Info Build your own Save a Dive Kit

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Build your own Save a Dive Kit*​

by Dave Hicks
From the Marker Buoy Dive Club October 2021 issue:

What’s that hissing noise??? Where are those bubbles coming from??? My dive computer is dead!!!

We’ve all experienced this situation on a dive excursion. You are all kitted up and ready to go and some piece of gear goes sideways. You have a loose hose on your 1st stage regulator blowing out air. The O-ring has failed or vanished from your tank. Your dry glove was attacked and holed by an urchin or barnacle. These issues can easily range from annoying to showstoppers.

It’s bad enough to have an issue strike on a local shore dive, but if you are on a multi-day trip away from home you could be looking at problems that will ruin your trip or force you to rent or buy replacement gear. And the more people that you dive with, the more likely that an issue will arise in time to spoil somebody’s dive trip. It’s great to be self-sufficient and be able to resolve your own gear issues on the spot, but it’s even better if you save a fellow diver’s problem with a spare part or quick fix. You might even get a free beer or new buddy out of the situation.

The solution is to fall back on the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared”.

This article will show you how to put together a Save-a-Dive Kit and a Spares Kit that will help you prepare to deal with many common problems that you or a buddy are likely to encounter on a dive trip. Many experienced divers have these kits, and there are many ways to assemble effective kits. We learn from our experiences, mistakes, and great tips from other divers. The kits I outline in this article were built over 30 years of diving lessons learned. I encourage you to pick and choose from this article or build a kit just like mine. I’d love to hear feedback and ideas from your experiences as well.

I typically carry and use two different boxes with me on dive trips. The smaller one I will call the Save-a-Dive Kit. The second is my Spares Kit. The two are complementary but separated for use in two general scenarios.
  • The Save-a-Dive Kit is focused on last minute issues. I bring it on every shore dive, day charter boat, or live aboard excursion. It’s small, portable, and waterproof so I can stow it under the bench in any dive boat. This kit contains small tools and simple parts needed for a quick fix to salvage a single dive.
  • The Spares Kit is bigger and contains backup equipment you might not carry for a single dive, but that you may need to save an entire trip. It holds bulkier replacements for things you can’t continue diving without, including gloves, hoses, regulators, etc.

Save a Dive Kit​

Here are the entire contents of my Save-a-Dive kit laid out for display.

You’ll also want to have a few mini ziplock bags to contain some of the smaller bits like Q-tips and zip-ties so they don’t get wet or scattered.

I’ve included prices for most of the items below for reference. You may already have a lot of these items.

Everything on this list can be found from Amazon or Dive Gear Express or your local Dive or Marine stores

IMG_20211004_115353 (Large).jpg

  • Pelican 1120 case {7" x 5"x 3.5")
  • Gerber MultiTool with pliers
  • Keychain Swiss Army knife with scissors
  • Cresent wrench 6"
  • (Upgrade pick) Knipex 5" adjustable wrench
  • Batteries for dive computer (AA, CR2450, CR2032)
  • Small philips/flat screwdriver
  • Dental picks for O-ring removal
  • Allen hex wench set (7 pcs)
  • Electrical tape (waterproof)
  • Velcro strips (6 pcs)
  • Bungie cord (1/8" 6ft)
  • Silver sharpie
  • O-ring kit (LP & HP hose, Din, Yoke)
  • Plugs for 1st stages (LP & HP)
  • Pressure gauge spools (x2)
  • O2 lube
  • Silicone lube
  • Quarter (for Shearwater battery cap)
  • IP gauge
  • LP air nozzlez
  • Pressure gauge (1" button type)
  • Super Glue
  • Double ender clip 3"
  • Quick links & s-biner clips
  • Small zip ties (x20)
  • Q-Tips
  • DIN inserts (x2)
  • Contact lenses
  • Cash
Custom Items
  • Overpressure valve
  • QC6 connector (offboard gas)
  • Mineral oil (small vial)

* I recently wrote an article on this topic for my dive club's newsletter. It's an expanded version of a reply I made in a post early in the year. I'm sharing the article in full here. I hope some people find is useful or educational. I go into some detail about the use for each item.

