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I'm trying to put together an advice page for new divers who're trying to kit themselves out.

Any feedback on the first draft would be appreciated.

Ta

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Shopping for dive gear isn't the cheapest pastime in the world. And there's nothing worse then forking over a large amount of cash, only to realise later that you bought the wrong thing.
Buying the right product for you can be difficult even when you know what you're doing. If you're a novice just starting out, it can be impossible.
So, here's my advice on getting the best out of your dive shop. (NB: This is mainly targeted at UK divers.)
The first thing most people buy is the mask, fins and snorkel combination. Even here, there's a lot to chose from. The things to bear in mind are:

Mask: Forget cost, fit is everything. A simple $20 mask that fits you perfectly is better than a fancy $100 mask that you can't get a seal on. Try it on in the shop, and if possible, try it on whilst holding a mouthpiece in your jaws - a mask that fits you walking around on the surface but floods whenever you put your demand valve in is no good. Simple is good - don't be seduced by masks with drain valves, built-in snorkels, or the like; these are useless additions that are designed solely for the purpose of making you pay more.

Fins: Full-foot fins for use in the pool or warm water tend not to be all that fancy. Open-heel fins for open water when you're wearing boots or a drysuit come in a wide range of designs. Most recently, the big advance has been split fins. The debate is still ongoing as to whether or not split fins really are a huge leap ahead or just a gimmick. The general consensus seems to be that some split fins are worthless, but some are at least as good as conventional fins. Working out which is which is no easy task. If you're determined to get splits, then you could do worse than check out Divernet - John Bantin is a famous split-skeptic, so if he says a split fin is good, it's a fairly safe bet. If you want to stick to a tried and tested fin design, then black rubber jetfins are about as safe as it gets - used by some of the most advanced divers in the world, and they've been around for decades. Scubapro (the original makers) sell them at a high price, but clones are available a lot cheaper from people like Divex and Sub-Aqua Products.

Snorkel: Most divers insist that snorkels have no place in scuba diving. Some, however, insist that on surface swims or long waits for the boat, they can be useful. If you want a snorkel that'll last you, look for one that can be folded or rolled up compact so it can be stored in a pocket. A snorkel attached to the mask is a snag hazard that can rip your mask off, and is widely considered a sure sign of a novice diver.

That's your basics. Now, assuming you're a qualified diver who's ready to start getting fully kitted-out, what should you buy first?

In my opinion, your first purchase should be a dive suit. If you're a warm-water diver, then you don't want to be hiring wetsuits that dozens of people have hired and urinated in before you. If you're a cold-water diver, your suit MUST be a good fit, or you're going to spend all your dives cold, wet, and miserable. Nothing can detract from your enjoyment of diving like being uncomfortable the entire time.
There's often a temptation amongst cold-water divers to put off buying a drysuit for a while by buying a semidry. I advise against it if you can possibly manage it. Semis are nowhere near as good a solution as a drysuit, so you will wind up replacing it eventually anyway. Buying one is a false economy.
Membrane drysuits can be used anywhere from the North Pole to the Red Sea because you can vary the insulation you wear. Neoprene is more limited as its insulation is fixed. More...
Get your suit made to measure. Braces can make surface intervals a lot more comfortable - elasticated waists are nowhere near as effective. If possible, get heavy-duty seals put on the wrists.
Many people have switched from cuff dump to autodump, it's very rare to hear of anyone going the other way. Reinforced knee pads are a good thing. Avoid neoprene boots if possible: You should do your utmost to avoid needing ankle weights, fitting positively-buoyant boots won't help you with this. If you suffer from cold feet, get some undersuit booties - at least you can leave these off when you don't need them.
Drysuit manufacturers with a good reputation for both quality and customer service include Otter and O'three.

