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  • Travel with Us | ATA/BAR Divers

    Travel with ATA / BAR DIVERS OUR TRAVEL AUDIENCE ATA/BAR Divers targeted travel audience are mature, mid- and post-career professionals who are experienced in —and passionate about —our underwater world. While we like children (and even have a few of our own!), our dive experiences are not always family-friendly. For this reason, unless specifically noted, our dive outings do not include those divers under the age of 21 years. We are not tec-divers, but we are experienced divers. For the greater good of the group, you should be an experienced diver too. If you are not already certified as an Advanced Open Water Diver , please consider this important training before you travel with us so you can keep up with our escapades. If this sounds interesting to you, please send us an email describing yourself, your diving interests and experiences, and any destinations you would like us to consider. We work directly with dive operators to get the best possible pricing for our groups, but our most important task is bringing together like-minded divers for extraordinary underwater adventures. PADI Women's Day: 21 July 2018 @ Channel Islands National Park Ventura Dive & Sport 1559 Spinnaker Drive ~ Ventura CA 93001 ​ Join PADI instructors Gina and Kelly for a chartered three-tank dive aboard the RAPTOR —California’s fastest commercial dive boat. Our destination will be Santa Cruz or Anacapa Island. ​ Your $150 PADI Women’s Day ticket includes the following: Commemorative Channel Islands PADI Women’s Day T-shirt Catered breakfast and lunch aboard the Raptor Raffles, prize giveaways before and during our three dives Discussion on our local eco system: endemic vs. invasive species Champagne, beer, wine and dessert after our dives! Donation to Channel Islands National Park Buddy team prizes for the winners of our in-water games: Search & Recovery Challenge Navigation Challenge ​ Everyone is guaranteed at least one prize! Women are invited to bring their gentleman dive buddy. ​ For additional details or for tickets, please contact us . Not familiar with diving the Channel Islands? Checkout out our video here . ATA/BAR DIVERS is pleased to announce it is now an authorized dealer for the Nautilus line of liveaboard dive ships, the Explorer and the Belle Amie . These deluxe ships are based out of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and visit the exquisite destinations of Socorro Island, Guadalupe Island, San Benito Island and the Clipperton Atoll. For more information, please contact us . Our services do not include airline ticket bookings to/from the dive destination. CONTACT US Email: kelly@atabardivers.com Phone: (805) 622-9752 Atabardivers.com is a subsidiary of Sherwood Financial & Investments, Inc.

  • Videos | ATA/BAR Divers

    Images Contributed by industry professionals, these are some of our favorite underwater images from the around the world. Each image is copyrighted by its respective photographer. Out of gallery

  • Review: Indigo Industries Defiant XT | ATA/BAR Divers

    A Fine Fin The DEFIANT XT from INDIGO INDUSTRIES Bottom Line The Defiant XT from INDIGO INDUSTRIES has replaced my venerable pair of SCUBAPRO Twin Jets. These are the only set of blade fins that do not cause pain from excessive midfoot flexion. I loved my SCUBAPRO Twin Jets . For the last 15 years, they have been my only set of fins, and for good reason. Besides being uberly-cool bright yellow in color, they were the only fins I could wear that allowed me to dive pain-free. I have tried many other fins to no avail. The blade pressure created by conventional (non-split) blade fins on my funky foot (clinically known as posterior tibial tendon deficiency ) causes intolerable pain with any amount of midfoot flexion. That is until I tried out the DEFIANT XT from Indigo Industries . ​ UPDATE: Check out our review of INDIGO INDUSTRIES' TAC Non-Military fin . ​ Maybe you have haven’t heard of this company yet. You might have missed the many positive reviews in most of the popular dive magazines over the last couple of years. It’s non-traditional, modular fin design is an eye-catcher on dive boats. ​ Describing the fit of this fine fin is easier said than done, but here is my experience to date: The structure of the Defiant XT provides a booted foot with a solid platform (officially called the power transfer plate ) to work with. With its comfortable but firm foot pocket grasp, my foot and the Defiant XT become one. The Defiant XT is negatively buoyant in salt water. The Defiant XT fins weigh one pound less than my venerable Twin Jets (4 lbs v. 5 lbs weight respectively for each fin set). The blades are about five inches shorter than the Twin Jets (∼20” versus ∼25”). The Defiant XT uses different muscle groups in your lower legs, so don’t be surprised by a little muscle soreness to start. Power is not a problem. Dolphin kicking at the surface seems to be particularly effective. Reverse fin kicks are impossible with split fins. Finding the reverse gear with the Defiant XT is pretty easy. Conventional rubber fin straps are an absolute pain in the bootie . Run—don’t walk—to buy a pair of spring straps for your Defiants. (FYI: Indigo is poised to produce their own spring straps in the near future.) Not any spring strap will work; chances are your local dive shop won’t carry the right brand. I purchased the EZ Recreational Diver – Comfort Grip spring strap from Innovative Scuba Concepts . These straps come in four sizes: S-M-L-XL. For my size 15 feet, I use a size large. They work great. Used regularly with the hard-soled Henderson Molded Sole Gripper Boot , the foot pocket fit is firm and tight—which is exactly what I need. Getting the fin off this boot can be a challenge at times, but I’m okay with that. Three fin “stiffeners” are available with the Defiant XT. I used the “soft” stiffener. Medium and hard stiffeners are also available. Sizing information is available here . I have yet to try the optional full foot pocket, designed for bootless diving.

