Must Have Tools for a Safe Dive
Scuba diving is the best sport in the world, but like all high-adrenaline activities, things can sometimes go sideways. When they do, your level of preparation can make all the difference. There are products designed to keep you safer, but to help you stay safe, they have to be stowed in a BC pocket, clipped to a D-ring or stored on the dive boat, not collecting dust in a closet.
Over the years, technological advances have made scuba diving a safer sport. A wide variety of products on the market allow you to increase how safe you are in the water. Ultimately, the goal of safety gear is to never be needed. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, the last thing you want to do is wind up thinking, "If I only had a ____!"
Here are our picks of the top must have tools for building a safety cushion into your dive plan.
Note: List last updated 31 March 2019
Rescue GPS Locator
- Nautilus LifeLine Marine Rescue GPS
Our Price: $335
Our hands-down favourite safety device for local diving is the Nautilus LifeLine. The next generation Nautilus Lifeline Marine Rescue GPS is fully waterproof and depth rated to 130 metres (425 feet). It's also falling-down-simple to use. Your GPS position, accurate to 1.5 metres, and a man overboard distress message will be broadcast to all AIS equipped ships up to 55 kilometres (34 miles) away as well as a DSC message to the marine radios in your area.
- Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer - Nitrox Wrist
RRP: $449, Our Price: $349, You Save $100 (22%).
The dive computer is probably the most important safety advance in the sport of diving. Much more important than a snorkel, and arguably more important than an octopus, a dive computer is considered mandatory equipment today. If you're not using a dive computer then get yourself this great, entry-level dive computer and be safer in the water.
For more information, please read our Buying a Dive Computer guide.
- Mares Flexible Foldable Roll-Up Snorkel @
Our Price: $36
You know you're supposed to have one, but having a snorkel hanging off your mask is not necessarily your favourite thing... rebel. If this sounds like you, then this is the snorkel for you! The Mares Snorkel @ rolls up and can be carried in a BC pocket or hung from a D-ring. The snorkel deploys in a snap, making it a great emergency device while also being travel friendly.
This light's compact casing holds three AA batteries that deliver close to three hours of burn time at full power. The Stubby LED-1500 is small enough to fit in most BC pockets yet feels substantial in the hand. Its simple twist on and twist off switch eliminates accidental activation. Most important, this dive torch cranks out powerful illumination. The lens is triple O-ring sealed and depth rated to 200 metres. Comes complete with a wrist lanyard and a soft Goodman handle. It's a compact primary torch, or even a great backup dive torch for technical and cave divers.
For more information, please read our Dive Light Buying Guide.
Backup Dive Light
- Atorch WP03 Compact Pocket Dive Light - 850LM
RRP: $99, Our Price: $89, You Save $10 (10%).
This compact pocket LED diving torch pumps out 850 lumens of light in a powerful focused beam. It features a rechargeable battery with a micro USB based charging system.
- IST Proline Hi-Viz Glow LED Dive Beacon
RRP: $15, Our Price: $12, You Save $3 (20%).
IST Proline's multicoloured beacon lights offer an inexpensive and simple way to keeping track of everyone underwater during a night dive. Small and powered by three microcell batteries, the Dive Beacon comes in four colours. It twists on and off, and can be attached to your BC or tank valve with the included lanyard, or you can zip-tie it anywhere it's best seen by your buddy.
- Suunto SK-8 Wrist Strap Dive Compass (SH)
RRP: $100, Our Price: $95, You Save $5 (5%).
Never get lost again and navigate in dark or murky water with Suunto's easy-to-read compass. The best non-electric underwater compass we've come across, the Suunto SK8 sports high-visibility numerals, convenient side-viewing window and phosphorescent card. It's easy to read, and its +/- 30-degree tilt makes it usable at any angle. The bezel ratchets every 5 degrees to allow for precise navigation.
Alternate Air Source
- H2Odyssey Extra Air Source with Catalina S13 Cylinder
RRP: $759, Our Price: $685, You Save $74 (10%).
Why not carry the an emergency air system, with enough air to get you safely to the surface in an out-of-air emergency? You can refill easily from your tank and it includes a refill adaptor. It attaches to your BC with included holster.
