Communication is extremely important underwater. That’s why so much emphasis is placed on hand signals during open water training and pre-dive briefings. But, what if we told you there is a better way to communicate? In come dive slates. With these handy tools, you can communicate anything you need to underwater without having to mime it. Let’s examine what dive slates are and then take a look at the best dive slates currently on the market.
What is a dive slate?
Quite simply, a dive slate is just a piece of plastic textured in a way that allows you to write on it with a pencil. Out of all of the dive gear you may use, this is perhaps the simplest. As a beginner, you can probably get by with just using hand signals on your dives. However, as you begin to move on to more complex forms of diving, having a dive slate to communicate is a much better option. Especially, if you get into any rescue diving courses where underwater communication is essential.
Dive slates are pretty similar in terms of style. You can purchase a slate that attaches to your BCD or to your wrist. Slates come in many different sizes from extra large for lots of writing to tiny card size dive slates that you can hook onto a D-ring on your BCD. The size you choose is going to depend on what your needs are. If you need something for complex calculations and communication with a dive buddy, it can be a good idea to go with something medium to large-sized. If, however, you just want something to jot quick messages down on during easy recreational dives, a smaller dive slate will do the trick.
As mentioned above, the pencils you use with dive slates are regular graphite pencils. In order to clean them, you can use sand to scrub off the writing or soap. We prefer to use Mr. Clean Magic Erasers as it completely removes the writing without scratching the surface of the slate.
What are the best dive slates?”
Promate Scuba Dive Underwater Dive Slate 6” x 5”
- Pencil with safety leash
- Clip to secure it
- Dimensions: 6 in. x 5 in.
Promate is a lesser-known manufacturer of scuba diving equipment. They aren’t as big as some of the heavy hitters such as Cressi or Scuba Pro. But, they still manage to produce quality equipment at a decent price. Their dive slates are well-liked for being easy to use and easy to read. This is their medium-sized dive slate, but there is also a larger and smaller size depending on your needs.
- This can easily attach to your BCD either via the D-rings on it or inside of the pocket on your BCD.
- Since this uses a regular graphite pencil you can easily replace it with another one when it wears down. No need for any special equipment. You just want something that won’t soak up tons of water.
- Easy to see even at depth. The surface is luminescent so it can be charged via light for a glow in the dark effect. The actual results of this glow in the dark are going to depend on water clarity.
- The main issue this board has is with the included pencil. It is quite thin so you need to make sure you are making your lines thick so it is easier to see. One way around this is to buy a thicker pencil.
Trident Instructor Size Underwater Diving Slate
- Replaceable pencil with safety leash
- Clip attached
- One lead pencil included
Trident is one of the largest wholesalers of scuba diving equipment and accessories in the world. They have been in the business for over three decades and have experience with handling quality products. Dive slates may be a simple product but they should still be a quality product. This is a great combination of both simplicity and quality.
- This is a larger-sized dive slate which makes it a good option for instructors or technical divers who need to do a lot of writing. It provides plenty of room for instructors to write down instructions to their pupils. There is also ample room for advanced decompression calculations.
- Writing shows up very clearly on the slate. This is a major point as there are many dive slates that can be quite hard to see on. The writing can often show up too thin and, especially in darker or murkier waters, quite difficult to see.
- Even though it is a larger-sized dive slate, you can still easily fit this into one of the pockets of most BCDs.
- Despite being a very good dive slate in terms of quality, it is lacking a few features. Primarily, there is no hook to attach this to your BCD or anywhere else. As we mentioned above, you can still fit this into a pocket. But, it would be nice to have an alternative means of attachment.
Scuba Choice 3 Panel Wrist Writing Dive Slate
- Velcro arm strap
- 3 Panel sizes: 5-1/2" x 4-1/4", 3-1/2" x 4-1/4", 3-1/2" x 4-1/4"
- Allows you to wear it on your wrist.
- Replaceable pencil with safety leash
- 2 lead pencils and 3 O-rings included
This differs a bit from the other dive slates on our list. Instead of attaching via a hook to your BCD, this straps to your wrist. If you are a technical or rescue diver making a lot of calculations, this can be a great option. The actual writing surface can be quite small per page. So, if you need to draw maps for a navigation class or if you are trying to illustrate something for a student, this may not be the best choice. But, if you need something for calculations or note-taking, this can be a good option.
- Since this attaches to your wrist instead of hanging from your BCD, you can free up a hand that you would have potentially used holding the dive slate. If keeping your hands free for other things is important, this is a better way to go than other dive slates on this list.
- This has three different slates that can be used if you need to do a lot of writing. All of the slates can be used front and back. This gives you much more writing space than you would have with a regular front and back single slate.
- This slate comes with extra o-rings and an extra pencil. You don’t have to worry about immediately buying extra pencils or o-rings if any of the ones on this break.
- One major issue with this is the strap. Many people have complained that the strap is far too big for their wrist. The solution to this is to attach it to the bicep instead. This is one solution, but another is to replace the straps entirely. It is a major design flaw but the slate is still a great quality piece of equipment.
Dive Rite Underwater Wrist Slate
- Comes with velcro wrist strap and elastic cord for your choice of attachment
- Three movable slate pieces for more writing space
- Wrist slate fits on the curve of the forearm
- For note taking, back up deco schedules, or as a safety communication device
This is another wrist-mounted dive slate. Similar to the Dive Right option listed above, this is great if you want to keep your hands free. This comes with three slates each with front and back writing capability. Everything you need from a carbon pencil to the mounts is included. Dive Rite is a manufacturer of scuba equipment for higher level divers such as cave, wreck, and other technical divers. Their equipment is usually well built for even the most demanding situations.
- There are two different ways you can attach this slate to your wrist. The first is via the usual strap which is great for people with larger wrists. If you have smaller wrists you can use the elastic cords provided as an option. This is great as many wrist-mounted dive slates only have the velcro strap.
- One thing we personally like about this is that all of the accent colors are black. The other dive slates on this list have bright fluorescent yellow for things like the hook strps, pencil line, and o-rings. The main issue with this is if you plan on diving in shark heavy waters. Some species of sharks are attracted to high contrast colors and attacks have been recorded on spearfishers and surfers using or wearing yellow equipment.
- This is an easy to clean dive slate. Many slates on the market can be incredibly difficult to clean to the point you need to use light sandpaper to sand off the markings. After a while, this can tear up the surface of your dive slate and it will need to be replaced. You can easily clean this slate with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or using toothpaste.
- The main con that many people had was that the wrist bands are not big enough for larger drysuits. If you will be diving primarily with a drysuit you may want to change out the straps for something larger.
Innovative Scuba Concepts Quest Underwater Dive Slate
- Patented, underwater magnetic Slate enables you to communicate, then swipe the Slate clean, and...
- This item includes: Quest Slate, Holster, Split ring, and Swivel Clip
- Write, erase, write again... erases with the push of thumb button
- White magnetic screen has superior contrast for best visability at depth
- Best selling Slate of all time
This one is a bit different than the other dive slates on this list. All of the other dive slates rely on a pencil as the main writing source. This particular slate works off a magnetic medium instead. Remember that etch-a-sketch you used to play with when you were a child? Same idea. Except, instead of using those weird knobs that seemed impossible to precisely control, you are using a writing pencil instead. It’s easy to use and maintain and can be a better choice for divers than the traditional dive slate.
- The biggest pro with this type of dive slate is that it can easily be erased and then reused. You don’t need any toothpaste or magic erasers to clean graphite off plastic. Instead, you simply press a button on the side of the dive slate and it wipes the slate clean. You can do this as often as you need. If you do a lot of writing or you need to communicate quite frequently with your dive partner, this can be a better option than a traditional dive slate.
- This is a very large slate. It is great if you plan on doing illustrations or if you are an instructor who needs to do a lot of writing. It can also be a good choice if you need to draw out maps for a rescue course or for underwater navigation.
- Since it is magnetic you don’t have to worry about replacing a pencil regularly. It is also very durabbly built so it should last for quite a while even under the most demanding circumstances.
- The main con of this slate is that it can be quite difficult to attach to your BCD. The size is quite large which is a major benefit if you plan on doing a lot of writing. But, if you wear a smaller BCD you may have trouble attaching this and will certainly have a bit of drag from its size. This is not a good option if you are doing cave or wreck diving.
What do you think? Dive slates are pretty simple pieces of equipment so you shouldn’t have much trouble selecting the right option for you. It is primarily going to come down to what size you want and whether you want a wrist strap or BCD attachment. Do you have any recommendations for dive slates? Let us know in the comments section. We like to hear from fellow divers what your thoughts are. Your advice could help someone else so don’t be afraid to sound off and make your voice heard.
This page was last updated on 2022-08-29. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI