If you’re like me, then shopping for a dive bag is not something you really look forward to. Sure, you could get any old duffel bag from Walmart to throw your expensive dive gear in, but protecting the gear you’ve sunk hundreds of dollars into makes good sense. Getting the best dive bag for your needs is an excellent investment in the long run.
Dive gear can get expensive. Whether its carbon fiber fins, masks, or scuba regulators – the last thing you want is for your precious gear to get damaged on the way to the water.
A good dive bag will protect your gear, so an accidental drop on some rocks won’t lead to shedding tears and disaster!
This article will take a look at why you need a dive bag, some of the best dive bags on the market, and how to choose a dive bag that’s right for you.
Quick Answer: 7 Best Dive Bags
- Best Diving Duffel Bag: Mares Attack Titan Bag
- Best Mesh Dive Bag: Mares Cruise Mesh Backpack Deluxe
- Best Dry Bag: Cressi Dry Gara Backpack
- Best Roller Bag: Cressi Moby 5 115L with Backpack Straps
- Best Carry-on Bag: Cressi Vuelo 6.2lbs (2.8kg) Travel Bag
- Best Spearfishing Bag: Beuchat Mundial 2 Long Fin Spearfishing Backpack
- Best Dive Backpack: AKONA Globetrotter Backpack
Why do you need a dive bag?
A high-quality dive bag will keep your gear organized, secure and protected during travel.
Throwing all your gear in an old duffel bag will probably work fine if all you’re doing is carrying it from your trunk down to the beach. If you’re doing anything more than that, then a specialized dive bag will be beneficial.
We all know how careless airline baggage handlers can be – they’ve been known to throw bags around like a pissed-off quarterback. Luckily, there are plenty of dive bags perfectly suited to air travel which will keep your stuff safe from the most careless of airline employees.
An important feature found in most dive bags is saltwater corrosion resistance. Salt water is tough on metal components like zippers, snaps, and buckles – it can easily eat through zippers on regular bags.
Diving bags are engineered to handle some serious weight. They have reinforced frames, wheels and closures. Loading your gear into a properly designed dive bag will give you peace of mind knowing all your stuff is properly secured.
Most bags also feature a built-in drainage valve. This allows any moisture trapped inside the bag to escape – preventing mildew from developing. If you’ve ever had to pack away a wet swimsuit or wetsuit you’ll know how important this feature can be.
A dive bag might not be the most exciting purchase you ever make, but a good bag will give you peace of mind and keep your diving gear safe and secure.
Top 7 Dive Bags
Dive Bag Types
Duffel Dive Bag
These are the most basic and least expensive type of diving bag. Duffel bags are highly versatile as they can easily be packed away to save space when not in use. They’re a great option for local travel or any situation where you don’t need much added protection.
Most duffel bags have one large pocket to store the majority of your gear, and several smaller side pockets for compact items. Some come with special waterproof side pockets for storing electronic gear.
The downside of a duffel style bag is that all of your gear is stored together in one large pocket. If you have delicate gear like electronics or carbon fiber fins they could knock into one another causing damage.
Some duffels come with wheels for easy transport over flat surfaces.
Dive backpacks are a great choice anytime you need to hump your gear over rough or sandy terrain. They give you the freedom to strap everything you need on your back – so you can access tough to reach dive spots.
The straps allow you to evenly distribute the weight over your shoulders – making them more comfortable than duffel bags for prolonged use.
Many newer bags are sort of a ‘hybrid’ style. They have shoulder straps so you can wear them like a backpack, but they also have wheels and a handle to use as a suitcase.
Mesh Dive Bag
Mesh bags are useful for warmer environments where you can let your dive gear air-dry. The mesh construction means that wetsuits, dive boots and other gear can drain quickly and dry while still inside the bag. If you’re looking for a waterproof bag then look elsewhere.
These bags are extremely lightweight and not build for serious durability. The mesh material can tear on rocks or other sharp objects – so be careful during transport.
Mesh dive bags make great secondary gear bags as they’re cheap, lightweight, and can be folded up into a compact size.
Roller Scuba Bag
The mac daddy of scuba diving bags. Most roller dive bags are big, tough and can handle the abuse that inevitably comes from traveling in planes, buses, taxis, and boats. They have large, robust wheels which allow them to store heavy gear without breaking under the weight.
