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University of Iowa

Scuba Equipment

What is Scuba Gear?

Scuba diving equipment adapts you to the underwater world and makes you part of it. You do the diving, but your scuba gear makes it possible. That is, a mask doesn’t see for you, but allows you to see underwater. A dive regulator doesn’t breathe for you, but allows you to breathe underwater. A wetsuit doesn’t make heat, but allows a body to more effectively retain its own heat.
Browse this section to learn more about how to choose scuba gear that :

  • is comfortable for you
  • fits you well and looks good
  • will be a long-term investment for the type of diving you plan to do.

The Gear You Need Depends on Where You Scuba Dive

You can dive almost anywhere there’s water. The gear you use will vary somewhat depending upon your diving environment, as well as your preferences. There are four general categories for dive equipment, but some gear fits in all the categories – for example the mask you use for tropical diving is probably for temperate or cold water diving, too.

Scuba Gear Quick Tips

Mask – Allows your eyes to see clearly underwater.

Exposure suit – Protects from cuts and scrapes and retains heat so you stay comfortable.

Snorkel – Lets you breathe at the surface with your face in the water without wasting air from your scuba unit.

Scuba unit – The heart of your equipment, scuba (the acronym for self contained underwater breathing apparatus) allows you to breathe underwater and to rise, descend, hover or float at will. It consists of a regulator, tank, buoyancy control device –harness and instruments.

Dive watch – Used to measure the dive time.

Dive computer – Monitors your depth and time underwater to keep you within established limits.

Weight system – Offsets your tendency to float so you can descend gently underwater when you want to.

Fins – Allow you to swim using only your powerful leg muscles.

Dive light – Used to look into cracks and crevices, and for diving at night.

Dive knife – A handy tool as well as an important safety device.

Dive flag/float – Keeps boaters away from where you’re diving.

Digital underwater photo system – Used to take pictures of your adventures to share with your family and friends.

Accessories - like underwater slates, lanyards and other items make diving more fun.

Signaling Devices - Whistle, signal tube get attention of other divers or the dive boat from a distance.

Scuba gear bag – Used to carry your dive equipment to the dive site.


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