Sample Print Portfolio
Equipment Upgrade 2.0
Most of us don't even think twice about upgrading our computers, our software, our cell phones, our wardrobe, our cars, or perhaps even our homes every two to 10 years. But when did you last consider upgrading your essential dive gear? Our equipment allows us to breathe, stay neutrally buoyant, and explore underwater. Maybe it's time you seriously considered replacing some or all of it.
If you're a weekend diver, you most likely review your equipment periodically, and make the necessary purchases. But if you're a recreational/vacation diver like me, follow my lead. Have the most important equipment - your mask, regulator and buoyancy compensation device (BCD) - checked out by a qualified technician at your local dive shop before each dive trip. This will help you mitigate problems, minimize risk, and ensure hours of underwater enjoyment. Assess your gear head to toe. First, I recommend you spread your gear out on your floor or bed, and assess it all with fresh eyes: i.e., concern yourself first about safety, not what it would cost to replace certain equipment. After all, when your life depends on it, a new regulator or BCD is a worthy investment.
Starting at your head and working your way to your feet, look at your gear and ask yourself these questions:
1) Does your mask still fit?
Today, you can choose from over 100 colorful masks. Some offer patented technology with color-correcting lenses so you see colors more truly in the deep. Some provide a flatter, smaller, low-volume viewing area. Some have a wider view with an accompanying higher volume and more drag in the water.
But the secret to a mask is the fit. Every face is different. What your dive buddy or spouse uses may not work for you. So if your mask is older, is the silicon perimeter is too stiff to still fit your face properly? That's the key to better underwater vision.
2) Is your snorkel causing jaw problems?
You can spend $25 up to $100 for a cool, state-of-the-art snorkel. If you dive most of the time and rarely use the snorkel, save money and keep the one you have now, or buy the lower cost model. But if you snorkel as much as you dive, upgrade to a better one. It's well worth it.
3) How well does your regulator work?
Both my stages draw air well in shallow water and at over 100 feet. I have the O-rings cleaned and lubricated professionally before each dive trip, then bench tested to ensure they operate within the manufacturer's specs with no leaks.
I've also had regulator hoses replaced when they start to look worn - well before I encounter any problems. My mouthpiece is comfortable. There are no air leaks, excessive free flows or disproportionate water intake. So I see no need to upgrade my breathing apparatus now - but they're next on my list.
4) Are your dive tables off the map?
5) Does your computer compute properly?
If your computer is not working properly, you should have a technician check it over. It could just be just a weak battery, or it could be a major problem. The newer computers are smaller, better, and probably cheaper than the one you may already have. Again, with a piece of equipment this critical, don't worry about saving a few dollars by diving with faulty equipment. A replacement could help save your life.
6) Does your BC provide adequate lift?
A few years ago, I replaced mine with one of the more streamlined, ergonomic and fashionable designs now available. I liked the external pockets of the new BCs. The pockets hold a dive light or gloves. I also bought the BC for its integrated weight belt system which was much easier to deal with than my old neoprene weight belt with its compartments for one, two, five and 10-lb. metal weights.
This new BC provides me with adequate lift and buoyancy. It fits me comfortably and snugly around my arms, chest and stomach, without pinching if I were to gain some weight. And I like the easy-use Velcro strap for attaching a tank.
7) Are your gloves handy?
On the lower extremities, I've switched over the years from pull-on booties to zippered ones because they're so much easier to get into and out of. Again, if yours are threadbare, I'd upgrade. It's no fun having your toes or heels mangled by your fins. (That took weeks to heal.)
8) Is your exposure suit warm enough?
I have a few dive skins that are fine right now, too. When the knees and elbows got stretched too thin on older skins, I've replaced them.
My quarter-inch wetsuit doesn't fit as well as it should - or used to. I thought at first that it had shrunk in the cold California waters. In reality, my stomach expanded a few inches over the last two decades. I'm not going to upgrade this suit because, by preference, I don't dive in cold water any more. Just call me a "warm water wuss".
Seriously, an ill-fitting wet or drysuit can be hazardous to your health. You often hear stories of injuries, even deaths, from borrowed suits that impaired movement: they were too small, so they cut off circulation in the neck area, causing underwater distress, heart failure, and more. Fit is critical. If your exposure suit is too tight around the neck, across the chest, or under the arms, it's time to move up one size.
9) Are your fins too soft? Or too stiff?
I don't have a pair of the new ultra-efficient split fins, which are so popular now. I prefer my regular paddle fins, especially when I'm trying to remain still for underwater photography.
If your fins have lost their stiffness, no longer fit your booties, or are otherwise not doing the job, it's probably time to buy a new pair.
10) Have you checked your tanks lately?
11) Is you first aid kit second-rate?
These and other items should be part of your First Aid Kit. DAN offers two types of Rescue Paks in durable waterproof cases, as well as two kinds of Divers First Aid Kits. See the back of this issue to order yours.
12) Did your equipment field repair kit pass inspection?
The bottom line: Spend a little. Live a lot. If there's one thing to remember about upgrading your equipment, it's this. When in doubt about whether to replace essential gear or not, just play it safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Got a hot project that needs an estimate?
Advertising Shoppe, Gil Zeimer, Proprietor
24 Ayala Court
Copyright © 1997 - 2006 Zeimer's Advertising Shoppe. All Rights Reserved.Return to Home Page