For a more up-to-date gift guide, please see Scuba Doctor Holiday Gift Guide 2021 for the latest Xmas Gift Guide.
It's that time of year again. Family, friends and colleagues know you love scuba diving but have no idea what you already own (apart from 'everything' if you ask other halves). They generally have even less idea what they should buy for a diver. Here we've got the perfect gifts for the Scuba Diver, Snorkeller, Freediver or Spearo to pass on as a gift guide.
Our staff get to play with all the toys so we asked them, "What do you want for Christmas?" Here are their top picks that are mostly within a reasonable budget.
Lloyd wants a H2Odyssey Torid-Pulse, the super new underwater toy designed to shoot a high-speed bubble, like a smoke ring, very long distances underwater. Of course Lloyd considers it to be an extremely useful device to signal dive buddies underwater, or the support cover in the boat on the surface. He'd never say he just wants one so that he can play underwater tagger style games, or have some really serious fun while spending long times on the deco bar!
Hannah wants one of these super bright 1500 lumen Dive Perfect Stubby LED-1000 Dive Lights if only to not feel left out because Lloyd, Cheryl and Peter each already have one. This rugged and dependable dive torch is great as a backup light on technical dives, and as a primary dive torch on recreational dives.
For absolute novices that are either about to embark on qualifying, or have just qualified, as an open water diver, then the essential pieces of basic kit are a dive mask, snorkel and fins. Remember you can normally colour coordinate these three items, so if the recipient is keen on their appearance, you may earn extra brownie points for this. If you are unsure try this short test, ask them what car they drive. If they answer with an answer along the lines of 'a blue one' then you should aim to colour coordinate!
A mask with a quality, soft silicone skirt will generally fit all face types. Cheaper masks made using siltex won't conform as well to the diver's face and thus may be more prone to leaking.
If the diver usually wears glasses while on their surface interval (that's when they're not diving), then it would be wise to get them a gift voucher so that they can get a dive mask with corrective lenses. We have a good selection of corrective lens mask packages available.
'Bifocal' or 'Gauge Reading' Lenses
If the diver usually needs reading glasses, then they could benefit from a dive mask fitted with 'gauge reading' or 'bifocal' corrective lenses. The mask we recommend for this is the Tusa Freedom Ceos Mask with Bifocal Corrective Lenses - $199. This is a top quality mask suitable for scuba diving, snorkeling, freediving and spearfishing. It fits a wide range of face shapes, plus has the greatest range of normal and bifocal corrective lenses available.
Snorkels are very much one size fits all, the only exception being younger teens and petite ladies who may prefer a smaller mouthpiece. Some divers prefer as simple a snorkel as possible. Others prefer one with devices to help stop water getting in, or to easily purge any water that does get in.
Our favourite snorkel this year is the high quality, low cost Sonar Trevally Silicone Snorkel. It has a splash guard that eliminates 90% of any water entering the snorkel while on the surface, plus a purge valve for easy water clearing once surfaced. You can pay a lot more money and still not get a snorkel this good.
You will need to know the persons foot size to purchase dive fins. However the first choice is whether to go for full foot fins or adjustable heel fins.
For warm water diving (i.e. where you get in the sea without screaming or taking a sharp intake of air), full foot fins are a good choice as they are light and can also be used for snorkeling.
In cooler waters, or where the shore diving is rocky, they will probably need some neoprene dive boots and a set of adjustable open heel fins. There are a wide range of dive boots, from thin 'sock' like ones through to all terrain rock boots. The thickness of the dive boot used effects which open heel fin size is required.
We prefer open heel dive fins with stainless steel spring straps. Our favourite fins are the Apollo Bio-Fin Pro Fins with Spring Straps - From $320. They are rated the world's number one dive fins for very good reasons. And when Apollo provide a FREE mask and snorkel valued at $169 when you plunk down your money on a pair of the Apollo Bio-Fin Pro Fins with Spring Straps, you're getting a great deal.
If the diver you're buying for already has a set of open heel fins that have the more common rubber straps, they might really like the gift of a set of steel spring straps to convert their dive fins to this safer, more easy to get on and off setup.
If you are buying for a relatively new diver then (rather worryingly) dive knives are very popular. Generally new divers will have the basics, but will be yet to accumulate the extras. Other good accessories include a dive bag, dive torch, or if you want to really impress, a dive package.