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Detailed Inventory​

1. Pelican Case 1120 {7" x 5"x 3.5") $35

There are many ways to package up your kit. I prefer this small Pelican case. It’s compact, solid, waterproof, and has a hinged lid that fastens down securely. You can toss this case around and stow it practically anywhere.

2. Gerber MultiTool with Pliers (MP400) $45
A good multi-tool provides the functionality of several different tools. The most useful function in this MultiTool is needle nose pilers. A basic needle nose plier may be cheaper, but you will need to add flat and phillips head screwdrivers.

3. Keychain Swiss Army Knife with Scissors $18
A compact Swiss Army knife has a fine sharp blade, precise and sharp scissors, a metal file/screwdriver, and tweezers. I mostly use it to pull splinters, cut electrical tape, or bandages.

4. Crescent Wrench 6" $10 / $20
I suggest you have two crescent wrenches as some fittings require two hold points, such as an LP hose to 2nd stage regular. You need crescent wrenches for regulator hoses, nuts and bolts on backplates, and many other things.

5. (Upgrade pick) Knipex 5" Adjustable Wrench $50
My second wrench is a Knipex 5” which is thinner and more flexible. It is more expensive than regular crescent wrenches.

6. Batteries for Dive Computer (AA, CR2450, CR2032)
Carry spare batteries for all your devices. Most dive computers with replaceable batteries will us AA (Shearwater) or coin cells (Suunto, etc).

7. Small Philips & Flat Head Screwdrivers $10
A compact screwdriver will come in handy for many small devices, such as camera gear, battery cases, etc. I use a small dual ended Phillips/Flat tool that was a free give away at Comdex in the early 90’s. (Windows for Workgroups swag! 😊 )

8. Dental Picks for O-ring Removal $7
You will need a metal pick for removing O-rings from yoke style scuba tanks or hose end O-rings. A steel dental pick is very handy for this purpose. Never use a steel pick on a 1st stage regulator, only brass picks. Steel will scratch and damage the brass on a 1st stage regulator, sometimes significantly.

9. Hex Wrench Set (7 or 11 pcs) $6
Hex wrenches are used extensively in scuba gear for regulators, cameras, lights, and many other items. You will likely most often use the ¼ inch hex wrench, which is needed to add or remove a cylinder valve DIN to yoke adapter.

10. Electrical Tape (waterproof) $5
Electrical tape is the Duct Tape of the scuba world. It is strong, waterproof, and will stay in place for years of use in salt water. I’ve patched a dry suit using electrical tape and super glue. I’ve also used electrical tape to fix a broken focus light strap connector to my camera, to protect dry glove rings, etc.

11. Velcro Cable Ties (100 pcs) $12
Velcro is a useful strap to have when you need flexibility. Six-inch Velcro straps are great to bundle hoses to your BC inflator, manage your camera sync cables, or gather charging cords for your computers and batteries.

12. Bungie Cord (1/8" 25ft) $10
A bungie cord can be used to make an impromptu lanyard for your dive light, repair a BC or wing, or snug up your dangling pony bottle.

13. Silver Sharpie $2
The scuba sharpie! A silver sharpie is great for labeling your dive gear. It stands out on black rubber dive equipment and lasts for years. It’s amazing how everyone’s Hollis F1 fins all look alike. Make sure to label yours so you don’t end up with a pair of fins that don’t fit you! If something gets lost, you might get it back if your name or email is written on it.

14. O-ring Pack (50 w/various) $25
You need spare tank and hose O-rings. The most frequently required O-rings are Yoke #014, DIN #112, LP Inflator hose end #011, LP Regulator hose #010, and HP hose end #012. An assortment of other sizes is recommended as they may also come in handy.

15. Plugs for 1st Stages (LP/HP) $0
Save the 1st Stage port plugs when you connect your various hoses to your rig. If you need to swap or remove a hose or regulator, you often end up with an unused port. A common example is when your remove your dry suit inflator hose when you go to a tropical location and dive a wet suit. Note that LP ports (3/8”) and HP ports (7/16”) are different sizes, so be sure to have both.

