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More About Diving

History of Diving
Dive Equipment
Frequently Asked Questions

Dive Equipment

A dive kit consists of a number of basic parts. Click the image for more information on a specific piece of equipment:


Tank Regulator Console BCD Mask Weight belt Dive suit Fins

The most important parts of a dive kit are:

To top of page The dive suit keeps you warm under water. Because water conducts warmth much faster than air does, you will get cold a lot faster under water. This is why you will almost always need a dive suit when diving. Dive suits come in different thicknesses, for different water temperatures, and they can be worn with or without gloves, boots or hood.

To top of page The BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) helps you control your buoyancy. The BCD is attached to the tank, which allows you to inflate it using the air from the tank by simply pressing a button. The more air the BCD contains, the more buoyancy the diver has.
The tank is attached to the back of the BCD.

To top of page The regulator consists of a first stage, which is attached to the tank, and a second stage, which you put in your mouth. The first and second stages are connected by a hose. The regulator reduces the high pressure of the air from the tank to ambient pressure, thus allowing you to breathe in the air.
Most divers use two regulators: their own regulator and an extra regulator, called the octopus, which can be used by the diver's buddy in case of an emergency.

To top of page The console usually contains a depth gauge, a pressure gauge and a compass.
To be able to plan a dive and dive safely, you need to know your current depth. A depth gauge indicates your current depth and the maximum depth of your current dive.
During a dive, you need to be able to check the amount of air left in your tank. A pressure gauge allows you to do this.
A compass is used to navigate under water and to enable you to find your way back to the point where you entered the water.

To top of page The tank contains air that has been compressed to a pressure of about 200 bar. This way, a tank can contain a lot of air. Tanks are available in different sizes, varying from 5 to 20 liters. Most divers use 10 or 12 liter tanks.
A 10 liter tank filled to 200 bar contains 2000 liters of air. The amount of time you can dive with this amount of air depends on a number of circumstances:
  • Physically fit and more experienced divers use less air than divers who are not physically fit and novice divers.
  • During a shallow dive you use less air than during a deep dive.
  • During a relaxed dive without currents you use less air than during a streneous dive.

On average, a diver uses about 25 liters of air per minute. Thus, a 10 liter tank would allow you to dive for about 80 minutes.


To top of page A mask allows you to see under water. If you try to see under water without wearing a mask, you will not be able to see clearly. This is because water is much denser than air; the human eye is not designed for an environment as dense as water. A mask creates an artifical air space in front of the eyes, thus allowing you to see clearly under water.
A mask cannot eliminate all distortion under water; even while wearing a mask, all objects under water will appear 25% bigger and 25% closer than they actually are.

To top of page Fins enable you to move with less effort under water. The fins more or less enlarge the surface of your feet, thus enabling you to replace more water with one fin kick than you would if you weren't wearing fins.

To top of page The weight belt allows you to descend. Without a weight belt, you are too buoyant and you will remain floating at the surface. The amount of weight needed depends on various circumstances:
  • The heavier the diver, the more weight he will need.
  • In salt water you will need more weight than in fresh water.
  • The thicker the dive suit, the more weight you need.



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