Gear bags hold your scuba supplies and keep all your scuba equipment organized and protected. Even if you often rent your scuba gear, you will acquire a large amount of gear as you dive more and more. Just to take a certification class, you will need your own scuba mask, snorkel, fins, boots, and gloves. You may also choose to have spares of certain items, such as batteries, anti-fog agent, back-up mask strap, extra fin straps, O-ring kit, and so forth. These “extras” can help you if your gear fails on a diving trip. As you dive more, you will likely acquire more and more gear as you rely on rentals less. A gear bag helps keep all your scuba equipment in one place so it is ready when you are ready to hit the water. Scuba gear bags also protect your equipment and allow you to travel with all your scuba gear more easily. When choosing a gear bag, consider:
1) Size. You need a gear bag that is large enough to hold all your gear without being too awkward or oversized. Unless you want to be constantly updating your gear bag, however, it is a good idea to buy a gear bag with some room for growth. That is, consider the equipment you will likely buy in the next few years and buy a gear bag that is large enough for all this gear. Otherwise, you will need to buy a new gear bag each time you buy new scuba diving equipment – and that can get expensive fast.
2) Style. A backpack-style bag will hold less equipment than a duffel-style bag but will keep your hands free, which is important if you need to have both hands free on a boat before a dive. If you have lots of gear for a cold-water dive, you may need a larger duffel-style bag. If you don’t travel a lot to dive, a storage bag that lets you keep all your scuba gear organized may be all you need.
3) Pockets. A gear bag with lots of pockets is nice, because it allows you to stay organized more easily. If your gear bag has lots of pockets, you can easily keep batteries in one pocket, repair kits in another, and so forth. Having a separate pocket for your fins helps keep them together while a separate pocket for your regulator hoses keeps them from getting entangled in other scuba equipment. Having pockets in your gear bag and using them to keep organized ensures your dive won’t be delayed because your gear bag is in a jumble.
4) Fabric durability. Tanks and other diving equipment can be very heavy, so it is vital to choose a gear bag that will stand the test of time. Poor quality gear bags can easily fall apart, especially at the seams, handles, and zippers, and this can put your equipment at risk. Look for a high thread count, as this will mean a thicker and more stable fabric. A
thread count of 1200, or even better, a 1600 thread count, should be your minimum count. Also, inspect your gear bag carefully before buying. Look for solid stitching, sturdy handles, and durable fabric.
5) Fabric. Many dive bags are made from nylon, often designed to dry fast. You may also want to look for bags that have some mesh or rubber-coated mesh. Mesh ensures that you’re not trapping water in your gear bag. Mesh also increases air circulation in your bag, which can nix mold and mildew.
6) Opening. You will want your gear bag to allow you to access your scuba gear quickly and easily, but how you want to access your gear is a personal preference. Some divers like a gear bag that butterflies out on a flat surface, so that they can see all their gear at a glance. Other divers prefer a drawstring style that is easy to open and close easily. Other prefer lots of zippers so that different compartments can be accessed separately. Experiment with different styles until you find the right one for you.
7) Travel features. If you will be traveling to diving sites, you need to consider features that will make your gear bag easy to travel with. For example, you will want your gear bag to have a pull handle and wheels to ensure that you can travel with ease. You might even want the wheels and handle to be retractable to make your bag more compact. If you will be traveling with your gear bag, you will also want one that is small enough to fit airline regulations and one that is sturdy enough to handle the added abuse that airline luggage handlers may dole out.