Dive bags are quite easy to buy as there is really only one decision to be made, is it transporting your gear dry for travel, or a wet dive boat bag? If it is dry then pretty much all the bags in the dive bag department are applicable. Just decide how many features you want. The price and the amount of features, such as wheels, handles, pockets and padding rise inline with the prices. If the recipient wants a wet bag, where they keep their kit together on a dive boat but it can drain easily after the dive, then go for mesh bag.
A dive torch is a simple but really great gift. Underwater colours disappear quickly as you go deeper, but by using a dive light a seemingly dull grey rock can spring into view under the beam as a vibrant red or orange coral. They are also useful in and around wrecks to see hidden marine life.
We think the Dive Perfect Stubby LED-1000 Dive Light, described earlier, makes a great primary dive torch for the new diver. And if the diver already has a dive torch, it also makes for an absolutely brilliant backup dive torch. So you can't go wrong with this gift.
We offer essentially two main packages: one are the regulators (the bit with all the hoses you breathe through underwater); and complete packages which include the regulators plus the BCD - the Buoyancy Control Device 'bladder' which keeps them afloat at the surface and deflates to allow the diver to descend.
Cressi Ellipse Balanced MC9-SC Regulator Set with FREE Octopus - $620
Our favourite regulator of the year is the Cressi Ellipse Balanced MC9-SC Regulator Set. And right now we're offering it with a FREE Octopus regulator worth $178! (The octopus is the name used for a backup second stage regulator. That's the end the diver puts in their mouth.)
This top-of-the-range Cressi regulator package, with its environmentally sealed first stage, has been designed for the more extreme diving environments, but it's equally suitable for warmer waters. This regulator set delivers outstanding flow rates, plus it's extremely comfortable to use, all essential qualities for any regulator.
Cressi XS Compact MC5 Regulator Set - $315
For those less demanding of regulator performance we recommend the Cressi XS Compact MC5 Regulator Set. Right now, this quality compact regulator set also comes complete with a FREE Octopus regulator worth $178! Lightweight and compact, this is an ideal reg set for the rigors of local diving, plus great for the traveling diver.
Eventually they will need the Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) too, but your budget will determine if you can include this. Don't worry if you can't, all BCDs are compatible with all regulators, so they can easily be added later. One note here, if you are buying for a lady make sure you get a package with a ladies BCD.
For both new and experienced divers we strongly recommend you look at a rear-inflation jacket BCD like the Cressi Back Jac Rear Inflation BCD - $685 - pictured above, or an OMS Backplate and Wing setup. Rear-inflation BCDs provide better stability and allow the diver to obtain better trim in the water.
While you can buy a wide range of traditional jacket BCDs with wrap around inflation bladders online, our favourite for 2013 is the Cressi R1 Weight Integrated BC - $489. It's made rugged and durable to take the rigors of frequent diving, and is more feature packed than comparable jacket BCDs.
This section also is applicable for people buying for divers who have incriminating information or photos on you. You really need to prove your love so unfortunately (for you, not us or them) you will be required to invest some serious cash (read plastic). Seriously, there are some really great items in this category and you'll be relieved to know this is possibly the easiest category to buy for:
The first thing to suggest would be a dive computer. It allows them to stay under water longer and provides greater safety.
Cressi Leonardo Dive Computer - Nitrox Wrist
RRP: $449, Our Price: $349, You Save $100 (22%).
For a new diver, we recommend the Cressi Leonardo Nitrox Wrist Dive Computer. It's got all of the essentials, yet is simple to use and ideal for those who 'just want to dive'.
Cressi Giotto Dive Computer - 2-Gas Nitrox Wrist
RRP: $579, Our Price: $499, You Save $80 (14%).
A more experienced recreational diver, or beginner technical diver, would be better off with a Cressi Giotto Mixed Gas Wrist Dive Computer. Designed for serious divers, the Cressi Giotto is loaded with features, including audible and visual alarms, a deep stop option, and a gauge mode for technical diving.
You may have noticed that we prefer and recommend wrist mounted dive computers. However, we also have both the Cressi Giotto and Cressi Leonardo dive computers available in a two gauge console with a matching surface pressure gauge (SPG) to also tell the diver how much air they have left.
Another brilliant gift is a dive camera or video unit. They range in price from about $350 upwards, but make for a superb present. These waterproof cameras or video units allow underwater images and memories to be captured forever.
For a video solution, we'd suggest you get them a GoPro Hero3+ Black or Silver edition. You really can't go wrong with this choice, plus it can be used to take photos as well.
