Keeping Your Hose in Line: A How-To Guide on Streamlining Hose Configurations
By: Jesse Iacono
As a student of diving, you may have been shown a very specific hose configuration for your regulator setup. This was likely effective for the task and environment at hand, but as you start to frequent more charters and dive sites, you notice divers with all kinds of hose configurations – some similar and some very different from what you are used to. You may want to consider one of these configurations, but don’t know where to start. When changing hose configurations, fine-tuning your existing setup, or assembling a brand new rig, there are several important things to take into consideration to ensure your assembly is tailored to you and your diving preferences.
It is important to understand that although we see and hear the word “standard” applied to various aspects of scuba equipment, one of the greatest things about this sport is that there is no real standard; everything about your equipment setup should be tailored to you. Instead of “standard,” think “common.” While some configurations and hose lengths may be common, you can think of them more as a starting point – they may work great for some divers but require modification to be appropriate for others. After all, there is no standard person, so why should you have to settle for anything besides your perfect equipment setup?
Let’s keep in mind the primary function of scuba equipment – to keep you alive underwater! First and foremost, you have to understand the choices you make regarding equipment and how they will support your life (and possibly a buddy’s) in the aquatic environment if things start to go downhill. There is no wrong choice so long as it effectively supports that function. After that, you can cater everything to body type, comfort, environment, or any other desires you have for your configuration.
In a moment, we will take a look at four common hose configurations so you can decide which style may be the best for you…or try them all! Before we do, it is important to consider the core components that will apply to each and every hose configuration out there.
One regulator hose should be longer than the other. The length itself does not matter so long as it is long enough to donate to a buddy in need, easy to deploy, and can comfortably be streamlined.
The remaining regulator hose can vary greatly in length but, at a minimum, must be long enough to have the second stage sit in the diver’s mouth (while in their normal underwater position) and allow them to look in all directions without resistance.
Low Pressure Inflator and High Pressure Hoses
Most setups will contain one of each, but some can have multiple low pressure inflator hoses to accommodate additional equipment such as a dry suit.
Configuration Must Become Second Nature
While you may be experimenting with new configurations, it is paramount that whichever one you settle on becomes second nature. This means spending time diving and going through basic skills until you can adjust your muscle memory in accordance with the new equipment locations.
The following four regulator long/short hose configurations are commonly utilized and each has its own set of advantages. Some hose lengths will be referenced as a starting point, but remember that these can always be adjusted according to your diving preferences.
Long Hose Alternate
This is probably the most common hose configuration out there and is likely the one you used in your open water course. The short hose and long hose are pretty close in length with the short hose second stage remaining in your mouth and the long hose second stage (referred to as octo/octopus) clipped off to your right hip or on a quick-release necklace. The short hose can start in the 28-32 inch range while the long hose is typically about 4-8 inches longer and is sometimes different in color for easy identification. The advantage to this configuration is its massive presence in the sport and ability to donate a second stage without removing the one in your mouth. Most divers are trained to use this configuration from day one and will continue to use it for the rest of their diving careers, which means that the majority of your dive buddies will understand donation techniques and may match your setup.
Long Hose Under Arm
In this configuration, the short hose measures in the 18-24 inch range and the second stage is kept on a necklace so it hangs at the top of your chest, just below your chin. The long hose measures in the 36-40 inch range, is routed under your right arm, and has an angle adapter between the hose and the second stage to keep the hose pointing downward. In an emergency, the long hose second stage is donated to your buddy in need and the short hose second stage is transferred to your mouth. The advantage to this configuration is its ability to keep both hose lengths fairly short while routing both hoses much closer to your body.
5-Foot Long Hose
In this configuration, the short hose measures in the 18-24 inch range and the second stage is kept on a necklace. The long hose measures 60 inches (5 feet) in length and routes down under your right arm, up across your chest, and around your neck to your mouth. A bolt snap will typically be attached where the long hose meets the second stage so it can be clipped to your right shoulder d-ring when not in use. In an emergency, the long hose second stage is donated to your buddy in need and the short hose second stage is transferred to your mouth. The advantage to this configuration is the extra length of hose that can be donated to a buddy and the comfort and neatness of the hose position.
7-Foot Long Hose
In this configuration, the short hose measures in the 18-24 inch range and the second stage is kept on a necklace. The long hose measures 84 inches (7 feet) in length and routes down under your right arm, up across your chest, and around your neck to your mouth. Any extra hose length is typically stowed under your waist strap in front of your right hip. A bolt snap will typically be attached where the long hose meets the second stage so it can be clipped to your right shoulder d-ring when not in use. In an emergency, the long hose second stage is donated to your buddy in need and the short hose second stage is transferred to your mouth. The advantage to this configuration is the extra length of hose that can be donated to a buddy, allowing you to swim in a single-file line while sharing gas. As this is a very common hose configuration in technical diving, it also allows you familiarity with the setup if you plan to step into the technical realm.
Regardless of which hose configuration you choose, it needs to be streamlined. This simply means to alter the equipment in a way that helps to reduce drag as you move through the water, reduce the likelihood of damaging the underwater world around you, and avoid entanglement around tighter spaces or obstacles. Streamlining your hoses can be accomplished by removing unnecessary inches of hosing or stowing hoses in a manner that keeps them neatly tucked away and close to your body.
Most of the regulator hose configurations discussed in this article are inherently streamlined, so let’s take a look at how we can tidy up the remaining low pressure inflator and high pressure hoses. This can be accomplished in three easy steps:
Mapping – Map out where your hoses will need to be and how they will be used. Ask yourself questions such as “Will the hose be remaining stationary or need some wiggle room?” “Will I need any extra length or can the hose be exactly long enough?” “What purpose will the hose serve?” “Will the hose be in the way of any others?” “Will the hose stay the same way when in diving position underwater?”
Measuring – Once you have mapped out where your hoses will be routed, measure the distance along the route from the first stage to where the hose should end – a buddy may make this process easier if you do it while wearing your equipment. Flexible measuring tape will work best because this route is typically not a straight line. Make sure the length allows for all desired functions of the hose and then purchase and install the appropriate hoses.
Securing – Now that your hoses are of ideal length, you will need to make sure they are secured in place. This will ensure your hose is always where it needs to be and your equipment never gets away from you. For inflator hoses, your BC may already have a velcro strap intended for this purpose, but you can also secure it in place with shock cord; the stretchiness allows for some movement while still remaining in place. For high pressure hoses, you can attach a bolt snap to the gauge/console and clip it to your left hip or across your chest. Alternatively, you can use a retractor clip to allow the gauges to momentarily be pulled away from the body for viewing without having to unclip anything.
With all of this information, you should be able to create the ideal setup for yourself and have a greater understanding of the equipment that you utilize on every dive. The equipment that divers use can be as unique as the divers themselves and we love to learn from and celebrate those differences. Please use the comments section below to tell us about your preferred configuration or any tips and tricks worth sharing!