Can you dive when you are pregnant? Where can I buy a good woman’s BC or wetsuit? How did Sylvia Earle become a famous Marine Biologist? Are there dive trips that cater to women only? These and many more questions we will answer in Dive Global’s women pages.
Long gone when diving was for men only. Woman are making headlines in even the toughest areas of diving such as technical diving.
Women & Diving
Once, most scuba gear was like the Ford Model T, you could get it in any color so long as you wanted black. As women began increasing in numbers as divers, color was added. Blue or yellow wetsuits in women’s styles were some of the first “women only” gear. Today there are several colors to choose from in all manner of gear, including pink. In some cases you even have the choice of no color at all – clear. More gear than ever before is made to the different proportions of women and today’s female diver no longer has to make do with gear tailored to the masculine form where fit is a factor.
Made for women are nothing new. They have been available for decades. The different proportions and added variables of a larger pelvic area and a bust make it more difficult for women to get a proper fit from an off the rack suit. Since women will typically need thicker suits, which have a greater tensile strength and resistance to stretching, the issue of proper fit becomes more critical.
Many women will prefer smaller blade areas and softer compounds. They require less effort and are far less likely to cause cramps. Open-heel fins often have a tab to make it easier to put on and get off, especially useful if you wear gloves when diving. Tabs can make it easier to spare your nails when dealing with your fins.
Buoyancy compensator (BCs)
In very recent years, manufacturers have begun making buoyancy compensators made to the different proportions of women rather than simply scaled down smaller versions of men’s models. Women should pay attention to models from Scubapro (Ladyhawk), Sea Quest (Diva and Libra), Oceanic (Isla), and U.S. Divers (Elan). Other manufacturers have followed their lead and more now have women’s models.
Some women even prefer the “technical” BCs as they allow for greater flexibility in strap placement and adjusting to size. This becomes more important for large-breasted women who may find strap and cummerbund placement difficult to arrange comfortably. Some BC models have integrated weights.
While it may seem convenient, consider the following: you will have your weights added to the weight of your tank, BC, regulator and other gear. Can you handle it all yourself when lifting it, or is it easier to keep your weights separate? If your buddy is a woman also, can she lift your rig? As a woman, you will probably wear a thicker wetsuit than a man, which requires more weight proportionately to compensate for the added lift of the neoprene. That can mean a lot of weight to consolidate into one gear assembly. It doesn’t make any difference in the water or once your gear is on. However, lifting it, including from the water, can be quite a load. Be sure you are up to the task.
Some divers prefer back mounted BCs, which eliminates some of the bulk and straps in front that some women find uncomfortable.