FAMILIARITY AND MASTERY ARE THE IMPORTANT considerations with any form of diving equipment, especially with wreck and technical diving conducted in less-forgiving environments.
Choosing gear that supports one’s underwater freedom, desires and actions greatly increases our relationship with the sea. Sometimes that relationship is more, sometimes less.

FINS
I’ve been using Scubapro Jetfins recently, but for the first few years I had one only type of fin, the Mares Plana Avanti Quattro. I had three pairs, and they were lasting for up to 1500 dives each.
They’re very powerful. They’ve been very good for guides tying on to Thistlegorm and wanting that extra bit of power. They’re also very readily available in Egypt.
I’ve used lots of different fins, but the Scubapro Jetfins came about mainly because I was doing some GUE [Global Underwater Explorers] training, and although they’re not compulsory, Jetfins are pretty much what they like.
They’re very heavy, but they do allow you to do more delicate movements, like fluttering and swimming backwards.
I didn’t find any less power when I came off the Quattros and onto the Jetfins, but the first time I jumped into the water I nearly broke my ankles. You have to allow for the heaviness, but I’m very happy with them. They’re very strong, they’re made of rubber, they’re very basic and they’re the kind of fin that should last for years and years.

SUITS
My favourite piece of dive gear of any description has to be my O’Three custom-made drysuit, which I’ve had for five years.
I’ve had other drysuits, which have been fine, but this one, which may have been the first of its type, is more user-friendly. It’s far less cumbersome than others, so it wears like a wetsuit. You can put it on very quickly and move around easily.
I think the choice of zip is very important, and a lot of people like the heavy-duty ones. As an instructor you may be putting the suit on and taking it off five or six times a day, so the zip’s going to take a lot of bashing.
The O’Three is very flexible. We like drysuits in the Red Sea, because as it starts to warm up you just wear shorts and shirts under them until you switch to a wetsuit. With a Fourth Element undersuit under it I can be very warm in cold weather.
The key is looking after the suit and keeping it in good repair. It’s been super, and I find the buoyancy characteristics don’t change too much, especially with the very deep tek diving we do.

REGULATOR
I’ve had two main brands over the years, and I like both for different reasons. First was the Poseidon Xstream, which was probably the most beautiful reg to breathe from. It’s really like having no reg at the surface – you just breathe in and it happens, this wonderful feeling you get compared to other regs.
When I was doing out-of-air drills, if I gave my Poseidon to a student he wouldn’t want to give it back.
We hadn’t had dealer support for Poseidon in Egypt until recently, so it was quite hard to keep the regulators in the condition they deserve. One by one we had to put them aside pending a trip to the UK.
I use Apeks XTX 100 and 200 regulators now. They’re very reliable, we have good dealer support and the new models allow more adjustments to be made. These tend to be a favourite among tek and BSAC divers, because they’ve proved over time to be very good all-round regs.
I don’t judge equipment only from my own use of it. Because I’m in the game I become a statistician by default, and when you have up to 30 people you can see which regs perform better, and which ones attract complaints.

BC
I like something where I can not so much attach as store things – SMBs, reels, spares, torches, knives, all that kind of stuff we don’t want dangling too much.
A very good BC would be one where I can also attach a small sling tank.
When you’re doing an advanced nitrox dive, or want something to take the edge off a 30 or 40m dive, we find it better than using a pony that is permanently on and can’t be seen.
A good BC might have some extra D-rings on. Some just have smaller plastic ones for reels and bits, and I’ve found the TUSA Evolution BC very good for that. I had one for about 2000 dives and it frayed a tiny bit when it got caught, which was a shame because it was very tough, and there was nothing else wrong with it. It refused to die!
I’ve also used Seaquest BCs. They get a bashing because we’re in and out of the water all the time, but like the TUSA they’ll last forever.
On the wing side, I grew up on the OMS dual-bladder bungeed wing. You hear many opinions about whether to use bungeed wings or not, but because we’re doing a lot of deeper open-water diving we do need the dual bladder, whether we have a drysuit or not. It’s simply about the number of tanks and the suit compression – you may find on such dives that you really need that back-up.
Lately I’ve been using the Halcyon wing because of the GUE training, and these are also very good recreational BCs because they allow you to put things on the front.
Both the Halcyon and OMS wings are very good. They’re very different, and I would use either in different scenarios.

COMPUTER
I started off on Aladin Pros, like many people, and they too just refuse to die. You would change them only because they become outdated.
I had one Pro Air and one Nitrox and continued using them, sometimes in conjunction with a Suunto Vytec, as I got into technical diving, where you need multi-gas switching. I still found the Aladins more reliable, but the Vytec had more functions and was super.
I also had a Liquivision F1, which was a bottom-timer, one of the most incredible devices I have ever seen. It almost spoke to you. It was the deepest-rated computer on the market, had 6000 loggable dives, gave you a profile of your dive and probably had a lot of facilities you see in today’s computers.
It was one of the first of its kind.
I also had a Citizen Aqualung watch, which did everything but have an algorithm, and was very reliable.

MASK
I’ve been using an Oceanic Shadow, a very low-profile mask, for the past few years. As a tek diver I find more masks on the seabed than anything else. I’m about £6000 up in things I’ve found at the bottom of the sea!
On one site off Jackson Reef, where all the snorkellers go, I’ve found nine masks, torches and cameras, and on one dive I found an HID light, a Scubapro light, a digital watch, a camera and a knife!
I try a lot of masks. Sometimes I use a big clear one, so the students can see what I’m doing because the air’s coming out of my nose, but for my own diving I prefer a low-profile. This also helps for the spare, because it doesn’t take up much room.

TORCH
I’ve been using Greenforce torches as my primary light for the past few years and they’ve been very good, although I’ve also been looking at Halcyon units lately.
For a back-up I use Tektite, because the ones I have are rated to 300m, and they’re easy to clip-off or stow in a pocket. They’re very good for everyday diving use.

REEL
I carry a reel and a spool, though the spool takes a bit longer to deploy. There is one ratchet reel I use regularly, and while it’s a bit more cumbersome and you have to clip it off on your rig, from nothing I can retrieve the SMB and reel and have it going up within seven seconds.
It’s just something I practise a lot, and that’s not something that’s always possible with a spool.

KNIFE
For about eight years I’ve had a very small TUSA knife that is a clip-on on the BC, and it doesn’t have a spot of rust on it.
I gave it a quick coat with silicone once, and that was it. It’s perfect.