Undersuit: The traditional 'woolly bear' is a dying breed in this day of high-performance fabrics. Words like "breathable", "wicking" and "hydrophobic" are worth looking out for - you want an undersuit that will keep you warm even if your drysuit floods or you sweat profusely.
Weezle have an excellent reputation for keeping you warm and dry; they can also be compressed down so you don't cook during surface intervals, and can be supplied with superb (knee-high!) booties.

Make sure your diving suit is suitable for the conditions you intend to use it, is comfortable and doesn't restrict your movement. Thigh-mounted cargo pockets are worth having.

As part of the drysuit purchase, get yourself a weight belt. Or rather, get yourself some lead and a method of carrying it about.
You've got three main ways of carrying lead these days:
Belt
Harness
Integrated

Belts of 2" webbing are traditional, they're also dreadful - very few divers can claim they've never had a weight belt come undone. They're also an all-or-nothing solution, (you either ditch all lead or none) and they're not very comfortable.

You can improve a webbing belt by:
Punching holes in it with a soldering iron and threading bungee through, to ensure it is always tight during a dive.
Putting pockets on it so that you have the option of removing only some lead, not all
Using bags of lead shot so it's more comfortable.

Whilst most people seem to want their lead to go on their backs, you're better off leaving your back clear, and having the lead at the side. It makes it easier to reach (if pocketed) and stops your aqualung from pressing down on the lead and digging it into your back - a common cause of back pain.

A better, but more expensive, way of carrying lead is in a harness. By adding shoulder straps to the equation, it will never fall off. It also stores lead in pockets, so you can release some rather than all lead if necessary. And it spread the strain of the lead around more.

Probably the best way from a comfort point of view is to integrate your lead with your BCD. You'll never accidentally loose your BCD, it spreads the weight out nicely, and if you use the BCD for buoyancy, it also reduces the strain your body is under during a dive: If you have 10kg of lead and 3kg of lift in the BCD, then you'll only have 7kg acting on you. If you have the same situation, but with a weight belt, you have 10kg pushing you down, 3kg pulling you up, so you'll have 13kg acting on you.

However, integrated BCDs can be expensive, make it difficult to vary where you keep your lead, can have insufficient lead-holding capacity, and can be awkward to use. You're probably best off starting with a weight belt and moving up from there when you know what other it you'll be using.

Lastly, there are some divers who consider weights on quick-release systems to be more dangerous that the inability to ditch their lead. Be prepared for some divers to have NO weight belt or harness, as it is all permanently bolted in place.


After the drysuit, get a regulator. Your own regulator is likely to give an easier breathe and be more reliable than a hired one. If you want a regulator that will last you throughout your diving career, there are a few considerations:
A cold-water rated regulator can be used anywhere. A non-rated regulator cannot. Either buy a cold-water certified reg, or make sure it can be fitted with a cold-water kit.
Nitrox is becoming ever more widespread. Make sure your regulator can be used with Nitrox. That means avoiding at all costs regulators than contain Titanium - these high-priced regulators can and have spontaneously burst into flame when used with Nitrox.
Twinsets are also no longer the sole province of the hardcore technical diver, especially with twin 7s on the market. Some first stages give better twinset hose routing than others, it can be worth investigating.
First stages are either piston or diaphragm designed. It doesn't matter much which you get, so long as it's a balanced design - avoid unbalanced first stages.
Get 300 bar DIN, not A-clamp. Even if it means you have to buy an A-clamp adaptor as well. DIN is a more compact, versatile, and secure fitting: 300 bar DIN regulators can (on their own or via adaptor if necessary) be used on any scuba cylinder in existence, whereas A-clamps can only be used on valves specifically meant for A-clamp use.
The only reason DIN isn't used universally is that A-clamp was invented first.
More... and Even more...
Do not buy a cheap and nasty octopus regulator. If you wouldn't be as happy swapping your octopus and your main DV around, you've made a bad purchase. If your buddy goes out of air, handing him a low-quality DV that can't give him enough gas guarantees that he'll rip your DV out of your mouth in an effort to get a decent lungful.
Make sure you have at least four low pressure ports: Your main demand valve, backup demand valve, direct feed for drysuit, direct feed for buoyancy device.
Most twinned-up Nitrox divers use Apeks, Scubapro or Poseidon. Any of these can be used on singles as well. Poseidon use non-standard intermediate pressures, and therefore non-standard hoses as well.

