The Best Scuba Gear for Dive Travel
As international dive destinations continue to reopen and welcome divers back into the water, we wanted to take a break from our usual head-to-head testing and instead highlight some travel-friendly gear for those divers eager to book their next trip. This roundup includes several items you may recognize from previous ScubaLab tests, along with several brand-new pieces of gear purpose-built for the diver on the go. Gear was selected based on its suitability for diving tropical, warm-water conditions, with special attention paid to light-weight, compact designs that allow for easy packing or other features that make travel easier and more convenient.
The Bare Minimum
Sometimes you may not feel like taking every piece of gear with you, especially on trips where diving will only be a small part of the experience. Still, you should consider packing the following items:
Finding a mask that is comfy and seals well is difficult enough without being restricted to whatever models are available for rent. If you already have one that fits, do yourself a favor and bring it.
Open-heel fins are much easier to size when you pack your own dive booties.
If diving with a reputable operator, you can breathe easy on a rental reg, but you may want to outfit it with your own regulator mouthpiece if you are prone to jaw fatigue or uncomfortable with sharing the mouthpiece with all of the divers who have bitten down on the rental mouth-piece before you.
Packing damp wetsuits and other soggy gear will add extra weight to your luggage, which could result in an overage fee if you were already toeing the weight limit during your arrival flight. To avoid this, be sure to dry gear throughly before packing it at the end of your trip.
Packing a few extra accessories can help a 3 mm wetsuit feel like a much thicker suit, without the bulk.
Hoods and gloves take up almost zero space in your dive bag, but can make a big difference in your overall comfort during long days in the water.
Another option is to bring a thinner exposure garment to wear underneath your wetsuit. A number of manufacturers carry a line of lightweight, neutrally buoyant exposure gear, often available in a range of options including tops, bottoms, shorts, jackets and fullsuits. The garments are also able to be worn by themselves, and can be used during other water-based activities on your trip.
MSRP $679, $819 (with Air2)
Designed with travel in mind, this lightweight jacket-style BC takes up very little space in your luggage thanks to its foldable back pad. Despite its travel-ready nature, the BC is packed with all of the features divers have come to expect in a modern BC. The wraparound harness is outfitted with three overpressure relief valves, and the smooth, responsive power inflator allows for precise buoyancy adjustment. It provides up to 31 pounds of buoyant lift in size medium. Quick-drying components, such as the mesh cummerbund and air-mesh padding, are especially convenient if you need to ensure your gear is dry before packing for the trip home. The system has secure pinch-to-release integrated weight pockets. The BC is equipped with Scubapro’s new Quick Cinch buckle system, which makes it a breeze to set up quickly. Stowage includes two zippered cargo pockets, five D-rings and a set of mounting grommets.
This minimalist traveler weighs less than 6 pounds and focuses on performance, making it a good option for divers looking to streamline their kit without sacrificing comfort and control. The harness features a soft, padded back plate for stability and ease of packing, and uses swiveling shoulder buckles for a natural, body-hugging fit. Dual tank bands—each with a convenient half-stop on the buckle— and an adjustable leash provide stability and make set-up simple. The rear-inflation air cell provides 17 pounds of lift in sizes extra small through medium and 29 pounds of lift in sizes large through 2XL. It has three relief valves. Integrated weight pockets hold 10 pounds apiece. Ballast is held in place by a stiff hook-and-loop flap, and can be removed quickly and easily with a firm pull. The system has four heavy-duty D-rings and a series of web loops for mounting accessories.
This lightweight back-inflation BC weighs only 7 pounds and folds flat for easy packing, making it a ready companion for any far-flung tropical destination. The rear-mounted air cell is kept streamlined using a system of bungees, which also assist the bladder in expanding and contracting. The system offers 25 pounds of buoyant lift in sizes extra small through medium, and 36 pounds of lift in sizes large and extra large. The ergonomic harness features air-mesh padding and an adjustable sternum strap for a comfortable, supportive fit. A single tank band makes the BC easy to get in and out of tank holders when boat diving. Integrated weights hold 10 pounds apiece, plus two rear trim pockets. Stowage includes an octo holder, two expandable pockets and a handful of D-rings—and can be further expanded with the optional Pro-Kit. All-in-all, this traveler is capable, comfortable and convenient.
