Nearly every time I meet divers at a dive site, I receive a few strange looks as I unload my truck. I pull out my personal dive gear, a first aid kit, and a twenty-five-pound, bright orange tool box which makes a loud clanging sound. The tool box weighs more than my dive gear. "It's my save a dive kit, " I explain apologetically. Inside the tool box I have crammed just about every spare part and contraption that can be used for fixing dive gear on the go. In my defense, I frequently lead technical cave dives, so I need a few more spare parts than most recreational divers. Still, most divers would do well to carry a simple spare parts kits with them on dive trips -- especially on trips to remote areas. There is nothing worse than traveling two hours to a dive site and being unable to dive because of a broken mask strap.
Here are some of the items that I carry in my gigantic save a dive kit. Of course, a diver's save a dive kit will differ depending upon his needs and type of diving. Save a dive kits may be a small as a zip-lock bad or as big as a tool box. My goal in posting this extensive list is that divers may browse through it and decide for themselves what items they would like to carry in their personal kit. Keep in mind that my first aid kit and emergency medical supplies are separate, and not included in this list.
Check out my suggestions below, or let us know
What's in Your "Save a Dive" Kit?
Essential Tools and Spare Parts for Every Save a Dive Kit:
• Spare mask strap
Mask straps are one of the most common items to break before a dive. Be sure to select a spare mask strap that fits your mask. Mask straps come in different sizes.
• Spare fin strap and buckle
Fin straps break less frequently than mask straps, but they do break. Most fin manufacturers sell spare straps complete with buckles. Be sure to choose the correct strap for you fins.
• Spare regulator mouthpiece and zip tie/cable tie to secure it. A spare regulator mouthpiece is an absolute essential. Even if you do not have your own regulator, be sure to include a spare mouthpiece in your save a dive kit. Mouthpieces develop holes and the bite tabs break off. The ability to swap out a shoddy mouthpiece from a rental regulator may save your dive.
• Basic o-ring kit
This should include o-rings for low pressure and high pressure hoses, as well as o-rings for yoke tank valves or o-rings for DIN regulators (depending upon which you use). Including the tiny o-rings for the high pressure spool/ spindle inside the pressure gauge is also a good idea. Most commercially available o-ring kits include these types of o-rings.
• Octopus holder Figure-eight style octopus/alternate air source holders come in handy in a variety of applications. They great for securing alternate air sources, and can be used to secure snorkels to masks.
• High pressure and low pressure port plugs for the regulator first stage
When a diver removes a hose from his regulator first stage, he must plug the hole with a port plug. Bring along both a high pressure and low pressure port plug that fits your first stage (apex first stages have unusually large port plugs).
• Small adjustable crescent wrench
This is used to remove hoses from the regulator to replace o-rings. I carry two crescent wrenches in order to more easily pressure gauges and other regulator second stages.
• Hex wrenches/ allen keys
Hex wrenches are used to remove port plugs, as well as for a variety of other applications. Be sure to have both an imperial and metric set of hex wrenches.
• Cutting device/knife
A Swiss Army Knife or a multi-tool works well. At a minimum, your cutting tool should be able to cleanly slice off zip ties and snip strings and bungee.
• Needle nose pliers
Needle nose pliers are great for just about everything that needs to be pulled or tightened. They are particularly useful when pulling out high pressure spools from pressure gauges. Many multi-tools include suitable pliers.
• Brass o-ring picks
O-ring picks resemble dental tools and are commercially available. These are used to remove o-rings from hoses and pressure gauge high-pressure spools, and I find they make removing worn-out o-rings in yoke tanks easy.
• Small pot of silicon lubricant
This is used for greasing o-rings in dive gear, dive lights, etc.
• Cave line/ reel line and a lighter
Braided line works well for attaching clips to dive accessories, as well as for securing pencils to slates and wetnotes. A lighter is necessary to melt the end of the line to prevent it from fraying.
• Zip ties and duct tape
• Nail clippers
Nail clippers are surprisingly useful for nipping of zip ties and clipping small items.