  • Review: CoCo View Resort | ATA/BAR Divers

    Review: CoCo View Resort Bottom Line CoCo View Resort is a well-oiled, all-inclusive dive center where nothing is left to chance. The grounds are beautifully manicured; rooms are spacious and comfortable; buffets offer ample, tasty food at every meal. Shore dives, dive spots, boats, and staff are all exceptional. This place has a loyal following, and for good reason. The Longer Story During the Fall of 2016, a group of eight California divers made their first trip to the revered CoCo View Resort on Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. A shuttle van transported us about 20 minutes from the Roatan Airport to a small dock where we took a two-minute ride across a waterway to CoCo View Resort (CCV). We were warmly greeted dockside with the question, “Have you stayed with us before?” It became apparent that those of us that hadn’t were very much in the minority. Other divers aboard our shuttle boat quickly disembarked and began exchanging pleasantries and hugs with CCV staff members in the vicinity who welcomed more than a few of these newly arrived guests by name. In this YouTube video , CCV claims to be the most returned to dive resort in the world. That is an awfully tall claim that none of us newbies readily accepted at face value, but by trip’s end, we few naysayers were believers that this claim was well-deserved and very, very accurate. The grounds of CCV are beautifully maintained and manicured. Upkeep on a place like this is a never-ending process. During our stay there was renovation to a overwater walkway and what appeared to be new construction to an outlying area of the resort. Rooms were roomy and beds comfortable. Housekeeping made daily visits to keep the rooms tidy and exchange used linens. If you are traveling with your significant, consider the overwater cabanas. Quiet, spacious, and well, over-the-water… Need we say more? The screened-in dining hall is large and comfortable, and offers a nice view of the water and shore dive entry point. The full service bar is reasonably priced. Live entertainment is offered on alternate days during the week and proved to be popular with the guests. Food is served buffet style and is very good. Menu items are not repeated during the week. Kitchen staff is friendly and very helpful. The dive boats are staffed by exceptional crews, many of whom have worked at CCV for decades—and that fact alone speaks volumes about this place and how it’s run. Our group was assigned to the CoCo III boat. Our crew was captain Jorge and Divemaster Eddie. Both gentlemen were knowledgeable and helpful. Eddie was particularly adept at spotting macro life; his English speaking skills and knowledge of local sea life were both superb. Our group thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. As testament to CCV’s repeat customer base, our boat had one diver who had visited the resort over 30 times since 2004. At the conclusion of our week’s stay, resort management recognized a number of returning guests and those who had attained “CocoNuts " status—five trips qualifies you to become a “Nut,” and your tenth trip is free. There was talk at the resort about one particular guest-family that spends every other week at the resort yeararound! And we can completely understand why. CCV has been in business for a long time; it is truly a well-oiled machine. No matter the activity or the scenario, there is a procedure established for guests to undertake that makes perfect sense. This is not to say that CCV is stodgy or inflexible. It means there is nothing left to chance, from conducting shore dives or night dives to drop-off dives onto the house reefs (Newman or CoCo View walls). Shore dives from CCV offer quick access to the house reefs and the nearby scuttled wreck, the Prince Albert, a 140-foot tanker sank as a dive destination. Make sure to take in one or more night dives during your stay. The resort has its own dive operation, Dockside Dive Center , its own resident underwater photographer, and a registered nurse/DAN medic whose services are regularly accessed by divers who find themselves with various ailments during the trip. There are many dive sites that CCV frequents. The boats leave for the morning dive after breakfast and the afternoon dive after lunch. Some divers on our spacious boat became bored with the “drop-off” dives that followed each of the morning and afternoon dives of the day. In essence, CCV schedules two boat dives per day. On the way back to the dock, the boat will drop divers off alternatively on one of the two house reefs, either Newman Wall or CoCo View Wall. While these sites are fine, they do become long in the tooth by week’s end. Considering that most Bay Island dive operators offer three or four true boat dive destinations per day, we would have been happier with fewer drop-off dives and more actual dive destinations accessed by boat. With that said, our group gives CCV high marks in all categories and most of us plan on a return trip as soon as next year… And it would be no surprise at all if a few of us go “Nuts” like so many guests before us. ​ This review is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS as a product consumer and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind.

