Diving Antarctica 2019: Specialized Coldwater Diving Gear

This is the second installment in Shannon’s preparation for diving in Antarctica. You can read the rest of her adventure here. As this goes to press, Shannon is enroute to Iceland to continue her training for Antarctica.  – Editor

shannon lockhart - drysuitdive.com - scuba diving antarcticaMy main focus in preparing for Antarctica is to achieve the 30 dry suit dives I need in order to actually go on this expedition. Not long after securing my spot I realized it was a lot more than just the 30 dives that would go into this expedition. A dive shop in Two Harbors, MN, had sign ups for their fun dive in Lake Superior. Unfortunately they did not have any dry suits for rent that would fit me. It was at this point that I realized that another big investment was needed to achieve my dry suit dives.  It is difficult for dive shops to offer dry suits for rent because the sizing so personal and there is no renting for Antarctica.

Now it was time for me to purchase my very own drysuit and other specialized coldwater diving gear for diving in Antarctica!

Owning your own dry suit is a big investment. It was not something I took lightly due to the money needed to purchase one and the fact I will be diving in the coldest water in the world. Part of my preparation is using and knowing the equipment I will be taking to Antarctica. I need to know this equipment inside and out and work out any kinks along the way so I am 100% prepare for this expedition.

Working with my local dive shop I explored my options for my new drysuit. I decided on a OMS/DUI manufactured drysuit, I just needed to pick the right style. The DUI rep was great in making sure the drysuit fit my needs and wants. We talked on the phone and met in person for measurements to ensure I got the perfect drysuit. My ultimate choice was the OMS San Diego.

This is my drysuit and the drysuit that I will be taking to Antarctica. I need to start diving with it as soon as possible!

I wanted to get to know my new investment! My order was put on rush as I booked a trip to the Bonne Terre Mines in Missouri three weeks away with no other contingencies for a drysuit should mine not arrive in time. Bonne Terre was the perfect opportunity to break in my new drysuit as the water is 58 degrees.

After making my huge investment with a new dry suit it was not long after I discovered I needed to make another investment. A cold water regulator. I definitely do not own a cold water regulator, I didn’t even know they existed, until now.

Your regulator is a VERY important piece of equipment. It is your life line while under water. A word of advice, do not buy cheap for your life line and talk to your local dive shop for the best regulator. I have a great Scubapro regulator that I use for my everyday diving. Unfortunately for me, a cold water regulator is not a cheap purchase but another investment. The water is so cold in Antarctica that a normal regulator will freeze and you will not be able to breathe. Not a good situation to find yourself in. I needed to find a cold water regulator.

photo credit: Amazon.com

Back to my research for a new regulator. Scubapro is normally my go-to brand for diving equipment. My decision for a new regulator was between a Scubapro and AquaLung. I chose a yoke AquaLung Glacia for my cold water diving as it made a better fit for my extreme cold water diving than the Scubapro. Make sure you do your own research to ensure your new equipment will fit your needs. I found a pretty good deal that included the AquaLung Glacia regulator, a back up cold water octopus (secondary regulator) and a Suunto dive computer with a console.  My main dive computer is a Mares but with this deal I got a back up computer. Not bad! These are the big-ticket items I have purchased since booking my trip.

To-date I have also purchased the following:

  • Used: DIN AquaLung Legend cold water regulator (to have as a back up)
  • 3 different pairs of gloves: 5-fingered 5mm, 5-fingered 7mm, and 3-fingered 7mm gloves for various temperatures
  • A 5/10mm hood (which is fantastic)

My impulse trip to Antarctica has turned into a pretty big investment. No regrets!!! I am loving my journey and what I am learning about myself. As a diver that is not part of a research expedition or even someone who dives for a living, I want to share my learning-as-I-go experience as I am sure there are other divers out there who think they can not go on such a trip but you can. Remember, I started with ONE dry suit dive.

Check out Shannon’s Instagram account @lockhart0416 for more pictures and videos.