This jacket-style BC features a semi-rigid folding back plate and has a hidden Velcro strap to keep the folded BC bundled up during transit. This makes it incredibly easy to stow, whether you’re packing it in a mesh duffel for a day of boat diving or in your luggage for an extended getaway. Though stripped down for ease of travel, the system is incredibly comfortable thanks to plushy water-draining padding, rotating shoulder buckles, and an adjustable elastic cummerbund that pivots for a perfect fit. The whole thing only weighs about 51⁄2 pounds in size medium. The wrap-around air cell provides up to 20 pounds of lift in size medium. It features two integrated tank supports for increased stability and three pressure relief valves. The system is equipped with Flat-Lock integrated weight pockets and two trim pockets. Six lightweight metal D-rings and two zippered cargo pockets provide ample stowage.
Roller Bag BGO3
Big and tough, this large roller bag was designed to carry two full sets of scuba diving gear—perfect for traveling with your dive buddy. Heavy-duty polyester is lightweight and durable, amounting to a total weight of only 11 pounds. Measuring 311⁄2 by 181⁄2 by 16 inches, this bag has a place for everything a diver might need, including a thick wetsuit and travel accessories. Large zippered fin pockets are big and boxy, and feature mesh vents that can be used to air out damp gear on the go. Three large exterior pockets of assorted sizes help organize smaller items. The main compartment unzips wide for easy packing and features compression straps for securing gear. The versatile bag rolls easily with heavy-duty skate wheels and a sturdy aluminum handle, and features grips on three sides. It can be carried via a duffel handle or stowable backpack straps when traversing uneven terrain.
The heavy-duty Steel 34 is split into two zippered compartments, one waterproof and the other vented. This allows you to throw wet gear into the waterproof side or air it out in the vented side without risk of getting your clothes and other dry items wet. The design offers a lot of flexibility, and it is especially helpful for busy divers who don’t have time to deal with wet gear between dives or at the end of their trip. The top section is flexible, so the bag can flatten somewhat when not in use. A bright-blue lining makes it easy to see contents in the waterproof section. The bag features comfy padded top and side handles, a top-notch telescoping trolley handle and sturdy all-terrain wheels. The bag includes an exterior pocket, add-a-bag strap and removable padded changing mat. The bag measures 18 by 34 by 10 inches and weighs just over 121⁄2 pounds when empty.
This powerful, next-generation fin has been designed to provide maximum speed and power. Twin-tip winglets improve control and maneuverability for frog and alternative kicks. The fin also performs very well in flutter kick, providing pretty good drive with easy effort thanks to the pivoting central panel, which auto-adjusts the angle of attack based on the strength of each kick, providing easier kicking when cruising and maximum power when churning hard. The ergonomic open-heel foot pocket is very comfortable and is outfitted with an elastic bungee strap for a snug fit and easy donning and doffing. The fin is actually constructed of two individually molded Monprene components—the foot pocket and the blade. This allows users to remove the blade for travel or storage. In warmer waters, it also lets divers swap out the open-heel foot pocket for an optional full-foot pocket.
Super compact, yet surprisingly powerful, these lightweight travel-ready fins are small enough to easily pack in a carry-on bag. They are suited to both diving and snorkeling. Ideal for barefoot diving in tropical waters, the rounded open-heel foot pocket is designed for a soft, comfortable fit when worn barefoot or with light neoprene socks. The elastic bungee strap allows for quick donning and doffing and features an anatomically shaped heel pad for increased comfort and power transfer. The short blade is angled for increased efficiency, allowing for easy kicking that won’t wear out the legs while providing plenty of propulsion—especially for a scuba diver kitted out in lightweight warm-water gear. The short fins are highly maneuverable. The tip of the blades feature an attachment point that can be used to stow or carry the fins when not in use. Available in six sizes.
