If you have kids, you’ve probably wondered at some point whether you should get them into diving. As parents who enjoy diving, it is only natural that you want to share the experience with your children. But, one question inevitably is going to come up.
Do they make scuba gear for kids? Yes!
We’re going to cover from head to toe the best scuba gear for kids. We’ll go into what you should look for and provide a few options for your little diver to chose from.
What is the best scuba gear for kids?
Best Mask and Snorkel For Kids
The first thing you want to get is a mask and snorkel. This is one of the few pieces of mandatory equipment that we recommend all people get. Your mask is one of a few pieces of diving equipment which should fit perfectly to your body.
If your mask does not fit well, you risk having it leak if it’s too loose. Or, if it’s too tight, it can cause mask squeeze. The same applies to kids. But, when it comes to kids, there is one added factor that can make it difficult to buy a good mask. Kids are constantly growing.
This means that a mask you buy one year may be too small the next. What’s worse, scuba masks aren’t like clothes. You can’t buy them large and give them time to grow into them. You need to buy the right size for their current size.
It may be an added irritation, but allowing your child to have their own mask will be worth it. They can use their mask and snorkel to go snorkeling when they aren’t learning to dive. This provides more opportunities for them to view and learn about what’s beneath the ocean.
Tip: make sure to purchase a mask with a low profile. This means that there is less air in the mask that needs to be cleared out. Remember that kids have smaller lungs so the less air the need to expand to clear their mask the better.
- OM Gear Dive and Snorkel Set
- Cressi Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Kit (for young teens and older preteens)
- Cressi Marea Junior Snorkel Combo
Best Regulator Set For Kids
This is probably the most important piece of diving equipment for both kids and adults. One major problem though is they don’t make regulators specifically for kids like with other pieces of equipment.
The regulator is going to be the most difficult piece of equipment for you to buy. Young kids tend to have smaller mouths that are not as strong as adults. They can sometimes be a little bulky and, depending on the regulator, even a bit heavy.
Think about any time that you’ve made longer dives or multiple dives during the day. By the end of the last dive, your mouth was probably tired from holding the regulator in place. Your jaw might have been a bit fatigued and your teeth may have hurt if you bit into the mouthpiece during the dive.
Now, think about that from a child’s perspective. They don’t have the same strength as you do and, depending on how young they are, may even be missing some of their teeth. They are going to have to concentrate harder on keeping the regulator in their mouth. By the end of the dive, they may have to use their hands to hold the regulator in place.
There is no simple way around this. As we noted, there are not regulators specially made for kids. You will need to find them a regulator that is as light as possible and as small as possible. The lighter it is the more easily they are going to be able to hold it before their mouth starts getting tired.
Having a low profile is also important. This means that the regulator doesn’t stick out too far from their mouth. A low profile regulator is going to be easier for them to hold in their mouth for longer periods of time.
That’s the bad part of buying a regulator for kids. The good part is that since all regulators are built for adults, you won’t need to buy them a new one as they get older. Fins, masks, and wetsuits will all need to be replaced every 2 to 5 years as your child grows out of them. But, their regulator will be good for as long as you take care of it.
So, it may be a bit frustrating that you can’t find one tailor-made for your child, but be glad you only have to buy it once. Go ahead and splurge a little bit on this piece of equipment with the knowledge that it will last for many years.
Best Kids BCD
Thankfully, unlike regulators, there are BCDs sized for kids. This is going to be another important piece of equipment and part of the life support system for your child.
When it comes to getting a kid’s BCD, it is important that you find one they can grow into. The tricky part becomes that you can’t get one that is too big or it won’t fit them properly. You need to find a nice balance between room to grow and a perfect fit for right now.
As we noted, there are BCDs that are made specifically for kids. They are typically lighter weight and have smaller buttons making it easier for them to use. It is best to buy your child a jacket style BCD when they first get started. They will not be doing any type of diving that needs a different type of BCD.
