stings from jellyfish and the like.
There’s a few things you might want to consider before buying a rash guard:
A word of caution on rash guards with UV protection. Check out how dense the material is when you purchase a new rash guard. You should typically not be able to see any light come through the fabric. However, after continued use over a few years you might find that you can actually see light shine through the material. That’s a pretty clear sign that you should replace your rash guard as it will not protect you effectively from UV rays anymore! Check your rash guards and maintain them like you do your other dive gear!
Gloves for scuba diving have two important roles. First, they insulate your hands from the cold. Second, and in many cases more important is that they protect your hands while you are underwater.
Diving in any temperature below your body temperature will result in warmth being sucked out of your body from the surrounding water. When was the last time you dived in 97 degree water? Right, you didn’t.
To compensate for that loss we require some sort of insulation. Otherwise, the dive will eventually end up unpleasant due to getting cold. This will affect some more than others but there are certainly enough people that start getting cold at their hands pretty quick. Even a 3 mm glove will keep your hands noticeably warmer and make the dive a better experience.
The Camaro 3 mm glove is pretty unique as the seams are bonded and welded. This makes it comfortable to wear as there are no more seams to scratch. Have a look at them.
If you haven’t tried dive gloves for a while then have a look at some of the current models. Many are seamless now which makes them a lot more comfortable to wear. There are no more scratching seams.
Another advantage of these designs is also that they are not allowing that much water to exchange between the glove and the surrounding water. This results in you being able to wear a thinner glove that keeps your hands as warm as a thick glove did a few years back!
During a dive your hands can be used quite a bit to look at things and touch your sights. That’s not so true if you’re staying above a coral reef but if you for example explore a wreck you will use your hands to touch and feel.
The Seavenger 1.5mm Mesh Reef Water Sports Gloves offer basic protection under water. They are very thin which makes it easy to use your fingers and hands while knowing that they are protected!
Many items under water have sharp edges. In addition, quite a few living creatures have stingers, teeth, etc. Scuba gloves can offer a great protection against all of these possible harmful situations.
A dive won’t be pleasant if you get stung or scrape your hand or fingers. A simple dive glove that’s designed to protect your hands can make a difference whether you have to call a dive or not. Most of these protective dive gloves are only 1 or 2 mm thick which makes them very comfortable to wear.
Protective dive gloves won’t help much with keeping your hands warm. Their job is to keep them safe from scratches, cuts and stings in warm water. These types of gloves offer reinforced areas to protect your fingers and palms. The materials used in those areas will also allow for a good grip. The rest of the glove is mostly just simple neoprene to offer protection and a little bit of insulation.
The Lemorecn Neoprene 1.5mm Diving Gloves Five Finger Glove is a nice glove that also suits women. Women do typically have much smaller hands so make sure to get one that fits your hand. Check them out!
We already had a look at the differences in fins with regards to the paddles. You can get split fins or regular (paddle) fins based on your preferences and where you intend to dive.
Another distinguishing factor for dive fins is whether they are open-heel or full-foot fins. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and depending on your dive needs you will usually prefer one over the other.
The style of fins and how they fit your foot are one of the most important things when it comes to your level of joy you experience during a dive. If the fins don’t fit as well as they could then they could ruin your dive in an instant.
It is therefore important that you find the perfect fins for you and then make sure to keep them around. It’s hard to achieve that if you need to use rental gear. Different dive shops around the world will not always have the type of fin you want for rent. Test out a few different kinds and then purchase the fins that you like best.
Scuba diving fins are an essential part of your scuba gear as they transfer the power of your kicks to propel you forward. Fins have a huge impact on your dive experience and you should make sure to have the best possible pair. They also help you to maneuver under water and as such they do have to fit perfectly and comfortably.
Many recreational divers opt initially for full-footed fins. They are somewhat simpler to use as you step your foot into a foot pocket that acts like a shoe. It sits tight around your foot and connects it with the fins.
These types of fins don’t require you to wear dive boots or similar. Your feet are barefoot and the foot pocket wraps around your foot. This usually is very comfortable to wear and provides an excellent feel for your kicks and maneuvering.
There is a downside to those barefoot fins though. They work very well in warm waters but your feet will be quite cold if you wear such fins in colder waters. Usually if the water around you gets below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your feet will let you know pretty quickly that they don’t appreciate the coldness very much.
