For many dive pro’s working at resorts or dive centers, the ability to grab their equipment and go quickly is of importance. But it’s not only the gear bag that needs to be ready to go, it’s also the pro’s dry bag! Here we will explore the essentials of the dive professional’s “Go-Kit”.
Watch on YouTube: How to Make a Dive Pro’s “Go-Kit”
It never fails, right when you settle into your day a colleague tells you about his sinus infection (in graphic detail) and asks if you can take over his class, or work the boat, or guide the dive for the couple from New York. We have become quite good at having our equipment packed and ready to go in just a couple steps, but we often overlook the ever important dry bag AKA the “Go-Kit”. We say “As long as it has _____ in it I’m good. Well, and ____ would be good too. Oh, and _____ is important to have in there as well…” So, let’s look at how you can create your own “Go-Kit” that will enhance your preparedness to lead a dive or class. For your convenience I have selected the items in my personal Go-Kit for you to purchase at great prices through Amazon. Of course you can also get many of them at your dive center.
First, we need the right item to carry everything in:
Backpack – go with a solid construction design of sturdy zippers, multiple pockets, outer tie-downs and a durable material. It should be big enough to hold what you need, yet small enough to fit in the sometimes small dry spaces on a boat. I’m a big fan of compartmentalizing, so multiple pockets are nice for organizing. Outer tie downs are great for wet towels, bathing suits and rash guards. My personal pick is the PADI Backpack as it has all the space needs, it is well made, and it is inexpensive. However, there are many great backpacks that will fit this need.
Let’s look at all the other items by compartment:
Clipboard – We have so much paperwork! Releases, medicals, rosters, etc. We need to keep it all dry and together. My favorite clipboard is the Officemate Slim Clipboard Storage Box It has a clipboard on the top panel, but then opens up to store your papers neatly. It has a good tight locking mechanism and it has another separate section to store pens and pencils.
First Aid Kit – For most of our diving applications off charter boats or in supervised pools there will be access to a first aid kit. But there are great advantages to having one on you at all times. I keep a DAN Guardian Diver First Aid Kit (631-2600) in my go-kit. It is small, lightweight, and has all the essentials.
Binoculars – A binocular is a great tool for supervising dives. We can use it for spotting divers’ bubbles, assessing the situation for divers giving a distress signal, and getting the name of a boat to hail them on the radio telling them they are too close to our divers’ flags – just to name a few. But when selecting binoculars we need to remember the conditions and purposes for use. We are not birdwatching! Instead, we are on a moving boat or a shore looking out over a large area of water. Too much magnification and we can easily miss what we need to look for. I like binoculars that are zoomable – I can keep it broad and then zoom in when I find what I’m looking for. You also want these things to be compact. Waterproof marine binoculars are big and cost hundreds of dollars, great for boat captains, but not so much for you. Go simple, compact and inexpensive. I recommend the Bushnell Powerview 8×21 Compact Folding Binocular Its power range is good for dive supervision needs, it comes with a case and is under $20.
Dive Reel – I can’t say enough about the need to have a reel in your go-kit. They have tons of practical uses from distance measurements, to marking, to safety stops with dive “sausages”, to search patterns, etc. One thing that is a must for your reel is to pre-loop the end and then add measurement marks to the line. You can do this with a permanent marker and tape measurer. What method of marking you use is entirely up to you. I mark my reel in 10 foot increments. I’m a fan of the Dive-Rite 140 ft Cavern/Safety Reel , either the standard or the Sidewinder, with 140’ line. It has a stainless bolt snap and the lock nut screw is metal, not plastic – a really nice improvement over their early models.
Compass – Many pro’s have their compass built into their gauge assembly. However, there is merit to having a wrist-mount compass in your go-kit. The wrist-mount compass is portable and goes with you. It stays on your arm when you have your hands full. You can pass it off to others in time of need, and is ideal for top-side search patterns when snorkeling. There are many on the market, I recommend you get one that fits you comfortable and is easy to read and use. The less profile (less bulky) the better. And make sure it has a side window.
Pocket Mask – If you get the DAN Guardian First Aid Kit mentioned above, it comes with an oronasal resuscitation mask (AKA pocket mask). However, if you don’t or you are relying on the safety equipment of the boat or lifeguard stations, I want to encourage you to at least have a pocket mask in your go-kit. I keep pocket masks everywhere – in my first aid kit, oxygen kit, gear bag, go-kit and even in my BC. Remember, since our sport is a water-based aquatic sport with multiple maladies cause by water and/or pressure, our maladies often have lots of nastiness (that’s a technical term) coming from the respiratory tracts of mouth and nose. A pocket mask is essential to your safety, plus it is the best delivery for supplemental oxygen to a non-breathing diver when you hook it up to your constant flow on your oxygen unit. I recommend the DAN Oronasal Resuscitation Mask and I recommend having more than one!