Xscape 4/3 MM Wetsuit
Made of a combination of 3 mm and 4 mm Yulex neoprene, this suit is just a bit heavier than your standard 3 mm suit, but feels a whole lot warmer. Its insulating abilities are further enhanced by a fleecy lining and excellent silicone seals at the wrists and ankles. The cozy suit provides extra warmth when diving tropical destinations during the cooler parts of the year or for cold-prone divers in warm water. The flexible material provides a natural range of motion, and makes it easy to get the suit on and off quickly. Available in eight men’s and seven women’s sizes.
3/2 Tropic Front Zip
MSRP $253 (fullsuit), $190 (shorty)
Available as either a shorty or fullsuit, this lightweight, comfortable suit features a bold, tropical-inspired design that is perfect for a warm-water dive getaway. The suit is made of 3 mm and 2 mm Quantum stretch neoprene for an excellent fit and natural flexibility. The material is soft against skin and is comfortable during long days of back-to-back diving. An extended front zipper makes for easy donning and doffing. Seams are glued and blind-stitched for durability. Available in six women’s and seven men’s sizes. Women’s shorty has long sleeves.
Packing heavy-hitting performance into a super compact, featherweight system, the Mikron won’t take up much space in your dive bag. Made of ABS plastic with a polyurethane cover, the tiny pneumatically balanced second stage is so lightweight that you hardly feel it in your mouth, making it very comfortable even during long days with back-to-back diving. It comes standard with AquaLung’s Comfo-Bite mouthpiece. A tiny adjustment knob lets users vary breathing resistance. The balanced diaphragm second stage is equally compact, but manages to squeeze in two high-pressure and four low-pressure ports in an easy-to-manage T-shape configuration. The second stage also features an auto-closure device to prevent water or debris from entering the regulator when it is removed from a tank. Available in yoke or DIN.
T10-SC Cromo Galaxy
This reg’s balanced T10 second stage is environmentally sealed, which makes it more resistant to freezing in demanding cold-water environments and protects against contamination in silty conditions. It sports two high-pressure and four low-pressure ports. The elliptical-shaped second stage is very lightweight, and sits comfortably in the mouth without undue weight or pressure. It uses a soft all-rubber purge cover that is supple and responsive, allowing for a very smooth, predictable purge. The reg features a top-mounted Venturi, and can come outfitted with an optional breathing adjustment. The reg provides smooth, dry air delivery with an easy work of breathing. The yoke version of the first stage weighs just over 25 ounces. Overall, this reg provides a rugged, reliable system suitable for just about any adventure.
MSRP $350 (Spare Air 300), $450 (Spare Air 600)
Often billed as “the diver’s reserve parachute,” this miniature scuba system provides a compact, redundant breathing system for an out-of-air emergency. It is available with either a 3- or 6-cubic-foot capacity, which provide approximately 57 and 114 surface breaths, respectively. The Spare Air 300 is 2.25 inches in diameter, and the Spare Air 600 is 3.25 inches in diameter. Both models are only 13.4 inches in length. The on-demand regulator is ready to breathe when it’s pulled from its easy-mount holster, and can quickly be passed off to another scuba diver if needed. The design allows for easy traveling— simply drain the tank and remove the regulator and the system is ready for air travel. Upon reaching your destination, you can fill the Spare Air off any scuba tank using the included fill adapter. Nitrox-compatible models are available.
Inspired by Seiko’s 1970 Diver’s Watch—a favorite of Arctic explorers—this special-edition Prospex celebrates the spirit of adventure. Built to withstand the rigors of ice diving, this 200-meter automatic dive watch provides reliable accuracy whether you’re diving off a shallow tropical reef or plunging into the depths of the North Pole, and anywhere in between. The watch has a 42.7 mm stainless-steel case with matching bracelet and a gray unidirectional rotating bezel. Luminous hands and markings are used for easy readability at depth. The patterned green dial evokes the shifting colors of light reflecting off glacial ice and has a date display. The watch is also available with a gray dial (SPB261) or blue dial (SPB263).