16. Pressure Gauge Spools (SPG) $2 each
A common source of air leaks is the connection between the HP hose and pressure gauge. There is a tiny connector with two little O-rings called a pressure gauge spool. The O-rings wear out after several years and will leak more and more. You can replace the O-rings, but a new pressure gauge spool with fresh O-rings costs less than $2 so it’s a good idea to keep a few of these on hand. You can replace SPGs in a few minutes. Use a tiny film of O2 lubricant on the O-rings when you replace the SPG.

17. Tribolube O2 lubricant $8
O2 lubricant should be used in tiny amounts on any high-pressure fittings. Standard silicone lube can be a fire hazard if used on an HP hose with 100% O2 or Nitrox. When in doubt use the O2 lubricant. O2 lubricant lasts for years because you only need to use a tiny amount.

18. Silicone Lube (Dow Corning 111) $10
Silicone lube is used in many applications. Dry glove O-rings, dive light battery compartment O-rings, and many other items that use O-rings. You don’t need to apply a lot! More is not better as it collects grit so use very sparingly.

19. USA or Canadian quarter $0.25
Shearwater Battery Cap Removal Tool. The battery caps on Shearwater Dive computers are designed to be turned with a Quarter. Don’t use a screwdriver on these plastic parts as it deforms the plastic grove in the cap. Some other computers use this type of fitting as well.

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20. Intermediate Pressure Gauge $20
An IP gauge is an essential tool to determine if your 1st Stage regulator is working properly. Your 1st stage was tuned to run at a low pressure output (IP) of 135-145psi. If you notice that your 2nd stage regulator is bubbling, it might be that your 1st stage has started to drift to a higher IP and causing over pressure. Simply hook the IP gauge to your low pressure BC/drysuit inflator hose and note the measurement. If it is not in the range of 135-145 PSI, it may be time for a full service. If the reading is high or low, or slowly “drifts” from an initial reading to something higher than 145 you need to service it. A healthy 1st Stage should “Lock Up” within 135-145psi and hold it for 8+ hours without drift.

21. LP Air Nozzle $6
An air nozzle connects to your LP BC/drysuit inflator hose. You can use this with your tank to dry off other gears with a jet of dry air from the tank. This nozzle can be very useful if you need to quickly dry your camera housing for a quick battery or memory card swap.

22. Pressure Gauge 1" button type $29
A spare pressure gauge is most often needed for a pony or stage bottle. These gauges have a bad habit of getting smashed, scratched, or otherwise unusable over time.

23. Super Glue $3
Super glue is another indispensable item to fix so many things. My favorite use for super glue is patching dry glove pin holes. Between rocks, urchins, barnacles, and sharp metal objects, rubber dry gloves will often spring small leaks. If you are not ready or able to swap out the glove, a drop of super glue over the hole will seal it up in a couple of minutes and keep your dry for a few more weeks.

24. Double Ender clips and Bolt Snaps $5 each
A few extra bolt snaps and double enders frequently come in handy. For example, you can make an impromptu gear lanyard with your bungie cord, replace a lost double ender from your deployable SMB, or clip a flashlight to your BC.

25. Quick Links & S-Biner clips $2 each
Same as above, just smaller. Clip on or attach gear that you don’t want to get lost.

26. Small / Medium Zip Ties (x20) $5
Zips ties are commonly used in scuba gear, and they do wear out and break. Long exposure to UV light eventually breaks them all. A common example is your 2nd Stage regulator mouthpiece. Use your needle nose pliers to snug up your new medium sized zip tie and snip off the extra with your Swiss Army knife scissors.

27. Q-Tips $5
A dozen or so Q-tips in a little Ziplock bag are useful for cleaning out dirt and grit from delicate gear. Typically, the O-ring groove of a camera housing, strobe, or dive light battery cap will need to be wiped clean.

28. DIN Inserts $4
A DIN insert converts a modular DIN tank valve into a Yoke fitting. If you use DIN tanks and need to connect a borrowed Yoke Regulator you will need a DIN insert. Use your ¼ inch Allen Wrench to add or remove the DIN insert.

29. Contact Lenses $0
If you use them when diving, toss a few spares in your kit. If you lose one on a dive, you’ll want a spare to keep on diving for the day.

