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UTD Recreational Equipment Questions

Discussion in 'UTD: Unified Team Diving' started by Coldwater_Canuck, May 17, 2010.

  1. Coldwater_Canuck

    Coldwater_Canuck Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle or Ontario
    629
    0
    Note: I'm not sure the best place for this post, but this is for anyone knowledgeable with UTD, not necessarily just their staff.

    So after various frustrations with the PADI system, I really like what I've read about UTD and the training seems to be much closer to what I think is needed to create safe divers. I should be returning to Seattle this summer semi-permanently, and Seattle is lucky enough to have two instructors. I'm just trying to figure out what sort of things I'll need to buy and how much this is going to cost (I'm only looking at Rec courses in the near future). UTD has a pretty good equipment section on its website, but there were some things I'm wondering. So if anyone has any advice to the things below, please let me know.

    Weights:
    Although I realize the steel backplate will remove some of the weight requirements, do you generally wear a harness or where is extra weight stored?

    Storage:
    The BP/W systems I've seen generally don't have pockets like a BC does (and I'm not sure if adding pockets is considered "DIR"). Say something like car keys or even an extra mask, is there anywhere to put these, or do you basically need a drysuit?

    Bottom Timer, Depth Gauge, Computers:
    The DIR reg-kits I've seen online appear to just have an SPG attached to the regulators. I've also heard DIR does not approve of computers (although maybe this
    is just the bottom time functions and computers are used as timers and depth gages), so what is generally used for bottom time and depth?

    Yoke Valves:
    Just to confirm what I think is implied online, DIN is preferable, but only required for tech courses (yoke is fine for rec ones)?

    Drysuit:
    I've currently only dove with a wetsuit. I should probably make the switch to a drysuit at some point. I know UTD really focuses on things like buoyancy and trim, so I'm thinking it may be more productive to start Fundamentals already Drysuit trained. So maybe before doing any UTD courses, just take a PADI drysuit course or something and buy a suit. Does this make sense or any other ideas how to go about the switch from wet to dry?

    Singles / Doubles:
    I've currently only dove single tank, but would eventually like to go doubles for the redundancy and increased / easier to manage gas (in a sense). Now I have no idea if doubles are hard to use and whatnot, but would I be best doing Fundamentals, Rec 2, etc. in single tank and then switching (downside is having to work on bouyancy, trim, and weighting again once you're using doubles, plus needing two wings). Do you feel doubles are complicated enough it's better to wait or is it something best to start practicing with early on?

    Thanks in Advance!
     
  2. gsk3

    gsk3 Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: PA, USA
    1,060
    111
    From what I understand:
    -For storage you can glue pockets to your wetsuit. Check with your instructor for recommendations on what size/style of pockets and where exactly they should get AquaSealed.
    -Most DIR people I've seen just use a computer in gauge mode, or use a dedicated bottom timer.
    -Singles vs. doubles before Fundies/Essentials is an age-old question with no clear answer. Check out a google search of direxplorers.com on that question and see both sides.
    -Extra weight can go on a weight belt, on V-weights attached to the backplate, or as trim weights attached to the tanks/cam bands.

    Others with far more experience and expertise than I will doubtless chime in with their opinions and perhaps more UTD-compliant methods, so take this with the proverbial grain of salt.
     
  3. lobstah

    lobstah Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: LA
    153
    1
    Hey Canuck.

    Depends on tanks you wear, exposure protection. In general it ends up either on your belt or in some form of weight behind your back (pouches, v- weights, tail weights, plate weights). Tune in to balanced rig lecture for details.

    There are ways to attach pockets to wetsuits, but I'm not aware of any wetsuit coming with pockets stock installed. JMJ wetsuits in Torrance does great job modifying wetsuits. Other options include x-shorts. I'm not sure if these are still being made.
    We advocate use of shell drysuits for other reasons than pockets (balanced rig again). If you are looking at Rec programs only, drysuits are not a requirement, but if you plan to dive in Seattle in a wetsuit you are nuts :).

    We generally use bottom timers or computers in bottom timer mode. No brand preference.

    DIN is a little more secure and sturdy than yoke and therefore preferred, but hardly an "OH MY GOD YOU ARE GOING TO DIE" kind. It's fine to take your rec course with it, but if you decide to move on, you should see DIN in your future as it is a de facto standard for doubles and bottom stages in a broader community than just DIR.

    We don't teach Fundamentals :) That's the other guys. We have Essentials of Rec and Rec 1/2/3. We also teach nitrox and drysuit, and since we teach a little different material and operation than mainstream it might be beneficial to do a drysuit course with us as well. Gina or Brian can both teach it.


    Since training is consistent across all courses, whatever you learned in Rec 1 /2 /3 will apply in Tec 1 / 2 as well. I think if you start early you will be more equipped to make a well informed decision for yourself.

    Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have more questions
    Regards
     
  4. Coldwater_Canuck

    Coldwater_Canuck Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle or Ontario
    629
    0
    Thanks for your quick replies!


    Not bad, the poster following you basically said the same things. And I'll check out direexplorer.


    Okay, so it's nothing too standardized, wasn't sure if weight belts were "against the rules" or whatever.

    I've done all my diving in Seattle in a wetsuit already :) (it's more so getting out that's the problem rather than the dive). But you're probably right that I should just bite the bullet and get a drysuit (and never thought of adding pockets to a wetsuit).

    Is a "bottom timer" just a computer without the ability to calculate dive time remaining? This is also the primary mode of determining your depth?

    Ya if I could go back in time I'd probably buy DIN regs, and I realize if I start doing technical courses at some point I'll need to get DIN ones anyways, but just really don't want that extra cost up front.

    Haha my bad, "Essentials" is what I meant. Is the drysuit course accessible (or maybe meant for) non-UTD divers? Because my whole point was I was thinking it may be beneficial to learn the drysuit BEFORE Essentials. I don't think any prior UTD course is listed as a requirement for Drysuit, but I'm not sure who this course is geared to.

    Sorry, a little confused with this response, when you say "start early", start early with what?
     
  5. rjack321

    rjack321 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, Washington State
    11,324
    6,148
    Canuck, if you want to go diving sometime send me a PM. I'm over in Port Orchard but frequently dive the Seattle side of the water too. Or you can ping Brian and Jeanna at Frog Kick Diving / NWUTD - Seattle Recreational & Technical Dive Instructors (206)351-2019 they are the local UTD instructors and some of my primary tech diving buddies.

    As lobstah said, I agree you'll want a drysuit sooner rather than later around here, like October-ish :)
    RJ
     
  6. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    36,349
    13,629
    Weights:
    Although I realize the steel backplate will remove some of the weight requirements, do you generally wear a harness or where is extra weight stored?

    The weight requirements for diving in Puget Sound are high enough that almost everybody wears either a weight belt or weight harness. I use a belt, and put a couple of weights on my cambands in XS Scuba pouches, as well.

    Storage:
    The BP/W systems I've seen generally don't have pockets like a BC does (and I'm not sure if adding pockets is considered "DIR"). Say something like car keys or even an extra mask, is there anywhere to put these, or do you basically need a drysuit?

    We use pockets on exposure protection. That can be gluing pockets onto a wetsuit, using X-shorts, or putting pockets on a dry suit. Or you can be like me, and use X-shorts with a drysuit. Lots of options, but the pockets go on your suit.

    Bottom Timer, Depth Gauge, Computers:
    The DIR reg-kits I've seen online appear to just have an SPG attached to the regulators. I've also heard DIR does not approve of computers (although maybe this
    is just the bottom time functions and computers are used as timers and depth gages), so what is generally used for bottom time and depth?


    Some people use the Uwatec bottom timers. Many of the rest of us use some kind of dive computer set in gauge mode (so it isn't doing decompression calculations). Most of us started out with a computer NOT in gauge mode, until we gained facility with tracking depth in our heads.


    Yoke Valves:
    Just to confirm what I think is implied online, DIN is preferable, but only required for tech courses (yoke is fine for rec ones)?

    DIN is preferred, but yoke is acceptable. You'll probably eventually convert.

    Drysuit:
    I've currently only dove with a wetsuit. I should probably make the switch to a drysuit at some point. I know UTD really focuses on things like buoyancy and trim, so I'm thinking it may be more productive to start Fundamentals already Drysuit trained. So maybe before doing any UTD courses, just take a PADI drysuit course or something and buy a suit. Does this make sense or any other ideas how to go about the switch from wet to dry?

    The principles of balancing your weight and gear, and using your body posture to ensure your trim, are the same in a wetsuit and a dry suit. If you don't need a dry suit, don't buy one just for the class. If you want to take the class in a dry suit, I'd definitely recommend buying one and spending a little time in it, either as a class or with a dry suit-savvy mentor. Most people don't want to use the services of a top-class instructor just to learn to dive a dry suit.

    Singles / Doubles:
    I've currently only dove single tank, but would eventually like to go doubles for the redundancy and increased / easier to manage gas (in a sense). Now I have no idea if doubles are hard to use and whatnot, but would I be best doing Fundamentals, Rec 2, etc. in single tank and then switching (downside is having to work on bouyancy, trim, and weighting again once you're using doubles, plus needing two wings). Do you feel doubles are complicated enough it's better to wait or is it something best to start practicing with early on?

    If you're still having fun doing dives that are appropriate for a single tank, take the class in a single tank. The skills are the same, and they generalize easily. You're better off taking the class and building good habits earlier, than delaying the class just to dive doubles. A lot of dives don't need them and sometimes aren't appropriate for them, especially if you are doing surf entries!
     
  7. Coldwater_Canuck

    Coldwater_Canuck Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle or Ontario
    629
    0
    Thanks, but I'm actually not in Seattle yet (I've been moving back and forth between Ontario and Seattle for a couple years now, this summer I'm expected to move to Seattle semi-permanently (as in 3 years). I've seen Brian's and Jeanna's site, it has some useful information, and I'll definitely contact them a little bit closer to when I'd want to take the course.

    And I've worn a wetsuit in November in Seattle, not the most pleasant experience I'll admit. Actually the water is fine, it's just the time between two dives and after the dives I'm freezing (I've gone diving in the Great Lakes, which are even colder than Puget Sound if you get deep enough, but the big difference is you get out and it's nice and warm).
     
  8. lobstah

    lobstah Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: LA
    153
    1
    Jeanna is going to gut me alive for butchering her name. I should know better.

    Drysuit course is just that. There's no prerequisites other than being reasonably squared away in your current config. Call locals and they will give you more details which are more specific to environment and the way they teach.
     
  9. Coldwater_Canuck

    Coldwater_Canuck Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle or Ontario
    629
    0
    Thanks TSandM.

    Ya that's what I figured, but at least it seems like this is one area DIR isn't too stringent, so it's whatever makes sense I guess.

    Good to know. Actually those are probably far more useful in any case, I can never access my BC pockets underwater properly (the zipper is hard to find, add in thick gloves, and forget about it). So all I really use it for is car keys, which I want to keep on me, but don't need during the dive.


    Yay! One thing I don't need to replace. :D Although honestly I have trouble believing I'll be able to give up the convenience of a computer on non-training dives (especially multi-level), I'm open-minded enough to see how it goes though.

    Ya, if I ever get advanced enough I'll probably have no choice, but that's still a long ways away.

    The principles are the same, but there's still some benefit to having an quality instructor to help you in person with the specific gear you'll be using. And from what I've heard, going to a drysuit is challenging at first from a buoyancy point of view, so considering Essentials is all about really fine tuning personal skills, I'd think it would be best to go in with gear configuration I plan to use in the future. I wouldn't be buying one just for the class, although I may push my purchase date up a bit to have it in time (basically, eventually I will be getting a drysuit anyways).

    It's not so much having dives that require them, but I have met a couple people (one of them GUE trained) who always dive doubles, primarily for redundancy but it also makes gas management a little bit easier if you do multiple dives on the same set of doubles. I don't really know how difficult it is to haul or dive with doubles or anything like that, and maybe I'll find in the future that I'll want to use single tanks unless I absolutely need doubles. Which I guess brings up an interesting question, do most people who are trained and own doubles, dive with them all the time or only when necessary?
     
  10. Coldwater_Canuck

    Coldwater_Canuck Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle or Ontario
    629
    0
    Okay that's good, I guess when I'm ready it can't hurt to send a quick e-mail and ask them about it. There's plenty of drysuit courses around, but if it's possible going with the agency I hope to continue on with may make sense if they're offering it.

    The thing I like the most UTD and GUE (from looking at them externally) isn't so much DIR itself (although a lot of it does make sense), rather than agencies teaching recreational diving who aren't in the "race to the bottom" it seems every other agency is. Basically PADI lowers the standards to get more profits, then the others all follow just to try and keep up. It's refreshing to see agencies following their own path gaining popularity. And on the DiveMaster page the requirement "Minimum of 200 dives beyond open water" is great to see!
     

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