  • Regulator Hoses | ATA/BAR Divers

    When the Best Deal is Not: Know Your Hose Bottom Line : Be wary of online scuba resellers as what looks like the best deal available probably is not. What you think you are purchasing may not be what you get. Determine online resellers warranties before purchasing. Reputable resellers should cover products for one year or more. Generic Kevlar Nylon Braided HP Hose vs. MIFLEX Carbon HD Braided HP Hose Let’s be honest—the sport of scuba diving is not exactly cheap. If you’re like us at ATA/BAR DIVERS, you’re always on the hunt for great deals when it comes to equipment, training, and travel. Unfortunately, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is frequently far too accurate. In January 2015 it was time to purchase a new high-pressure hose for one of our regulator set-ups. First stop—as it is with pretty much any purchase for anything these days—was Amazon.com . We found a “33-Inch Kevlar Nylon Braided HP High Pressure Hose for 1st Stage Gauge.” At the time it retailed for $35.98 and was the best deal we could find. Now the bad news: In August 2015 a leak formed near the SPG connection. We contacted the Amazon resellerfor details on the warranty for this product. Their response: “We are sorry to inform you that the item is no longer covered under our 30-day return policy. Best regards, **** Team” Best regards, indeed. With that answer, it was off to the local dive shop to purchase the XS Scuba MIFLEX MHP36-CN for $52.00. (This same product is available from Scuba.com for $45.95.) We were familiar with the MIFLEX brand name. It was only upon returning home with the MIFLEX product that we discovered the hose purchased at through an Amazon.com reseller was a no-name brand. After the purchase, we wondered what the MIFLEX warranty was. There was no information on (or in) their nifty packaging. Off to the Web we went. As MIFLEX hoses are made in Italy, it should be no surprise that their website (miflex.com ) is in Italian. Strike one. How about the XSScuba.com site? They seem to be the U.S. distributor for MIFLEX…) Negatory; and strike two. With one pitch to go, we reached out to online retailer Scuba.com for warranty information. Within a day, their response was: “It comes with a one year warranty.” …Just as it should be. There is no reason why equipment of this type comes with anything less than a full-year warranty against defects. With only 43 dives on the hose purchased from this undisclosed Amazon.com reseller, it is pretty clear the workmanship on their no-name product is far less than what can be reasonably expected. Lesson learned. Sometimes the best deal is not. We highly recommend you fully understand who the manufacturer is for your scuba equipment, and don’t assume that every Kevlar- or carbon-braided hose comes from a reputable source. And when dealing with online retailers, ask what their warranty is on equipment up front. We didn’t, and that was a mistake we won’t make again.

