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  • Writer's pictureScuba Steve

Dive Smart: The Importance of Streamlining your Scuba Gear

One crucial aspect of ensuring a safe and enjoyable dive is the proper streamlining of scuba gear. In this blog post, we will delve into why streamlining your scuba equipment is important and how it contributes to a safer and more efficient diving experience.

 

Buying your own scuba gear for the first time is exciting as a new diver. You have the freedom to personalize and set up just the way you like it, and you don't have go out and rent gear every time you get in the water.


When I was first certified in 2014, I was lucky. My Open Water Instructor was a big cave diver, and he spent hours showing us how to properly and safely set up our equipment. Unfortunately, many Open Water courses gloss over this topic, or worse, they demonstrate bad habits to their students.


A scuba diver
Don't be this diver! Your SPG hose should always be clipped!

Why Streamline?

Scuba diving is a captivating and adventurous activity that allows individuals to explore the mesmerizing beauty of the underwater world. While the experience is always exhilarating, the importance of safety cannot be overstated. Properly setting up and streamlining your gear is important for safety, comfort, and efficiency. When your gear isn't streamlined, you'll move slower in the water, burn through air quicker, and create distractions that lead to a safety issue. If you look at photos of advanced cave divers, you'll see the concept of streamlining taken to an extreme: cave divers can't afford having any loose equipment that may snag or become a hazard.


Reduced Drag and Improved Efficiency:

One of the primary benefits of streamlining scuba gear is the significant reduction in drag, which can be crucial when diving in strong currents (like here in Hawaii). Bulky or improperly positioned equipment can create unnecessary resistance and act like a sail, catching the current and making it challenging to maintain control. By minimizing unnecessary protrusions and optimizing equipment placement, divers can navigate currents more effectively and enjoy a more controlled and safer dive. Streamlined scuba gear contributes to better hydrodynamics, allowing divers to move smoothly through the water, conserving energy and prolonging their bottom time.


Enhanced Buoyancy Control:

Proper buoyancy control is fundamental for a safe and enjoyable dive. Unnecessary and unevenly distributed gear can disrupt a diver's buoyancy, leading to difficulties maintaining a stable position in the water. Streamlining equipment helps distribute weight evenly, making it easier for divers to achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy. This not only improves the overall diving experience but also minimizes the risk of accidental contact with fragile underwater ecosystems here in Hawaii.


Reduced Risk of Entanglement:

Loose straps, hoses, and dangling accessories increase the risk of entanglement during a dive. Streamlining gear involves securing and organizing equipment, reducing the likelihood of entanglement hazards. This is particularly important when diving in environments with intricate coral formations or wrecks where entanglement risks are higher.  By minimizing unnecessary protrusions and optimizing equipment placement, divers can navigate currents more effectively and enjoy a more controlled and safer dive.


Emergency Situations:

In the event of an emergency, quick and efficient access to essential equipment is paramount. Streamlining scuba gear ensures that critical items such as the dive knife, alternate air source, and buoyancy control device are easily accessible. This streamlined approach can make a significant difference in responding promptly to emergencies, potentially preventing accidents from escalating.



How do I Streamline My Gear?

Now that we've discussed why you should be streamlining your gear, let's discuss some important things to keep in mind when reviewing your own setup.


scuba diver in a cave
Notice the lack of dangling gear?

Start with the Basics

The easiest first step is making sure your equipment fits! This may sound simple, but proper fit goes beyond just being able to put the gear on. You want a BCD that is adjusted and fits your particular body shape well, especially around the chest, waist, and shoulders. I always recommend that new divers avoid online purchases of BCD for their first set of gear - you should go into a dive shop and try on different fits and styles to know what works best for you!


You should consider how a tank sits on your back (at depth and on the surface), how easy it is to access adjustment straps, and how well you can maintain proper trim. There is no one-size-fits-all, so you should make sure that your gear is set up properly for your body. This includes making sure that excess straps or webbing from your BCD is properly secured or cut! Remember, we want to absolutely minimize the chances of something getting caught in the reef or on rocks.