If you need to transport lots of gear over long distances, you can’t do much better than a roller dive bag. You’ll be able to move the heavy load easily through airports, terminals, and ferries without breaking your back.
Roller bags are available in a variety of styles, from large suitcases to duffels and backpacks.
A large suitcase dive bag can easily store:
Carry-on Scuba Bag
Carry-on dive bags are specifically designed to fit the requirements for airline carry-on luggage. These bags allow you to transport your most valuable dive gear without checking it in. Carrying your gear onto the plane with you allows you to avoid the headache that can come from lost or damaged luggage – plus you won’t have to pay the annoying checked bag fee.
Dry bags are waterproof bags with a roll-up style closure to prevent any water from seeping in. They come in handy in a variety of situations – not only diving. They work great for kayaking, camping, paddleboarding and other outdoor pursuits.
A dry bag lets you keep clothing, electronics, and other valuables from getting wet. The roll-up and clip waterproof enclosure works extremely well – you can toss one of these in a whitewater river and nothing will get wet.
Specialized spearfishing and freediving bags allow you to safely secure long freediving fins as well as masks, spearguns, and snorkels. Many of these bags are backpack style, with a large main pocket for storing your fins. Spearguns can be strapped to the sides of the bag so you can carry everything on your back during travel.
How to choose the best dive bag for you?
Choosing the right dive bag largely depends on your particular needs. Dive bags vary widely, so think about how you plan to use your bag.
Do you want a bag that can be checked-in during airline travel? Are you planning on carrying your bag through rocky or sandy environments? Maybe you need a waterproof bag for storing sensitive equipment?
Some factors to consider when picking a dive bag:
Air Travel. If you’re planning on taking your bag with you during air travel, make sure it fits within the airline’s size limits for carry-on or checked baggage. These size limits vary from airline to airline, so be sure to check with your airline before departure.
For checked baggage, a common maximum exterior dimension (length + width + height) is 62 inches (158 cm), including handles and wheels. For carry-on baggage, the common maximum dimensions are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including the handles and wheels.
Wheels are a big plus for airline travel; they let you easily wheel your gear in and out of the terminal and into a car or taxi.
Construction and Materials. Look for bags with heavy, reinforced stitching. A good dive bag should be able to withstand dragging over rocky shoreline without coming apart at the seams.
Corrosion resistance is another feature to look out for. Saltwater can easily eat through untreated zippers and other metal components, so you’ll want to be sure your bag is saltwater resistant.
If you’re interested in a waterproof dive bag, make sure the material is tough and won’t wear out and lose its water resistance. If the entire bag isn’t waterproof, look for one with a smaller waterproof pouch for storing sensitive gear.
Wheels. Wheels are extremely handy and can make your life much easier during travel. Think about all the situations where wheeling your bag will save you time and effort – airports, train terminals, ferries and getting in and out of vehicles.
Look for bags with large sturdy wheels that can support significant weight. A dive bag with both wheels and backpack straps will offer you the most versatile way to transport your gear.
Cold Water Diving. If you’re diving in cold water, you’ll need more storage space than during warm water dives. A thick wetsuit or drysuit takes up significantly more space in your pack than a thinner suit would.
Compartments. Separate storage compartments are super handy for extended dive trips. You can use one for wet, sandy gear and another compartment for your dry clothes. A waterproof compartment is crucial if you have sensitive electronics or documents you need to keep away from water.
Dimensions. Selecting a bag with the right dimensions is a bit of a balancing act. You want a bag big enough to store all your dive gear plus regular clothes and travel supplies. However, you don’t want it too big that it won’t easily fit inside a car trunk or an airplane’s checked baggage.
Dive Bag Maintenance
Maintaining a dive bag is pretty straightforward. To clean the bag simply hand wash with soap and water and then air dry in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight.
Just like any other luggage, dive bags can develop a mildew odor if you leave wet gear inside them for too long.
To remove the mildew smell from a dive bag:
- Take the bag outdoors to a well-ventilated location.
- Wipe all surfaces of the bag with a soft wet cloth until it’s clean.
- Fill a bowl with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water.
- Wipe all surfaces of the bag with the vinegar solution.
- Fill a clean sock with baking soda and place inside the bag.
- After 24 hours the sock will absorb any remaining odors and can be discarded.