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So, you’re going on a diving holiday. Scuba diving in clear blue tropical waters, nice! But how do you pack for a scuba diving holiday? What should you bring? We’ve put together a comprehensive overview of the best dive equipment for travel, so you don’t forget anything important and can focus on the most important part of your holiday: looking forward to it.
When traveling with your scuba equipment, it’s always a challenge to fit everything in your luggage and still stay within the airline’s weight limit. Now that checked luggage is getting more and more expensive and the airlines are decreasing the size and weight of carry-on bags, the weight and dimensions of dive equipment are becoming more important for traveling divers. Obviously, the best scuba gear for travel has to be compact and lightweight, but it’s also very important that it functions well. A super lightweight BCD doesn’t do the trick if it’s flimsy and has too little lift capacity, and super small and lightweight fins are great but they have to provide enough thrust for you to dive comfortably. So what’s the best dive gear for travel?
Best regulator for travel
Your regulator is the most important piece of your dive equipment. It’s what keeps you breathing. So we always bring our regulators, even if we’re traveling very lightweight. Even though our regulators are fairly small and light, they still weigh 5.5lbs (2,5kg) each. This doesn’t seem much, but take two and that’s 11lbs (5kgs) right there. With all dive equipment getting smaller and lighter, there also some awesome choices for lightweight regulators. The Zeagle F8 for instance only weighs 2.6lbs (1,2kg).
The best travel BCD
A BCD is an essential part of your dive gear. And while you can rent it (as you can all your dive equipment) at your diving destination, unless we’re backpacking and traveling very lightweight I usually prefer to take my own. Now, what type of travel BCD you need depends on what travel you do. Are you going backpacking or staying in one place? Can you make do with just a few t-shirts and shorts or do you need to bring more? My partner has the Zeagle Express Tech BCD and that’s so compact we can easily fit it in our backpack. I really like that it’s also very durable. And since it’s a one size fits we can both use it. If you prefer a jacket style BCD perhaps the Cressi Ultralight or Cressi Travelight are more to your liking.
Best dive computer for travel
The best dive computer for travel, now that’s a bit of a no brainer right? As small and compact as possible with the option to switch to Nitrox. If it has a user replaceable battery that’s even better. I love my Suunto D4i dive computer watch, but it’s a pain that I need to take it to a Suunto service center to have the battery replaced. Of course, batteries last a long time, but at some point you’ll need a new one, usually while you’re on holiday or just about to depart. The dive computers below all have user replaceable batteries. Check out our comprehensive with lots of info on how to choose a dive computer that’s right for you.
Best mask for travel
Snorkel gear is becoming more and more compact. Frameless dive masks fit in a box half the size of a common mask box so they really are the best masks for travel. Not to mention that they’re very comfortable with super soft silicone skirts and have a great fit. They’re all mono-lens masks which I always prefer over a two-lens mask.
Best snorkel for travel
I really don’t like a snorkel dangling next to my face when I’m diving. And I think I’m not the only scuba diver to feel this way. When I was a newbie diver I always used to bring one and it was actually quite useful sometimes. So how about these foldable snorkels? These really are the best travel snorkels. I love how they just roll up or fold so you can get put them in your BCD pocket.
Best fins for travel
I have open heel Mares Avanti fins and while they’re awesome for diving, they’re not great travel fins. It’s no problem when we bring our dive luggage as it has side pockets for fins. But often you have to pay extra for your dive gear and we prefer a bit more anonymous luggage. Of course bringing my Avanti’s means I also have to bring my boots, because they can’t be worn without. Fortunately, nowadays there are great open heel travel fins you can wear with bare feet. Perfect! I really need to get a pair for myself. And for my partner come to think of it, his Mares Volo fins really need replacement.
Best wetsuit for travel
Don’t you just hate trying on wetsuits? Especially when it’s hot and you’re a bit sweaty it’s such a pain to wriggle yourself in. It’s a bit less awkward with shorties, but still. And being short with generous hips I can never find one that fits properly and you never know how well they’ve been cleaned. Scuba diving just makes you need to pee, simple biology. So I prefer to bring my own wetsuit for travel. Of course, for diving at a tropical destination, a 3mm shorty is fine.
Best dive bag for travel
If you’re going on a dedicated dive holiday, why not take a dive gear trolley? It makes life so much easier. With the compact travel dive gear available, there will be plenty of space left for some clothes and toiletries. We took our dive trolley half way accross the world for 10 months and although the handle broke at some point, the bag itself is still fine. It seems like quite an investment to buy one, but they’re so durable. So we’d recommend a trolley, unless of course you plan to go for daily boat dives, in that case a duffle might work better for you. For divers that like to travel light, the Globetrotter dive gear backpack by Ankona looks pretty awesome too.
Best dry bag for travel
Dry bags are not only great for scuba diving, but also for kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, white water rafting, boat tours and any other activity where you want to keep your stuff dry. It’s a must-have item on your diving holiday packing list and the perfect gift for scuba divers.
Best underwater camera for scuba diving
We all take lots of pictures while on holiday. Wouldn’t it be great if you could photograph the underwater world as well? I have a Canon Powershot G16 with Fantasea underwater housing and love it. Underwater photography really adds a new dimension to my diving. For underwater cameras there are two choices, either a regular camera (compact or DSLR) with a separate housing or a camera with housing included. I got the G16 because it has a lot of manual settings, including a manual white balance option. But if you just want a few fun shots underwater, there are some great under water cameras that don’t break the bank.
Best waterproof cameras
If you want to buy a camara that is waterproof without needing an additional underwater housing, make sure to check the depth limit. A lot of them can only go to 50 feet (15m) and although they’re great for snorkeling, they aren’t really suitable for diving. The ones below can be used for diving. If they don’t have an underwater setting to adjust white balance, use a red filter.
Best cameras with underwater housing
A camera and underwater housing combo is generally more expensive, but great if you’re a bit more serious about photography and want a camera with more options. If you already have a camera that you love, it can’t hurt to check if there’s a waterproof case available for it.
Best action cameras for diving
Action cameras are like most things in life, you get what you pay for. GoPro was the first and is still the most expensive action cam brand, but they deliver. Of course, there are cheaper Go Pro alternatives available. And they’re perfectly fine if you adjust your expectations. Do remember that light and color dissappear underwater. For shooting video underwater you need a red filter (unless you don’t mind all blue) and a video light if there isn’t enough ambient light.
Other dive accessories for travel
Of course there are more things you may want to bring for your diving holiday. Some eco-friendly sunscreen (if you want to wear sunscreen while diving, make sure it doesn’t harm marine life!), mask defogger, a mask strap protector (especially if you have long hair) and definitely a waterproof bag for your phone. Also, bring a refillable water bottle, much better than single use plastic bottles. I often wear a rash guard or sun protective shirt and water shoes. A spare parts kit such as the XS Scuba Save a Dive Kit might actually save your dive.
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