BEFORE I SET EYES ON THIS BOOK, I expected to be subjected to a flagrant attempt at subversive marketing from dive-gear manufacturers sponsoring the project.
I couldn’t have been further from the mark. I was pleased to find an extremely well-researched, well-written and comprehensive publication by an author who clearly knows his onions, one who has gone the extra mile without falling into the trap of making specific brand recommendations.
Life-support equipment choice should never be taken lightly, but unfortunately, in the real world it frequently is.
It isn’t simply that divers who are new to the game commonly use kit based on recommendations from their instructors or friends. Worse still, we’re often wowed by slick marketing campaigns and glitzy images for lifestyle and fashion products that could actually result in poor choices, with the potential to cost the user more than just money.
Jonas Arvidsson is a writer, illustrator and translator and also a former Head of Education at PADI Sweden. He has taught diving around the world.
The contents of this 200-page book flow logically, kicking off with the simplest of kit in the form of masks, fins and snorkels, then progressing through thermal protection, buoyancy devices and breathing apparatus before arriving at highly advanced dive-gear in the form of technical-diving rebreathers and, finally, ending on a speculation about future trends.
Each chapter title page is introduced with photographs but these are the only photos in the book. Everything else is illustrated in a clear and concise way, using beautifully constructed full-colour technical drawings.
The book covers everything in precise detail but without spiralling into the abyss that is overcomplicated technical jargon.
The section on regulator first stages is a case in point, and one that explains in simple yet exact terms what every diver should know: “Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus is life-support equipment.” The selection of these risk-critical mechanical devices should be based on a sound understanding of their working principles and of their advantages and disadvantages under differing scenarios. It should not be made, as is too often the case, because your mate has done a dozen dives with one particular model and thinks it’s nice.
Understanding the differences between balanced-piston and unbalanced-diaphragm first stages, cold- or warmwater ratings and up- or downstream valves will lead the reader to make informed, sensible choices on equipment that’s actually fit for purpose.
The text and illustrations cover virtually every genre of dive-gear on the planet (there are even paragraphs on items such as muck-sticks and mesh bags).
Every item needs maintaining at some time in its life, but Arvidsson has stopped at describing day-to-day maintenance and sensibly stresses that servicing should be carried out only by specialist technicians.
Diving Equipment Choice, Maintenance and Function is certainly a must-have for newly qualified divers, but this excellent book shouldn’t be dismissed by those with more experience as a publication on the basics – it offers far more than that.
The vast majority of us would benefit from a deeper understanding of the dive-gear on which we rely so heavily, what it does, how it works and how it should be used and maintained.
This volume delivers such information in spadeloads, and should be on every diver’s bookshelf.
Nigel Wade

Dived Up
ISBN: 9781909455139
Softback, 200pp, £19.95