Over the years, I had to experiment with equipment till I find out which are best for my needs. On this page, I try to discuss the various things I tried, and the pros and cons of each.
This is the most important part of your equipment, since you will be seeing your way through it.
There are many different styles of mask developed over the decades. The best are ones with a low air volume, so they do not press on your face too much, and with a big area for your nose, so you can shut off your nostrils to equalize your ears.
This is the second most important part of your equipment. Without it, you would be sticking your mouth or nose out of the water every so often to breath. This gets very tiresome after a while.
A snorkel's job is to keep you breathing while your face is down in the water without too much movement.
Again, small volume snorkels are best, so you can easily blow out the water from it. A snorkel with valves on the bottom help drain the water from it easily too, but prevent water form coming in.
Some snorkels have a float on top that prevents water from coming in. These can be helpful for novices, but have the side effect that you get the occasional 'choke' when a wave passes by while you are inhaling.
It is also important for the snorkel to be comfortable in your mouth. Badly designed mouth pieces can be painful.
|There are two snorkels. The one on the right has the float on top, and hence is a 'dry snorkel'. The other one does not have it, and is my favorite. Once you learn how to clear a snorkel it is not an issue. Note the valves at the bottom in both.
Because the Red Sea is full of corals, a boot is a must. When you go to snorkel from the shore, you have to walk a considerable distance till you reach the surf, or the coral clumps. This is sometimes a few hundred meters from the shore, and a mix of walking and swimming, depending on the depth.
|There is nothing special about the boots, except that they are made of rubber foam material that does not hold water. They have to be comfortable, and be able to hold your fins snugly.
Fins give you propulsion in water. Without them you will barely get by. Fins must fit over your feet with the boots on. The best kind of fins are a bit subjective, a personal preference, depending on fitness and physique. The really soft ones are almost useless. Select something that is not too big or too rigid. The relatively new short awkward looking duck feet seem to be popular with some.
|These are Cressi Sub boot fins. They are rigid and require a lot of energy to propel yourself.
A diving knife can be handy in cutting line, unsnagging things, and such. They can be a life saver if you get snagged underwater by a rope or something like that. Also, they make you look cool, if you care about appearances!
|This is a diving knife. I lost several of those. This one is very secure because of the round metal interlock.
An underwater flashlight is a great thing to have. You can shine it in caves and see creatures that are not otherwise visible. In dark areas, it will bring the colors of the corals. It can also be helpful in spotting fish in caves as well.
|Underwater flashlights have a simple design. Two pieces with an O-ring seal. I used straps to tie it to the speargun, so I can point it in caves with one hand.
If you do spearfishing, gloves may be necessary to handle the fish, and grip on cave openings. Be careful not to hold on to live corals, or brittle areas that may break.
Spearguns are of two main varieties, rubber band powered, and compressed air powered.
The longer the spear guns the better the range and power, but it is also harder to reload, specially for people who are not particularly tall, like me.
I later found out that the fish I like most (grouper and snapper) tend to be in caves and holes, and a long spear gun is not easily maneouverable in these situations. Therefore, I switched to a short compressed air gun.
The fish holder I used was an improvised piece of equipment. It was simply a metal coat hanger, attached to an empty bottle serving as a buoy. This was attached to a chord so it could be dragged along in the water. The tricky part is to have a mechanism that would hold the fish securely, yet is easy to open and close back when you add a fish to your catch. This is easier said than done, since you will be wearing gloves that hinder dexterity.