Diving equipment
Two display dummies dressed in surface supplied diving equipment at a dive trade show
Surface supplied commercial diving equipment on display at a trade show
Other namesDive gear
UsesFacilitate underwater diving operations

Diving equipment, or underwater diving equipment, is equipment used by underwater divers to make diving activities possible, easier, safer and/or more comfortable. This may be equipment primarily intended for this purpose, or equipment intended for other purposes which is found to be suitable for diving use.

The fundamental item of diving equipment used by divers other than freedivers, is underwater breathing apparatus, such as scuba equipment, and surface-supplied diving equipment, but there are other important items of equipment that make diving safer, more convenient or more efficient. Diving equipment used by recreational scuba divers, also known as scuba gear, is mostly personal equipment carried by the diver, but professional divers, particularly when operating in the surface supplied or saturation mode, use a large amount of support equipment not carried by the diver.

Equipment which is used for underwater work or other activities which is not directly related to the activity of diving, or which has not been designed or modified specifically for underwater use by divers is not considered to be diving equipment.

Classes of underwater breathing apparatus

Main article: Underwater breathing apparatus

The diving mode is largely defined by the type of breathing apparatus used.

Personal diving equipment

This is the diving equipment worn by or carried by the diver for personal protection or comfort, or to facilitate the diving aspect of the activity, and may include a selection from:

Underwater breathing apparatus

Main article: Underwater breathing apparatus

Environmental protection

See also: Diving suit

The underwater environment usually requires a diver to wear thermal, sting and abrasion protection.

In-water stabilisation and mobility

This equipment includes buoyancy control equipment and mobility equipment: Buoyancy control is achieved by ballasting with diving weights and compensating for buoyancy changes during the dive using a buoyancy compensator:

Mobility equipment allows the diver to move through the water and maneuver on the spot:

Equipment for dive monitoring and navigation

See also: Scuba skills § Dive management skills, Dive computer, and Diver navigation

These are the equipment used for monitoring the course of the dive and following the dive plan when undesirable events are avoided. They include planning and monitoring the dive profile, gas usage and decompression, navigation, and modifying the plan to suit actual circumstances.

Vision and communication

See also: Underwater vision and Diver communications

Underwater vision is significantly affected by several factors. Objects are less visible because of lower levels of natural illumination and are blurred by scattering of light between the object and the viewer, also resulting in lower contrast. These effects vary with wavelength of the light, and color and turbidity of the water. The human eye is unable to focus when in direct contact with water, and an air space must be provided. Voice communication requires special equipment, and much recreational diver communication is visual and based on hand signals.

Safety equipment

See also: Diving safety

Diving safety equipment in the broader sense would include all equipment that could make a dive safer, by reducing a hazard, reducing the probability of an adverse event, or mitigating its effects. This would include basic equipment such as primary breathing apparatus, exposure protection, buoyancy management equipment and mobility equipment. The more specific meaning is equipment primarily and explicitly used to improve safety of a dive or diving operation. Equipment intended to improve safety in the second sense includes:

Surface detection aids

Personal locator beacon for divers - sealed for immersion
Personal locator beacon for divers - open showing coiled antenna

The purposes of this class of personal equipment are to:[15]

Surface detection aids include:[15]

Personal tools and accessories

Vinyl toolbag with bolt snaps for securing to harness
Norwegian diving pioneer Odd Henrik Johnsen with underwater camera (1960's)
Surface supplied diver rescue tether with soft eye and bolt snap

Diving team tools and equipment

Surface support equipment connected with diving and underwater work

International diving flag
Informal Recreational diving flag

Special equipment for underwater work not carried by the diver

Maintenance and testing

See also: Testing and inspection of diving cylinders

Life support equipment must be maintained and tested before use to ensure that it remains in serviceable condition and is fit for use at the time. Pre-dive inspection and testing of equipment at some level is standard procedure for all modes and applications of diving. The use of checklists is known to improve reliability of inspection and testing, and may be required by the applicable code of practice or operations manual, or manufacturer's operating instructions. Inadequate pre-dive checks of breathing apparatus can have fatal consequences for some equipment, such as rebreathers, or may require the diving operation to be aborted without achieving its objective.