• White trash bag or small white towel
I use a white plastic trash bag as a work surface in dirty or wet areas. This makes seeing o-rings and parts easier, and keeps them clean and dry. A white towel works as well, but sometimes the towel fuzz gets stuck on dive gear.
• Spare pencils
For writing on slates and wet notes (if you use these items).
• Dry suit zipper wax
Essential if you use a dry suit.
For More Extensive Save a Dive Kits:
• Spare mask I always recommend carrying a spare mask underwater on a dive. At minimum, having one in your save a dive kit is a good idea. Mask frames and glass do occasionally break, and masks are sometimes lost overboard. If you use prescription lenses in your mask, this carrying a spare mask is absolutely essential, as most dive shops do not rent prescription masks.
• Regulator hoses
I carry one high pressure (pressure gauge hose), a low pressure hose (for the regulator second stage) and an inflator hose.
• Pressure gauge
It is frequently easier to swap put an entire bubbling pressure gauge than to bother with replacing o-rings in the field.
• Regulator first stage and second stage
I usually carry one complete regulator, including hoses , pressure gauge, and first and second stages which I can cannibalize for spare parts.
• A DIN-to-yoke or yoke-to-DIN adaptor
This allows you to dive with both DIN and yoke tanks.
• Soapy water
A small, travel-size bottle of soapy water is useful in detecting the location of leaks.
• Stainless steel clips (bolt snaps and double-ended clips)
Bolt snaps are useful in securing pressure gauges and the like, and double ended clips are needed for reels and spools.
• Spare inflator mechanism
This is the gadget on the end of your buoyancy compensator inflator hose with the button that adds air to your buoyancy compensator. You can fix these in the field, but they are tricky. Many times it is easier to simply swap them out. Be sure to bring along the correct size for your inflator hose.
• Spare dump valve
These are great for buoyancy compensators with a rear or shoulder air release valve. A leaking dump valve is relatively easy to replace - most just screw right off. Again, be sure to get the right size for you buoyancy compensator.
Carry spare batteries for your dive computer if it has user-replaceable batteries (in my experience most dive computer malfunctions are due to low batteries), as well as spare batteries for electronic pressure gauge transmitters and dive lights.
• Extra watch or dive computer strap
For Technically-Inclined Divers Who Understand Simple Gear Maintenance:
• High pressure spool/ spindleAnd finally, if you use manifolded double tanks:
For pressure gauges.
• Diaphragm for regulator second stages
Of course, be sure to bring the correct diaphragm for your regulators, these are model specific.
Aqualseal™ works well for sealing holes in buoyancy compensators and dry suits. You may also want to bring along patches to help seal holes.
• Spare d-rings and tri-glides (the things that stop the d-rings from moving)
• Extra weight belt buckle
Many technical divers use buckles to hold canister lights in place, these are easily misplaced.
• Bungee/ Shock Cord
Bungee can be used to secure lights, create necklaces for back-up regs (long hose configuration), manufacture watch/computer straps, and create octopus/alternate air source holders. Thick bungee may even be used to create a fin strap in a pinch.
• In-Line Adjustment Tool
This is a tool that technically savvy divers can use to monitor and adjust intermediate pressure, as well as to tune regulator second stages to fix a free-flow. These are only useful if you know how to use it.
Tools always seem to rust themselves into a state of immobility right when you need them.
• Low pressure air gun
This attaches to a low pressure hose and can be used to dry small pieces of gear and blow out debris.
• Low pressure tire inflator
Attaches to a low pressure inflator hose and can be used to inflate car tires. I love these.
• Simple sewing kit
For repairing tears in suits, pockets, and buoyancy compensator fabric.
• Extra wing nuts
• One extra bolt and nuts for the bolt
Choose an appropriate size and thickness to replace the bolt between your tanks • Die Cutter
Used rethread the bolts they become stripped.
• Deep socket wrench
To help you replace the bolt on the doubles.