  • Saving Soles | ATA/BAR Divers

    Saving Soles: The Harsh Reality of Bonaire Beach Entries Bottom Line : Before traveling to Bonaire (or other destinations with rugged shorelines), consider some solid footwear in order to make a safe and pain-free shore entry. There is a lot of buzz about diving Bonaire … and for good reason. It is truly the island for DIY (do-it-yourself) Diving, where most dive operators include a rusty (but trustworthy) pick-up truck with your accommodations, along with an unlimited supply of air or nitrox tanks. Dive when you want, where you want, and how much you want at any of the 86 recognized dive sites in the Bonaire Marine Park . What you may not have read about is the composition of nearly every beach entry point. Tenderfoots beware! Your standard-issue dive boots will not withstand the harsh reality of Bonaire’s cobbled beaches, which are littered with billions of coral chunks that will definitely imperil your soles. The stacks of heavy-duty dive rental booties at one scuba shop (pictured above) were a late clue that the locals do not mess around with their coral-strewn beaches. After four days of unrelenting sole torture, we broke down and purchased a pair of TUSA DB-4000 heavy-duty boots, which proved very effective at neutralizing any coral-induced pain. But we can’t say we are completely in love with this boot because of its zipper design. The Tusa boots come unzipped far too easily while in the water. Only now do we realize there is not a Velcro zipper “keeper” on the Tusa DB-4000 that can be seen on other manufacturer’s boots (see images, below). There are many purchasing options when it comes to hard sole dive boots. Simply Google “heavy duty dive boots” or “hard sole dive boots” and you will see models from top manufacturers like Scuba Pro , Aqua Lung , Mares , Seac , and XS Scuba . Ocean Enterprises has a huge selection of hard sole boots to choose from. While the ultimate brand of heavy-duty boot is an option, purchasing a pair for your trip to Bonaire is not. Save your soles; your feet will love you for it.

  • Be a Visible Diver | ATA/BAR Divers

    Be a Standout Diver: Wear an SMB on Your Head! Being conspicuous while scuba diving is rarely a bad thing, yet the majority of exposure gear is black, dark gray or midnight blue—colors that all-but disappear into the ocean’s background. Without help from color or light, keeping track of divers is already a difficult task. When it comes to differentiating divers, without some sort of visible queue, everyone in your dive group looks far too similar to discern who’s who at a glance. If you dive active waters and you wander too far from your diver down marker, that standard black dive hood or beanie is nearly impossible to see at the surface. Think about solving these visibility problems by “wearing” a surface marker buoy (SMB) on your head! ​ Several companies market high-visibility dive hoods and beanies in different styles that will serve you well in nearly any water temperature. With hi-viz colors like yellow, orange and lime green, with some designs that include SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) reflective material, you will definitely be a standout diver while on or under the water. ​ PROMATE Ardent 3mm Beanie ​ BEAVER 7mm Glow-Flex Semi-Dry Hi-Viz Hood ​ SEAREQ Little Red Diving Hood (7mm and 3mm) ​ WATERPROOF H1 5/10 H.V. Hood ​ LOMO 5mm Hi Vis Yellow Hood ​ HENDERSON SAR Swimmer Fire Fleece Hood ​ PROMATE Ardent 3mm Beanie HENDERSON SAR Swimmer Fire Fleece Hood BEAVER Glow-Flex Semi-Dry Hi-Viz Hood LOMO 5mm Hi Vis Yellow Hood WATERPROOF H1 H.V. Hood SEAREQ Little Red Diving Hood

