For most travellers, the goal is to travel as light as possible to avoid hassles and tiredness. Of course, it depends on the kind of travels you’re into. Addict to all-inclusive resort holidays? Filling 2 or 3 suitcases is not an issue. If your thing is to go on an adventure and immerse yourself in the country you’re visiting then it is a bit more complicated and luggage optimisation is crucial. Too heavy, too bulky means you can forget something on the way, potential issues of security if you have too many bags to watch and sometimes extra fees to pay that you didn’t budget for.
Then why would a traveller carry some scuba diving equipment in his luggage? After several trials in Mexico and Indonesia, remote destinations I’ve travelled to for 1 month, I never regretted it! Each trip taught me more about improving my luggage organisation. For whoever wants to travel and scuba dive at the same time, here are 4 reasons which I hope will convince you.
This article is also available in French.
Scuba addict? Save money!
If you travel and dive on a regular basis and you think renting is not so expensive, just do a simple calculation: The average price of gear rent is 15€ a dive or 30€ per day, so for a 10 dive trip you save 150€!
As a result, if you go diving 50/60 times per year (which represent for me 2 big trips per year with 15 dives for 2 weeks, 25 dives for 1 month and about 5 weekends with 4 dives), you save between 750€ and 900€ in only 1 year. Knowing that the price of full new equipment is around 1000€ and you can buy several pieces of the equipment second-hand for much cheaper, do you still want to rent?
Comfort brings safety
The first reason is as well the most important in my opinion: whatever your organisation is, whatever the level of optimisation of your luggage, wherever you want to go, having your own scuba gear is one of the best ways to ensure your safety underwater.
My point is not to say that scuba diving is a dangerous activity but you still need to have in mind that just a little detail going wrong can sometimes get things very complicated underwater.
The more at ease you will be underwater, the more you will enjoy your dive in total safety: panic is our enemy #1. Sometimes it can come from an error of judgment (like the smart idea of putting your hand in the hole of a moray eel) or from an unexpected technical issue which can lead to an accident.
The advantage of having your own scuba diving equipment is first to choose the gear that perfectly fits your body and which you will accumulate experience in different conditions. You will know perfectly how to use it whatever happens and then be able to react very quickly if necessary. To find your ideal scuba gear, don’t hesitate to go to your nearest retailer. You can even sometimes try the equipment before buying it. Scuba diving shows are another excellent way to try and to buy your own diving equipment.
To give you a more precise idea, here are some very concrete examples of what can happen with unknown scuba gear you rent:
- Wetsuit: the most common issue is to have a wetsuit that will be too big, too much used or not thick enough for the temperature conditions and your capacity to resist the cold. As a result, you get cold, and if you are cold you are not going to enjoy your dive. Worse, you might not be able to react as expected as you will be more focused on the cold than anything else.
- Fins: Depending on if you are fit or not, you might not be able to kick easily with fins that are too hard for you. As a result, you get cramps. It is not really nice, especially if you can’t help having them all the time during the dive. Worse case, you are used to dive in current but the fins you have are not reacting as expected: They are just too flexible!
- BCD: Besides the fact of finding one that fits you, there is one thing people don’t usually think about: Quick air releases! Before having my own, I cannot count the times because of a bad movement I found myself ascending suddenly and in need of deflating urgently.“ Where are those $#&@%£# air releases!?!” Being able to find them quickly for emergency deflation is essential! Even with careful inspection of how your rental BDC is working before the dive, this is more a matter of reflex. When you need to deflate urgently it is better not to have to think more than 1 second.
- Regulator: This may be more difficult to realise but having your habit with a regulator you know will relax you and improve your air consumption. As a result, give it will increase your well-being underwater and the time of your dive!
Light travel scuba diving gear is the key
Have you ever tried to weigh the scuba diving equipment you usually use? Here is a simulation of the average weight of complete gear bag : BDC 3,5 kg, Regulator (first stage + second stage + manometer + octopus) 2 kg, Fins 2,3 kg, 5mm full wetsuit 2 kg, Mask 200 g. Total =10 kg!
