Monitoring your dive with a depth gauge

When dive computers were first introduced, many divers retired some of their old equipment. The computers sat easily on your wrist and provided so much information that divers had little practical use for their dive watches and depth gauges. The dive computers were able to calculate depth, dive time, ascent rate and other elements that experienced divers considered critical. But, many of the divers that traded in their older equipment for computers have since returned to their roots. In this article, you'll discover why some veteran divers prefer to use a depth gauge. You'll also learn how a depth gauge differs from a dive computer and why beginning divers should consider using one.

Why do some divers prefer a gauge

If you see an experienced diver strapping on a depth gauge, your first thought may be he lacks computer savvy. After all, why would someone shun a computer that offers so much information for a piece of equipment that offers so little? In truth, it often has little to do with a diver's comfort with computers. Divers who have been exploring the depths for years often develop a "feel" for the dive. That is, they can mentally calculate the rate of ascent required to avoid decompression sickness, given their depth and time submerged. They feel no need for a computer that calculates this information for them. In fact, relying on a computer often makes grizzled veterans feel less in tune with their dive. Their experience feels less-rewarding to them if a computer is guiding them.

Dive computer vs. depth gauge

A dive computer sits on a diver's wrist and will offer a plethora of information. It will display the diver's current depth as well as the deepest point of the entire dive. The computer will also show how long the diver has been underwater. Some will display the water temperature, gas pressure, ascension rate required and more. The computer will algorithmically calculate what a diver needs to do in order to prevent decompression sickness. By contrast, depth gauges are very simple in both design and function. They look similar to a hockey puck and attach to the diver's suit. They typically display the current depth of the diver and the time spent underwater. While some digital depth gauges will show the rate of ascent required to avoid decompression sickness, many of the analog models will not.

Price consideration

There's no denying that some divers' equipment choices are limited by economic reality. That is, they may not be able to afford a dive computer and therefore choose to buy a gauge. While some depth gauges can be purchased for as little as $40, a dive computer can cost over $1,000, a significant financial burden for some divers. As such, many divers use a depth gauge simply because it's less expensive to do so.

A safe diving adventure

In the end, your choice of which type of equipment to purchase should be based on safety. Decompression sickness can be fatal. While both depth gauges and dive computers can help you avoid it, you should understand your own limitations. If you're unable to use a depth gauge and dive watch to calculate your rate of ascent, then a dive computer may be more suitable for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy the experience of diving without the help of computers and you're able to safely determine your rise to the surface, a depth gauge may be more your style. Think of your safety first. That's the best way to enjoy your diving adventures.