Maintenance can be categorised as:

Decontamination and disinfection

See also: Cleaning and disinfection of personal diving equipment and Hazmat diving § Decontamination

Diving equipment may be exposed to contamination in use and when this happens it must be decontaminated This is a particular issue for hazmat diving, but incidental contamination can occur in other environments. Personal diving equipment shared by more than one user requires disinfection before use. Shared use is common for expensive commercial diving equipment, and for rental recreational equipment, and some items such as demand valves, masks, helmets and snorkels which are worn over the face or held in the mouth are possible vectors for infection by a variety of pathogens. Diving suits are also likely to be contaminated, but less likely to transmit infection directly.

When disinfecting diving equipment it is necessary to consider the effectiveness of the disinfectant on the expected pathogens, and the possible adverse effects on the equipment. Some highly effective methods for disinfection can damage the equipment, or cause accelerated degradation of components due to incompatibility with materials.

Development, manufacture and marketing

This section needs expansion with: more information in detail. You can help by adding to it. (October 2020)

The market sectors are commercial diving, military diving, recreational and technical scuba, freediving, and snorkelling. with scientific diving using a mix of recreational, technical, and commercial equipment.

The commercial diving market is relatively small, but occupational safety issues keep cost of operations high and there is work that must be done in support of various industries, particularly the oil and gas industry, that make money available for high reliability equipment in small quantities. The military market is similarly constrained by small quantities, and there is a lot of overlap with commercial equipment where the applications are similar, but the technical requirements for stealth operations drive development of different equipment.

Recreational scuba and snorkelling are the largest markets, in which there is the most competition between manufacturers for market share, and in which the buyers are least knowledgeable about the technology and most susceptible to persuasion by advertising.

Technical diving is a niche market, where the buyers are willing to take higher risks than commercial operators, and there is enough money available to support a small number of manufacturers developing new technology. Scientific diving is also a small market, and tends to overlap the other sectors, using what is available, and occasionally driving development of new technology for special applications.


Main article: Timeline of diving technology

See also: History of underwater diving

With the partial exception of breath-hold diving, the development of underwater diving capacity, scope, and popularity, has been closely linked to available technology, and the physiological constraints of the underwater environment which the technology allows divers to partially overcome.


Diving Equipment and Marketing Association
TypeTrade Association
Legal statusMutual-benefit nonprofit corporation
Incorporated in California,
PurposeAdvocacy for the recreational diving industry
HeadquartersCalifornia, United States of America
Formerly called
Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association[20]

The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA, formerly the Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association),[20][21] is an international organization for the promotion and growth of the recreational scuba diving and snorkeling industry. It is a non-profit, global organization with more than 1,300 members, which promotes scuba diving through consumer awareness programs and media campaigns such as the national Be a Diver campaign; diver retention initiatives such as DiveCaching; and an annual trade-only event for businesses in the scuba diving, action watersports and adventure/dive-travel industries, DEMA Show.[22] Board Members serve three-year terms.[23]

The purposes and objectives of the Association are published as:[24]


National and international standards have been published for the manufacture and testing of diving equipment.

Underwater breathing apparatus

Swim fins

DIN 7876 swim fin footspace length and width measurements.

Diving masks

GOST 20568 compliant Russian and Ukrainian diving masks.
A range of 1970s snorkels made to British Standard BS 4532