  • Bad Gas: Contaminated Air Fills | ATA/BAR Divers

    A Case of Bad Gas? Bottom Line : While it is not common, the risk of breathing contaminated air from a scuba tank is a real threat to divers, especially when air fills are done by a source whose reputation is unknown or questionable. Because some contaminants are impossible to detect on your own, technology is required to insure the air you breathe is as fresh as a morning breeze. The stank seemed so obvious to one diver. This was clearly a case of some bad gas, and all of the warning signs were there: A rickety scuba shack belching a hazy plume of exhaust from a cranky, gas-powered air compressor in a country where standards, testing and inspections for compressed air quality were most likely inconvenient suggestions. His buddy sampled the same suspect air from the equally suspicious aluminum 80 tank with a prolonged whiff and declared, “I don’t smell anything.” Great. Now what? Civilization as we knew it was 500 miles away and so were—as is described by PADI—any “reputable scuba air sources” for compressed gas.[1] Here was our problem: How do we know that the gas we are about to breath at depth is free of contaminants? The truth is we can’t know without some technological help. There are several possible impurities in compressed air. Passing the so-called “sniff test” (a nose check for any odor from the tank air) or a "taste test" (a sort of flavor check of your air—there should be none) has important but limited screening values as one of the most insidious contaminants in a scuba cylinder is invisible to all of our senses. ​ According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Carbon monoxide (CO) [is] an odorless, colorless gas, which can cause sudden illness and death... [It] is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned. [2] ​ What makes CO so toxic is that it essentially replaces oxygen in the bloodstream at a rate of 240-to-1, and “[t]he net effect is the reduction in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.”[3] According to the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center: ​ CO is the deadliest of the toxic gases commonly found in compressed air. [4] ​ An acceptable level of CO at sea level can prove deadly at recreational diving depths because of Dalton’s law of partial pressures.[5] But that begs this question: What is an “acceptable level” of CO? The short answer is not much, simply because our CO tolerance is very low considering the very small amounts we are regularly exposed to. How small, you ask? Well, measurements of CO are in parts per million (ppm), where one molecule of CO is detected among 999,999 molecules of other gases, or 0.0001%. The average global concentration of outdoor CO levels is somewhere between 0.04 ppm and 0.12 ppm (0.000004% to 0.000012%).[6], [7] The Compressed Gas Association, Inc. (CGA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established a standard for—believe it or not—air. The standard known as ANSI/CGA G-7.1-2011 requires that the compressed air in scuba tanks have 10 ppm or less of CO, or .001%. Even at recreational diving’s maximum operating depth of 130 feet/40 meters (about 5 bar/ata), the partial pressure of CO (PCO) of 10 ppm would be at an acceptable level of .005%, or equivalent to 50 ppm of CO in surface air. ​ Table 1 gives examples of scientific research on the effects of CO and the related levels for symptoms that range from a headache and nausea to unconsciousness and eminent death. A contaminated tank containing 800 ppm of CO might not immediately present symptoms