Olympus Tough TG-2 Diver Kit - $945
For a low cost compact camera solution, we'd suggest the Olympus Tough TG-2 with a PT-053 Underwater Housing. Our favourite waterproof camera, the Olympus TG-2 is a fantastic pocket camera, one that you can take snorkeling on its own, or take it deeper to 45 metres while diving using the Olympus PT-053 Underwater Housing. In addition, the Olympus TG-2 Tough lives up to its name, as it is shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof. and dustproof. With a fast f2.0 lens, and an impressive depth rating of 12 metres (40 feet) without a housing, the Olympus TG-2 is a great camera to keep with you on the boat, and take with you while swimming, or in any damp environment without any concern for it getting wet.
Olympus E-PL5 Diver Camera Kit - $1775
The Olympus PEN E-PL5 is our favourite camera system this year. With ridiculously fast autofocus and exceptional image quality, the Olympus PEN E-PL5 really holds its own when compared to SLRs in terms of performance. With a host of interchangeable lenses and an airline-friendly compact form factor, the Olympus PEN represents the best advanced compact camera for 2013. This Diver Kit includes an Olympus PT-EP10 Underwater Housing for the Olympus E-PL5 camera. Customised to fit the Olympus E-PL5 perfectly, this lightweight underwater case is fully waterproof up a depth of 45 metres, while being absolutely user-friendly with comfortable access to all key buttons. The Olympus E-PL5 Diver Camera Kit, is a complete solution which includes everything anyone needs to start diving with this exciting camera.
You are going to need to come up with something either new, or non essential, as the chance is the diver in question has everything they already need to go diving.
Good options in this category would be the safety items, books, and stocking stuffers that follow.
If you are unsure, a good option in this category is to consider a gift voucher as it allow the recipient to choose what they want.
You want you loved ones to come back from their dive adventures safe and sound. Given most divers tend to overlook quality safety devices, giving them as a gift is a great way to let them know you love them.
AP Diving Buddy Self-Sealing Delayed SMB
RRP: $99, Our Price: $90, You Save $9 (9%).
This is our favourite surface marker buoy. It features closed-circuit (one-way valve) construction, which prevents air spill at the surface. Inflate on the surface to attract visual attention, or use as redundant flotation. Inflate at depth to send up as a surface marker. You can chose between all red, all yellow, or combined red and yellow coloured Buddy Self-Sealing SMBs.
AP Diving Ratcheted Pocket Reel with 45m (147ft) Line
RRP: $179, Our Price: $162, You Save $17 (9%).
This reel is the perfect solution to the problem of bulky and cumbersome SMB/navigation reels. Weighing in at only 205 gm, the Buddy Pocket Reel can be easily stowed in your BCD pocket or clipped unobtrusively to a D Ring.
Tusa FK-11 Blunt Tip Diving Mini-Knife
RRP: $58, Our Price: $52, You Save $6 (10%).
Real divers don't have big flashy dive knives, they use practical, compact ones like this. It's our best selling dive knife, because of its multiple mounting options. It can be fixed with a stainless steel clip on your BCD, or with the included hose keeper on your gauge or inflator hose. Everything you need in an emergency.
If you ask any commercial diver for a tip on how recreational divers can dive more safely, they typically reply that we should all have an emergency/redundant air source. So Lloyd has put together a suitable EAS for when he's in recreational diving mode going no deeper than 30 metres. (Taking one of his aluminium S80 stage cylinders on such a dive would be a bit over the top.)
A Catalina S19 aluminium cylinder ($265) - 2.7 litre (19 cu ft) capacity, 207 bar - will provide even air hogs with plenty of air capacity to make it back from 30 metres on a recreational, non-deco dive. It's a compact size, being 111 mm (4.4 inch) in diameter and just 435 mm (17.1 inch) long. Plus this Catalina cylinder has superb buoyancy characteristics for use as a stage/pony cylinder.
Combine that cylinder with the very rugged and reliable, lightweight and low cost Cressi XS Compact MC5 Regulator Set ($315) and we have the basis of a super reliable EAS setup. These easy breathing regs are EN250/2000 certification for cold water which means they can be relied upon totally.
