Boat diving: how many bags to bring onboard?

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Scuba Instructor
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Southern California
# of dives
500 - 999
Have been doing shore diving only so far and I stuff everything into the trunk of my car. Been thinking how many bags I need to bring for boat diving.

It looks like I need one mesh bag for all the gears, a dry bag for things I don't want to get wet, and another weight bag just for weights (some boats don't provide free weights)? Three bags seem a lot to carry...What do you guys typically do?

Edit: good point to add my location. Dive in Monterey but vast majority will still be shore diving in the future. Next boat dive in Monterey but most of my future boat dives will be on vacations and I need to fly with my gears.
Location is important, as is the particular boat. On some boats, especially those that provide tanks and weights, one mesh bag for gear is the norm. And you stash that mesh bag under your seat. Other boats have plenty of storage for roller bags, and those are pretty standard.

The boats I dive from when on a trip to Key Largo (tanks and weights provided) are usually of the former type. The dive boats around home, in Southern California, are more of the latter. It's not unusual here at home for several divers to roll up to a dive boat with a large bag for gear, another for their drysuit, two cylinders, a backpack for dry stuff, and a case for their camera rig. Oh, and a weight bag.

Most responses here seem to be based on everyone's personal experience, which likely isn't relevant to the particular boat you'll be diving from. Find out from the specific boat op, or from people you know that have been on the boat you will use, what is normal for that boat. Rule of thumb: bring whatever you need for your diving, but try to be as efficient with it as possible.

(Edit: if you want to mention the name of the boat and/or location, we can probably offer better advice.)


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# of dives
2500 - 4999
Always ask the boat, what they prefer... Generally one gear bag and one dry bag, sized accordingly. It's always handy to have a mesh bag for small wet stuff on the boat under the seat. Keeps it from getting lost. Never travel with tanks or weights. We did travel to Cayman Brac a long time ago and met a couple from Canada who were told by their travel agent to bring their tanks ! That was interesting...


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United States
# of dives
100 - 199
Mesh bag for mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit, weight belt etc

BC over the shoulder

Dry bag

Snack bag


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Dubai, AbuDhabi, United Arab Emirates
# of dives
500 - 999
A mesh bag with everything in it: (from top to bottom)
Fins / weights
Soft bag with: skin suit - booties - dive shorts - gloves - hoody
Soft bag: regulators - masks
4"x10" hard case tool box: all sorts of spares/tools
Dive torch

A napsack sized dry bag: dive computer - mobile phone - car key

I hand carry my compact Olympus tg-6 camera

If I'm bringing my DSLR camera, then a rather-compact camera bag


Reaction score
# of dives
200 - 499
As mentioned above a milk crate and a bag for dry goods no larger than a backpack is what I’ve primarily seen on the Great Lakes. Everything else is either already assembled or worn on.

I’ve seen people carry on more but are often given a hard time or instructed to cut back by the Capt./crew as it just makes a bad experience for everyone else onboard and you don’t want to be that guy/gal with loads of crap everywhere.

Biggest thing is be safe and methodical, take your time making sure you have everything you need and strapped up before you hit the water.

Wouldn’t hurt to practice suiting up completely from a sitting position because there’s often little room to dance around to get your gear on.

The biggest one I think is DONT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP! Getting suited up on a small boat can be a different animal… Don’t feel like you have to do everything alone. Capt, crew, other divers onboard can help you clip things off, reroute hoses, or other things that are tough to get at after half suited up.

Have fun, be safe, boat diving is the way to go!! 😎

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