Traveling doesn’t mean you need to compromise on the gear you’ll be scuba diving with. Here’s some gear that’s a joy to use and won’t break the bank, or your suitcase.
Olympus Tough TG-5 With Backscatter Underwater Housing
It’s more fun telling dive stories when you get home if you’ve got some images to back them up. The Tough (which has routinely delivered better pics and video than we deserve) now has a new 12-megapixel high-speed image sensor. It can capture images in RAW format and has ultra HD 4K video. “Tough” isn’t just a name: The little camera is waterproof to 50 feet alone, and good down to 150 feet in its rugged Olympus PT-058 dive housing. The microscope function lets you shoot killer macro without an accessory lens. Outside the dive housing, the Tough doubles as a handy and capable topside shooter. $749 with housing; backscatter.com
Tusa IQ1204 DC Solar Link Computer
Gear that serves multiple functions is a great way to cut down on travel clutter. This slick Bluetooth-compatible wristwatch computer is a world-time watch, alarm clock, digital compass, and full-function dive and freedive computer. It does so many things it comes with a flow chart showing menu paths, and has a four-button interface that makes it easy to access them all. Its solar cell keeps it charged, even in artificial light. $850; tusa.com
IST Sports DS20 Dive Skin
Another piece of easy-traveling gear that can do more than one job is a dive skin, such as this stylish model from IST. It’s made of high-stretch spandex and constructed with flatlock stitching for maximum comfort, fit and durability. It can add a little extra warmth for your final dive of the day — whether it’s worn alone or inside a wetsuit or even shorty. Even when the water’s toasty, it can put some welcome protection between your skin and the sun or sea life. The front zipper makes it a snap to get on and off, and the heel stirrups and thumb loops keep it in place even when you’re pulling a suit on over it. The neck is soft and extends high up to provide extra protection from sun and stingers. $70; istsports.com
Scubapro Go Fins
Here’s the choice you used to face when packing: Take the fins you’d actually like to dive with all week, or the ones that will fit inside your suitcase. These days, you no longer need to choose between convenience and comfort or performance. Case in point: the compact but surprisingly peppy Scubapro Go. While it looks like a traditional open-heel fin designed for use with dive boots, the Go is made for barefoot use, and the supple foot pocket and soft, padded bungee strap provide a very comfortable, stable fit that lets you kick hard with little fatigue. Just 20½ inches long and 1¼ pounds each in size medium/large, the Go has a wide, steeply angled blade with supporting ribs along the sides that give it the drive and power of a much bigger fin. The hole and small clip at the fin tip let you fasten a pair together for easy carrying. $69; scubapro.com
Camaro Blacktec Hoodie
If you’re spending your days and nights on the water — even if it’s crystal-clear tropical water — you need to be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you. Whether you’re on the boat, at the beach or in a shady tiki bar, this hoodie will keep you warm, dry and cozy. It’s water repellent and has a zip-up neck and a zippered pocket so you can keep your wallet and other personal items nearby. The sleeves are made of a breathable, quick-drying fabric. The hood is made of neoprene, which extends down the back to hold in the warmth. It also rolls up tight for easy packing. $99.95; camaro.at
Aqua Lung Outlaw BC
A trendy philosophy to unclutter our lives says you should hold a belonging and ask if it brings you joy — and jettison it if not. We go through a similar exercise packing for dive travel. The trick is to find travel gear that won’t make you feel like you had to cut corners when you get it in the water. That’s the Outlaw in a nutshell. Designed not as a travel BC but simply to strip away everything but the essential elements of a BC, the Outlaw combines a Spartan minimalism with a remarkable degree of stability, comfort and convenience. It also makes for an easy travel companion, with quick-release components that let you pack it away in pieces and assemble in seconds without tools. $389; aqualung.com
Mares Cruise Dry D55
We still remember the dive instructor’s admonition as our group of excited new divers scattered assorted gear around the boat like they were hiding Easter eggs: “Keep your stuff together!” (We’re paraphrasing here.) It’s still good advice, and the best way to follow it is to have a place all your gear can call home. This new 55-liter dry bag from Mares is big and rugged enough to stuff full of gear, but it’s still lightweight and packs up compactly when empty. Made of tough 500-denier tarpaulin fabric, it’s 24 inches long and has a convenient and reliable double closure system, and a zippered compartment for stuff you want to keep separate. Weighing just 1 pound, it has both a double hand strap and an adjustable shoulder strap. $100; mares.com
Packing Tip Make the most of your precious luggage space by stuffing your mask, booties and snorkel into your fin foot pockets. And when you return home, take some notes on what you absolutely needed and what you could have lived without for your next trip.