Another disadvantage is that some full-foot fins put a lot of pressure on the top of your foot and your toes. This can and will get uncomfortable after a while and can lead to blisters or even cramps. Many divers to switch to open-heel fins when they gain more experience and/or dive in more diverse environments that range from warm to colder waters.
Open-Heel fins are also called strap fins. Modern open-heel fins offer easy-to-adjust straps or bungee cords. In both cases the adjustment is no hassle at all anymore.
Many divers, when they gain more experience and want to dive deeper and in colder water switch to open-heel fins. You can keep your feet warm in nearly any temperature by simply wearing thicker or thinner dive boots.
When buying open-heel fins you need to take into consideration that you might wear thicker dive boots which will require more space in the foot pocket. The foot with the boots should fit tight yet comfortable into the foot pocket.
New designs of open-heel fins offer bungee straps or spring straps. These are basically automatically adjusting the fit without the need to adjust them.
Another advantage of open-heel fins is that you will often have a better feel in them compared to full-footed fins. Many divers report that their propulsion improved from using these fins and that they maneuver more easily due to a tighter bond between your food and the fin.
A last advantage is that the straps on most quality open-heel fins can be replaced. This sounds like something you could simply ignore but if you ever rip the foot pocket of a full-foot fin or the strap on a ‘cheap’ open-heel fin breaks and you have to replace the fins instead of just the strap, it becomes quite an advantage.
Open-heel fins are overall the better choice. Get high-quality fins where you can exchange the straps if needed and you’ll be set for years to come.
If you just start out then rent a few different kinds of fins until you find the type that you have the best feel in. That way you know exactly what is best for you and you can buy the best fins for yourself that match that type.
Dry boxes have many uses. Not only for diving or snorkeling but pretty much for anything where you want to protect something from the outside condition.
When it comes to diving or snorkeling then you usually want to protect electronics from the water. This could be your car keys, cell phone, or other electronics you might have.
Many times you can leave those items behind on a boat or the beach so they can’t get wet. It can be a bad idea though to leave your valuables behind specifically when you’re snorkeling and you enter the water from the beach. Unfortunately, it happens more often than we want to believe that valuables get stolen in such a situation.
A dry box not only keeps your items dry and allow you to take them with you (at least the smaller ones) but also protects your items from damage through accidentally dropping them on a rock or exposing them to too much UV light. Your valuables in the dry box are safe from such exposure and from breaking on a rock as they are protected.
You can get dry boxes in all shapes and sizes. Some are very specific for one use, like for example a waterproof case for your GoPro camera. One wouldn’t really think of such a housing as a dry box but it certainly is exactly that.
Others are generic in their shape and not designed for a specific use. You can find small dry boxes that are useful to keep your car keys, cell phone and cash safe while you snorkel or dive. Others are designed to protect your camera during transport. You will usually have to get specific inserts for your device or get inserts that you can adjust so they fit around your items.
Larger dry boxes can be useful to protect some of your dive gear or larger electronics you might take with you. These larger sizes require you to add foam inserts to fit the box for the items you want to store in it.
In addition to foam inserts you can also use a lid organizer for your dry box. These attach to the inside of the lid of the dry box and offer a variety of mesh pockets which you can fill with small items. This is a great way to maximize the storage space within your dry box while keeping everything organized and neat.
Some dry box brands like Pelican also offer specific dry box dividers. These make it easy to keep your items separated in the dry box while keeping everything neatly organized. The padding also keeps your valuables safe in case you drop the dry box.
You can practically find a dry box for any size and use you can imagine. If you need anything to be kept safe then you can get a waterproof and shockproof container for it. Larger sizes get harder to move around and many of those have wheels to make it easier to maneuver them.
There are even specific dry boxes for laptop computers and tablets to keep them safe from the sand and water when you bring them to the beach. These work well to keep your computer dry and free from sand while allowing you to use it whenever necessary.
Dry boxes are dry to a certain extent. Most are not qualified and designed to be used for scuba diving. You can usually take them for a snorkel trip but when you dive to deeper depths then your dry box can get leaky and wet pretty fast.
Smaller containers for ID cards, etc. are usually safe to use for a dive. Larger dry boxes simply are impractical due to their size. Never mind that they would eventually let water in.
All quality dry boxes do a good job in protecting the inside from sand and splashing water and UV rays. Customize your dry box(es) the way you need them to maximize protection for your valuables inside. It often makes more sense to get two smaller dry boxes to separate your valuables instead of getting a large container that holds everything. The smaller boxes are usually easier to handle and less items in the box typically keeps them safer as they won’t crash into each other!
