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Scuba Equipment Guide

All the gear involved in diving can seem a little intimidating to a newcomer. You are likely to be wondering what on earth a Regulator is, what BCD stands for, what a split fin might be & how many millimetres your wetsuit needs to be.

There's no need to feel intimidated though. Our Beginner's Equipment Guide will take you through the basics and help you feel a little more at home with some of the terminology. Simply click on a piece of equipment to find out more...
Dive Map Asia Mask BCD Regulator Fins Scuba Tank Wetsuit Safety Sausage
The Lowdown...

Open Water DiverBCD
BCD stands for Buoyancy Control Device. It is essentially an inflatable jacket. Add air to your BCD and you will be more buoyant in the water. take air out and you will be less buoyant. You will hear some BCD's referred to as integrated BCDs. This simply means that they have pockets where you can put your dive weights, instead of attaching them around your waist like a belt.
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A regulator is the most technical piece of your diving equipment. It attaches to your scuba tank, releasing air from the tank when you breath in and converting it to a pressure that is suitable for you to breath. The central part of a regulator is known as the first stage and attaches to your scuba tank. There are also four hoses: one that provides air for you, known as your second stage; a spare second stage for emergencies, often known as an Octopus; a hose that attaches to your BCD allowing you to add air to the jacket and a guage that tells you how much air is left in your scuba tank.
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Scuba Tank
A scuba tank holds pressurised air that you will use during your dive. Normally, this air is pressurised to 200 bar (the air we breath at sea-level is 1 bar). Some places will measure the air pressure in PSI (pounds per square inch) rather than bar. This pressurised air is converted into air we can breath by the regulator. Scuba tanks are normally made of either steel or aluminium. They come in various sizes, but the most commonly used tank is 12 litres.
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The temperature of the sea can vary greatly, but no matter how warm it is, you will still get cold without a wetsuit as the body loses heat more quickly in water. Wetsuits are made of neoprene & work by trapping a layer of water next to your skin, which warms and acts as insultation.

There are various thicknesses of wetsuit, depending on how cold the water is where you are diving. 3mm wetsuits are often sufficient for tropical diving. There are also 5mm & 7mm wetsuits available for slightly colder water. If the water is really cold a drysuit is necessary, which does not allow any water to touch your skin. In addition to the thickness of the suit, there are also long suits & shorties. Long suits cover the entire body, with the exception of the head, while shorties have short arms & legs and are only suited to warmer water.
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A mask may look a little silly, but without one it would be impossible to see underwater. Our eyes need air in order to focus and a mask creates the airpocket required in order to see underwater. There are many styles & shapes of mask available today to fit all kinds of different face shapes. It is important to choose one that fits you and will not let in water. To test a mask, hold it against your face without using the strap and breath in. If it stays on your face while you are breathing in, then it is a good fit. If it falls off, choose another one. Masks are often sold with snorkels, which allow you to breath on the surface of the water without having to use your regulator.
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Your fins provide the propulsion you need to swim underwater. Without fins, it is almost impossible to move due to the weight of the scuba equipment. Fins have two types of fitting for your foot - closed heel and open heel. Closed heel fins can be worn without diving boots and are generally cheaper. Open heeled fins have a clip at the back and require the use of dive boots. Most regular divers prefer open heeled fins for their comfort and strength. Some fins are also 'split'. This means that there is a split down the middle of the fin, which helps to provide bettter flexibility and control. On the downside, split fins do not give you the same amount of power as standard fins.
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Safety Sausage
A safety sausage (also known as a surface marker), is a brightly coloured inflatable tube that alerts boats, jet-skiers and anybody else in the water to your presence. They are normally inflated at the end of a dive before surfacing, but in some situations they are used through-out the dive. They should be taken on every dive as a safety precaution.
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Dummie's Guide to Scuba-Diving         
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Scuba-diving, like many activities seems to have a language all of its own, with confusing concepts, technical terminology and an ocean of jargon to decipher. Our Beginner's Guide to Scuba-diving will help you cut to the chase...

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