Safety Sausage – Of course we keep signal tubes (AKA safety sausages) on or in our BC’s when diving. But I also keep one in my go-kit. This comes in handy when needing to mark an area quickly like attaching your reel to it and throwing it in after an object has been dropped in the water. You can use it to mark a line, an underwater feature, as a drift signal for drifting decompression/safety stops. Note: a signal tube does not replace a dive flag. It is also a nice marker for shore entry and exit points. With so many uses and its ability to roll up into a small package I keep one in my go-kit. There are many on the market and if you are in some heavy technical diving applications do your research and go with a very robust and tall marker. But for dive supervision at the divemaster or instructor level, the one in your go-kit can be simple and functional. For this purpose I like the Innovative Scuba Concepts 45 inch Scuba Diving Dive Signal Tube with Inflator .
Dive Tool – The dive tool is a part of most of our save-a-dive kits. You could keep a full save-a-dive kit in your go-kit or in your gear bag. But when we dance around between the boat, the pool, the lake, the beach, etc. we want to be self-sufficient lest we forget items and then we are at a loss for helping the dive with minor equipment needs. I personally keep my save-a-dive kit in my gear bag, but I like keeping my dive tool in my go-kit. It has less chance of corroding. Wherever you decide to keep your dive tool is up to you, it is more about having one that will make your life easier when needed. I like the Storm Multi-Function Dive Tool but there are many others on the market that will do the trick too.
Whistle – As a pro we are required to carry an audible and visual signaling device (agency standards may vary) on our person when diving. For just a few bucks more have another whistle in your go-pack. It is a great back up, and you can use it in case of need when topside and dry. I go with the ever so popular Original Fox 40 Classic Whistle. This whistle is designed to work when wet – important for us. Plus, it delivers a powerful sound.
Water Bottle – I know, your thinking why would you talk about water bottles for your go-kit? Well, after numerous trials I identified a bottle that I really like and perhaps you can benefit from its functionality too. I have the CamelBak BPA-Free Better Bottle with Classic Cap . There are many reasons I like this. First, get away from bringing throw-away plastic water bottles on your dives. We really need to practice what we preach about environmental concerns for our oceans. Go with one reusable bottle for your go-kit. This is modeling great eco-friendly behavior to other divers and your students. The Camelbak Better Bottle is BPA free, it holds one liter and it is tall and narrow which fits nicely in your backpack. I like the classic cap because the others with the spouts and tubes are just more to go wrong – and what can I say – I’m a purist, I go for simple and functional!
Towel, Swim Suit, Dry Clothes – With all the things mentioned above you should still have room for your personal items, especially if you go with the PADI backpack mentioned above.
SIDE POCKET 1 (LEFT OR RIGHT)
Pens, Pencils & Highlighters – I keep an assortment of each in a container in my side pocket. We often need multiple pens for the many waivers and releases needing signatures. Pencils are great for our underwater slates and accident management slate. Highlighters and markers come in handy too. I keep them all in a container if they leak then I have not ruined the inside of the pocket. Plus if they are in a container they are less likely to break from being bumped.
Calculator – Another great tool to have in your go-kit is a calculator. This is great when doing MOD calculations of gases, volume/pressure formulas, air consumption formulas, kick cycle formulas, etc. If I’m wet I do not want to use my phone’s calculator, I want a simple one that can get ruined and I won’t cry about it.
SIDE POCKET 2 (LEFT OR RIGHT)
Sunscreen – We don’t want to look like the Crypt-Keeper in our 40’s, so use sunscreen and lots of it!
Keys, wallet & phone – The side pocket is a good, accessible pocket for these items.
Teaching Slates – I keep both the confined water and open water teaching slates for my agency in my go-kit. If I need to conduct a specialty dive or fill in for another instructor, they are always with me.
Accident Management Workslate – To me, this is a must have slate. Not only do I keep it in my go-kit, but I also keep one in my first aid kit and one in my oxygen kit. An Accident Management Slate is a wonderful thing to have to take down notes in the event of an incident, and anyone can fill it out.
Marine Life Identification Slates – I think the slate that has seen the most use over the years is my marine life identification slates. I used to have this in my gear bag, but it kept getting so scratched up and dented, that I put it in the front pocket of my go-kit and it has been great there.
Of course there are PLENTY of other things that could be added or included in your own kit. Dive locations, dive activities, weather, facilities used, etc. all play a part in what you keep in your go-kit. If you don’t have a go-kit start assembling it today, it will make your job as a dive pro a whole lot easier.