Essential Kit

Must Have


Exposure Suit

If you have brought a drysuit, you will need talcum powder (ideally non-scented - doesn't perish the seals) to help you get into it, and beeswax / zip-lube for the zip. Look after your zip and it will last a long time. If you don't you will find yourself continually forking out 100 quid or so for a new one.

Weight Belt

How much weight you need will depend on the type of suit you have, and your build. The club has lead and weight belts for everyone to use, so you don't need to buy your own as weight is very expensive.

As a guideline if you have a drysuit you will need 14 - 16 kilos. If you have a semi-dry 11 - 13 kilos. Typically women will need a belt with the smaller of the two amounts indicated, whilst any huge body builders amongst you may need a couple of pounds more than the weights given.

Make sure the weight belt you choose is long enough, too short and it may fall off with dire consequences.

Gloves

Some people dive without them, but generally not in April. The water will be at it's coldest, so gloves are strongly recommended. The thicker your gloves, the warmer your hands, but the harder your gear will be to operate. 3mm is a good compromise, but you should be able to operate most gear with 5mm gloves and practice. It is possible to buy kevlar / leather palmed gloves which won't wear out so quickly.

Hood

Make sure your suit comes with one (second hand suits may not, nor some new ones). You will need a hood. 5mm minimum, but the thicker the better really.

Fins

If you have been using slipper type fins, you will need to buy a set of adjustable "open heel" ones for the sea, which will fit over a thick pair of wetsuit boots (5mm).

Dive Watch

You will need to be able to time your dives! You don't need anything fancy, any watch with a timing facility, and rated as water resistant to 200 metres will do. One with a lighting facility is preferable. You should be able to pick something up from Argos for around £20. A lot of the club uses the Casio DW-280. This is not a recommendation, it is just the cheapest watch available from Argos that is up to the job. Check the catalogues, they may do something cheaper now!

Logbook

You will need to record your dives, if only to prove to your DO that you have done enough to qualify, though mine reads rather like a diary, and I quite enjoy reading back over what I have done. A simple pocket notebook will suffice.

Should Have


Dive Knife or Shears

Divers no longer tend to carry machetes on their lower legs, but a small knife or a set of shears is a sensible precaution. Many of the sites we dive are fished, so there tends to be lots of monofilament about. I only know of one diver who has been caught by ordinary fishing line. Nets tend to be found on deeper wrecks, and are far more of a problem. I would still stick by the old adage "never dive without a knife", but would add that shears may be more effective - if they are well maintained. You should be able to find shears for around £10, and knives generally start at £20. A price you'll be able to reflect on for some time whilst you sit on the bottom waiting for your air to run out, wishing you had bought something to cut that damned line you are tied up in... If you get a knife, blunt chisel tips are preferable so you don't stab yourself / puncture the boat, and get one with a serated edge. Much better for cutting line / rope. Some also come with dedicated line cutters. You'll see a lot of older members have "Eezycut Trilobites", a relatively cheap, £20 line cutter that comes in some cool colours and cuts through webbing like it's butter.

Compass

Dedicated diving compasses cost around 30 quid up. An oil filled orienteering compass from somewhere like Millets is considerably cheaper and funnily enough does exactly the same thing! Make sure it is oil filled or it will break under pressure. Also make sure you have some sort of lanyard (bit of string) to tie it to your wrist / jacket so you don't lose it. You will need a compass for your navigation exercise, and as with most of this stuff the more practice you get the better!

Goody Bag

This is basically a multipurpose string bag. Used for holding underwater booty, or more generally for storing your mask, fins, snorkel etc. whilst on the boat. Keeping everything together helps avoid leaving things on the beach when you go boat diving, and from losing stuff out of the boat. Fertiliser bags, and holdalls make suitable alternatives. Binliners are unfortunately not up to the job. A goody bag will only cost around 10 quid, and represents an excellent investment. Just make sure it is big enough for your fins.

Nice To Have


Slate

Not essential, but they cost about £5. Try explaining to someone that they are looking at a corkwing wrasse without one... You'll need to have legible handwriting though!

If you are after buying stuff, the following is a list of Bristol's dive shops, in no particular order. With all of them it would be worth trying for a student discount. Say you are a member of the University of Bristol Underwater Club.

  • Bristol Channel Divers
  • Dive Monkeys
  • Mikes Dive Shop
Again though, speak to older members at the pub and they will be able to direct you to the best bargains and might even have some of their own kit to sell. Take a look at the diving on a budget page for some helpful hints and tips on getting the right gear at the best prices.