9 Reasons Tech Gear is Rec Gear

By Edward Kelleher

There’s an old mindset that all technical diving gear is unsuitable for a new diver or student. I’m here to give you 9 reasons why tech gear is suitable (if not BETTER) than the standardized sport diving  setup (and I’m not even a tech diver). Let the debates begin.

1. Most technical setups are built to take a beating.

The average  buoyancy device is hardly reinforced around the bladder. Bumping your BCD bladder into the side of a wreck or scraping through a doorway could rip it. On the tech side, we find much better armor and reinforcement around the bladder. It doesn’t take much to pierce a thin layer surrounding a jacket or back inflate standard BCD.

2. Easier Repairs

Piggybacking off puncturing bladders, a backplate and wing bladder can be swapped out and replaced as needed. If you puncture the bladder on a typical sport diving BCD, you can try patching it. If it’s not repairable, you will need to replace the entire BCD.

3. Backplate and wing is  better for training neutral buoyancy  and trim.

While an overinflated wing on the surface tends to put a diver on their face, it is much better at getting a diver (or student) into a proper trim position underwater. Fact.

4. Skills become easier in certain tech setups.

Wearing an alternate air source on a necklace is much easier to find than one attached to your hip, or was it on your shoulder strap? Exactly. If a diver loses their regulator from their mouth, they can easily replace it from the one on their neck rather than searching for the lost primary. Solve the problem, then fix the gear.

5. High-end computers are worth every penny.

Certain dive computers might be able to do way more than the average diver might need, but that doesn’t mean a sport diver can’t use that information. Want to know your surface air consumption rates, or carry a digital compass, color screen, and already have a computer that can grow WITH your training? It might be worth buying it right the first time.

6. Carrying a bailout bottle is smart and it’s not difficult.

Safety is never a bad idea.

7. Sidemount is far from strictly cave country these days.

Divers with back problems or those that prefer to not lug tanks around on their backs may have more freedom to extend their dive career. It’s easier than dragging doubles around, although your mileage may vary when getting off and on dive boats; not all are set up to allow you to doff and don tanks in the water.

8. Tech gear is more customizable.

The backplate and wing can be switched up for travel, single tank, or doubles. Many times, a diver will swap a stainless plate for aluminum for lighter weight when traveling, or a smaller size wing.

9. Tech gear is more minimalist.

We preach streamlining and neutral buoyancy, yet many dive centers are training new divers in bulky jacket style BCDs. 

Technical dive gear is plenty suitable for a new student or any diver trying to change up their equipment configuration. When we mashup some tech gear with sport diving, we find many divers who end up preferring the latter and wishing they made the switch sooner. What do you think?

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8 replies
  1. John Georg Kvaas
    John Georg Kvaas says:

    When I started diving, I got my initial PADI certifications through the most professional dive center/shop in my area.
    Fortunately, I was able to afford “most” of the “good” kit from the start, however I bought a cheaper dive computer (no I will NEVER exceed 40 meters…yeah right…), and an AQ Black Diamond wing style vest. I looked at the backplate rigs as uncomfortable, no streamlined weight pockets etc.
    With D7s and self-modified shaped weight plates, the BD was comfy enough ad served me well for a while, but it was during a stay in Egypt, after diving a borrowed backplate in shorts only, that I went straight to the shop and bought a brand new rig, right there and then, along with a new computer, since I at that time had gotten to PADI “deep diver”.
    Later, when I got my TDI certs, all I had to do was get some stage bottles and some minor stuff.

    The first dive with a backplate was that much of an eye-opener, that I think all dive courses should focus more on equipment selection, and also allow more time to try different rigs.
    This would save students money, as even barely used equipment drops at least 50% when re-sold, and also reduce the amount of equipment laying around in garages and lofts, when people like me find out after a while what they REALLY want…

    The backplate is extremely versatile, switching setup between semidry suit with D7s for zero extra weights rec diving and dry suit with D12s and stages for tech diving is done in 5 minutes, and the backplate is more comfy and less restrictive even in shorts (yeah I sometimes cheat with the Halcyon shoulder pads…)
    Rec diving with single tanks in the Caribbean or Asia, the plate is perfect for travel, and with a single tank adapter and 2 small lead pockets attached to the upper tank strap, no additional weight required (I do have alu plate but due to the buoyancy advantages I usually bring the 3kilo stainless steel). All I need when I get to location is a single air tank and usually 2 small lead weights.

  2. Mark Culwick
    Mark Culwick says:

    My school uses long hose donate Apeks regulators, Apeks WTX D30 wings, Scubaforce adjustable harnesses (that is a consession to numbers and saving time) trim weight pockets and suunto core computers! Students coming from a short hose / bcd background are sceptical at first but when you explain modularity, repair costs, futureproofing and then they dive it, they get it!

    For us as a school we dont need stupid amounts of BC’s to fit every person coming theough the door so a significant commercial saving!

    A good decision we think and so do the students judging on their post course purchases!

  3. Marty Roberts
    Marty Roberts says:

    Was certified in 1973 in Lake Travis, Texas by the legendary Don Brod. He was a former commercial diver, turned scuba instructor/dive shop owner. Apparently, he was way ahead of the curve. For his AOW course, he required the following gear:
    Watergill AT-PAC BC (essentially a back wing)
    Scubapro Jet Fins
    Scubapro Deco-Meter (analog)
    Have always used a back bladder or wing since, and just recently purchased my third set of Jet Fins (finally upgraded to spring heel straps). Fortunately, I have long moved on from the Deco-Meter! But the basic concepts of diving and gear that Don Brod taught in his OW and AOW courses were precursors to today’s tech diving philosophies.

  4. RVO
    RVO says:

    Ed, These are great points especially as rough as we are on equipment on the East Coast. Keep up the good work in teaching in tech gear, neutrally buoyant to OW students from the beginning.

  5. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    I was diving for nearly 10 years before I bought my own BCD, regulator & exposure suit – although I expressed my desire to dive locally (North East wrecks), the shop sold me a standard jacket-style BCD, a good regulator, but in the traditional yoke/octo set up, an ill-fitting wetsuit and a basic wrist computer. I used these items for less than a year before purchasing a backplate & wing, converting my reg to DIN with a long hose & necklace, an investing in a good computer. I’ve since moved into technical diving and own several different, harnesses, backplates, tanks, regulators & TWO industry standard computers – but at each stage, I bought the wrong items and wasted a ton of money – I DEFINITELY agree that tech gear/tech set-up from the start is the way to go.

  6. Tim
    Tim says:

    Excellent article! One other thing that bears mention is 1st stages – I frankly don’t understand why shops are still selling yoke…

  7. Paul
    Paul says:

    Nine Excellent Reasons…Living out here in Hawaii, we dive almost every weekend for 4-8 hours. The salt water and the sun does a lot of damage to the plastic “recreational” dive gear. I’ve been diving pretty much with a tech dive set up for the last ten years. Most of my dive buddies have all switched over to a tech setup also.


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