Stow Your Hose!

It might just be me, but loose or dangling SPG (air gauge) hoses are my absolute pet peeve.

Unfortunately you’ll see lots of divers like the one in the first photo, with their SPG (air gauge) dangling loose somewhere behind them. In Hawaii, dangling hoses can be dangerous, especially in areas like Sharks Cove where they can be caught in rocks, trapping the diver or causing equipment failure. I’ve personally watched an SPG get ripped off when it got caught in a rock crevasse and the water surge pushed the diver, causing a massive air leak. To prevent this from happening, attach a clip to the end of your SPG, and find a safe place to clip it on your BCD.


You should also consider how your secondary regulator (octo) is stored. You need to ensure that your octo is within your immediate reach and can be deployed quickly in a few seconds. There are plenty of quick-release straps that are made for this specific purpose that will hold the hose and regulator close to your body. However, you should also consider the Hogarth Hose Configuration for your regulator setup. This hose setup requires a long hose for your primary, and a short hose for your secondary (held in place around your neck). In an out-of-air situation, you donate your primary with the long hose to your buddy, and begin breathing off the secondary around your neck.


Clip it Off

So what’s the best way to attach hoses or SPGs to a BCD? The two most popular methods are attaching a marine-grade bolt snap with zip ties or braided nylon line (all of which can be purchased at West Marine). It’s important to NEVER attach a metal clip directly to a piece of equipment. You always want a weak point that can be cut with a dive knife in case that piece of equipment gets entangled on something while attached to you, and the clip becomes stuck.


A carabiner is also an option (instead of a bolt snap), but it’s important to find ones that have a locking device. Non-locking carabiners can easily clip themselves onto fishing line or other obstructions by themselves with a little bit of tension, causing you to become entangled.


Good 8 min Educational Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8CsL436QpY


Clip it or Stash it?

I love d-rings and bolt snaps as much as any diver does, but having all your gear clipped to the outside of your BCD isn't the best plan. Dangling items like flashlights, slates, or noisemakers all have the potential to get caught or snagged. Additionally, gear hanging on your BCD can cause confusion during an emergency. If I ever had my mask knocked off, I know exactly where my SPG, octo, and BCD release straps are without having to see them. If I attach a bunch of other gear to those d-rings, it would not be as simple to find these crucial items. Consider stashing things like flashlights, slates, and noisemakers inside BCD pockets. If you need more pockets, I recommend adding thigh pocket like this one I use.


 

PRO TIP: Hair ties (the black elastic kind) are great for making sure gear doesn't dangle. If you need to have a flashlight clipped to a d-ring, you can secure the loose end of the flashlight by wrapping a hair tie around the loose end and your BCD, securing it tightly to your body. You can also use hair ties to secure excess straps or webbing from your BCD.

 

Don't be a Christmas Tree

If another diver calls you a Christmas Tree, it's not because they think you are extra festive. Unfortunately we all seem to love toys as divers, and we can't resist bringing them down with us. Do you really need multiple noise-makers and slates with you at all times? Look at what you need vs. what you are actually taking down. At a minimum, you should have a surface marker buoy (SMB), signaling device (like a whistle), and a SMALL cutting device (not a rambo knife). Everything beyond that should be carefully considered.


Conclusion

In the world of scuba diving, safety should always be a top priority. Streamlining scuba gear is a simple yet effective way to enhance safety and overall diving enjoyment. By reducing drag, improving buoyancy control, minimizing entanglement risks, and optimizing hydrodynamics, divers can embark on underwater adventures with confidence, knowing they are well-prepared for whatever the ocean may bring. So, the next time you gear up for a dive, take a moment to ensure that your equipment is streamlined and comfortable. Don't forget to clip off that SPG hose!

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