Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting Started - Kit!

One of the bigger challenges with starting technical diving is the kit! Gone are the days when a dive required a single cylinder with any dv and a any jacket bc. Technical diving is about leveraging science and equipment to safely extend your limits and that means a whole new look at equipment.
One of the first things we tell people is, do not buy your equipment before the course without chatting to us first. And the reason is not because we want the gear sales, but rather we find that people often arrive having spent a small fortune on kit that is simply wrong. Within a few dives (if not during the course), they find themselves hastily putting their kit onto the second hand market so they can get something more appropriate.

Getting the Basics in Place
This is kit that you should be acquired before anything else.
- At least one dv (there really are only two brands that compete, Scubapro (my preference) or Poseidon which is Nuno Gomes’s preference).
- Two SMB’s (one red, one yellow)
- A long hose for your dv (this means 2.0 meters)
- A wing and a Backplate (try Frog for value for money).
Total additional outlay (excluding the dv) is in the region of 4.5k. Some of this can be rented, such as the wing and backplate, but as harness sizes can be quite specific it is often best to put that on your priority list of things to acquire.
At this stage the dv is not critical, so you can re-use what you had for sport diving. If you did not get around to acquiring a dv, then you can rent until such time as you do get there.

Filling in the Blanks!
Once you have the basics, then you can start to make additional purchases. Obviously the order of purchase is going to depend on your budget as well as your depth goals. Here is mine (in order of purchase)
- Dry suit ( there is no point in having all the gadgets but freezing your butt off doing long dives) (+/- 10k)
- Your own torch/ light (something along the Sartek line, i.e. canister light with 10W HID light head) (+/- 6k)
- Another dv (secondary) and if you do not have a high end dv (yes, I am going to say the word Scubapro here), this must be high end (+/- 7.5k).
- Your Own Twin set with isolation manifold (new +/- 9k)
- Trimix Computer (+/- 16k)
- Better secondary lights
- Proper Fins
- At least two stage dv’s (+/-4k each)
- At least two stage cylinders (+/- 2.5k)
- More cylinders, more dv’s
- Another computer (you should have two)
- A booster for filling helium
Some of this list is easier to rent and most people only add stage cylinders after they have acquired everything else. The most important aspects in my mind are having proper, reliable dv’s (my favourite is the Scubapro MK25 with S600 or X650 second stage, for stages I have the MK2 with the R380’s) and a decent dry suit. These take care of providing you with gas under any conditions and keeping you warm. Dive computers are really nice to have, but…you can (and should) be doing your dives on paper and not relying totally on your computer. I certainly would by a dry suit before I bought a computer.

Many people get put off technical diving because of the long list of kit that you seem to need. However, most of us acquired our kit over time and not all in one go. The bad news is, you never seem to have enough kit, especially if you start to push your limits and do more exploration. The good news….it is totally worth it

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