After you're sorted with regulators, you're ready for a Buoyancy Compensating Device. You'll probably have encountered it under the name stab jacket, or just "BC".
There are two distinct types of BCD (Not counting the old ABLJ, which some divers still use): The jacket, and the wing.
The jacket is more mainstream, but the wing is becoming ever more popular. Wings put all buoyancy on the diver's back, thus supplying buoyancy more evenly, and are more streamlined. Again, it is common to hear divers say they are "upgrading from a jacket to a wing", but very rare to hear the reverse.
The downside of the wing is that it requires more setting-up and fine-tuning than a stab jacket, and this can lead to divers trying a wing that has not been set up for them and finding it unpleasant to dive with.
It is therefore really only a good idea to buy a wing if (a) you, or someone you know, know how to set it up properly, and (b) you're going to do enough diving to set up and enjoy the improved trim it offers.
If not, a stab jacket will serve you fine.
Some points to bear in mind:
BCDs with an internal bladder and exterior tough fabric are a better bet than a single-layer design.
No matter what the manufacturers say, there is no such thing as a "technical diving jacket", even if it IS black and covered in D-rings. Tech divers use wings.
A 'wing-style jacket' is not a good compromise between a wing and a jacket - it's just a jacket with more things to go wrong.
Avoid the Dacor/Mares Hub like your life depends on it.
The best harness for a wing is a single piece of webbing threaded through a hard backplate that you can easily customize yourself. A harness with clips and stitching everywhere is weaker and almost certainly more expensive.
The claim "You can't have too much lift" is a lie. A BCD that's too big causes increased drag and may trap air pockets. Extreme divers with large twinsets and multiple side-mounted decompression cylinders consider 25kg of lift more than enough. If you need more than them, you've got a serious problem somewhere.
The most common stab jacket type in the UK is the Buddy range, made by AP Valves.
Halcyon and Dive Rite are the top names in wings, but if you're on a budget, AP Valves also manufacture a typically bomb-proof range of wings for considerably less cost than the others.

If you're diving in the UK, a good, powerful torch is a necessity. Even if you don't believe in diving in water that's warmer and clearer than your local swimming pool, a dive light can be handy to bring back all the colour the water has leeched out.
The best powerful torches are umbilicals, where only the bulb unit is carried by hand, while the battery unit is tucked away somewhere discreet. The best way to mount an umbilical torch is on a Goodman handle type system, that puts the bulb on the back of your hand and therefore leaves your hand free for other things.
HID lights are recent additions to the market: These are wonderful things that put out brighter and whiter light than a standard bulb, using only a third to a fifth the power (depends who you ask). Combined with the new NiMH rechargeable batteries that have also started being used, very small, very powerful dive lights are available. Sadly though, they are very expensive.
Not much to choose from between small torches, thought the UK SL4 and Halcyon Scout are rated highly.