Whistles, Horns and Mirrors
Having a whistle attached to your BCD can be a lifesaving tool should you need to be located by rescuers or to gain the attention of the people on your dive boat. Emergency whistles require less energy than does screaming or yelling. In addition, the sound created by whistles is more far reaching than is the human voice.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation while underwater and you need to get your buddy's, an underwater horn/signaling device can alert your buddy to the fact you need him/her. Underwater horns attach between your 1st stage and your inflator air hose. By pressing a button on the horn, a sound that is audible underwater is emitted. Unless they're wearing full-face masks with communication devices, divers cannot talk while at depth. Underwater signaling devices allow divers to get the attention of others when they are in need of help. They are also a convenient way to alert your buddy if she/he is outside the sound range of your tang banger.
Underwater horns can also be used at the surface, should a diver need help but cannot use his/her voice and does not have a whistle.
- Dive Alert Plus v.2 Surface/Subsurface Signalling Device
Our Price: $225
One way to attract attention, both at depth and on the surface, is with a pneumatic audible alarm. The latest version of the Dive Alert Plus connects without tools between your BCD's inflator and its quick-disconnect hose. For surface use, all you have to do is squeeze and it activates a horn that can be heard from as far as 1.5 kilometre away. Underwater, another squeeze emits a loud buzz. Either way, people will know you're there.
- IST Proline Duo-Chamber Split Fin Shaped Safety Whistle
RRP: $5, Our Price: $4, You Save $1 (20%).
This bright-yellow noisemaker can be heard up to a kilometre away. What's more, the Sonar Safety Whistle is inconspicuous, clipping easily to a BCD D-ring, making this the quintessential backup safety device.
- Trident Rescue Flash Signal Mirror
RRP: $36, Our Price: $32, You Save $4 (11%).
It's one of the least expensive items you can add to your surface signaling arsenal — a Trident Rescue Flash Signal Mirror. This durable reflective mirror is visible for more than 20 miles. Instructions for use are on the back of the mirror.
If you are in a situation in which you need/want your dive buddy's attention, but the situation isn't dire, a tank banger can be used to alert your buddy. Tank bangers are circular rubber tubing that is threaded through a plastic bead. This tubing is placed around the base of your tank, with the bead in a position that is easily reached by the diver. When you need to gain your buddy's attention, simply grab the bead with an outward motion and then release the bead. The bead will create a reverberating sound, which can be heard by your nearby buddy.
- IST Proline Tank Banger
RRP: $15, Our Price: $14, You Save $1 (7%).
The simplest and most reliable attention getter for Scuba Diving is the Tank Banger. Just stretch it over the base of your Scuba Cylinder and you're ready to go. Being bright yellow, you will always be able to see it when needed. To use, just stretch the band away from tank, let go, and let the ball make a loud thwack.
For more information, please read our Underwater Noisemaker Buying Guide.
Deployable Surface Marker Buoy and Reel
- AP Diving Ratcheted Pocket Reel with 45m (147ft) Line
RRP: $179, Our Price: $162, You Save $17 (9%).
Many recreational divers have no signalling system, or at the very least just a safety sausage. They shy away from having a proper reel and SMB because they find them intimidationing or bulky. Well the Buddy Pocket Reel is the perfect solution to the problem of bulky and cumbersome SMB/Navigation reels. It can be easily stowed in your BCD pocket or clipped unobtrusively to a D-ring.
- AP Diving Buddy Delayed SMB with Mini-Cylinder Inflation - SMBCi
RRP: $519, Our Price: $395, You Save $124 (24%).
A real gem of a product, the Buddy SMBCi features an independent inflation mini-cylinder available with either DIN or Int A-clamp fittings. Deployment is simply a question of unfurling the SMB and cracking open the mini-cylinder. You'll have a full stiffy on the surface every time.
- AP Diving Buddy Self-Sealing Delayed SMB
RRP: $99, Our Price: $90, You Save $9 (9%).
For an emergency signal you can use the all Yellow version of the Buddy Self-Sealing SMB to warn your surface support of an impending "out-of-gas" situation (or any other pre-arranged communication). It also does double-duty as a flotation device.
See also, How to Deploy a SMB.
Dive flags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they allow people to know where you are when you're at depth or when snorkelling at the surface. They alert boaters to the fact that divers are in the area and should use care. The last thing you want to do is surface in the path of an oncoming boat. Use a dive flag to alert boat captains that you are in the area so they can adjust their navigation accordingly.