So that he can tell how much air is left in the Catalina cylinder, Lloyd would add a Miflex Brass/Glass HP Tech SPG ($76.50) on a Miflex Carbon HD HP Hose ($49.50), 15 cm (6 inch) Carbon Black, finished off with a Miflex Swivel Pin, Shoulder Design Airspool ($9.95). He uses this SPG setup on all of his stage/pony cylinders. Of course, most people would be content with just adding a Mini Button SPG ($40).
We now need to consider how to carry the emergency air source. Even Lloyd's recreational BCD has D-rings suitable for attaching stage cylinders, so he'd just add an OMS Stage Bottle Strap with Carry Handle ($57.50), or equivalent, to the Catalina S19 cylinder.
Divers with a more typical recreational BCD would probably prefer to use a Northern Diver Stage Bottle/Pony Clamp Kit ($165). It's a secure quick-mount, quick release, alloy pony cylinder attachment clamp with jubilee clips and tank protectors. That means the diver can use it to fix the Catalina S19 cylinder to their main dive cylinder on their back.
An EAS setup like this is great for improving the safety of solo divers. And we all know you're diving solo if you or your dive buddy is more focused on taking underwater photos, shooting the next great underwater video, or hunting for scallops, crays and/or abalone.
Our favourite books include:
This book by Bill Silvester is packed full of adventures, involving life-threatening experiences on shipwrecks in Southern Victoria. Using explosives to wrench non-ferrous metal in highly dangerous currents, this book will hold your attention as it recalls a diver's life in the 50's, 60's and early 70's using the primitive equipment available at that time. We cannot do anything like this now!
Shore Dives of Victoria (3rd Edition)
RRP: $32, Our Price: $31, You Save $1 (3%).
This excellent book by Ian Lewis covers some 120 dive sites from Cape Otway to Wilsons Promontory, including Port Phillip and Western Port. Site descriptions and historic information of wrecks adds to the value of the book. Quite superb.
These items are just great for giving as simple little gifts, confident that any diver would appreciate receiving them.
Best Divers Magnetic Octopus/Regulator Hose Holder
Our Price: $50
This is the quick and easy way to secure your octopus or dive gauge console. There are similar but inferior products on the market. Most use low strength magnets and thus the hose breaks away when you don't want it to. The high power magnets in this product ensures they perform the way you want them to.
This quality multi tool has the allen keys, and flat and phillips screwdriver tools needed to save a dive. The aluminium body makes it light for travel, and the tools are of tough galvanised steel.
Best Divers Hex Multi Tool - Stainless Steel
RRP: $89, Our Price: $85, You Save $4 (4%).
This quality stainless steel, compact hex multi tool is the perfect accompaniment to any divers tool kit. With it you can remove and replace the most common scuba hoses.
Best Divers Multi Wrench Tool - Stainless Steel
RRP: $63, Our Price: $54, You Save $9 (14%).
This multi tool wrench is made from stainless steel and built to last. It fits most of the major manufacturers hose fittings and has a lovely ergonomic feel to it!
Sonar Abalone Tool Pro with Square/Blunt Edges
RRP: $60, Our Price: $55, You Save $5 (8%).
Help the diver in your life put food on the table as a more efficient hunter gatherer, with this specialist abalone tool with a webbing sheath and leg straps. The sheer size of the blade provides plenty of cranking leverage to make even the biggest of abs come away effortlessly.
This hanger is simply the best way to hang a wetsuit or drysuit. Easy rinsing. Faster drying. It eliminates stress in the shoulder area allowing garments to hang to their natural shapes. It's also great for use with other heavy garments like motorcycle leathers, foul weather gear, leather coats etc.
Northern Diver Steel Cylinder Tank Carry Handle - Fixed
RRP: $33, Our Price: $27, You Save $6 (18%).
Yes, this seems like a strange thing to be giving someone as a gift. But trust us, they'll really appreciate it. Once you've used one of these fixed tank handles on a steel scuba cylinder, you'll want to have them on all steel cylinders you have to carry. That's why we put them on our hire steel tanks. These are simply the strongest most durable tank handles available. Don't even think about the flimsy alternatives most other places sell - they're rubbish.
Unless you are absolutely sure what size the diver is, avoid wetsuits and drysuits. You have more chance of guessing the lottery numbers than someone's suit size.
The Scuba Doctor Gift Certificates - $5 to $1000
If you still can't decide on a gift for the diver in your life for Christmas, then why not give them a Gift Certificate from The Scuba Doctor. You may think they already have all of the dive gear they could possibly need, but they WILL be hankering for something. This way they get to choose what's most important to them.