How to Properly Store Your Scuba Gear

how to store your scuba gear

As much as we’d love to go scuba diving every day, unfortunately most of us have other priorities like work and family. Therefore, in the meantime, our scuba gear needs to be properly kept in storage so that it can remain in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of how to do this basic but crucial step, and they may drastically reduce the lifespan of their scuba gear if they neglect to do this properly.

Aren’t sure how to store your scuba gear? The most crucial principle to keep in mind is to keep your gear away from the sun, salt, and water. It’s a mistake to leave your gear in direct sunlight to dry – the UV rays can bleach colors and make fabrics and rubbers brittle. Salt residue from not properly rinsing after diving in saltwater can break down materials and oxidize metals, leading to rust. Water can lead to mold and mildew growth if your gear has not been dried before storage.

As you can see, these seemingly harmless things that your gear will be exposed to – sun, salt, and water – can actually cause serious damage if they aren’t washed off and left to dry out of the sun before storing it. If you are not vigilant, you may find that your gear has become unusable during the time it spent in storage. In this article, we’ll provide specific tips on how to store each piece of your dive kit properly so that they will be ready for you when you need them.

Before storing

Storing your gear is the easy part. It’s what you need to do prior to that that requires some effort. As a general rule of thumb, this is what you need to do:

Wash and dry your gear before storing it

Whether you were diving in saltwater or freshwater, you need to give your gear a good rinse in freshwater. The purpose of rinsing is to remove any leftover chlorine, salt, and sea debris on your gear. Even if you were freshwater diving, you still need to do this to remove any traces of invasive micro-species such as Zebra mussels and Crayfish plague that can stick to wet gear.

Consider using a commercial product to get rid of unwanted odors on your neoprene accessories, BCD, and wetsuit. After you thoroughly rinse and wash your gear, you must be careful when drying it. Do NOT leave it out in the sun to dry – the UV rays will damage your gear, discoloring them and wearing them down quickly.

You should instead let your gear in a ventilated area out of the sunlight. Do not hang your wetsuit up using a clothes hanger. Instead, use a wetsuit drying rack or wetsuit hanger to avoid creases and speed up the drying time. Never store any scuba gear when they are still wet or damp.

For long-term storage, consider having your gear serviced first

For many pieces of gear, such as your scuba tank, regulator, and BCD, you need to send them in for annual servicing if you want to keep up with your warranty; it’s also just a good practice if you want your gear to remain in good condition.

If, for whatever reason, you know that you will be putting your gear into storage for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to take your gear for servicing to remove all the internal contaminants before they start to spread or form into hard deposits that can be hard to clean, or cause irreparable damage down the line.

It’s also good for your peace of mind because at least you’ll know that all your scuba gear was working prior to storing it. When you are ready to use your gear again, you don’t need to worry so much trying to figure out if everything is still in good working order.

Getting your gear serviced before storage also makes a lot of sense if you’re storing it for the off-season. Late fall and winter are typically fast when it comes to wait times, so you don’t have to wait long before you get your gear back.

How to store your scuba gear

How to store your mask, snorkel, and fins

Return your mask to its original container after you have finished rinsing and drying it. This should help the mask maintain its shape and protect it from damage. If you no longer have the case the mask came with, then wrap it in a piece of cotton cloth or put it in a plastic bag with no other items to protect the lens from getting scratched.

For your fins, store them flat or with something supporting them. Do not leave your fins standing on its tips because this can warp the shape. If you still have the plastic inserts that your fins came with, slip them back inside the foot pocket to help it maintain its shape.

In other words, don’t get rid of the original packaging that your mask and fins came with; they are a fantastic place to put them back when storing them for the long haul.

How to store your regulator, gauges, and hoses

Keep in mind: just because you aren’t using your regulator doesn’t mean that you can ignore its annual servicing requirement. If the manufacturer recommends getting it serviced once a year, follow that guideline whether you are actively using the reg or not.

Even unused, the seals are sitting inside the regulator and possibly drying out or wearing down. Just like a car can’t be left parked in the garage forever, you also need to give the reg some occasional care.

Since the regulator is a scuba diver’s lifeline and it’s going to be in your mouth, you must take extra care to wash off the gunk and salt. The best way to do this is to rinse the reg while it’s still connected to the scuba cylinder with pressure in the hoses. This prevents water from entering the first stage.

If the regulator is already not attached, then screw the dust cap in and rinse the first stage (don’t submerge it) in freshwater. Hoses and gauges can be fully submerged. Hang it up to dry, and occasionally shake the mouthpiece so water doesn’t pool in there. Once dry, store the regulator in a loose coil.

Lastly, consider getting it serviced prior to storage. When storing it, do NOT place anything heavy on your regulator or hoses. Do not lean a backplate, dive weights, or anything on top of them.

How to store your BCD

BCDs are less of a hassle to deal with than regulators, but you should still take great care to clean them and rinse off any salt or debris lingering on the inside and outside.

Store your BCD on a hanger and partially inflate it. This reduces the chances of the bladder walls sticking together during storage. For prolonged storage, spray the outer silicone or rubber pieces with silicone spray.

When resuming diving, doing a basic inspection of your BCD is necessary. You need to make sure that the BCD has survived storage intact, so check for corrosion and see if the inflator isn’t stuck open or closed. Fully inflate the BCD and leave it for a few hours and check if the bladders remain full or if they are leaking.

Check that the dump valves function fluidly, and that all clips, buckles, D-rings, etc, are intact and working properly (including the tank straps). Modular BCDs are better for storage because faulty pieces can easily be replaced instead of having to replace the entire BCD.

How to store your dive computer and other electronics

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Many electronics should come with cases, or you most likely have purchased a bag for them, so store them there after you’ve removed the batteries.

Many will recommend you remove the battery from the electronics because the battery may keep draining even if the device is turned off. Also, for long term storage, it’s best to keep the battery at half charge or less to reduce the chances of leaking. Some batteries should be charged periodically.

Before you resume diving, inspect the battery for any leaks and fully charge them before use. For dive torches, also check the bulb – you may need to replace the bulb as well. As with any other scuba gear, they should be first cleaned before storage, and kept in a cool, dry environment away from the sun.

How to store your drysuit

Drysuits can be a bit high maintenance, but nothing you can’t handle. Just like the rest of the gear, make sure any salt residue has been rinsed off using freshwater. There are a few ways you can store a drysuit.

If you prefer to hang your suit, make sure to use a broad plasti hanger (e.g. a wood hanger) or a wetsuit hanger. Metal wire hangers are no good because they can dig into the drysuit and damage it, particularly the neck seal. If you can remove the neck seal before hanging it, it will increase its lifespan. Suits with metal zippers should be hung unzipped to reduce the strain on the teeth; this is not necessary for plastic zippers.

Another option is to roll your suit up to store it. With regards to the zippers, follow what we said above, unless the manufacturer has different instructions. The suit should be loosely rolled up, typically with the zipper side out. Do not place anything on top of your drysuit.

No matter how you like to store it, keep your gear in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

Unlike wetsuits, drysuits need to completely seal up around your body to keep water from entering. It’s really important to maintain a tight seal, and storing it properly will go a long way for maintaining its longevity. That said, seals will degrade over time, but storing it improperly will drastically speed up this process.

Of the various sealing options (latex, silicone, neoprene), neoprene stands up the best, but it can ultimately become brittle and tear, especially if exposed to the sun’s UV rays. If you are storing your drysuit for several months or even years at a time, you should consider replacing the seals prior to use. Also check that the valves remain smooth to turn and functional.

Before storing your drysuit, it’s also not a bad idea to wax and clean the zipper, as well as use seal saver on latex seals.

How to store your wetsuit

Thankfully, wetsuits are much easier to handle than drysuits, but they still require your attention. Rinse your wetsuit and put it in a cool, well-ventilated place to dry.

Your options for storing it are the same as the drysuit – you can hang it on a broad hanger (not made of metal) or roll it. If rolling it, roll it up loosely and don’t put anything on top of the wetsuit. Rolling is much safer than folding because we want to avoid creases that can become permanent.

Pay attention to any Velcro flaps on the wetsuit and stick them onto their Velcro mates. If the Velcro manges to snag onto the wetsuit, it can pull and cause pilling.

By now, you should be noticing a pattern – rinse your gear with freshwater, leave it in a well-ventilated, shaded area to dry, and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

Even though an exposure suit can be worn to protect yourself from the sun’s harsh UV rays, that doesn’t mean that it’s immune to its damaging effects. That’s why you must never leave your dive gear in direct exposure to sunlight.