Buoyancy compensators


Dry suits

Depth gauges


  1. ^ Beyerstein, G (2006). Commercial Diving: Surface-Mixed Gas, Sur-D-O2, Bell Bounce, Saturation. In: Lang, MA and Smith, NE (Eds). Proceedings of Advanced Scientific Diving Workshop (Report). Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
  2. ^ Barsky, Steven M.; Long, Dick; Stinton, Bob (2006). Dry Suit Diving: A Guide to Diving Dry. Ventura, CA.: Hammerhead Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780967430560. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  3. ^ Williams, Guy; Acott, Chris J (2003). "Exposure suits: a review of thermal protection for the recreational diver". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 33 (1). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801.
  4. ^ Bevan, John, ed. (2005). "Section 5.4". The Professional Divers's Handbook (second ed.). Alverstoke, GOSPORT, Hampshire, UK: Submex Ltd. p. 242. ISBN 978-0950824260.
  5. ^ Halls, Monty (2007). Go scuba dive. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 978-1405318211.
  6. ^ Barsky, Steven (2007). Diving in High-Risk Environments (4th ed.). Ventura, California: Hammerhead Press. ISBN 978-0-9674305-7-7.
  7. ^ Thornton, Mike; Randall, Robert; Albaugh, Kurt (March–April 2001). "Then and Now: Atmospheric Diving Suits". UnderWater magazine. Archived from the original on December 9, 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  8. ^ Gronfeldt, Thomas (11 November 2016). "Gear Review: The Buddy-Watcher". scubadiverlife.com. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Barsky, Steven M.; Christensen, Robert W. (2004). The Simple Guide to Commercial Diving. Hammerhead Press. pp. 78, 92–93. ISBN 9780967430546.
  10. ^ Department of Labour (11 January 2002). Diving regulations 2001 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. Government Gazette, Republic of South Africa. Vol. 438. Pretoria: Government Printer.
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  12. ^ Gurr, Kevin (August 2008). "13: Operational Safety". In Mount, Tom; Dituri, Joseph (eds.). Exploration and Mixed Gas Diving Encyclopedia (1st ed.). Miami Shores, Florida: International Association of Nitrox Divers. pp. 165–180. ISBN 978-0-915539-10-9.
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  15. ^ a b Guimbellot, Barry; Guimbellot, Ruth. "How to Be an Attention-Getter: Signaling Devices for Divers". dtmag.com. Retrieved 20 September 2023.
  16. ^ "Tool bag". Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  17. ^ Bevan, John, ed. (2005). "3:Applied techniques". The Professional Divers's Handbook (second ed.). Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire: Submex Ltd. pp. 174–177. ISBN 978-0950824260.
  18. ^ "15: Mixed gas and oxygen diving". The NOAA Diving Manual: Diving for Science and Technology (illustrated ed.). DIANE Publishing. 1992. p. 15.1. ISBN 9781568062310. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Maritime flags and their meaning". eoceanic.com. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
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  21. ^ "Meet the Association - the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association".
  22. ^ "Home". demashow.com.
  23. ^ "Board, Committees & Staff Members - the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association".
  24. ^ "Diving Equipment and Marketing Association Inc. Bylaws" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  25. ^ US military standard MIL-S-82258 (1965) Swim Fins, Rubber. Document found online at https://assist.dla.mil. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  26. ^ "GOST 22469-77. Ласты резиновые для плавания. Общие технические условия. Swimming rubber flippers. General specifications, ИПК Издательство стандартов, Moscow. Document found online at standartgost.ru Retrieved 16 March 2019" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  27. ^ Deutsches Institut für Normung (1980). DIN 7876 Tauchzubehör – Schwimmflossen – Maße, Anforderungen und Prüfung. [Diving accessories for skin divers; Flippers, dimensions, requirements and testing]. Berlin: Beutz Verlag GmbH.
  28. ^ Wasielewski, Ireneusz. Gumowy sprzęt pływacki - Płetwy pływackie BN-82/8444-17.02 - Our Digital Library.
  29. ^ Malaysian standard MS 974 (1985) Specification for rubber swimming fins, SIRIM Standards & Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia.
  30. ^ Austrian Standards International: ÖNORM S 4224: Tauch-Zubehör; Schwimmflossen; Abmessungen, sicherheitstechnische Anforderungen, Prüfung, Normkennzeichnung. Diving accessories; fins; dimensions, safety requirements, testing, marking of conformity.
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  32. ^ Diving equipment. Diving open heel fins. Requirements and test methods. European standard EN 16804 (Report). London: British Standards Institution. 2015.
  33. ^ a b British Standards Institution: BS 4532: Specification for snorkels and face masks. London: British Standards Institution. 1969. Amendment Slip No. 1 to BS 4532:1969 Snorkels and face masks, 30 December 1977.
  34. ^ GOST 20568-75. Маски резиновые для плавания под водой. Общие технические условие. Rubber masks for submarine swimming. General specifications. Retrieved on 8 March 2019 at standartgost.ru
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  39. ^ Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection: CNS 12497: 潛水鏡. Diving mask. Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, Republic of China. Preview available at cnsonline.com.tw
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