30. Cash $20
Keep some spare cash in your kit. Maybe for tip to the deckhand if your wallet is running low or to buy something critical when far away from home.

The next three items are specific to my personal gear. But many of us will have some unique items that might need specific spares like these.

31. Overpressure valve $5
Used on a 1st Stage that does not have a 2nd Stage attached. Common on rebreather O2 tanks, overpressure values tend to wear out and start bubbling over time.

32. QC6 Connector (offboard gas) $95
An Omniswivel LP connector for offboard gas. These are typically used for sidemount or rebreather diving. I’ve had one fail several times in the past, and lacking spares will end your trip. They are not common and hard to replace if you don’t have one handy.

33. Mineral Oil (small vial) $2
Food grade mineral oil is used to clean and keep water out of a Fischer cable electrical connection used in some rebreather systems.

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Spare Parts Kit​

If the Save-a-Dive kit is for quick fixes, the Spare Parts Kit is meant to salvage a multi-dive trip. It has larger items and backup equipment than can bail you out in case a large piece of gear fails or goes missing.

Here are the entire contents of my Spare Pars kit laid out for display.

Large Ziplock bags help group together related items so you can find items quickly without digging.

I’m not providing prices for most of these items as prices vary by brand, age, etc. There is some overlap with the Save-A-Dive kit.

IMG_20211004_175932 (Large).jpg

  • Large Toolbox 18” wide $25
  • Regulator set with 1st stage, 2nd stage, Pressure Gauge
  • Low Pressure Inflator hose for BC or Drysuit
  • Replacement Neck Seal for Drysuit
  • Replacement Wrist Seals for Drysuit
  • Aquaseal & Cotol to cement new seals on Drysuit
  • Drysuit patch material
  • Tear-Aid patch kit
  • Replacement drygloves
  • 1” clamps (3) for installing gloves on Ultima or Diving Concepts style rings
  • Replacement K-style BC Inflator
  • Silicone Sealsaver liquid
  • 2 oz. tub of silicone lubricant
  • Paracord
  • Bungie cord 1/8” thick
  • Spare lanyards
  • Replacement mask strap
  • Replacement regulator mouthpieces
  • Silicone Rescue Tape
  • More Zip Ties
  • Replacement cutting tool or knife
  • Backup Prescription Mask

Detailed Inventory​

1. Large Plastic Toolbox (18-20” wide)
A simple plastic toolbox with no internal drawers is a good option. I like this toolbox because it is cheap, compact, and easy to organize.

2. Regulator Set with 1st stage, 2nd stage, and Pressure Gauge
If a regulator fails on your trip you may have to beg, borrow, or rent a new set. On at least 50% of the liveaboard or resort dive trips I’ve been on, someone has a significant regulator failure. While some issues may be fixable, it’s often easiest to just swap out the regulator and deal with the problem after the trip. Make sure your full backup regulator set is within its service window and stored in a well-sealed bag for safe keeping.

3. Low Pressure Inflator Hose
LP hoses are one of my most used spares. They are needed when someone returns from a tropical dive trip and forgets to reinstall their dry suit inflator hose. I’ve also seen LP hoses start to bulge like a python swallowing a small pig.

4. Replacement Neck Seal for Dry Suit
Imagine finishing the first dive of your week-long trip to God’s Pocket or some other remote cold water destination. As you pull off your dry suit, the neck seal tears. Your diving is over unless you have a replacement neck seal. If you have quick change seals like SiTech, then it will take 15 minutes to swap out. If your seals are glued on, you’ll have to cement the replacement seal with AquaSeal and let dry it overnight.

5. Replacement Wrist Seals for Dry Suit
Same as above.

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6. Aquaseal & Cotol
You’ll need cement to glue new seals onto a dry suit. Be sure that you always have a fresh, un-opened tube of Aquaseal. It tends to be a one-shot application. A half-used tube has a bad habit of turning rock solid.

7. Dry Suit Patch Material
Use patch fabric for covering holes in dry suits, glue on with Aquaseal, and let it dry overnight.

