I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER. People expect me to travel with a lot of excess baggage. Yet a side-effect of my needing to make room when flying for camera, housing and all the associated underwater photography paraphernalia is that I have learned to cut everything else down to the bare minimum.
Which poses my own Big Question - just how heavy does the luggage with which the average diver travels need to be
To answer the question, I packed my bags with the kit I would take for a typical winter trip to the northern Red Sea, Mediterranean or Canary islands - all locations pretty popular with UK divers, sunshine and clear water, but still chilly enough to persuade most of us to take a full 7mm wetsuit.
Many divers these days have a compact digital camera, so in place of my big camera system, I included only the digital compact and housing I normally carry as back-up.
To see just how much it all weighed, I borrowed a digital hanging scale from Scales World (www.scalesworld.co.uk). The EHF 50kg model can weigh 50kg to an accuracy of 20g, ideal for getting into the details of a divers baggage allowance. At Â44.65, such an investment could soon be recovered from savings against excess baggage.
I weighed everything individually, added it up, packed it into hold and carry-on bags, then weighed the full bags to check.
The measured totals were actually a little less than the calculated totals, an added saving from accumulated rounding errors on the way.
The results may come as a surprise. With a hold bag at 19.2kg and carry-on bag at 2.92kg, it is entirely possible to travel within the usual airline allowances of 20kg and 6kg respectively.
Having said that, the additional 10kg allowance that diver-friendly airlines bestow will always come in useful. After all, it is supposed to be a holiday rather than an exercise in frugal packing, especially when it comes to big housed SLR camera systems.

  1. Dont take an octopus. I put one on my regulator for the calculation to match what most divers carry. I take an Apeks Octo+, the lightest of the various breathing gadgets that can replace a BC inflator, saving 0.34kg.
  2. Run bigger dive lights on AA batteries and adapters. Take a set of ni-mh rechargeables and a multi-voltage fast charger. For photographers, the charger is a freebie, as it will be needed anyway for camera flashes. This saves 0.14kg over a set of 4C size, or 0.42kg over 4D size.
  3. Dont take a notebook PC, unless it is ultra-light. For digital camera memory cards, I make back-ups with a USB copier and a portable hard drive. For writing, I use a Palm and fold-up keyboard. Typical saving 2kg.
  4. Use plastic clips instead of stainless-steel bolt snaps and karabiners
  5. I confess to not following this tip).
  6. Small extras soon add up. I emptied my main camera bag of pens, cable-ties, odd scraps of paper and other useful tat and it was 0.5kg lighter.
  7. If you can travel further to warmer water, you need less wetsuit. My 3mm one-piece weighs 1.12kg, saving 3.88kg over the 7mm suit and jacket.

  1. Dont forget that youre taking the clothes in which you will travel. For most locations, one pair of trousers, a sweatshirt and a jacket is all that will ever be needed for evenings and cooler days. Just the sort of clothes that are good for wearing to the airport, so there is no need to pack any more.
  2. Keep tickets and passport in a zipped jacket pocket.
  3. Wash underwear as you go. Four pairs of underpants, socks and hankies (including clothes you wear to the airport) is more than enough if you rinse whatever you were wearing at the end of the day, especially as most of the day you wont be wearing any!
  4. Buy souvenir T-shirts early in the trip. Most divers buy a T-shirt or two, so plan to use them and cut down on the number you pack.
  5. You need more T-shirts than underwear, because you often wear them over beach shorts or bathers and get through more than one per day. Allow for six shirts. Like underwear, wash them as you go.
  6. Pack only one book. You can always swap it with another divers. If you want more, buy them in the departure area. Bookshops are one of the few areas of airport shopping that dont have rip-off prices!
  7. Dont pack sunblock or insect repellent. Both are readily available and often cheaper on location.
  8. Pack tiny hotel-sized capsules of shampoo and shower gel. If you use lots, buy a larger bottle on location.
  9. Save near-empty tubes of toothpaste for travelling.
  10. Have a cheap, light BC for travel. It wont need to stand up to the abuse of UK twin-sets and side-mounts. Mine has suffered 12 years of neglect and is still going strong. With a minimal hard back, it even takes the occasional twin-set.
  11. If you travel with a wing, take a plastic backplate. Dont have more steel D-rings than you actually use.
  12. Many modern first stages have lots of metal for cold water. Take a regulator with a small first stage and plastic second stage. You dont need coldwater performance.
  13. Empty bags can weigh a lot. The lightest are usually simple hold-all type bags. Pack fins on either side, rolled-up BC at one end and rolled up wetsuit at the other to make a protective cell inside the bag for less robust items.
  14. Leave the monster umbilical light behind. A small pocket light is OK for most dives. For the occasional cave, inside wrecks and night diving, a slightly larger light such as a UKC4 is plenty.
  15. For most warmwater locations a reel is not needed. 10m of line on a drop weight or plastic comb is enough for shallow and safety stops on a delayed SMB.
Divernet Divernet Divernet

  • 1 Main bag 1.44 kg
  • 2. Drybag for boat 0.32 kg
  • 3. DIVER net bag (wet kit) 0.56 kg

  • 4. 7mm suit 2.80 kg
  • 5. 7mm jacket with hood 1.20 kg
  • 6. 5mm boots 0.64 kg
  • 7. Strobe, 2 AA batteries 0.20 kg
  • 8. Pkt light, 2 AA batteries 0.40 kg
  • 9. UK C4 light 0.40 kg
  • 10. 4 C batteries 0.32 kg
  • 11. Regulator 1.52 kg
  • 12. Octopus 0.38 kg
  • 13. Snips 0.20 kg
  • 14. Delayed SMB 0.28 kg
  • 15. 10m line on comb 0.06 kg
  • 16. BC 2.54 kg
  • 17. Swimming trunks 0.06 kg
  • 18. Mask 0.16 kg
  • 19. Fins 2.10 kg

  • 20. 3 hankies 0.06 kg
  • 21. 3 pairs socks 0.12 kg
  • 22. 3 pairs underpants 0.16 kg
  • 23. Beach shorts 0.18 kg
  • 24. Good shorts 0.46 kg
  • 25. 5 T-shirts 1.28 kg
  • 26. Wash kit 0.20 kg
  • 27. Medical kit 0.86 kg
  • 28. Beach sandals 0.38 kg
  • 29. Towel 0.26 kg

    MEASURED TOTAL 19.20 kg


  • 30. Baby sack 0.46 kg
  • 31. Small camera bag 0.64 kg

  • 32. Digital compact camera 0.30 kg
  • 33. Camera case 0.08 kg
  • 34. Housing 0.54 kg
  • 35. Charger, spare battery 0.16 kg

  • 36. Dive computer 0.18 kg
  • 37. Logbook 0.12 kg

  • 38. Hat 0.08 kg
  • 39. Sunglasses & case 0.10 kg
  • 40. Paperback 0.28 kg

    MEASURED TOTAL 2.92 kg