Donning Your Dive Gear
You should wait to don your equipment until both you and your buddy are ready to begin the dive. This prevents either buddy from having to wear warm and heavy equipment while waiting for the other to get ready.
Your gear should be donned in the following order:
- Exposure suit
- Weight belt
- Scuba unit
- Mask and fins
Donning Your Wetsuit
As covered in the Equipment section, wetsuits come in a variety of thicknesses and styles. Thin tropical water suits are generally easy to get into, while thicker cold water suits are less stretchy and therefore a bit trickier to get into. Also, keep in mind that wetsuits and drysuits are very warm out of the water, which increases the risk of overheating. For this reason, take care not to dress into the suit too soon before the dive on hot days.
- Sit down and don your wetsuit, skin suit, or dry suit. The specific process for donning the suit depends on the type and style of the exposure suit.
- If you are wearing booties, put them on and pull your wetsuit's leg over the outside of the bootie. This helps hold the bootie's zipper closed, and minimizes water entry into the bootie.
- If you are wearing a hood, pull it over your head and ask your buddy to help tuck the hood's bib inside your wetsuit.
- Gloves may interfere with the dexterity of your fingers, so if you'll be wearing gloves, wait to put them on until you have donned the rest of your gear.
Donning Your Weight Belt
Your weight belt may be heavy and awkward to handle, so don it carefully to avoid injury.
The belt should be worn to allow the buckle to be released by the right hand. This standard prevents possible confusion as to how to release a buddy's belt in an emergency.
- Pick up the belt with the buckle in your left hand and the other end in your right hand. This ensures a right-hand release.
- Holding the belt like a jump rope, step over the weight belt.
- Bend over, and pull the belt up to your lower back.
- Remain bent over as you fasten the buckle. Do not stand upright until the belt is securely fastened.
Donning Your Scuba Unit
The scuba unit is easiest to don with the help of your buddy.
- Pull the sides of the BCD out so it's completely open.
- Make sure all of the hoses are hanging on the outside of the BCD.
- Have your buddy lift the scuba unit up to your shoulders. Place your arms through the shoulder straps one arm at a time.
- Bend over and fasten the waist straps.
- Tighten the shoulder straps if necessary.
- Secure the octopus and gauge console in their appropriate clips.
Donning Your Mask and Fins
Before donning your mask, be sure to defog it with either saliva or a commercially available defog solution. To don your mask, place it against your face and pull the strap over your head. The fit should be secure but not too tight. Hair inside the mask can cause a leak, so hold your hair out of the way when donning your mask.
Donning your fins is easiest using a technique called the "figure 4" position.
- Place a hand on your buddy's shoulder, a wall, or railing to support your balance.
- Place the foot that's on the same side as the hand you're leaning on up over the opposite knee.
- With a fin in the hand opposite of the foot you're placing the fin on, pull the fin over your foot.
- Tighten the fin strap if necessary.
- Repeat the process for the opposite foot's fin.