The alternative to buying a junior BCD is to opt for an adult BCD in the smallest sized possible. This can be a great option for older kids. It will allow them to have some room to grow and give you a few more years of BCD use before you need to purchase a new one.
Remember, kids grow quickly. You will need to purchase at least one more BCD before your child hits adulthood and settles into their final size. But, if you buy the right BCD the first time, you can keep that at only one other BCD you will have to buy and not two.
Best Wetsuit For Kids
Your child will need a wetsuit. Even if you don’t normally use one. Children have smaller bodies that get colder much more quickly than adults. This is especially true in the water.
Think back to when you were a child and would go to the swimming pool. Remember emerging from the pool with chattering teeth freezing cold? This despite the fact the sun was scorching and all of the adults were just fine.
Now apply the pool and make it the ocean. Then, extend the time you are in the water to around 45 minutes. It’s easy to see how your child will probably be getting much colder than you during the dive. They have much less fat and their tiny bodies just aren’t able to warm themselves as efficiently as yours.
We recommend getting something that fits their bodies comfortably. Remember that the wetsuit works to keep your body warm by minimizing the movement of water. If the wetsuit is too big on your child it will allow water to more easily move through it and thus defeat the purpose of the suit.
Best Fins For Kids
This is another piece of equipment along with the mask and wetsuit that you are going to be replacing periodically. Think about your kid’s shoes. It seems that every few months you have to replace their shoes because they’ve grown out of them.
Fins are going to be no different. You want to buy a pair that are going to give them a little room to grow. Make sure that you go for the spring-loaded variety that fits over dive booties. These will give you a bit more time as you can replace the dive booties a few times before you need to replace the fins.
Dive booties are neoprene boots that add an extra layer of warmth for your feet. They help to protect your feet from blistering and keep them warm.
Make sure not to get fins that are too long or too stiff. This will make it much harder for your child to move through the water and will tire them out more quickly. Stiff fins are harder to move and will cause your child’s feet and legs to cramp up.
Tips For Buying Scuba Gear For Kids
Think about the total weight
Remember that younger children have less muscle and are going to get tired much faster swimming with a full scuba setup. The lighter you can get everything the longer they will be able to dive before tiring out.
The BCD is where the majority of the weight is going to come in along with the tank. There isn’t much you can do about the tank. But, make sure to get a light and adjustable scuba BCD that won’t weigh them down.
The same applies to everything else. Even though the fins and the mask on by themselves don’t weigh much, all together it will add significant weight. Try and find the lightest versions of everything.
Don’t overload them with equipment
Don’t get them too much extra equipment. Your kids don’t need a dive knife or scuba lights. They won’t be able to do a night dive and you can carry a light for poking around under rocks. They can use your anti-fog so they won’t need to strap one to their BCD.
Keep the accessories to a minimum. This is going to help cut down on the overall weight and makes for less they have to worry about.
Try to buy everything a size up
Or even two if you can get away with it. Almost everything can be purchased one size larger than needed. The only exception to this will be the mask which needs to be sized perfectly to their face.
Everything else though can be bought a little bigger to allow them to grow into it. By purchasing everything a few sizes larger, you are giving yourself a bit of breathing room before you have to buy them something new. Your wallet will thank you.
Don’t get too complicated
Remember that this is the period for your child to learn about diving. They don’t need to worry about super complicated computers or high-end BCDs. They should instead be focusing on save diving habits and learning about the ocean around them.
Later on, after they’ve got the basics down, they can worry about the equipment. For now, keep everything simple. When they grow a bit and move into adult-sized diving gear, you can get them some fancier equipment.
Buying scuba gear for kids can be a hair-pulling experience. So much of what is made for kids is only good for a year or two before you have to buy something in the next size. It can also be frustrating because certain pieces of equipment aren’t even made in kids’ sizes. This list is a good starting point. As your child gets older, you can start replacing each of these pieces of equipment with adult-sized gear which will be much easier.
Have you recently purchased scuba gear for your kids? Let us know what your recommendations are in the comments section below. We are always on the lookout for new tips. You also never know when something you have to say might help out a fellow diver.