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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 00:17

Choosing your Dive Travel Bag

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As you may know throughout the year our staff Travel, Travel, Travel….multiple overseas & interstate dive trips mean our gear is flown, transferred and thrown on to many an airport baggage cart. Due to the varying condition of hired dive gear in different countries we do opt to travel with our own, and for some of us an adapted version modified to suit our travel location (Travel Gear blog post coming soon). Take it from us, a sturdy gear bag will help you organise, protect and carry your dive gear to the busiest port or most remote of island locations.

For travelling divers bag weight both empty and full is a big consideration, and the right bag can assist you in travelling without surprise costs along the way.  With airlines becoming increasingly strict on excess luggage charges over the years, we have tried all the tricks & most of us now have it down to a fine art.

Dive holidays are a great source of funny memories and laughter! I won’t mention any names

– Have you ever held your bag up slightly by the handle when the desk attendant asks you to put it on the scale in an attempt to make it a little lighter?

– Had other divers on your trip sneak some room in your bag to put a fin or two? of their 3kg Jet fins!

– Had your check in full of dive gear and just thrown a couple of T-shirts and shorts in your backpack as your permanent wardrobe for the trip?

– Lost a wheel on your dive bag & spent the rest of the journey limping/dragging your heavy load bag around.

– Discovered your smashed hard case bag on the carousel and carried a roll of tape around to seal it for the rest of the trip!

Over the years we have tried and tested many of the bags on the market some released from major diving brands and others from popular luggage brands such as Sampsonite, Jeep, and Travelpro. The benefit of custom designed Dive Gear Bags is that they cater specifically to the shape and size of your equipment eg. the length of a standard pair of fins, or a compartment to separate dive gear from clothes.

What features to look for?

– A sturdy design with a high denier fabric, built to sustain being wet for days in tropical locations. Salt spray will mark all bags but the fabric should be heavy enough that it could be hosed or wiped down without damage on your return home. A fabric thick enough to withstand pointy and heavy objects.
– Can the Handles handle the pressure? Bags with two handles are great! Any exposed metal fixtures/screws will corrode over time. Most good dive bags will have as much covered with plastic or fabric as possible.
– Check the wheels, strong wheels are a MUST to make it easier to get around with a heavy bag in airports and will help you out with any steep incline or declines when boarding boats.
– Zip the Zippers, if the zip’s stick or are not sewn in properly (check the corners of the bag) they may cause issues in the future.
– Compartments , a nice number of compartments will keep your gear in its place preventing too much movement or damage.
– WARRANTY! Always ask about your warranty (this applies to ALL gear), if there is one? Will it cover you for manufacturing faults or defects in the material or workmanship, and for how long?

The secondary bag
When you arrive at your destination your big gear bag might be taken to your room for you and that’s where it should stay until you move on to the next destination, when it comes to unpacking and getting on transfers for your diving the next day we like to use our secondary dive bag. Inside our large bag we roll up and pack a softer mesh or canvas style bag that is easier to use for transporting gear to the dive site and potentially carrying onto dive boats. Even in countries where they carry your gear for you it is nice to have a bag for your fins, mask, snorkel, gloves, or small camera’s. A small dry bag can be stored inside for phones, medication etc. if you need to take them.

How big is too big?
Whilst it is important to have plenty of room to fit your gear, being able to fit too much gear is a weight limit curse, if your bag could fit 35kg of gear then you will probably fill it, the key is to find a bag that fits the minimum amount of gear you need to take with a little extra room for the goodies you purchased on your way back.

While some international airlines offer an additional sporting equipment weight allowance, be sure not to pack to this limit without checking for your weight limits on your domestic connections. More often than not the domestic limits when you transfer will be lower and charge per kilo over the limit, there is nothing worse than exposing the entire contents of your luggage to the huge queue building behind you when you have to repack your bag at the check in desk because you are a kilo over. Weigh your bag at home instead of leaving it to chance at check in.

Pack Smart
There are lots of ways you can save weight and space to ensure a comfortable fit for your gear and other items. You may have a 7kg onboard weight allowance so this can be used for a backpack with your regulators inside for some destinations (some countries like the Philippines class these as dangerous goods so do your homework) you will get stopped in security but that becomes standard protocol as a travelling diver. Remember not to pack any dive tools/multitools, tape, knives or line cutters in your carry on as they will be confiscated. If you are looking to lighten your load for dive travel come in to the shop and speak to the staff, with the dive travel market booming there are lots of alternatives in light weight gear as well as hints and tips to make travelling with your dive gear a success.

Staff bags of choice
At the moment we are pretty content with our travel set up, we have found the Oceanic Wheeled Duffle Bag to be a sturdy and comfortable large bag to travel with. It has a rigid half case at the back which supports the bag and the front section of the bag is soft. This allows you to fill it super full or pack less for a visibly smaller bag.
It rolls easily and the wheels are similar to that of a skateboard, solid in construction and able to withstand unsealed footpaths or boardwalks. It has two fabric handles one on the top and front when lifting it into transport for extra support. When laid flat flat you can unzip and fold the bag out giving easier access for packing larger items such as your BCD. In short we love it! After feeding back many potential modifications to the travel bags over the years Oceanic Australia listened and have changed the bag accordingly to suit diver needs.
The Oceanic Cargo Mesh duffle is a popular seller for travel but also for local use, It is the perfect bag to roll up empty and pack in conjunction with your larger roller style bag. It will fit two full snorkelling kits or one full dive kit including hardware and software. The mesh part of the bag is made of a solid but flexible plastic so you are able to dip the dive bag fully into fresh water and then hang it up to give your gear a quick rinse. The ends and middle are supported with a durable canvas material.

Regulators are the most fragile item item of your gear and can be wrapped in anything soft when travelling, to make packing faster we like to fit them into a Deluxe Regulator bag, If you have invested in your own set of regs, spend a small amount of extra money to protect them in a padded bag of thier own, they last for many years, are great for storing accessories and make a great spares kit bag.
Pricey items such as camera gear or canister lights should be carried in a separate case from your normal luggage, as well as hard cases there are a number of softer style camera bags available on the market with great set up and protection. Don’t underestimate the value of your insurance, check your policy & what you are covered for before you leave.

Main Bag – Oceanic Wheeled Duffle Bag

Secondary Bag – Oceanic Cargo Mesh Duffle

Regulator Bag –  Deluxe Regulator Bag