Size and type of cylinder are an important choice: A bigger cylinder holds more air, obviously, but is heavier and less streamlined. It's not unheard of for a diver to switch from a big to a small cylinder and find they both last the same amount of time as the decrease in air available is countered by the decrease in effort it takes to lug it about. 10, 12 and 15 litre are the most common single sizes.
Cylinders are made of either steel or aluminium. Steel is more negatively buoyant, so the general rule is wetsuit = aluminium, drysuit = steel. If you're using aluminium with a heavy weight belt, you may want to consider replacing it with steel so you can shed some lead. If you're using steel and no lead, you may want to consider aluminium so you aren't overweighted.
It's important to remember that aluminium cylinders, whilst lighter in water, are heavier out of it - Alu cylinders have thicker walls, so displace more water. Do not assume that heavier cylinders means more negatively buoyant cylinders.
232 or 300 bar are your main choices - it's very rare to get a true 300 bar fill, and it's not as easy to get a Nitrox fill to 300 bar. 232 is the most common pressure. Get a DIN valve, to go with your DIN regs, but make sure they're A-clamp convertible (most A-clamp cylinder valves made today are DIN with an insert) in case you go to a filling station with no DIN filling capabilities.
Redundancy is becoming a bigger and bigger concern. Some people cope by adding a small pony cylinder to their existing setup, typically a 3 litre. However, twinsets are considered a better system. The main concerns are that they are more expensive, too big, or too heavy.
The expense issue is true, the others are not. Twin sevens weigh about the same as a single twelve. A single fifteen plus 3l pony weighs more than twin tens. The lightest way of getting redundancy is a twinset.

Computer: To get a future-proof computer, you need to make sure it has these features:
Nitrox-capable. Just like regulators, Nitrox compatibility costs peanuts and is a lot cheaper than having to buy a replacement later.
Gauge mode. For advanced technical dives, you need a computer that functions solely as a depth gauge and timer.
Not air integrated. AI costs a lot, contributes very little of value, and is useless if you have more than one cylinder to breathe from. If you decide you absolutely MUST have AI, then go ahead, just make sure that the computer you get doesn't make decisions about deco obligations based on your breathing rate, unless you really want a freeflow or OOA situation to triple your deco requirements.

Gloves: Wet or dry are your choices. Dry gloves are very bulky and awkward, but potentially the warmest. However, air needs to be able to travel into them from your suit or they'll compress to uselessness on descent. You also can't remove them underwater. A glove is the most likely place to get a puncture, and if you use a ring system, a leaky glove means a leaking suit.
A good pair of wet gloves is less bulky and less problematic than dry gloves. In extremely cold conditions, 3-finger mitts are probably the warmest wet gloves you'll get. Wet gloves can be awkward to put on, especially when wet. Disposable plastic gloves such as are given away at petrol stations makes sliding your hand in effortless.

SMBs: There are two types of surface marker, delayed and non-delayed. A non-delayed SMB is inflated at the surface prior to the dive, and towed throughout the dive. A dSMB is carried deflated during the dive, and inflated when needed. Because it's not fun towing a marker throughout a dive, it is preferable to use a dSMB whenever possible.
There are several types of dSMB, however. The first was simple a tube sealed at one end, that required constant downward pressure from the diver to keep upright and inflated.
A much better solution is the self-sealing dSMB, which is designed so that the act of inflation seals the inside, ensuring that it stays inflated and at the surface. An over-pressure valve is fitted, to prevent the SMB from bursting on ascent.
Even more recently, the dSMBi and the closed-circuit dSMB have come on to the market. The dSMBi is a self-inflating dSMB, which has a crack-bottle or CO2 cylinder built in. By carrying their own supply of gas, these negate the need for a diver to risk entanglement or freeflow when deploying a dSMB, and also guarantee that the dSMB will be completely full when arriving at the surface.
The closed-circuit design, instead of being open at the end, has instead a small fitting that a direct feed hose can be attached to.
The main advantage or these newer designs is to cut down on the risk entailed in deploying a dSMB - using a demand valve risks freeflow, using an airgun requires either an extra LP hose or swapping around of direct feeds, using exhaled gas risks entangling the regulator with the dSMB. They can also be easily filled at the surface, and used as a non-delayed SMB as well, whereas standard dSMBs are more awkward to fill above water.
Non-delayed SMB's, the only real choice is shape. The traditional blob is dying out slowly, as the cylindrical 'sausage' is proving to be better at riding the waves, and the 'torpedo' easier to drag.
Lastly, SMBs tend to be fairly anonymous red cylinders. For safety and convenience, mark your SMB so that your surface cover know which SMB is yours. Black duck tape is handy for making big, highly visible letters or shapes, and can also increase your SMB's visibility.