Promaster Satellite Wave GPS Diver 200M CC5001-00W
This Promaster dive watch features GPS satellite capabilities, a perpetual calendar and a 200-meter-depth diving function. It is the world’s first light-powered dive watch with GPS functionality. GPS coordinates are used to automatically set time and date with incredible precision anywhere in the world, including the famous dive sites featured along the edge of the dial. Pressing the 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock buttons will engage dive mode, which disables all nonsafety functions. The 47 mm Super Titanium case features a unidirectional rotating bezel and comes with a black polyurethane strap.
Descent G1 Solar
With a wrist-friendly size and smartwatch functionality, this dive computer easily functions as an everyday watch. It’s powered by sunlight, so you won’t have to worry about packing a backup battery during long, remote dive trips. The segmented monochrome display is well organized and easy to read. Nitrox- and helium-compatible, this computer is depth-rated to 100 meters, features multigas diving for up to 12 mixes, and has advanced dive modes, including CCR. The computer includes sport and fitness tracking, and has smartwatch functionality such as text notifications, music control and contactless payments. It can also be used to remotely control Garmin’s inReach Mini satellite communicators.
inReach Mini 2 with Dive Case
MSRP $399.99, $79.99 (dive case) CONTACT garmin.com
With an active subscription to the Iridium satellite network, this compact satellite communicator lets users send and receive two-way messages, making it easy to keep in touch with family and friends when diving in remote destinations. Users can also send an interactive SOS to Garmin’s emergency response coordination center, which is staffed 24/7. Other features include activity and route tracking, location sharing, digital compass and weather info. The dive case allows divers to carry the device underwater so that they can have access to the inReach Mini’s two-way messaging and SOS functions whenever and wherever they surface.
MSRP $99, $169 (Zensee Pro)
This lightweight, frameless mask folds flat for easy packing. The mask skirt features a special built-in fitting ring that enables the skirt to mold to faces of all shapes and sizes for an ideal fit and seal. In the water, we found that this mask offered a super comfortable fit and a leak-free seal. The mask’s low internal volume is easy to clear and works in tandem with the large single lens for an expansive field of view. For especially sunny destinations, the Zensee Pro offers the same design with UV420 and anti-reflective lens treatments. Low-profile buckles further reduce weight and drag. Silent and easy-to-operate, they allow for quick, precise adjustment of the 3D mask strap.
With a convenient slip-on d sign, these ultra-lightweight water shoes provide comfortable, breathable protection whether you’re on a beach, a boat or somewhere in between. Durable nonslip rubber soles provide protection against sharp, u even surfaces as well as secure footing and traction on wet, slippery surfaces. Quick-drying hydrophobic mesh fabric and a self-draining design prevent waterlogging during long days in, on and around the water. These shoes can even be worn with an open-heel fin for warm-water diving. The Aqua Slip-On is available in seven men’s sizes with four color options and six women’s sizes with three tie-dye color options.
This super compact camera is capable of shooting 4K video and RAW 14-megapixel still images, and unlike most action cameras, features a waterproof housing that actually feels comfortable and natural to operate in hand. Preset underwater white-balance modes, a 140-degree wide-angle lens and electronic image stabilization make it easy to get good footage. Rated to 130 feet, the housing uses a thumbscrew pressure lock and has a spot to install a desiccant packet. Push-on macro lenses are available for close-ups. Weighing only about 7 ounces, the camera can be attached to a gear retractor so it’s out of the way until needed to capture the action. It can also be mounted to a tray with lights.
SportDiver Smartphone Housing
Why pack a huge, cumbersome rig when you’ve already got a powerful, easy-to-use camera in your pocket? This Bluetooth-enabled housing utilizes your smartphone to take underwater photos and videos while giving you access to the same settings and functions you’re accustomed to using on land. Media is saved directly to the phone for easy sharing. The light-weight housing has an ergonomic grip and shutter control—plus a 1⁄4-20 mount for use with a tray. The system is waterproof to 130 feet and vacuum-sealed with dual leak alarms. Includes a removable underwater red filter. Housing is compatible with iPhone 7 and newer and most Android phones using the free app.