The key to longevity of the life of your dive gear is to take care of it, especially after a trip.
At The Resort
Many dive resorts and dive operators will rinse your gear daily and at the end of the week of diving. This is a wonderful service, allowing you to simply walk away at the end of the dive day and get on with having fun. On the last day, they will generally rinse and hang it to dry in the sun, allowing you to pick it up at the dive shop when you are ready to pack your bags. Whether you or the dive shop take care of your gear, it is very important to do. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that wet or damp dive gear is heavy. Even your clothes weigh more after accumulating moisture and salt in a tropical environment. You’ll notice that when you arrive home after a trip, your clothes feel sticky and damp. If you are close to your weight limit for your bags, this could be just the thing to put it over the top. I generally like to let it sit out and dry for as long as possible during the last day. Then I put it inside my room and blast the air conditioning for the last night in an attempt to get more moisture out of it. Remember also, tropical showers are most typical in the early morning so don’t let it sit out all night while you’re partying it up. You don’t want your gear getting wet just before departure for the airport. The other reason is that wet dive gear packed in a bag for a couple of days will smell and it could take some time to get the smell out.
**Tip** If you have an audible signaling device like a Dive Alert, you will want to blow it out. So if you do not have a tank at home with air in it, be sure to do this at the resort. Hook up your regulator to a tank and BE SURE to cover the Dive Alert with a towel (so you don’t blow out your eardrums!). Then push the button and the remaining water will blow out into your towel. This keeps the inside of the device from corroding with salt.
So now you’re home. What do you do? Because you can never get all the salt out of your gear at a tropical or ocean location, I re-clean my gear. I fill up the bathtub and toss it all in. Here is what I do with it all:
Regulator- I let it soak in clean water for at least 24 hours (don’t forget to put the dust cap on your first stage!). Then I dry it completely, put it in a regulator bag and store it. I never hang my regulator. This can put stress on the hoses.
BCD– I let this soak as well for at least 24 hours. Take off the inflator hose and rinse the inside as well. Use something like, Sink the Stink, if you want but I never use any type of soap or bleach that could harm or deteriorate my gear. Work all the buttons on the inflator to remove salt build up. I then re-attach the inflator, blow up the BCD and set it to dry completely. After it is dry, turn it upsidedown and press the deflator button to remove any excess water from the inside. Don’t forget to remove things from your BCD pocket and rinse these as well. I unroll my safety sausage and hang to dry as well, otherwise salt cakes up on it.
Wetsuit- Again, 24 hours minimum is a good rule of thumb for your wetsuit as well. Sink the Stink will work to remove the smell. Better yet, STOP PEEING in your suit!! Hang your wetsuit to dry completely.
Camera Gear– Guess how long it soaks? Yep, minimum 24 hours. I work all the buttons multiple times as it’s an easy place for salt to build up. Dry completely. I store camera gear in a roll aboard travel bag with soft foam to protect it. If anything has broken on your gear or lost during a trip, replace or repair it immediately. It’s too easy to forget until you’re pulling it out to pack again six months later and suddenly you have to get it fixed at the last minute.
I store all my dive gear in its own closet. Why? Because dive gear has that “neopreney” smell to it and I want to keep that smell away from my other clothes. BUT…..I also want to preserve that odiferous trigger so that in a few months, when I’m Jonesing for dive, I can just throw open the closet down, sit down amidst my gear and smell “diving”…..Ahhhhhhhh. I love the smell of neoprene in the morning!!
To Your Adventures!