That's about all your major purchases covered. Other bits and pieces you can add as and when. However, a few general pieces of advice you should consider:

Accessibility: Everything should be in easy reach of your hands. The dumbest place you can put your big macho dive knife is on your ankle. Those big snap-clips are lovely and easy to put on, but can be awkward to unclip - that's not a good thing. Stab jacket pockets tend to be inaccessible, thigh-mounted pockets are much handier.

Danglies: Avoid letting bits of kit hang off you. Every single item you carry should be secured in an exact location. A dangling item can get wedged, come off without you noticing it, and be hard to find. The single most important item to secure firmly is your backup demand valve/octopus. If you can't lay your hand on it in under a second with 100% certainty, then don't get in the water.

Read around: You stand a much better chance of getting decent kit if you know what you're looking for. Never rely on your dive shop for advice - even if you get an honest dive shop, their own personal preference can cause bad advice. For instance, my local dive shop always recommends cuff dumps on dry suits. They truly believe them to be the best way to dive - they use them themselves. But I don't agree with them. Get as many opinions about everything possible. Remember that many divers suffer from "I use it so it's the best" syndrome, and will recommend less-than-ideal kit solely because they own it themselves. Never buy anything that's only just come out, unless you like the idea of being an unpaid field tester. A product that's been on the market for years and is recommended by everybody who's used it is a much safer bet than something shiny and untested. Diver and Rodale's magazines do some gear tests that are worth reading.

If you don't know what DIR and Hogarthian diving are, read around until you do. If you know and think it's a bad setup, you don't know nearly enough, read some more. If you think it's good but not for you, you're making an informed decision.

If your instructor/dive club tells you that Nitrox, ponies, twinsets, etc are bad things, dump them and find some divers who have a clue.

Eliminate clutter - do not take every piece of equipment you own with you on every dive. Take only what you need. A superb rule of thumb is "If you don't need it, don't take it. If you do need it, take two." There are plenty of divers out there who carry two cylinders, two masks, two lights, two depth gauges, two dive timers, etc, and yet still look like they're hardly carrying any kit. Dive shops sell hundreds of gadgets that sound really cool but are utterly worthless.

Eliminate complexity - aim for a setup that requires as little setting up as possible at the dive site. The less individual items you have to attach during the kit-up procedure, the better chance you have of remembering everything and having it all in the right place. Items mounted permanently on your BCD or stored in pockets cut down on your on-site organizing. It's often possible to replace buckles with bungee, which is easier to put on and eliminates dangling straps. If you have more than one wrist-mounted instrument, consider making a wrist-unit for them rather than putting them on one at a  time.
A kit-up procedure that consists of strapping on your aqualung; sliding one wrist unit onto your arm; and being ready to go, is a lot better than one that involves strapping on your aqualung, strapping on your knife, buckling on your computer, buckling on your compass, tightening the lanyard on your computer, clipping on your torch, clipping your octopus in place... you get the idea.

Colour: Black may go with everything, but outside of tropical reef diving, it really doesn't help you be visible. Diving in dark or silty conditions, waiting for the boat to see and collect you, the last thing you want to do is make yourself hard to find. Rather than wearing all-black and strapping on flashing lights to make sure you can be seen, just go for a bright, visible colour scheme. Red and yellow are the two most visible colours at the surface. Reflective material is also good: Reflective bungee is available, reflective strips can be sewn onto hoods, gloves, cambands, even BCDs if you know what you're doing.

Deficiencies: Never buy a piece of kit to try and overcome a lack of skill. A dSMB with an inflation bottle might seem like a wonderful way to overcome your inability to deploy a normal dSMB, but if the bottle isn't full, or there's a problem, you're stuffed. The inflation bottle should be a convenience you can do without, not a crutch you're totally reliant on.