Also be careful what you put next to your wetsuit when storing it. Certain household chemicals can damage rubbers like neoprene and deteriorate it rapidly. This can sometimes be an issue if your scuba gear storage is in the garage or a shed.

How to store your scuba cylinder

Store your scuba cylinder in a tank holder in an upright position, with at least some pressure inside (300 psi). An empty tank can let moisture enter, and a full tank should not be stored for longer than 3 months otherwise the pressure can wear down the tank.

The reason for storing it upright is that, should moisture enter the tank, it will drip down to the bottom where the tank is thickest. If stored on its side, the corrosion can weaken the thinner side walls enough to compromise the tank.

That said, when storing them upright, you must be careful to store them in such a way that they won’t get knocked over. If a tank falls, it can dent the side wall and this will compromise the tank as well. Do not store your tank on bare concrete or on surfaces that can absorb moisture. The moisture can pass onto the tank and cause external corrosion.

Finally, keep in mind that a tank must have a visual inspection annually, and a hydrostatic pressure test once every 5 years, regardless of usage.

Miscellaneous tips

When we say to rinse your gear, you should be taking as long as you need to until you are satisfied that you have washed off any salt, debris, or any other contaminants. Sometimes this requires you to soak it in soapy water, and maybe even give it another quick rinse afterwards. In fact, you should do such a thorough cleaning like this from time to time anyways, particularly if you notice any odors from peeing in your wetsuit.

Upon resuming diving, give your gear another inspection. They may require some more care from you depending on how long you stored them for. So give your gear a visual inspection, look for any rust, discoloration, creases, and anything that looks like it shouldn’t be there. Test all the valves and hoses. Have your gear serviced again, if need be.

Before going on a serious dive after a long hiatus, you should go on a “test” dive in calm conditions, perhaps even in a pool. This test is not just for the gear, but yours as well, because your diving skills may have deteriorated depending on how much time you took off.

Scuba gear storage ideas – where should you store them?

Buying a full set of scuba gear isn’t cheap, and neither is getting them regularly serviced. That’s why you have to do everything in your power to take great care of your gear so that they can last as long as possible, and that includes properly cleaning it and storing it.

We’ve already discussed in length how to store your scuba gear. The next question, then, is where you should store them. How can you make room in your house to fit your scuba gear? Whether you have a small space, medium space, or large space, you should know what “good” scuba storage entails. Let’s dive in.

Storing scuba gear in small spaces

If you don’t have much room to work with, it is probably the most challenging position to be in since your options are limited. However, it’s possible to maximize what you do have so that even a wardrobe or closet can fit all of your scuba gear. In this situation, you will have to make ample use of boxes, bags, and suitcases.

Try to purchase a scuba equipment bag that can also be a place to store your scuba gear for the long term when you aren’t travelling. Consider something like this roller bag – you can conveniently slide it in and out of small spots and you can pack it full of scuba gear.

For example, place your fins on the sides of the bag, pack your BCD in the center, and put some of the smaller accessories in the gaps such as dive boots and dive hoods before putting your regulator at the top. Put everything in loosely, and don’t cram it too full unless you want to crease or damage your gear.

This leaves out your exposure, which can be hung using a wetsuit hanger in the closet. Make sure the hanger is very wide so that it doesn’t put too much stress around the neck and shoulder area.

Another storage option is to use plastic bins to pack your smaller accessories, which can easily slide in and out of the bottom of wardrobes or storage cupboards. That said, keep in mind that aeration is also important when storing your scuba gear. Consider drilling some holes in the lid so there is some airflow in the box.

Storing scuba gear in medium spaces

Those of you who have a bit more room to work with can get more creative. For instance, if you have a portion of a room for storage, consider setting up a scuba gear drying rack.

You can build one yourself using PVC piping, however this requires some DIY know-how. Check out the video above to get an idea of what’s possible. Also taking a look at this thread and this thread for two more examples of ideas people have done. Unfortunately, they are sparse on instructions, so you will need to come up with the blueprint yourself.

You don’t need to have a storage rack; consider using the vertical space in your storage room. For instance, install hang hooks along the walls to hang smaller accessories, and you can hang pouches from the hooks to store masks and dive computers. Also consider using pegboards designed to hang your scuba gear; this is a great option for the corner of your garage.

Storing scuba gear in large spaces

For those who have an entire spare room, empty garage, or basement, you can create the scuba gear storage locker of your dreams by following the advice provided above. You have the most flexibility in coming up with a method that is practical and aesthetically pleasing, rather than cramming everything into a wardrobe.

You can make ample use of pegboards, hooks, or any organizational furniture that can double as a place to store scuba gear. There’s honestly not much difference in how you’d store gear in a larger space; just scale up what you would have done for a smaller space now that you have more room to work with.

If your storage room has windows, be careful about where the sunlight shines. Make sure that the light never reaches your scuba gear. Also figure out how the sunlight will change throughout the course of the day so it doesn’t ever end up damaging your gear.

How NOT to store your scuba gear

We’re going to take a little bit of a different approach here and tell you what you should avoid doing which could result in damage to your scuba equipment. Sometimes focusing on the negatives can leave more of an impression, so hopefully, one way or another, you will avoid the common pitfalls that beginners make.

Do not leave your gear in direct sunlight

Don’t leave your equipment out to dry in direct sunlight, and that’s true for storing it as well. Depending on your storage solution, it’s possible that there might be a window nearby or a crack where sunlight can peek through and shine on your gear. Pay close attention to this and make absolutely certain that sunlight never touches your equipment.

It’s best if you can store your equipment in an area where there are no windows, and if there are, then to keep the curtains permanently drawn. Also pay attention to the sun’s position throughout the day. It’s possible that the sun will shift to a position that will reach your gear, which is why we recommend just closing the curtains all the time so you don’t have to worry about it.

Do not fold your exposure suit

It’s true that you’re going to fold your exposure suit in order to fit it into your dive bag. However, that is for a short period of time and should not leave any lasting damage. For long term storage, folding it or hanging it on a thin metal hanger will easily create creases on your exposure suit.

Use a dedicated wetsuit hanger with thicker arms, or drape it over a large drying rack, taking great care to ensure that there aren’t any hard folds on the exposure suit.

Piggybacking off this advice, not only should you NOT fold your exposure suit, but do not place anything heavy on top of it either. That’s a surefire way to crease it even faster and leave an imprint on your wetsuit that never goes away. It’ll also cause significant wear and tear much faster.

Do not store your gear if they are still damp

This one is obvious, but bears repeating. Do not store your gear until it is COMPLETELY dry. If it is even slightly damp, then it will reek the next time you use it. Moisture is also a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, so be absolutely certain that your gear is dry before storing it.

Do not keep O-rings or batteries inside

When storing dive accessories such as dive torches, dive computers, and underwater photography equipment, always remove the O-rings and batteries before storing them.

If left in place, O-rings can easily dry out or get warped by the heat. After removing the O-rings, place them in a sealed plastic bag for protection and so it’s easy to remember where they are.

Batteries should also be removed because they can leak or corrode during long-term storage, especially alkaline ones.

Summary

When people talk about diving, it’s mostly about the fun you’ll have underwater and almost never about how to maintain and store your gear afterwards. However, unless you are renting your gear all of the time, you should figure out how to take care of the pieces that you own. Without proper maintenance, gear that should have lasted for years will fail you within months or even weeks.

Knowing how to store your scuba gear is one of the few boring things about scuba diving that you absolutely need to know how to do well. That said, depending on your dive gear storage solution, it may actually be something you’re proud to show off.

Before we even get to storing the gear, you must take great care to rinse off any salt and debris off your gear. Consider soaking them for 30 minutes in soapy water if you want to get rid of bacteria and odors. Then do a final rinse to remove any stubborn residue.

Now, this is very important – you must let your gear fully dry in a well-ventilated location, out of the sunlight. We have to stress that it is fully dry. Not damp, not even a little moist. If your scuba gear isn’t fully dry when you store it, you’re going to open up your storage room to a musty, moldy mess in a few months’ time.

When storing your gear, follow these basic guidelines:

  • Take any batteries and O-rings out.
  • Do not fold your gear. Roll it up or hang it. Hoses should be lightly coiled up.
  • Use wide hangers when hanging neoprene.
  • Service your gear when it’s time to, whether you used your scuba gear recently or not.
  • Never stack anything heavy on top of your scuba gear.
  • Again, fully dry your gear, and keep it away from sunlight.

By following these basic principles, you can make your gear last much longer when storing them both in the short-term and long-term.

Photo Credit: Ruth Hartnup CC BY 2.0

Last update on 2022-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API