- Ocean Hunter Inflatable Torpedo Float w Line & Alpha Flag (Ylw)
RRP: $49, Our Price: $46.50, You Save $2.50 (5%).
Increase your safety when diving in areas with boat traffic by being seen while below with this deluxe alpha dive flag on a large torpedo shaped float. It's fantastic as a scuba diving surface marker, or as a surface platform for spearfishing and free diving.
See also, Using a Dive Float and Flag.
Sometime hand signals just don't cut it. An underwater dive slate allows you to communicate with your dive buddy. Yor can even send it to the surface attached to your DSMB to pass a message to the dive boat.
- IST Proline Underwater Writing Slate
RRP: $15, Our Price: $12, You Save $3 (20%).
Being able to clearly communicate well with your dive buddy or surface support is important, especially when things go wrong. This slate comes with a quick release attachment clip to make it easier to secure to your kit, or to your SMB when sending a message to the surface.
Dive Knife or Line Cutter
When you get tangled up in fishing line you'll wish you had a suitable dive knife or line cutter.
- Tusa FK-11 Blunt Tip Diving Mini-Knife
RRP: $58, Our Price: $52, You Save $6 (10%).
Real divers don't have big flashy dive knives, they use practical, compact ones like this. It's our best selling dive knife, because of its multiple mounting options. It can be fixed with a stainless steel clip on your BCD, or with the included hose keeper on your gauge or inflator hose. Everything you need in an emergency.
- IST Proline Ceramic Line Cutter Dive Knife
Our Price: $75
This award winning Line Cutter in Sheath was developed for divers, mariners, mountaineers, extreme sports adventurers and rescue service providers who demand a tool that delivers a swift, safe, efficient cut. There are numerous activities from scuba diving to parachuting that require an emergency cutting tool as a mandatory piece of equipment, to be carried on every activity specifically for self rescue, or for the assistance of others.
For more information, please see our Buying a Dive Knife guide.
Scuba Diver's Toolkit
- Trident Deluxe Scuba Diver's Toolkit
RRP: $97, Our Price: $87, You Save $10 (10%).
Diving's all about the gear, and sometimes gear needs to be repaired. This dive-specific tool kit comes with a pair of adjustable wrenches sized to fit reg hoses, a Phillips and flat-head screwdriver, hex wrenches for tightening port plugs, needle-nose pliers, plus an O-ring tool. Tools are organised in a zippered case, ready when you need them.
See also, Save a Dive Kit.
- Cressi Octopus XS Compact Second Stage Regulator
RRP: $189, Our Price: $159, You Save $30 (16%).
In the unlikely event that your buddy has an out-of-air emergency, you'll be happy that you can hand off an Octopus Regulator which is made from durable hi-tech polymers. When things are going south for a diver who may be panicking, the bright-yellow cover is a safety feature. This easy breather will deliver air and help calm your buddy while you ascend.
- Land and Sea - Dry Bag Heavy Duty (10 lt)
RRP: $19.95, Our Price: $19, You Save $0.95 (5%).
Okay, this might not save your life, but it might just save everything you need to keep dry, like a change of clothes, your phone and wallet. It is the ideal bag for carrying your equipment in any challenging situation, including the dive boat. This bag has electronically (RF) welded seams that make it 100% waterproof. The design provides all-purpose and reliable protection for your gear.
- The Scuba Doctor 5mm Neoprene Regulator Bag (Plastic Zip)
RRP: $59, Our Price: $55, You Save $4 (7%).
Your reg is one of the most important life-support items of gear that you own. Shouldn't you treat it the same way as a guitar, camera or binoculars, all of which are usually transported in specially made cases? This durable, well-made padded bag will safely transport your regulator or other delicate instruments.
This tough mesh gear bag is a practical way to carry or rinse all your scuba equipment, and is perfect for using as a portable dive boat bag. It also comes with carry handles and a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
- Gear Aid Antifog Sea Drops Liquid Drops - Squeeze Pack (37ml)
Our Price: $17
Alright, it won't save your life, but it will keep you from getting aggravated at a constantly fogged mask. A quick application of Sea Drops cleans lenses and gets rid of fog, giving you a crystal-clear view of the reef, wreck, shark or whatever you're hoping to see. It's safe for silicone and rubber frames, long-lasting and non-abrasive.