Think it through: There are many gadgets that seem like a wonderful concept. Before buying anything, think seriously about what it does, why you need it, are there better solutions, etc. If you have a main DV and an octopus, do you really need an integrated regulator-and-BCD-inflator unit as well? They need more maintenance, the non-standard button arrangement can cause confusion, and they're awkward to use. How likely are you to need three DVs at the same time?

Don't rely on tradition: Many diving practices and equipment configurations were set up years ago when diving was very different. Crack bottles on BCDs came into being when there was no such thing as a direct feed inflator. Quick-release weights were absolutely necessary for a wetsuited diver with no BCD at all, are you sure you need them in your drysuit and BCD? A dive knife is the traditional way of getting out of entanglement. Get yourself some fishing line or net, tangle your foot around it, and see how easy it is to cut yourself free with a knife. Compare this with a pair of scissors. Never buy or use a concept unless you've thought it through objectively and decided it really is the best way.

Fit for purpose: A tiny reel three inches across might be wonderfully easy to stow in a pocket. But how convenient is it going to be to reel in thirty meters of line using such a small spool? How easy is it to wind that dinky handle wearing thick gloves? How prone to bird-nesting is it? How comfortable is it to hold onto for the entire dive? And so on. Your priority is how easy and reliable something is to USE. How comfortable it is to carry when not in use is a definite secondary issue.
Strobes are another good example: In reduced vis dives, some divers like to carry a small flashing light, to increase their visibility. There are two types of strobe: Nice little units that blink on and off with more than enough light to be visible to other divers; and hideously annoying repeated-camera-flash units that light up the entire area. These things are overkill, and dangerous: They destroy the night vision of anyone in the area, and dazzle anyone looking in your direction.
By being so bright, you force your buddy to NOT look at you, just to prevent loss of vision. Fine if you just want him to know where you are, but if you're tangled up or out of air, do you really want your buddy to be deliberately looking away from you and relying on the peripheral glare of light to ensure him all is well with you?
Bright flashing strobes are meant as markers for shot lines, or to enable boats to see you or your SMB in low visibility (dark or foggy) or emergency situations. They should NOT be used on a diver during routine dives. If you really think you need a very bright light, buy a powerful torch. Apart from anything else, any other divers in the area may let you know exactly how unimpressed they are via physical means. If you're lucky, they'll just switch the things off. (It's happened!)

Good luck with your purchasing.
 

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Nice one Dom.  However, blady lot of info on one page!  Have you thought about putting into kit sections along with diagrams/pictures.  A novice wont know hwat a wing looks like, they probably have only come across bc's so far.

Maybe a few links to good on-line retailers, or even tell folk about the try before you buy schemes a lot of people do.

Just my tuppenorth!
 

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I probably will break it down & illustrate it when it's actually on my web page, but there's no easy way of doing that on a forum, so it's all in one at the moment
 

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Good stuff Dom, however here comes the inevitable disagreement on a point (although it is minor!)

"camera flash" strobes do, in my view, have a place on a diver.  I have one mounted on my BC.  However I don't use it underwater, it is there for the day that I really want something that people can see - especially people in friendly orange and blue boats or helicopters.  You don't want some dinky little blinker in that situation.  Maybe you could have a "safety" gear discussion too.  

We were talking to the skipper on the boat on Sunday (waiting for Andy and Mark to surface laden with gold..) and he was telling us what the best things to be seen were.  He went with orange SMBs, not yellow, and suggested putting a big, bold black shape on them and flags to help break it up against the sky.
 

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Ok, strobe section amended, and SMB section added to.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Blimey - loads to read there so just skimmed thru it.
I like your idea of a reference list, and having some experience of the associated problems  I think there is a good argument for delineating between (i) absolute beginners and (ii) 'novices' i.e. those who have a little experience under their belt (see further below)

From what I read above it seems like you've missed out the weight belt or did I miss that bit?

For trainees learning in a bsac club type situation I'd say MSF 1st (this has always been mandatory IME), DS 2nd then weightbelt 3rd. Why? all the club regs are fairly similar but getting trainees to remember what weight they used last time is damn hard work.
Personally, I would never recommend a wing for a newbie, too much faffing.