An alternative to a bulky dry box can also be to use a waterproof bag when you snorkel or dive. These are easier to handle when you're snorkeling or diving.
Have you ever thought that the most important property of a good dive fin would be its color scheme? No? Good. Unfortunately, quite a few other divers seem to think that they should buy scuba gear based on it looking good, giving boasting rights or just have a pretty color. That certainly is also true for scuba diving fins.
Besides the attractiveness of the fin, another popular misconception is that a harder and inflexible fin will provide better power and you’ll be able to go faster or need less energy. That’s far from the truth though. Stiff blades on your fins will actually often increase the resistance and make it harder to dive with them.
After all, diving has nothing to do with speed. You’re not down there to have races with your buddies or try to outswim fish. The joy is to explore the life under water and to have a chance to take in the sights.
The flexibility of the fins does have a huge impact on your air consumption. Stiff blades will actually make you work harder and as such force you to burn through your air faster. As we all know, that’s a bad thing as we’re striving to conserve energy and with that extend the time we can be under water.
In turn that means that the goal is to find the most efficient fins. Not the hardest ones which you might think would be the most powerful ones. Renting fins from the dive shop often results in getting not the best fins you could have. They can shorten your dives and take quite a bit of joy from your dives. Get a pair of good dive fins that fits you and your diving style best. Check out our Scuba Fin Buying Guide as well as our 10 best scuba dive fins.
There’s a few things you have to consider when you want the best fins for yourself. The first is that you should get fins that fit your body size. It doesn’t make sense to get extra-long fins when you’re barely over five feet. Otherwise you will need to put a lot of unnecessary muscle into your kicks which will exhaust your air supply faster or cause cramps.
Next make sure that your fins will fit you correctly. If they are loose on your feet then you have a good chance to end up with chafes or blisters on your feet. In that case you might also end up losing a fin on a dive.
Make sure you pick a pair of good dive fins that fit you tight. You will have an easier time maneuvering while needing less air. It will make your dive a lot more enjoyable!
Are you always the one diver in a group or with your buddy that runs out of air the fastest? If you often end up being the one to end a dive first then check out the tips below that will help you reduce your air consumption during diving. Have a look at what you can do to change that situation.
You might be wondering why it even is important to make your air last as long as you can. Well, if you need less air then that means you can enjoy longer bottom times and maximize your overall dive time. Also, you don’t want to be the one diver that has to admit that you have the lowest amount of air left after a dive.
The most important reason is that you’ll end up having bragging rights back on the boat when you are having the most air left in your tank. Just kidding…
If you consume less air then you can dive longer. Or, you have a larger safety margin compared to other divers. Both are good and important enough reasons to start working on your air consumption.
Diving in a group with a guide can also have its problems for the diver with the highest air consumption. Your guide will usually require the diver that reaches 1000 psi first to let him or her know so that the group can be brought up safely again. Nobody wants to be that first diver that ends the dive for all.
You have three choices when you are that diver though. First, you can let the guide know. That’s the reasonable thing to do at that time. Second, you can lie and put yourself at risk because you don’t want to be the one that ends the dive for all. That’s not such a smart choice. Third, you can work on consuming less air so that you’re not the guy calling the dive in the future!
There’s pretty much one factor that you unfortunately cannot change which determines air consumption. It’s the size of your body.
If you are 5 feet tall (short) and weigh 95 pounds then you certainly need less air than a 6’5 guy that weighs 250 pounds. Nature is just like that. There’s pretty much nothing you can do to change that part of the equation.
Now, if you are seriously overweight and completely out of shape then it’s pretty obvious what you can do yourself. Lose some weight and get some exercise onto the menu and you will see steady progress with regards to requiring less air during a dive.
There’s a number of factors that you can control and influence. There’s a few categories in which you can directly impact your air consumption.
These three major areas are usually under your control. There might not be instant ‘fixes’ but over time you can improve in those categories to reduce your air consumption.
Check out our tips below on what you can do to reduce your air consumption during a dive.
Check your scuba gear regularly for leaks. If you see bubbles or hear a hissing noise then it’s time to find out where the leak is. Even if you don’t see a leak yourself, make sure that you have your gear checked regularly.
Ask your dive buddy to check behind you to find whether a tiny stream of bubbles is escaping from a worn-out O-ring. Also check that your mask sits tight and seals well. Lastly, make sure that your octo doesn’t drain air unnecessarily.