Of course, I’m not counting the tank and weight! as you can easily understand I never carry them with me! Depending on the destination your going to you might consider changing the type of wetsuit (maybe you’ll need a dry suit or a 3mm shorty), choosing adjustable fins with comfy booties,, including your dive computer and your dive log (depending on your experience it can be really heavy), some extra devices such as marker buoy, a spool, a DIN adapter, gloves, a hood, the underwater housing of your camera,etc.
Today with the special travel ranges of gear offered by manufacturers you can easily drop the total weight of your diving bag. Today here is the weight of my equipment when I travel to tropical destinations:
- my BDC :2,3 kg
- my Regulator (first stage + second stage + manometer + octopus) :1 kg
- my Fins :1,5 kg
- my 2,5mm full suit :1 kg
- my Mask: 200 g
- Total =6 kg
Aqua Lung offers on its website a very useful tool to calculate the total weight of your equipment. Have a try and compare, you will see how much weight you can save!
Finally, the best way drop some weight off my luggage is to be light on everything else: Do you really need 10 shirts and 5 pairs of jeans? Do you really need to bring all the containers from your bathroom? By optimising this, you can easily gain up to 10 kg (Just think one pair of jeans is already 0,5 kg)! For you information, if you’re travelling in Egypt, Thailand or Mexico for instance, having your clothes washed doesn’t cost a fortune. So you have no excuse for bringing 1 month of clothes when you actually travel for 2 weeks!
The result? My scuba diving bag never weights more than 20 kg which means I never pay extra fees for overweight at the airport. Here you will find more tips about flying and scuba diving.
The right scuba diving bag
A backpack/trolley bag is the perfect mix between a traveller’s bag and a scuba diving bag. I can roll it or carry it as a backpack. Because sometimes the ground is not always smooth! I can tell you between climbing the stairs of Paris’ underground and crossing the land border between Belize and Guatemala it was really useful. Today I have 3 bags of this type:
My 1st bag is a Decathlon Tribord 120L. I can put everything in its separate pockets: My full diving equipment, my clothes and my vanity case, all I need for more than a month of travelling! My greatest achievement has been for my trip to Argentina. In a bag of 20kg, I could take suitable clothing for Iguazu (tropical climate) to Ushuaia (polar climate), my hiking gear, my BCD, my mask and my fins. After thousands and thousands of kilometres in Mexico, Belize, Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Italy, and France, its wheels finally broke down when I moved to Scotland.
My 2nd bag is the smallest. This is a medium size suitcase with integrated backpack straps. It serves me for weekend getaways. Last year, I managed to cram all my snow equipment into it: my boots, my BCD, my mask and my fins to go ice diving in Switzerland. I even took it to the Philippines for 1 month with my full diving equipment and by only taking my computer backpack. Indeed, when travelling to tropical destinations, it is a bit easier to gain weight and volume thanks to light clothing and a 2.5mm wetsuit.
My 3rd bag is medium size: it is the Aqua Lung bag Duffle Roller T8. Once again I opted for the clever system of an integrated backpack system. I must say that for my expeditions where I have to take more equipment, it is the perfect compromise. A lot of space inside for this bag of 92L. 200g lighter than my 1st bag while it incorporates a telescopic handle. This handle is particularly nice and I have to say I am much less tired when I roll the bag. Only things I regret: no separate pocket for clothes and the comfort of the straps. Yet, carrying my bag as a backpack is usually only for short period, so it should be fine. For my trip to Iceland, I could put everything I needed: dry suit, icy waters regulators, fins, mask, gloves, clothing for winter. Perfect!
My last advice to never carry your bag more than 50 meters. With a couple of organisation tricks, from the aeroplane to the bus, from the bus to the boat, from the boat to the tuk-tuk, from the tuk-tuk to a horse-drawn carriage… depending on the country you’re visiting there is always a solution to get a bit of help for very little money! Travelling by bus was perfect in Mexico, taxi ideal and cheaper for 2 than the bus in Egypt, the train was fantastic in Thailand and I highly recommend the boat in Indonesia if you have time.
So, ready to start packing?
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