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Equipment

Now that you're ready to jump into the sport of diving, you're going to need some basic equipment. Here's a couple tips on picking out the gear that will work for you and last for years to come. Of course, freedivers, don't forget your Abalone Report Card and/or CA Fishing License. Please read all the rules and regulations before heading out to the coast, things can change from year to year and sometimes from month to month. As usual, you can always call us for more information if you're not sure!



































SCUBA Equipment

The buoyancy compensator device or BCD for short, is primarily used to help the diver maintain neutral buoyancy underwater during the scuba dive. The secondary function of the BCD is to float the diver and equipment on the surface allowing the diver to rest at the surface and perform surface swims to dive sites. Diving in cold water requires the use of thicker wetsuits. This requires ample weight to offset the buoyancy and the BCD will need enough lift capacity to compensate for the loss of that buoyancy at depth.

The foundation of the diving experience, the scuba regulator is the interface between the diver and the tank that supplies the diver with air at ambient pressure. The first stage of a regulator attaches directly to the tank, reducing the pressure of the air leaving the tank by a preset amount. The second stage reduces the pressure yet again, bringing it down to ambient pressure, where you'll be able to breathe air comfortably.

Regardless of which type of alternate air source (octo) you select, remember that its performance will depend on the ability of the regulator first stage to deliver air, particularly when it is supplying two second stages and a power inflator. The bottom lines: Given the type of diving you plan to do, how will it work for you in a worst-case scenario? How much risk are you willing to accept?

Computer Consoles combine a dive computer, a pressure gauge, and often a compass in one convenient location. Wrist and Hose Mount Computers make sure you have the information you need always within reach.


Abalone Gauge and Iron

The gauge and iron are essential to the abalone diver. California Regulation state that every diver must at minimum have a 7" gauge on their person. That means that you can share ab irons, but each person taking abalone has to have thier own 7" gauge. In addition, even if you carry a 10" or 11" gauge, you still have to have a 7" gauge on you as well. Gauges come in plastic or stainless steel. We carry 7", 8", 9", 10", and even 11" gauges, as well as a multi gauge with 7", 8", 9", and 10" all in one.

The abalone iron can be made of stainless steel or aluminun. Stainless irons are a little heavier and stronger than the aluminum irons, this is a good option for some one who both abalone dives and rock picks. Divers can't really use thier body weight as leverage, so wether they choose aluminum or stainless becomes personal preference. We carry aluminum and stainless steel irons of various lengths and sizes.


Collection Bags

Mesh game bags are used for everything from abalone, to scallops, to fish. They come in many sizes with several types of metal handles. The one you choose will depend on how much you want to hold at one time and what type of handle is easy for you to use with gloves on. Every diver needs to have a place to store thier abalone separate from their buddy's. Two people can share a float, but one person will have to put his or her abalone in a bag to indicate whose is whose.


Float Cover and Tube

The float cover and inner tube is one of the most popular pieces of equipment for the abalone diver. This float can be used to lay on top of while going through surf or over kelp, or to rest on during diving. Worn as a backpack, it holds your equipment while you walk out to your dive site, and anchored in the water, it holds your abalone while you are diving. We carry several different styles of float covers depending on your perferences. One of our most popular styles is made locally in Valley Ford, CA by Carolyn's Canvas. They are durable and strong, and will be repaired if they ever rip or tear- a great reason to buy local made products!


Abalone Report Cards / Dry Box Case / Scissor

Current Caifornia Abalone Regulations now require abalone divers to keep thier abalone report cards on them while diving, so that they can fill-out their report cards and tag the abalone immediately upon exiting the water. A dry box or case will keep your card and license dry and protected. You may also want to carry sciccors and zip ties or wire for an easier time tagging your abs. We have many sizes in stock to hold whatever you need out there, and we are happy to offer advice in prepping for tagging your abalone if it is your first time out.


Mask, Fins, and Snorkel

The Mask is arguably the most important piece of equipment that you will own. The fit of the mask is essential to being comfortable in the water. Anyone who's ever had a leaky mask can tell you there's nothing more frustrating when you're trying to have fun in the water. The fit of the mask is affected by the shape of the lenses and frame as well as the material the mask is made of. A silicone skirt will be longer lasting, softer, and more durable than PVC plastic. The mask should seal well when you place it against your face without using the mask strap. A gentle inhale should cause the mask to suck down against your face; pull off gently and if you hear that suction cup sound, you may have found a good mask for you.