at the surface, but at a depth of 99 feet/30 meters (4 bar/ata), the same tank of air could prove deadly within 30 minutes (0.08% x 4 bar/ata = PCO 0.32 bar/ata, or equal to breathing 3,200 ppm [0.32%] of CO in surface air). ​ PORTABLE SOLUTIONS Meanwhile, back at that desolate dive destination with that funky tank of gas… What do we do? Luckily, there are solutions available to analyze tanks for CO on the go. Here are a few options that might be worthy of consideration depending on your future dive itinerary. Prices range from $7.95 to $420.00: ​ DE-OX SAFE Carbon Monoxide Analyzer DE-OX CO is able to test a tank fill for carbon monoxide content in any breathable gas mix, including air, or it can be connected to a gas or diesel compressor for in-line continuous monitoring. http://www.temc.it/en/de-ox-safe-analizzatore-di-monossido-di-carbonio/ POCKET CO SCUBA In addition to being a general purpose CO detector, Pocket CO SCUBA has been configured to allow easy detection of extremely low levels of CO in SCUBA tanks, down to 2 ppm. http://www.detectcarbonmonoxide.com/order-now/pocket-co-scuba/ DIVENAV COOTWO The world’s first dual gas (oxygen and CO) analyzer and data logger. Programmable via smartphone. Compatible with existing My Nitroxbuddy smartphone app. http://www.divenav.com/products/cootwo CO-PRO™ A one-day use device that detects the presence of CO in breathing air. Tear open the packet and fill included balloon with tank air. If the air is contaminated by CO, the sensor button in the balloon will change color. http://co-pro.com [At the time of this writing, this website was inactive. Visit the manufacturer's site .] ​ SENSORCON CO DETECTOR FOR SCUBA TANKS Kit includes the waterproof Carbon Monoxide Inspector, carrying case, yoke adapter and male and female connectors for sampling air or CO. http://carbonmonoxide.sensorcon.com/scuba-carbon-monoxide.php OxyCheq Expedition CO Analyzer w/ Alarm Expedition Carbon Monoxide Analyzer with alarm and carrying case. The alarm will sound when the level of CO reached 10 ppm (+/- 1ppm). https://www.oxycheq.com/oxycheq-expedition-co-analyzer-w-alarm.html ​ NUVAIR PRO CO ANALYZER Fast response compact water resistant container. Range of 0-50 ppm. Alarm goes off at 10 ppm CO (BC flow adapter sold separately.) https://www.nuvair.com/store/pro-co-alarm-analyzer.html ​ DIVENAV monOX DELUXE Carbon monoxide detector for scuba divers. Smartphone controllable. Available at Amazon.com ​ Footnotes [1] PADI Open Water Diver Manual (2013, p. 191). [2] https://www.cdc.gov/co/ [3] Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. http://www.jabfm.org/content/11/6/481 [4] http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/Documents/industrial-hygiene/COMPRESSED-BREATHING-AIR.pdf [5] Discussed in detail in PADI’s Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving (2008, pp. 4-32, 33). [6] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp201-c2.pdf [7] World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/123059/AQG2ndEd_5_5carbonmonoxide.PDF ​ This page is provided for informational purposes only. It is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind. No endorsement of, or professional experience with, any equipment profiled on this page should be inferred or implied. Amazon Associates links go to support this site. Table 1. Effects of Carbon Monoxide. Figure 1. De-Ox Safe CO Detector Figure 2. Pocket CO SCUBA Figure 3. DiveNav COOTWO Figure 4. CO-PRO™ Figure 5. Sensorcon SCUBA CO Detector Figure 6. OxyCheq Expedition Figure 7. Nuvair Pro CO Figure 8. DiveNav monOx DELUXE.