Tiny leaks are normal. Your gear will never be completely leak free and you don’t have to worry about those tine air escapes. Larger leaks can put you into danger and you will end up running out of air faster than what you’d expect.
It’s a good idea to prepare your gear in advance and to arrive early at the dive site or the boat early. Getting to the dive site or boat late results in you running and carrying your gear at a fast pace which in turn means you’ll be out of breath by the time you get to dive.
Knowing that you have everything you need and that you have time to spare gives you time to relax which means you will not be frantic and anxious at the time you jump in the water. Being calm and relaxed reduces your need for air tremendously and lets you enjoy your time under water longer.
Consider the dive you’re going on and only pack the gear you really need. Do you need a dive light? A spare snorkel? All of your other little gadgets? If not, then don’t bring them. Try to pack anything you have to bring close to your body instead of having it hanging off the O-ring of your BCD.
Anything you do not have to bring and that is not essential to have will slow you down. It’ll hang off of your BCD and you end up being anything but streamlined. Imagine how fast a shark would swim if he’d have a ton of items hanging off of him! Leave at home what you don’t need and keep all other items tight to your body if anyhow possible.
Also make sure that Octo’s and other gear it tightly connected to your BCD and stays in place and is not dangling off of your body/BC. Keep hoses as short as possible. Make sure your console is close to your body.
Once you think about it, it becomes pretty obvious that fins will have a huge impact on your air consumption. Cheap fins often are simply not as efficient in transferring your kick into forward motion and the result is that you have to kick harder and/or more to get moving. Good fins will significantly reduce the amount of energy spent on kicks to propel you in the water. The result is less air spent and a more enjoyable dive. Check out the Scuba Fin Buying Guide for information on good fins as well as our overview of the Best Fins for Scuba Diving!
Make sure that all your scuba gear gets the maintenance required. Not only through checking for leaks but by simply making sure that all equipment is cleaned as well as overhauled on schedule. For example your regulator should regularly be overhauled and cleaned. This will make it easier to breathe and as a result you don’t waste air when breathing.
You also want to keep gear up-to-date. Technology is evolving and you can find regulators that require less work when breathing compared to your old regulator from 15 years ago. That doesn’t mean that you need to replace all your gear every couple of years but it does make sense to keep an eye on new product introductions that could make your dives easier and more comfortable and as such reduce your air consumption.
There are many ways to exercise breathing and to learn to calm yourself and relax. Being relaxed and knowing how to breath efficiently will help you a lot to reduce your air consumption while you dive.
A great way to practice both at the same time is to start to meditate. Just spend a few minutes a day sitting in silence and then directing your focus on your breathing. You’ll quickly figure out to calm yourself faster and to control your breathing even in anxiety provoking situations!
Keep up with continuing your education by taking various dive courses and refreshers. It will make you feel more confident in your abilities and you’ll be more comfortable when you dive.
Feeling more accomplished through passing more exams will grow your confidence. These courses will provide you with the technical knowledge to be a better diver. The increased knowledge and confidence will calm you under water and reduce your air consumption.
Being in better physical shape obviously helps. You reduce your weight and need less oxygen to keep yourself moving. Try to do some exercises that are specifically designed for diving.
Think of walking up a hill. If you’re not in shape you’ll end up huffing and puffing. If you are physically fit then your breathing will be more shallow and you require less air. The same is true if you are diving and have to work hard to get through a current. Keep yourself in shape and reap the benefits by being able to dive longer with less air.
It should be pretty obvious that alcohol and parties don’t mix very well with diving. Starting a dive after you drank too much the evening before is not only dangerous, it will also require you to consume more air as you are fatigued instead of being rested.
Not having enough rest will result in your body being exhausted and you will automatically require more oxygen even if you’re not moving at all. Having a good night of sleep before a dive will make you feel refreshed and relaxed. You’ll dive calmer and on less air.
The more experience you gain, the more confident you will be. Feeling ‘at home’ in the water will result in you being calmer which in turn leads to less air consumption.
It is a known fact that inexperienced divers burn through their air supply much faster than divers with experience. Being inexperienced leads to being nervous which leads to breathing faster and harder. By simply diving more you’ll gain the experience to lose your nervousness and to breath calmer.
When you’re swimming on the surface then switch from your regulator to your snorkel. Breathe surrounding air instead of emptying your tank. If you end up swimming in choppy water then make sure that you have a dry snorkel to use. It’ll keep the water out while you conserve air. You’ll be surprised how much longer you’ll be able to stay underwater by using a snorkel when you’re on the water.