Fins are another essential piece of equipment because they also affect your comfort in the water a great deal. Whether you choose a split fin, designed to cup and move water away from the diver in an efficient and comfortable way with much less resistance on the legs; or a paddle fin, a style of fin that when designed well can have a good deal of water movement only with more resisitance than a split fin. What you want is a fin that moves water away from you efficiently with a level of resistance you can handle. Our staff is well trained to explain the way each type of fin works and match you up with a fin that will work the best for you for years to come.

There are many different types of snorkels out there. We stock a variety of styles from very basic j-shape, to semi-dry with purge valves designed make it easy to drain the water out of the snorkel, to dry snorkels that allow very little to no water in at all. They style you choose will depend on the type of diving and snorkeling you think you'll want to do as well as your comfort level and preferences. Our staff is happy to assist you in deciding on the perfect snorkel for you needs.



Free Divers Only!

Long blade fins are designed to propell a great deal of water away from the diver; at the same time they do have a good amount of resistance. If you have the leg muscles to move these fins, they are a great way to get to deeper water faster! They usually come in the full-foot style, worn with a 3mm or 5mm neoprene sock instead of a rubber soled boot. We stock the high-quality line of Mares Pure Instinct free diving fins, and are happy to order fins from Picasso, Omer, Riffe, or any other fin you are interested in.

Free diving specific masks are designed to be extremely low-profile and streamlined. They need very little water to clear and very little air exhaled into them to equalize the pressure against the mask underwater. They come in a variety of lenses and silicones to match your preference. We carry free diving masks from Mares, Aqua Lung, Omer, AB Biller, and Riffe.

Open-Cell Neoprene Wetsuits have become much more popular and easier to get in the past few years. We are happy to now stock several free-diving specific wetsuits from manufacturers like Rob Allen, JBL, Omer, Mares, and more. Have one in mind that you want? Just ask! We can order most things.


Wetsuit, Boots, Hood, Gloves

Your wetsuit should be like a second skin to you. The more you wear your wetsuit the more it will break-in and conform to fit you better and better! 7mm neoprene is the standard thickness for our coastline. New improvements in neoprene have made diving suits more and more comfortable every year. Blended "super-stretch" wetsuits are designed to be comfortable, easy to get on and off, and offer you the most range of movement. Of course, the cut of the suit initially is extremely important; that's why we stock suits from Pinnalce Aquatics, Deep See, Aqua Lung, XS Scuba, Akona, and more- so that you can find the best fit at the right price.

Your boots, hood, and gloves are important as well. You want enough insulation to keep you warm, flexibility to be able to move comfortably, and durable to last through years of use on our coast. Your boots and hood should be 7mm neoprene. The boots can come with a soft or hard sole. The soft sole is comfortable and flexible, good for sandy beaches or boat diving. The hard sole is great for rocky, uneven terrain, or if your buddies want to walk a mile to their secret spot. Your gloves can be as thin as 2mm or as think as 6mm depending on your preference and how easily you get cold. 3mm neoprene is the standard thickness. Kevlar-lined 3mm gloves are the most popular for abalone diving as they are durable for grabbing and holding on to rocks. We have a selection of boots, gloves, and hoods to make sure you get the right fit for you and the type of diving you'll be doing. We also offer package deals when you buy everything together.


Weight Belt and Weights

There are many different options when it comes time to choose your weighbelt and weight. There are pocketed belts that hold hard or soft lead; these are generally mroe comfortable and easier for a new diver to adjust thier weighting as they get more comfortable or are renting wetsuits that have different buoyancy charactaristics. The hard lead can be threaded onto a nylon or rubber belt. These are a little more stable than the pockets but are harder to take weight off or put weight on as you need. Even a small change like adding a vest or hooded vest can really affect how much weight you will need. Our general rule of thumb: 10% of your body weight plus 4 - 6 lbs if you're wearing a 7mm wetsuit. Your weighting preferences may affect how much you need. Please ask one of our helpful staff members if you're unsure!

Contact Us

Address:
5702 Commerce Blvd.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Phone: (707) 586-0272
Fax: (707) 586-0164

Hours:
M-F 10am-6pm; SAT 9:30am-5:30pm; *Closed Sunday

Email Address: info@sonomacoastdivers.com