BTW, ever got to a dive site with a newbie who says "Oh no I've forgotten......" ?
Q: How frustrating is this?
A: VERY!

For this reason I developed a fast  and simple 10 point Check list to cover the absolutely essential kit they need fro the day. All trainees who dive with me are expected to learn and use it, anyone who ignores this gets no sympathy when they leave items behind at home, it's far far easier than the "mentally dress yourself" idea which takes folk about 3-5 minutes to run thru. this is the order and the rationale behind the groupings
1 Mask
2 Fins
3 Snorkel
This is the basic equipment ignoring arguments about snorkle validity

4 Hood
5 Suits (drysuit and undersuit where appropriate)
6 Gloves
THese are all items of clothing

7 Tank
8 Regs (assuming depth, contents and compass in console)
9 BCD
THese items are technically what The Aqualung is comprised of.

10 Weights

The natural groupings of the list allow for a quick run thru before leaving and should be rattled off in seconds.
As long as they bring these bits anything else is optional. I've never bothered to create another list for more experienced divers containing  'puta, dSMB etc as such people are, IMO, expected to be able to think for theirselves (yeah, right...
  )

HTH
Steve
 

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Good point, I forgot to include weight options.

Amended now!
 

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Excellent article Dominic, will make a good starting point for newish divers buying kit.

One question - I was told ali tanks are actually heavier than steel ones, because even though ali is lighter it's also less strong and hence more of it has to be used to make the tank......interested to hear people's views on this.....

Keep up the good work,
Dave.
 

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<font color='#000080'>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ] Get 300 bar DIN, not A-clamp. Even if it means you have to buy an A-clamp adaptor as well. DIN is a more compact, versatile, and secure fitting: 300 bar DIN regulators can be used on any scuba cylinder in existence, whereas A-clamps can only be used on valves specifically meant for A-clamp use. The only reason DIN isn't used universally is that A-clamp was invented first.
Looks good Dom,

Just a small point about the statement above.  I do understand what you mean but to some new divers this could give the impression that they can use their DIN regs on any cylinder guarenteed.  I have still seen some cylinders with valves that do not have removable inserts so are A-Clamp only.  (Mainly abroad).  Might be worth rewording with specific reference to the types of valves and why an A-Clamp converter should be considered

Daz
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]I was told ali tanks are actually heavier than steel ones, because even though ali is lighter it's also less strong and hence more of it has to be used to make the tank
They're heavier, yes, but they're less negatively buoyant: By having thicker walls, they dispalce more water. So they're heavier to carry out of water, but lighter when in it.
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Might be worth rewording with specific reference to the types of valves and why an A-Clamp converter should be considered
Ok, done.

Cheers all for the feedback so far..
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Dominic @ May 28 2003,13:14)]They're heavier, yes, but they're less negatively buoyant: By having thicker walls, they dispalce more water. So they're heavier to carry out of water, but lighter when in it.
Ahh, with you now - hence steel tanks being prefferred in general I guess...

Ta.
Dave.
 

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There's a much greater change in bouyancy in Ali tanks as well. A steel tin will stay negative through a whole dive and an Ali tin will be negative at the start and positive at the end of the dive.

Peter
 

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ATTENTION STEVE W!!

Steve lad.  Why is a wing more faffing around for a newbie?

 

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<font color='#0000FF'>An easy one to answer, Newbie learns to dive, instantly faced wth an entire new language made entirely of TLAs, can't remember the difference between BCD, SMB, DCI/DCS, ACD, OD, SD, DL etc etc, basically their heads are in a spin.

Give them a Stab jacket, drop the loop over the tank see if they can remember how to tension it (always good for a laugh), they manage that, see if they can put the regs on right way round (another howler) help them lift it up pull the staps and they're just about ready to go.

