Save space without sacrificing performance with this pack and go lightweight dive gear.
Dive Travel Gear: Bags
Travel gear that can do double duty is a great way to save weight and space. Zipped up, this duffel is a 4-inch-thick reg bag that’s well padded to protect your gear during transit. Unzipped, it stretches into a mesh bag 29 inches long that can hold a full set of dive gear on the boat.
Is it just us, or do the airlines’ carry-on size-checking bins seem to be shrinking? Avoid unexpected gate checks with this 22.5-by-13.8-by-9.5-inch roller bag that’s a shade more compact than most carry-ons. It weighs 5 pounds, is made of rugged, waterproof black tarpaulin fabric, and has a zippered flap for the telescoping handle.
Dive Travel Gear: Wetsuits
It adds only 13 ounces to your bag, but this vest makes a big difference when the diving is just a shade too cool for comfort. Wear it alone on late-afternoon or night dives in warmer water, or as a layer in cooler latitudes. With 2 mm material throughout, the hood adds lots of warmth without binding.
Big suits bulk up your bag, so for milder climes, concentrate on what warms your core. A shorty like IST’s 2.5 mm works alone, or layered with a skin or light suit, and weighs only 1.5 pounds (men’s large). Adjustable sleeve closures make for a good fit when layered.
Dive Travel Gear: BCs
BUY: Zeagle Covert
Roll it up and stuff it – that’s the way to pack the Covert, which rolls up like a newspaper and weighs just under 4 pounds. There are no cargo pockets and not many D-rings, but the Covert has 32 pounds of lift and easy-load pockets for 16 pounds of ditchable weights. In our ScubaLab test, we were surprised that such a featherweight BC could be so stable and comfortable in the water.
BUY: Cressie Travelight
Physics dictates that jacket BCs are a little bulkier than back-buoyancy models, but the Travelight pares down that difference. It weighs 5.5 pounds (size medium), and with its soft back-plate, it folds up neatly (secured by a hideaway strap). Test divers found it as stable as BCs with rigid backplates, and it has cargo pockets, top-notch integrated weights, 10 alloy D-rings, a right-shoulder exhaust, and just over 20 pounds’ lift in size medium.
Dive Travel Gear: Masks & Snorkels
Masks aren’t the bulkiest things in your luggage, but this new single-lens frame-less model from Sherwood packs really small. The snap-off buckles are mounted with hingelike pins to the silicone mask skirt. That allows everything to fold in flat, so the whole thing isn’t much thicker than a smartphone.
Its flexible silicone lets the Apnea fold up for packing or stowing, and then spring back into shape when you need it. The only rigid parts are the sliding, clip-on keeper and the insert at the top of the barrel. It clocked in at just 4 ounces on our scale.
Made of soft silicone (in clear or black), the Nautilus rolls up and stores in a little plastic case that resembles its namesake mollusk. About 3.5 inches across, the case fits as neatly into a BC pocket as it does in a suitcase; snorkel and case together weigh less than 7 ounces.
The buckles on the Freedom CEOS attach to long tabs on the silicone skirt, which makes it comfortable on your face but also lets the buckles tuck into the frame. Consider also that a mask that fits easily in your suitcase will do the same as a spare in your BC pocket.
Dive Travel Gear: Accessories
BUY: SeaLife Sea Dragon Mini 600
Only 5 inches long, the Mini 600 can do triple duty as a dive, video or camera light. With an aluminum housing, it’s rated to 300 feet, has two power levels, and is bright enough (600 lumens) to serve as a primary for rec diving. It comes with a cold-shoe camera mount and GoPro mount, and has an optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
BUY: Mares Equator 2 MM Boot
Though they’re light (10 ounces a pair in women’s size 6), these slip-ons have rugged waffle-pattern soles that wrap up the sides and the heel, protecting your feet whether inside your fins or walking on rough shore. Extra points if you wear them to town for your post-dive cocktail.
Shaped from a block of hardened titanium, the corrosion-resistant X-Cut is less than 6 inches long and weighs, well, we’re not actually sure, since our scale won’t read anything less than an ounce. It has smooth and serrated edges, a line cutter, and index finger and thumb stops for a good grip. It comes with a soft sheath that fits on a harness waistband.
Dive Travel Gear: Computers
BUY: Sherwood Scuba Amphos Air
$1,150 with transmitter
The latest version of the four-button Amphos is air integrated and has four modes: Watch, Dive, Free Dive and Gauge Only. A two-gas computer (second gas goes to 100 percent), the Amphos’ Air Time Remaining alarm sounds when gas supply equals safe ascent time plus the adjustable end-of-dive gas-reserve pressure.
BUY: Mares Smart
If you've resisted going to a wristwatch computer because you couldn’t find one as simple and easy to read as your console, you’re out of excuses. Mares’ new Smart is programmable for two gases and has an easy-to-read screen. The menu is simple to navigate with the two control buttons, and the stainless bezel makes it look pricier than it is.
Dive Travel Gear: Regulators
BUY: Atomic Aquatics T3
The “T” stands for titanium, and that means strong, corrosion-free and light. (Notice we didn’t say “cheap.”) How light? We weighed the second stage at 6 ounces and the first at well under 1 pound — with that you get top-of-the-line performance and titanium durability.
BUY: Cressi MC9/Compact
The teeny-tiny Compact is one of the smallest regs we’ve used. The second stage weighs less than 5 ounces; its feathery weight and wide, soft purge cover make it easy on your mouth. Despite its modest dimensions (and price), our ScubaLab test rated its performance high at recreational depths.
Dive Travel Gear: Fins
BUY: Tilos Fiji Fins
An open-heel fin that’s 21 inches long, the Fiji has more oomph than you’d expect from its compact size. The big vents next to the long, beefy side rails help reduce drag through the water, while the large, soft section that runs almost the full length of the blade’s center forms a scoop to produce drive throughout the kick cycle. On our scale, a pair in size medium weighed just 3 pounds.
HotShots are designed to wear barefoot, with a supple foot pocket and stretchy heel strap for a secure fit. Their short profile (just under 21 inches) makes them good warm-water-travel kickers, and the adjustable silicone power bands make a noticeable difference in blade stiffness. We weighed a pair (size regular) at 3.5 pounds.
Tired of airlines cashing in on those extra pounds and inches in your dive luggage? Who isn't? So we've assembled a collection of some of the most compact, featherweight travel gear we've ever tried, to help shave pounds without compromising on performance.
More Tips for Dive Travel:
SOME QUICK TIPS ON GEAR SAVINGS: