Let’s think about the scuba diving equipment.

understanding scuba dive equipment
Understanding scuba dive equipment

Every set of scuba equipment is different and you will be shown the features of the equipment that you are using in your pre-dive brief.

Part of the scuba diving equipment that you will use is the same used to snorkel, such as the mask, fins and wetsuit.

The extra scuba equipment used in scuba diving can look quite intimidating but it shouldn’t be.


It’s easiest to think of your scuba equipment  in three different parts:

  • The Scuba Tank (or cylinder)
  • The Jacket (or buoyancy compensator)
  • The Hoses –
    Primary and Secondary Regulators,
    Inflator Hose &
    Information Gauge


First of all, the tank contains normal air – just like the air you’re breathing right now.

The main difference is that the air in the tank has been compressed – so there’s lots and lots of air inside – and it’s also been dried.

We don’t want to breathe moist air underwater so all the moisture’s been taken out, therefore the air you breathe in is going to taste quite dry, and that’s normal.

It’s always a good idea to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after scuba diving.


Next, the jacket, or BC.

If you are trying scuba diving or are going on a fun resort dive, then a dive leader will put this on for you and make sure it is adjusted properly.

It goes on in exactly the same way a backpack does, with arms going through the side straps.

Every equipment configuration is different but there is usually a wide Velcro comfort strap that goes around your waist and an extra big clip to secure it all in place.

Your scuba Instructor will ensure it fits you comfortably.

If you are not used to it, the equipment can feel really heavy.

If you have any back or knee problems it is important to inform your dive leader in advance.

If it is too heavy for you to walk around in, again inform your dive leader as there is usually the option to don and remove the scuba equipment while sitting down.


Every set of equipment is different and you will be shown the features of the equipment that you are using in your pre-dive brief.

Most basic sets that are used for recreational scuba diving have four hoses:

Primary Regulator

The main hose for you to know about is the one that you will breathe from. This hose comes over your right shoulder and is attached to something called a  ‘2nd stage regulator’ (or what most first-time scuba divers often nickname the ‘breathing thingy’).

The regulator has exactly the same mouthpiece as a snorkel does and it is used in much the same way. Your dive leader will demonstrate how to breathe from a regulator, and you will have the opportunity to practice before getting in the water.

In scuba diving it is important to always breathe normally; meaning a slow, steady inhalation followed by a relaxed exhalation. Do not rush. Relax and let the air flow out naturally each time you exhale.

It is important to breathe all the time through the regulator and never hold your breath.

Regulators are pretty amazing pieces of equipment and there’s not much you can’t do to them.

You can cough in them, spit in them, even spew in them and they will still give you air!

You should leave the regulator in your mouth at all times while on a fun resort dive.

Secondary Regulator

On most sets of scuba equipment used for recreational diving there is an additional hose that looks just like the first, with the same type of breathing regulator attached.

This is simply a spare and is often affectionately named ‘Justin’, as in ‘just-in-case’.

If you are participating in a introductory resort dive you probably won’t be told too much about this one. It is primarily there so that if necessary, two people could both breathe from the same tank.

To learn more about this hose, ask your dive leader or enrol in an Open Water Dive Course, where you will be taught much more in depth about this piece of equipment.

Information Gauge

The third hose is our information hose. Again every equipment configuration is different, but most modern information hoses have a computer and a submersible pressure gauge attached.

Scuba Dive computers are complex instruments that cannot be fully described here, but when you look at your computer it should tell you interesting information such as how deep you are and how long you’ve been underwater for, amongst other things.

Your scuba dive leader will tell you everything you need to know about your computer before you participate in a scuba dive.

Submersible pressure gauges look the same as a fuel gauge in a car and tell us how much air is in our tank.

Your Scuba Instructor will monitor your instruments closely for you during the dive and show you everything you need to know about a submersible pressure gauge.

– Usually, on a first time resort dive your Scuba Instructor will take care of monitoring all information gauges, leaving you free to relax and enjoy looking at the fish!

Inflator Hose

The last hose on a standard set of scuba equipment is called the Inflater Hose.

Your Scuba Instructor will show you what you need to know about using the inflater hose.

Attached are an inflater button which inflates the jacket and a deflater button which deflates the jacket.

Often, first time divers are told not to touch the inflater hose at all and to let their Instructor operate it.

(Please note that an inflater button should NEVER be used as a fast track for getting to the surface – this can lead to injury).

Scuba divers should always come up to the surface slowly and because of this it will usually be your Instructor who brings you back to the top.

You must stay close to your dive leader at all times during a scuba dive to ensure a safe and fun experience for all.

For more information about the Inflater Hose or about how slowly you should ascend to the surface, speak to a dive professional or enrol in an Open Water Scuba Diving Course.

At the Surface

It is important to know good surface skills.

On the surface of the water always leave your mask in place so you can see, your regulator or snorkel in your mouth so you can breathe, and your jacket (or BC) inflated so you can float until you are safely clear of the water.

If there is ever any danger of you sinking below the surface without wishing to do so, attain positive buoyancy by inflating your jacket and ditching your weight system.

Your scuba dive leader should inform you how to do this in the pre-dive briefing.