When you first enroll in a scuba diving class, it is generally recommended (if not required) that you get your own mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit. The suggestions below will outfit you with comfortable, reliable gear so you can begin your training with your best fin forward.
Aqua Lung Reveal X2
Comfort and fit are the most important qualities to look for in a mask, so be sure to try on several masks in the dive store. It’s not the only dive mask with a butter-soft silicone skirt, but the Reveal’s skirt has an accordion-like fold that allows it to conform to a wide range of faces. The buckles attach directly to the skirt and feature a single easy-to-find button that makes adjusting the wide mask strap a precise, secure operation — you’ll appreciate not fussing with your strap once you’re underwater. Your mask is your window to the underwater world, and the Reveal’s big lenses provide an exceptional field of view.
When you try on masks, make sure you check the nose pocket. If it’s too large for your face, it will be frustrating to pinch your nose in order to equalize. The Reveal’s is made from ultrasoft silicone.
IST Sports W580
A proper fit is important when buying a wetsuit. Too small, and you’ll feel constricted; too large, and you’ll discover that water can seep in, making you feel chilled. Look for a suit that provides good range of motion, like that offered by the WS80. Pre-curved elbows and high-stretch panels on the lower back and under the arms help make it flexible, and the wrist and ankle zippers help with donning and doffing. The shoulders feature a rubbery texture that keeps BC straps from moving around, and the waffle-pattern kneepads provide good protection.
The WS80 uses premium-quality neoprene for both insulation and flexibility, but it also features durable double-flatlock stitching, which prevents uncomfortable chafing.
The single biggest complaint new divers have when kicking underwater is leg cramps. The cause is often ill-fitting fins. Make sure yours fit you and that the foot pocket is comfortable. Open-heel designs allow you to adjust a fin’s fit, which can come in handy if you sometimes dive with booties. The Thor is a nice all-around fin that is lightweight but still provides plenty of power. The lateral holes near the foot pocket help reduce fatigue when kicking hard. They are comfortable to wear and easy to get in and out of, especially with the optional bungee strap, which we recommend.
Get this fin with the special EBS heel strap (not shown), which will make donning and doffing a snap. In a pool, it doesn’t matter much, but on a rocking dive-boat ladder, you’ll appreciate it.
Mares Rebel Flash
The Rebel Splash comes with a semidry top that keeps water entry to a minimum, and is equipped with a purge valve opposite the mouthpiece to quickly and easily clear the snorkel. The lower portion of the snorkel has a larger internal volume, which helps to make breathing easier.
Don’t overlook quality of workmanship when purchasing your first snorkel. One feature to look for: an anti-splash cap on top of the barrel that helps keep water out.