Now, give them a wing an you got the potential for: forgetting to put the bladder on, putting bladder on wrong way round or upside-down, forgetting an extra item while packing, losing the cam buckle because the bladder and harnes are seperate, blah blah blah

Assuming you get that far without problems you'll have to add a weight somewhere to adjust a wings's trim at the surface (anothr item to be forgotten while packing) or cope with a trainee who cant stay upright, some of them spit their regs out when in a panic so if they're face down you've got to rescue them. If you give them a fixed webbing harness you've got the don/doff problems of getting the thing onto their backs, less of a problem with a buckled harness perhaps.

Trust me, you really wouldn't want to start a newbie off with the extra complexities of assembling a wing and getting the trim sorted, it's hard enough getting them safely into the water and descending and being able to stay down
My other half is almost a Sport Diver and is a bright girl, but if I gave her a wing she wouldn't be happy with the extra faffing involved.

Unless you get involved with instructing, it's very easy to forget how confusing it all is for them in the early days

Chee-az
steve
 

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sorry steve, gotta disagree.  i think thats total baylox!


how much more complicated is driving a car, and yet the student copes with a plethora of info.  start the student off with a structured approach to kit config and work from there.

after all, if the DIR wallahs are gonna start training newbies from the off then they will have to get to grips with it straight away wont they?

credit students with a bit more nowce man!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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I agree with Steve that getting a wing set up properly is not an easy task for a novice. I know I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own.

But that's what the wing guide is there for!

Oh.. or you could try an instructor or buddy who's got a wing, I suppose..
 

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<font color='#000080'>And....  the vast majority of students learn to dive with a borrowed kit and every one I have assisted with has learn't using a BCD,  so I think it is fair comment for them to stick with what they learn't until they have more confidence and watermanship.

Wings may come later..  I have to agree with Steve,  I spent hours getting my transpac/trekwing setup just so and then went to twins/one piece harness,  time to start again and many more hours spent putting it together.  In contrast I can usually pick up any BCD in a mediumish size and throw it together, pull a few straps and jump in.

Daz
 

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so give the student a harness with a pull strap adjuster type thing which can be replaced with a one piece if necessary later.  so thats the most complicated thing about a wing??!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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Look at it this way, andy:

When I was first qualified as a diver, I still had to rely on luck when deciding which way up my 1st stage was supposed to go; my definition of "neutral bouyancy" was "I don't have to fin too hard to keep myself from rocketing up or hitting the bottom"; and my method of working out how much lead I needed to carry was to find out what everybody else was using and add a couple of pounds for luck.

I wouldn't have stood a chance in hell of setting up a wing properly, and even if I'd been handed a perfectly set-up wing, I wouldn't have stood a chance of using it properly either.

It's very easy to forget just how clueless beginners are. Things that seem boringly obvious to a habitual diver are utter mysteries to the novice.

Unless they have someone around they can rely on heavily to help you get sorted with a wing, a novice is better off sticking to what they know. And sadly, most novice divers aren't lucky enough to have such a person around. The very few people in my club who use wings think of them as a slightly different stab jacket, and are firmly convinced that there's no way to avoid being pushed face-down when using them - if I had relied solely on my club for information about wings, I'd still be using my Commando jacket.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Students & nowce....? you ever been out diving with a Uni club on a training weekend....:D

Honestly Andy, you would not believe what it's like, trust me.  
Don't forget you're used to the company of more adult divers and you work with people who deal with technical equipment on a daily basis, whereas some of these kids are lost without their mums and dads. Ever had to literally offer a shoulder to cry on because someone got freaked out on a dive? I kid you not!

Once again it's all a matter of perspective so there's no right or wrong it's all just a matter of opinion. My point of view is based on many many weekends of taking out raw beginners or relatively inexperienced trainees, if there's anyone who has instructed Uni kids on a wing from the beginning of training I'd be interested to hear their experiences

BTW Andy, weren't you selling a spare buddy dSMB for a tenner recently? If so have you still got it?
Chee-az
Steve
 
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