8. Tear-Aid Patch Kit $24
“Tear-Aid” is a great product for patching any waterproof material or plastic. It is an incredibly sticky roll of tape about 4” wide. Tear-Aid can be used to re-tape dry suit seams on the inside of the suit, or to patch a hole in a BC or wing inner bladder.

9. Replacement Dry Gloves
Dry gloves are consumable items that eventually tear or leak. Keep a couple of spare pairs of gloves in the sizes that you and your dive partner use. My right-hand glove (camera hand) tends to fail more often so I carry more rights.

10. Spring clamps 1” (3) for Installing Dry Gloves $6 for 3
The Showa brand dry suit gloves that are often used on ring systems like Waterproof Ultima are notoriously difficult to install. You can simplify this task with a few 1” spring clamps. The 1” refers to how wide the jaws open. Line the glove up on the ring in one spot and clamp it. Move over a few inches, line it up again, and clamp. Repeat a third time with another clamp. At this point you can easily pull the rest of the glove over the ring.

11. Replacement K-style BC Inflator $17
BC inflators can get sticky in time and can result in a very dangerous situation where your BC inflates and won’t stop. You can service the inflator, but they are simple to swap out so it is easier to just put on a new one unless you have the time and tools to fully tear it down.

12. McNett Seal Saver Liquid
This liquid keeps latex neck and wrist seals in good condition. If the seal is getting sticky you can restore it with Seal Saver. Use Seal Saver more frequently to keep seals in good shape.

13. 2 oz. Tub of Silicone Lubricant
Refills or replaces for the mini tube you keep in your save-a-dive kit. Dow Corning 111 is best.

14. Paracord
20 feet or so of Paracord is another handy item. I used it to make a lift handle for my BC, Camera Rig, or just as clothesline to dry things on a live aboard.

15. Bungie Cord 1/8” Thick
Bungie cord can be used to make an impromptu lanyard for your dive light, repair a BC or wing, or snug up a dangling pony bottle.

16. Spare Lanyards
It is helpful to have several extra clips and lanyards to attach gear.

17. Replacement Mask Strap
Mask straps are another common failure point. Rubber straps eventually fail due to UV exposure. A silicone or nylon webbing style straps generally last longer.

18. Replacement Regulator Mouthpieces
Mouthpieces can fall off and get lost, tear, or leak. Inspect your mouthpiece for tears often. The most dangerous Scuba incident I ever had was when a bit of a rubber mouthpiece broke off, and I inhaled it at 100 feet. I had to repress my gag and cough reflex, or I might have been in bad trouble.

19. Silicone Rescue Tape $10 for 3
Silicone rescue tape is amazing. You can fix a leaking pipe under the sink or create a waterproof seal on a broken dry glove ring. It’s a self-adhesive elastic silicone tape about 1” wide.

20. More Zip Ties
Zips ties are commonly used in scuba gear, and they wear out and break. Long exposure to UV light eventually destroys them. A common example is the zip tie you use on 2nd Stage regulator mouthpiece. Use needle nose pliers to snug up your new medium sized zip tie and snip off the extra with your Swiss Army Knife scissors.

21. Replacement Cutting Tool or Knife
Knives, Shears, and Cutting tools have a magic ability to get lost often. Keep a backup cutting tool of your choice as a backup.

22. Backup Prescription Mask
Not pictured. If you wear a prescription mask you need to consider investing in a backup. If you’ve had one for a while see if you need to update the prescription, and buy a second. The old one can be your backup. A couple of years ago I was on the first day of a liveaboard in the Galapagos Islands. My prescription mask tore off my head doing a backward roll into the water. It instantly plunged into the deep without me. I spent the next hour on the Zodiac contemplating missing all the dives for the next 9 days!!! Fortunately my dive buddies noticed an unaccompanied mask sinking and retrieved it. My trip of Saved!! I ordered a new prescription mask as soon as I got home!

End of Multipart post

I've had a leak twice from my SPG. A high pressure plug is good for a temporary fix, assuming you have another way to measure your pressure. The spools are the way to definitively deal with the problem. I have carried the high pressure spools with me for some time.
Nice and thorough. However, that/those aren’t QC6 connectors, nor are QC6 connectors made by Omniswivel.

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