Diving equipment is equipment used by underwater divers for the purpose of facilitating diving activities. This may be equipment primarily intended for this purpose, or equipment intended for other puprposes which is found to be suitable for diving use.
Equipment which is used for underwater work or other activities which is not directly related to the activity of diving, or which has not been designed or modified specifically for underwater use by divers is excluded.
The fundamental item of diving equipment used by divers is underwater breathing apparatus, such as scuba equipment, and surface supplied diving equipment, but there are other important pieces of equipment that make diving safer, more convenient or more efficient.
Classes of underwater breathing apparatus
- Surface oriented surface supplied diving (Bounce diving), where the diver starts and finished the dive at normal atmospheric pressure.
- Saturation diving, where the diver remains under pressure in a underwater habitat or saturation spread between underwater excursions.
- Standard diving dress - mostly used in professional diving. Mainly of historical interest now.
- Airline or Hookah diving.
- "Compressor diving" - a rudimentary form of surface supplied diving used in the Philippines by artisanal fishermen.
- Recreational forms like snuba.
- Open-circuit scuba consisting of diving cylinder(s) and diving regulator(s)
- Rebreather, closed-circuit or semi-closed-circuit scuba
- Free diving or breathhold diving, where the diver completes the dive on a single breath of air taken at the surface before the dive.
- Snorkel allows breathing at the surface with the face submerged, and is used as an adjunct to free diving and scuba.
- Atmospheric diving suits and other submersibles which isolate the diver from the ambient environment. These are not considered here.
- Liquid breathing systems are extremely rare and at an early experimental stage. It is hoped that some day practical systems allow very deep diving. This is not considered here.
Underwater breathing apparatus
- Scuba equipment: Primary cylinder(s) and open circuit regulator(s), or rebreather sets. Alternative air source such as bailout bottle or pony bottle, and decompression cylinders and their associated regulators.
- Surface supplied equipment: Helmet or full face mask, bailout block, bailout cylinder and regulator.
Exposure protectionThermal, sting and abrasion protection.
- In cold water, a diving suit such as a dry suit (at temperatures of 0-10°C), a wet suit (at temperatures of 21-25°C), or a Hot water suit (surface supplied diving only) is necessary.
- Boiler suit overalls are often worn over the thermal protection suit by commercial divers as abrasion protection
- In very warm water (temperatures of 26-30°C), many types of tough, long, everyday clothing provide protection, as well as purpose made garments such as dive skins (made of lycra) and shorty wetsuits. In some cases, simple regular swimsuits are also used.
- Diving gloves
- Diving hoods
- Diving boots - With dry suits, the boots are usually integrated.
- Safety helmet for scuba diving. (Not part of the breathing apparatus. May have a built-in forehead light.
- Diving chain mail may be used as protection against bites by large marine animals
- Diver's cages may be used as protection against large predators
Equipment for dive monitoring and navigation
- Depth gauge lets the diver monitor depth, particularly maximum depth and, when used with a watch and Decompression tables, also allows the diver to monitor decompression requirements. Some digital depth gauges also indicate ascent rate which is an important factor in avoiding decompression sickness
- Pneumofathometer is the surface supplied diving depth gauge which displays the depth of the diver at the surface control panel.
- Dive Computer helps the diver to avoid decompression sickness by indicating the decompression stops needed for the dive profile. Most dive computers also indicate depth, time and ascent rate. Some also indicate oxygen toxicity exposure and water temperature.
- Diving watch is used with depth gauge for decompression monitoring on decompression tables.
- Compass for underwater navigation.
- Submersible pressure gauge, also known as a "contents gauge" is used to monitor the remaining breathing gas supply in scuba cylinders.
- Distance line can used to guide the diver back to the start point and safety in poor visibility.
Vision and communication
- Mask allows the diver to see clearly underwater and protects the eyes.
- Full face mask protects the face from dirty or cold water and increases safety by securing the gas supply to the diver's face. If it contains no mouthpiece, the diver can talk allowing the use of communications equipment.
- Diving helmets are often used with surface supplied diving. They provide the same benefits as the full face mask but provide a very secure connection of the gas supply to the diver and additionally protect the head.
- Underwater writing slates and pencils are used to transport pre-dive plans underwater, to record facts whilst underwater and to aid communication with other divers.
- Torches or flashlights are essential for safety in low visibility or dark environments such as night diving and wreck and cave penetration. They are useful for communication and signalling both underwater and on the surface at night. Divers need artificial light even in shallow and clear water to reveal the red end of the spectrum of light which is absorbed as it travels through water.
- Hand-held sonar for a diver.
In-water stabilisation and movement
- A backplate is a structure linking the buoyancy of the wing with the weight of the diving cylinders and provided with a harness of straps which secures the scuba set to the diver's back
- Buoyancy compensator, also known as Buoyancy Control Device, BCD or BC - is a back mounted or sleeveless jacket style device containing oe comprising an inflatable bladder used to adjust the buoyancy of the diver under water, and provide positive buoyancy at the surface. The buoyancy compensator is usually an integral part of the harness system used to secure the scuba set to the diver.
- Diver Propulsion Vehicle - to increase the range of the diver underwater
- Diving weighting system - to counteract the buoyancy of the diving suit and diver to allow descent. Professional divers may use additional weighting to ensure stability when working on the bottom