Trying to swim fast during a dive will cost you a ton of energy. It’s exhausting to go fast under water. If you double your speed you will increase your drag by a factor of four and need up to eight times the energy. That additional energy requires a lot more air than taking it slow and enjoying your dive. Slow and steady is the name of the game that allows you to surface last and with the most air left.
Well, not literally but keep your arms close to your body. Streamlining under water and using your fins to propel you forward will reduce drag and reduce the energy you need to dive. Using your hands to swim is pretty ineffective. Simply compare the size of your hands with your fins. Which will get you moving?
Yes, you want to dive but the deeper you go the more air you consume. Remember that from your first dive course? You often get a better view on a coral reef or other sights when staying a few feet higher than the rest. And surprisingly, you’ll be the one consuming a lot less air.
When you’re crossing over some uninteresting area then go more shallow to cross in order to save air. Swimming over a section of bare send is as ‘interesting’ when you’re doing it at 15 feet vs. 30 or 40 feet. You won’t miss anything but you’ll extend your time under water to be able to see the things that are worth seeing.
Somehow divers have the tendency to blow off lots of air during a descent. There’s a lot of air wasted when equalizing or clearing your ears and blowing off air at that time. Try to reduce the amount of air you blow off when clearing your ears and you’ll be able to dive longer.
Many divers end up diving with too much weight. At that moment you have to fill your BC with more air to be neutral and that unnecessarily sucks air out of your tank.
In addition, the BC gets bulkier and produced more drag which in turn means that you need more air to dive. Optimize your weight to the minimum amount necessary and you’ll enjoy a longer and less strenuous dive.
When you master to keep neutral buoyancy then you need less adjusting with your fins to maintain a constant depth. You conserve a lot of energy that way and won’t constantly fight to keep off the bottom or float to the surface.
In neutral buoyancy you glide between fin strokes and stay at the same depth without effort. It makes the dive more enjoyable and prevents you from burning through your air.
Try to adjust your trim so your body points in the direction you want to go. If you swim forward then make sure your body stays horizontal. That way your head and shoulders break your body through the water and your legs and fins don’t have to fight water resistance. The less water you disturb the less air you need.
When you’re cold you will consume more air. Your body spends energy on staying warm which requires oxygen. If you wear a wetsuit that matches your dive parameters then you’ll stay warm and your body doesn’t need to spend the energy to heat up.
Don’t forget that even in ‘warm’ water your body will lose temperature and work hard to keep you warm. If you’re diving in anything less than 95’ish degree water then the surrounding water will take heat out of your body.
Getting or being cold will also cause you stress which in turn often increases the rate of breathing. Most people simply get mentally stressed when they get cold. You not being relaxed and your body trying to stay warm will use a lot of air.
Don’t get in the habit of taking short shallow breathes. Slow and deep breathes allow to get more oxygen to your lungs and into your body. Breathing shallow creates fatigue resulting in you breathing heavier and more.
This comes back to your breathing exercises. Slow and deep like you meditate or like you’re doing yoga. It provides your body with the necessary oxygen without wasting air.
Enjoy your dive. Don’t obsess over things that are out of your control and don’t get into the water when you’re stressed out. Chill out and relax. Enjoy the ride and when you’re under water just chill out and have a good time. Don’t obsess with your breathing, your trim, etc. Any obsession with any of these things will lead you to get anxious and stressed which will increase your rate of breathing.
Plan your dive ahead of time. You can’t plan everything but plan the outline and be confident that you can master it. This will automatically reduce your anxiety level and reduce your breathing. Play through the dive in your head ahead of time and you’ll run into less surprises. Less surprises means you’ll stay calmer and you won’t burn through your air.
A good way to figure out where and when you start to breathe heavy and burn air is by using an air integrated dive computer. Most of those will record your air consumption with each sample taken.
This allows you to analyze where and when you started to consume more air. Knowing the situations where it happens will either allow you to avoid those circumstances or to be mentally prepared when the happen. That preparedness will result in you staying calm and not starting to increase your air consumption.
Just keep those tips and recommendations in mind for your next dives. You don’t need to follow all of them to improve your air consumption. Just start with one or two and see how it goes. Get small wins by following a one or two of the suggestions and you’ll end up being able to dive longer than before. Eventually, you’ll master many of these suggestions and be the diver that outlasts your buddies or has the most air in the tank at the end of the dive.
Most important though: Have fun and enjoy your dives!