  • Contact | ATA/BAR Divers

    Contact ATA/BAR Divers kelly@atabardivers.com Tel: +1.805.765.1866 Success! Message received at ATA/BAR Divers. Send

  • Traveling with Dive Gear or Not? | ATA/BAR Divers

    Traveling with Dive Gear... or Not? Bottom Line : There are three types of dive travelers: The PACKERS , The RENTERS , and The LIGHTWEIGHTS . What kind of a dive traveler are you? Those of us here at ATA/BAR Divers frequently travel for the sole purpose of diving. And, with rare exception, we are typically accompanied by mature, experience divers on our underwater world excursions. All of our diving friends own their own gear, but not all travel with their regular dive gear—the equipment they dive with in local waters. Over the years, we have unofficially divided our traveling diver friends into three groups: ​ THE PACKERS : Divers who bring all gear except tank and weights to dive destinations. THE RENTERS : Divers who rent nearly all necessary equipment at the destination. THE LIGHTWEIGHTS : Divers who own and pack a separate set of travel gear—dive equipment that is marketed for its compact style and light weight (see Image 1). ​ Full Disclosure: As this article was written by self-proclaimed PACKERS, it should come as no surprise that the mindsets of the RENTERS and the LIGHTWEIGHTS escape us, even though their justifications seem sound: Neither group wants to hassle with toting around large and heavy dive equipment bags. We get it, but let’s take a deeper (admittedly with a bit of tongue in cheek) look at each groups’ mindset and justifications: ​ THE RENTERS We love our own dive gear but hate packing it on trips. We have too much other stuff to take and would hate getting stuck paying overweight or extra baggage fees. Rental gear isn’t that bad. We would rather pay money for rental gear than extra airline baggage fees. We are afraid our expensive gear will get stolen while traveling. Infection, illness, injury (see Image 2) or even death from ill-fitting equipment, a malfunctioning dive computer, poorly maintained regulators, or BCDs that don’t hold air? Not a big deal. At least we aren’t schlepping gear through airports and into taxi cabs or rental cars. ​ THE LIGHTWEIGHTS ​ We love dive gear. The more we have, the better we feel about ourselves. Money is no object. Dive travel gear (see Image 1) shows we are uber-cool even though we only get to use the set-up once or twice a year. The equipment isn’t as comfortable as our regular gear, but the bloody feet and sore gums show we can have fun in spite of pain and discomfort. If my travel gear gets stolen, I’ve got insurance and another gear set waiting for me at home. ​ THE PACKERS We can pack everything we need in a lightweight dive gear bag and make the 50-pound limit for checked baggage on most commercial flights with plenty of room to spare for toiletries, sunscreen and clothing (see Image 3 and 4). We know our own gear. We maintain it. We feel more comfortable and safer in it. Why spend extra money on lightweight travel gear or rental gear that we’ll rarely use? Rental gear can be sketchy at times. We don’t know its condition or how its maintained. Did the last renter have a lung infection or a skin condition? They might not have my size. Will the Indonesian-based dive resort have size 15 booties and a XXXL suit? It is not unusual to dive four or more times a day when traveling. Dive trips without your own gear is like running a marathon in someone else’s shoes. Who would do that? (Oh, that’s right. Some of our diving friends would!) ​ ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS Temperature Matters . If you are headed for a cold destination, that 7 mm wetsuit or drysuit will probably make that single 50-pound bag weight limit a tough goal to meet. Similarly, if you’ve got a huge camera rig or rebreather, you’re already used to paying extra fees for that megalodon-size Pelican case. But if you’re destination is warm waters with a full or shorty 3 mm suit, hitting your weight target shouldn’t be a problem. ​ Renter Wounds . Too often we have seen injuries from ill-fitting equipment, like what is shown in Image 2, the beaten toes of one colleague who suffered through a week’s worth of diving with ill-fitting full-foot fins. In hindsight, this self-proclaimed RENTER is now a PACKER convert! ​ Get Into the Right Bag . Not all bags are made equally. Choose and use wisely. Pack with a strategy. Some things to consider: ​ Branded vs. Unmarked Bags . Some divers opt for a plain vanilla bag to stow their gear, avoiding prominently labeled dive gear bags for fear of increasing the likelihood of theft. Roller Bag or No Wheels . a 50-pound bag can be a good choice unless your destination requires lots of walking and forging crowded sidewalks, dirt, gravel, or cobblestone pathways. Two roller bags (one dive bag and one carry-on bag) can prove to be unwieldy, even across smooth surfaces. Many roller bags convert to a backpack with shoulder straps, but if one of your two carry-on bags are a backpack, your packing strategy might be in jeopardy. Lock vs. Unlocked . Consider locking your checked baggage with a TSA-approved lock. It’s not a foolproof method to avoid pilferage, but doing nothing is likely a worse idea. Carry-on Decisions . We carry-on our most expensive gear, such as regulators, computers, lights, and cameras. If you decide to carry aboard a BCD, make sure to check your dive knife, line cutters and/or shears. Confirm that airlines will accept loose batteries in carry-on. If not, check it. Padded regulator bags make a great option for carrying on gear (see Image 5 and 6). Pack Strategically . Lightweight gear bags, like the 10.5-pound Aqualung Traveler 1600 (see Video 1) are light for a reason: They lack impact protection seen in competing travel bags that come with padded sides. With this in mind, some strategic packing is suggested: Pack fins as instructed. They will add side protection to your gear. Place exposure suit at the bottom. It will provide impact protection and cushioning on the uneven, rigid back side of the bag. Pack durables along the rigid base and along the sides of bag. This adds additional protection. Pack less-durable items (BCD, mask, toiletries, etc.) in the middle and sandwich with clothing. Top off equipment with a light pillow and cinch with supplied straps. The cover of the bag offers zero impact protection—a pillow offers a great topper to your dive gear and you get to sleep with your own pillow. How perfect is that? Image 1. A typical dive gear travel package set. Image 2. Damaged toes from a week of diving with rental fins. Image 3. Strategic packing using the Aqualung Traveler 1600. Image 4. Topping off gear with a pillow and straps. Image 5. Padded regulator bag for carry-on containing expensive/fragile gear. Image 6. Aqualung Legend padded regulator bag: Perfect for carry-on gear. Video 1. Aqualung Traveler 1600 dive bag review by SimplyScuba.com.