What is stated below, is simply the opinion of Margo Peyton, Scuba Mom, CEO Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures. This is a compilation of her experiences with adults and kids over the past 25 years of traveling the world and diving. Your own judgment as a parent and the advice of your dive instructor is suggested and is a big part of any decision making process. We encourage you to share your tips, advice and experiences with diving and traveling with your kids. You can send via email we will review and possibly post here:
Gear: Tips for buying gear
Start by going to your local dive shop and get fitted for proper sizing. Their well trained staff will help you make sure to have a good fit. For kids this is very important, If properly fitted, in most cases you can get a few good years out of a mask, computer, BC, and Reg. Obviously that is with maintenance and taking care of it.
- Buy gear based on your skill level and type of diving you prefer to do. Most divers are recreational or vacation divers for example. This would require the basics: fins, mask, snorkel, BCD, Reg, Wet suit. Additional optional equipment would be; computer (I feel all divers should have a computer but it is an option), hood, weight belt, weights, safety sausage, whistle, dive light for night diving, gear bag, alternate air source, slate for communicating underwater, pencil, dive flag for shore diving and a camera for those magic moments.
- MASK: When trying on your mask, tilt your head back and make sure there are no gaps, especially under the nose and the smile line. Breath in to create a vacuum to determine if a good seal is possible. Mask should be soft and comfortable.
- FINS: I prefer full foot fins, for myself, I actually have a pare of Mares fins I have been using since 1993 and love them. You will see all the pictures of me underwater with these lime green long fins on and those are my Mares. I like them because I can keep up with anything from dolphins to kids, they fit like an old pair of comfy slippers and the Neon color is still like new, so the kids always know which diver is me. This is the only gear I have thats not ScubaPro, but I just have not found anything out there that feels as good yet. To fit yourself with a good fin, put your foot in and try to step out of the fin by putting your weight on the ball of your foot. If your heel comes out or the fin comes off its too big. You want a full foot fin to be snug. Try a few types out with your dive shop, their are wide fins, soft fins, hard fins and spit fins etc. $45-$190
- Open Heel fins: To try this type, you will need to put the front of your foot in the fin with a bootie on and pull the strap out over and around your heel. the strap should fit snug around your heel but you should not struggle to take in off and it should not cut into your ankle. Price ranges from $45-$190 I prefer the open heel fins for kids as they are growing and you will get the most out of an open heel fin. ScubaPro makes great kids fins and thats what we use with our event weeks.
- SNORKEL: A snorkel should be flexible with a purge valve to keep out water, some snorkels even have a float valve to eliminate water entry from the top. Price ranges from $25-$60.
- BCD (Buoyancy control Device): These have come a long way from when I was a kid. streamlined with back inflation, pockets with minimal drag, drop down cargo pockets, integrated weights, multiple accessory pockets, and BCD’s that weight less that 5lb. Not to mention the newer materials that include thermo plastic for quick drying time. Im a big fan of ScubaPro LadyHawk and that is what I have for me and Jen, while Tom and Robbie are in the NightHawk. I like to be streamlined and have back support, this was important for me to choose for the kids as well. I bought Jens BCD when she was 10 and now she is 14 and it still fits perfectly with all the adjustable straps etc. sizes range from xxs to xxL. BCD’s range from $250-$800.
- Regulators and octopus: The ScubaPro makes the best lightweight first stages and the optimal flow design for the second stage. Easy breathing and light weight are my demands for these two. If your a cold water diver, you will need to make sure your reg is suited for both cold and warm water diving. A dry chamber first stage in the new Subgear divers will appreciate. A good reg set can run from $300 to $1600. I personally use the ScubaPro titanium set up for my entire family — ease of care and lightweight made my decision.
What you need to know about regulators, is they have two stages, the first stage attached to the tank valve, breaks the high pressure air down to the intermediate pressure. The second stage in the divers mouth, reduces the intermediate pressure to the ambient pressure, the exact pressure you need to breathe comfortably underwater.
First Stages are either piston, which are open to the water,or diaphragm, which are closed. Piston regulators have fewer moving parts, usually making them easier to service and sometimes less expensive to purchase. Diaphragm regs are better for use in very cold or dirty water, which also means they can potentially be serviced less often than piston regs.
Second Stage come in various sizes and configurations. Make sure yours is appropriate to your diving conditions. For example have a large purge button if you generally dive in thick gloves. Second stages can be adjustable with dive/predive settings. Changing settings allows you to adjust the air flow, preventing it from fee flowing. This is very useful when diving with current.
- COMPUTERS: I’m a big fan of ScubaPro and have happily used their equipment for 20+ years. Big screens, clear information and safety guards, makes it perfect for my kids. And as an instructor, the most dependable computer I have seen in all my years of diving. Why use a computer? It’s will maximize your dive time, logs your dives, keeps your surface time, dive time, calculates levels, water temp, depth, time, compass, and can be adjusted for Nitrox, air and altitude. It’s like asking why drive when you can fly. Dive computers have been around for 30 years. They don’t actually read tables, such as the RDP but use preprogrammed mathematical formulas to continuously evaluate decompression needs based on time.
- Independent computers are worn on the wrist or attach to a console often with analog compass or pressure gauge.
- Integrated computers combine with the standard pressure gauge to give a continuous reading of cylinder air pressure and can estimate how much air remains, based on your depth and breathing rate.
- Hoseless air intergrated computers, “my choice” read air pressure from a battery-powered transmitter in the high pressure port of the first stage.
- The Chromis Dive Computer
- Large, high-visibility numbers
- Apnea and Gauge mode
- Nitrox from 21% to 100%
- ZHL8 ADT MB algorithm
- Stopwatch works in dive mode
- Desaturation reset
- Warning alarms
- User settable
- Connects to computer via USB, USB Cradle not included
- DEPTH: 400 feet / 122 meters
- COLORS: Black, White, Orange/Black, and Gold/Black
- FULL MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY