When novice divers decide to start buying their own scuba gear, it shows a certain commitment. Yet there are some things new divers should know before buying diving equipment. One of the more important elements in a diver’s kit is scuba tubing/hoses, which are vital for breathing underwater. Understanding how scuba tubing/hoses work, along with how to protect and when to replace them, will make for a safer diving experience. Even with experienced divers, knowing how to differentiate between which lengths and types of hosing work best for consoles, ports, regulators, mouthpieces and other diving gear requires a bit of in-depth knowledge.
Choosing the Best Scuba Tubing/Hoses
It’s always a good idea to replace scuba tubing/hoses after approximately 500 dives, or every five years, whichever comes first. Things like age, the manner of storing and mishandling can cause equipment failure, regardless of their quality or the materials from which they’re made. Because of their importance, it’s better to err on the side of caution and replace them if there’s any doubt.
To ensure scuba tubing/hoses last as long as possible, it’s always a good idea to limit their exposure to sunlight, as heat and ultraviolet (UV) light tend to break the material down. Using chemicals or solvents to flush them out or otherwise keep them clean will also lessen how long they last. For these reasons, divers should inspect scuba tubing/hoses for corrosion, mechanical damage, leaks and bulges each time they go diving.
Types of Scuba Tubing/Hoses for Dive Equipment
Each piece of diving equipment requires different scuba tubing/hoses. Scuba tubing/hoses include:
- Regulator and octopus (the backup regulator) hoses that use male unified fine (UNF) threads at the first stage of connection with 24 threads per inch and 3/8 of an inch at its head, while a standard 9/16-inch head with 18 threads per inch is used for the regulator’s second stage.
- Buoyancy control devices (BCD) – also known as inflator or life jacket – hoses also use a 3/8-inch male UNF thread with 24 threads per inch, though with a quick disconnect or release coupling that’s fitted with an internal Schrader valve, the type of valve used for tires.
- Certain BCD units incorporate combined octopus regulators, as standard scuba tubing/hoses aren’t able to supply sufficient air.
- High-pressure gauge hoses have 7/16-inch male fittings at the end, which screws into the first regulator port, with 7/16-inch female fittings that screw onto the submersible pressure gauge at the other end.
- Air spools feature in most high-pressure hose applications, which have two miniscule O-rings that mate with the hose’s swivel connector and fit onto the gauge; these aren’t included with the hose, but should be replaced along with the hose.
Scuba Tubing/Hose Lengths
It’s important to know how to measure scuba tubing/hoses. To find the right length, it’s important to measure from the female fitting’s end to the O-ring at the male base’s end. This won’t include measuring the threads on the male end, however. Any unpressurized scuba tubing/hoses may vary as much as half an inch, though once pressurized the length of these hoses can change slightly.
Lengths can simply be measured from end-to-end, including the fittings. Configurations help determine length, as does the type of equipment. Occasionally these vary slightly from the lengths listed below due to a slight manufacturing tolerance.
Standard setups on primary second-stage scuba regulators are between 28-30 inches (71-76 cm). The most common length for hose setups on standard octopus second stage regulators is 30 inches (76 cm).
Experienced recreational or sports divers use 40-inch (101 cm) or 60-inch (152 cm) long scuba tubing/hoses. These hoses would be used in an emergency, so they need to be longer and usually come in black, yellow or neon yellow. For the backup/octopus second stage regulator, a black-colored and shorter 22-inch (56 cm), 24-inch (61 cm) or 26-inch (66 cm) tubing is used from which they breathe.
A common choice for technical diving involves a stage regulator setup with 40-inch (101 cm) length hosing. Various colors are often used for these hoses to more easily identify which hose attaches to the breathing gas cylinder.
Advanced divers, including many instructors, believe common hose lengths should be longer to deal with emergency situations. Longer hoses for open water diving often are 60 inches (152 cm). A lot of technical divers have since even adopted hoses as long as 84 inches (213 cm) for overhead environments such as diving in caves, under ice or into shipwrecks.
Scuba tubing/hoses tend to be either 24 inches (61 cm) or 26 inches (66 cm) in length, though some divers prefer shorter length 22-inch (56 cm) tubing for shorter BCD assemblies.
Most recreational or sport divers commonly use 32-inch (81 cm) long high-pressure tubing. For broad-chested divers, a longer 40-inch (101 cm) hose length may be required. For recreational divers looking for streamlined configurations, much shorter high-pressure hose lengths of 24 inches (61 cm) or 22 inches (56 cm) can be used. Technical divers usually carry a separate submersible pressure gauge (SPG) clipped to their left waist D-ring, which is used with dual cylinder configurations and typically features a 24-inch (61 cm) high-pressure hose.
Color Schemes for Scuba Tubing/Hoses
Many divers create unique color schemes for their scuba tubing/hoses. Common colors include:
- carbon black
- fluorescent yellow
- mellow yellow
Scuba Tubing/Hoses for Technical Divers
Most technical divers have all their hoses colored black. They don’t color-code any regulator hoses, while the longer hose for the primary second stage regulator gets donated. Often green or white hoses are used for cylinders with 90 percent or more oxygen mixes. For those mixed with between 21-89 percent oxygen, mellow or fluorescent yellow are often used, though divers can choose their own color schemes. Inflator hoses are commonly blue.
Scuba Tubing/Hoses for Recreational & Sport Divers
Sports and recreational divers use industry standard regulator hose configurations, and typically use either mellow or fluorescent yellow for octopus/backup regulator hose. Black or carbon black often are then used for primary regulator hoses, though these can be any non-yellow color.
For streamlined configurations, both primary and backup regulator hoses often are black. However, mellow or fluorescent yellow can be used instead for the longer primary regulator hose, which is the one used for emergencies, in order to make it more visible underwater.
For the backup/octopus second stage regulator, which is hung around the diver’s neck, black or carbon black work best, though many divers use their own preferred colors for either of these. As per technical diving, inflator hoses often are blue.
Spiral Wrap to Differentiate & Protect Scuba Tubing/Hoses
An alternative to choosing color schemes for scuba tubing/hoses involves using colored spiral wrap instead to differentiate between scuba tubing/hoses. M.M. Newman Corporation’s polyethylene spiral wrap comes in a wide array of colors. This not only helps identify various scuba tubing/hoses, but it also adds an extra layer of protection.
M.M. Newman Corporation additionally offers a selection of spiral wrap that is UV Resistant. The company’s black-colored polyethylene and nylon spiral wraps both are UV resistant.
UV-resistant spiral wrap is effective for color-coding scuba tubing/hoses and prevents chafing which could cause potential equipment failures. M.M. Newman Corporation continues to develop new products to help protect tubing/hoses, including a new orange-colored UV-resistant spiral wrap. In addition to its ability to absorb UV radiation, this color on this new wrap won’t fade quickly either.