Once you begin accumulating dive equipment, getting a dive bag is unavoidable. You need to be able to carry your equipment through airports, on boats, and when walking around. Easier said than done when bringing a full regulator set, mask and snorkel, fins, boots, wetsuit, and BCD. Plus, all the smaller pieces of equipment. The weight can add up fast.
Best Dive Bags
What should I look for in a dive bag?
As with most other scuba equipment. Not all dive bags are created equal. There is good and bad and everything between and, to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell which is which.
Thankfully, there are a few things that you can look for when selecting a dive bag to separate the good from bad. Pay attention to these factors:
- Empty weight of the dive bag
- Materials used to make the dive bag
- Features such as padded compartments for regulators
- Rollers and backpack straps
Weight- you want to minimize the total empty weight of the bag as much as possible. This one is obvious but the more the bag weighs the less you can put into it before hitting the point you will be paying fees.
There is no one size fits all answer for what a good weight is. Different materials are going to vary in weight. Also, the more features there are such as extra compartments the more the bag will weigh.
A good rule of thumb is that you want to find the total weight of your dive equipment and anything else you will pack. Then, subtract that from fifty, and that’s how much weight you have to work with. This is in lbs, if you are working with kilos then subtract the total weight from 23. This is the average weight across air carriers for checked baggage.
If the total weight of the scuba equipment exceeds numbers listed above, you have more room to work with. In this case, you know ahead of time that you will be paying extra fees for baggage. So, you are usually going to have quite a bit of extra weight to work with after fees are paid.
Materials- the best dive bags are made from durable and quick drying materials. Some examples of this include heavy duty nylon, PVC coated fabrics, or newer hard shells. Also, all the stitching on the bag should be reinforced.
Most bags are made from materials fitting this description. So, this isn’t a major issue you will have to worry about. The main thing is you want the bag to be lightweight. A lighter but durable material can help accomplish this.
Extra Features- this is where the good bags separate themselves from the just okay ones. You want a bag that has extra features which can make packing your equipment easier. Examples of this include:
- Separate fin compartment
- Padded regulator compartment or seperate bag
- At least one waterproof section for wetsuits
- Separators to keep your dive equipment and clothing seperate
- Vented chambers to help damp equipment dry
The most important things are waterproof compartments and a regulator pouch. The last thing you want is to have to pack your wetsuit next to your dry and clean clothes. Having a waterproof section will allow you to store anything still a bit wet and keep your other gear dry.
As far as regulators, they aren’t cheap. Even if you’ve bought a used one you probably dropped a few hundred dollars on it. You want to keep it in great shape. Buy a bag that has a separate pouch for storing your regulator set, or an integrated pouch with padding.
Rollers and Back Straps- rollers on bags are a lifesaver. They make it easy to drag your bag around the airport and any towns or cities you find yourself in. But, they have serious limitations. When you get to dirt roads or uneven sidewalks or beach, they become useless.
You want a dive bag that has both rollers and backpack straps for those times you’ve got to go offroad. Carrying a large bag full of scuba equipment on your back isn’t the most comfortable thing. But, it beats dragging rollers over a sandy coral beach for long distances.
Best Dive Bags Reviews
- Built to airline size and weight requirements
- Waterproof bottom compartment for wet or dirty items
- Breathable top compartment for damp gear to air out
- Heavy-duty rail along the bottom and reinforcements with abrasion-resistant material on corners for...
- Low-Profile frame system reduces height for easy storage
Stahlsac is a leading manufacturer of dive bags. You can make a safe bet when buying one of their bags that it is going to stand the test of time. The Steel 34” is a great option for divers looking to pack a complete dive setup. The bag has many compartments for carrying equipment plus clothes and other necessities. Stahlsac has smaller sizes for shorter trips including 22” and 27”.
Here is a great video the company has maid showing an example of what can be carried in this bag.
Bonus: For carrying your equipment on the boat, combine the Stahlsac 34” with the Stahlsac 40” Mesh Bag. This will help your equipment dry faster after diving.
#2 Cressi Vuelo
- Large wheeled luggage ideal to carry scuba diving equipment and other water activity gear like long...
- The main compartment opens on three sides allowing easy access. There are two large bellows pockets...
- There are also two adjustable, padded, straps for carrying on the back that can be placed in special...
- The wheels have a large diameter and can be removed and easily replaced in the event of breakage....
- The back of the bag houses supporting rods to keep the Moby 5 in a vertical position. The Moby 5...
If you are looking for something a bit smaller than the 34” Stahlsac, the Cressi Vuelo is the perfect option. This is a carry on bag so it’s a great option if you are planning on a short weekend trip. Depending on what you carry, you may or may not be able to pack your complete dive set up. If you’ve got a lot of clothes and other equipment then you may not be able to pack your BCD. But, if you are traveling light you should have no trouble packing your gear plus a few days worth of clothing.
Bonus: For bringing your equipment on the boat, use the Mares Cruise Mesh Backpack.
- Collapsible: Folding base for easy, low-profile storage. Size Folded: 30 x 17 x 3” (76 x 43 x...
- Easy to Transport: Rugged wheels get you through the airport easily. Lightweight, extendable...
- Protective: Internal structured frame made of shock-absorbent padding. Heavy-duty polyester exterior...
- Durable: Made of heavy-duty polyester with PVC coating. Zippers are corrosion-resistant and zipper...
- Designed for Scuba: Internal fin pockets and hanging waterproof pocket for wet items.
Aqua Lung is a leading name when it comes to scuba diving equipment. Their equipment is used by dive schools around the world. You can rest easy knowing that their dive bags meet the same standard as their other dive gear. The Explorer II, one of their larger bags, is excellent for long term travel. It has everything you need in terms of features, durability, and ease of use.
This video does a great job of showing all of the features of the Explorer II as well as how much you can pack.
Bonus: Couple the Explorer II with the Scuba Max Dive Flag Mesh bag for a great boat bag.
- Large trolley bag that can also be used as a backpack. Made 600D fabric that is extremely strong.
- The main compartment opens on three sides allowing for large packing and unpacking access.
- Large front pocket with zip closures, stores the include for free AKONA Regulator Bag.
- Two full size side pockets hold up to one set of fins in each pocket.
- The Roller Backpack is made by AKONA, an American Sporting Goods Brand, specializing in Watersports...
We’re big fans of Akona products. They are durable, well engineered, and always top-notch in terms of quality. The Akona Roller Backpack is no different. This is probably the most feature rich bag on this list. It has everything which we discussed you want in a good bag. The price is a bit more than others but you certainly get more bang for your buck with this bag.
Here is a video demonstrating the different features of the Akona Roller Backpack. It also shows how much the bag can hold.
Bonus: The bag can be a bit large for brining on dive boats. Use the Akona Collapsing Mesh Duffel Bag for transporting equipment onto the boat.
What’s our pick?
Our pick for the best dive bag is the Stahlsac Steel 34”. This is hands down one of the best dive bags on the market today. We’ve been using the Stahlsac Steel for over 2 years with no issues. The bag is incredibly durable and has held up on planes, buses, and liveaboards around the world. The price is at the higher end but this is one dive bag that can’t be beat.
If you are on a tighter budget, the Aqua Lung Explorer II is a great alternative.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any experience with any of the bags on this list? Or, maybe you have a recommendation that didn’t make the list. Let us know in the comments section what you think. You never know when what you say may help a fellow diver.