Shipping Scuba or other Valuable Gear

I thought I might be able to get some opinions on the best method. It doesn’t matter if you have experience traveling specifically with scuba gear, or if your experience is with cameras or some other gear that you have to routinely pack up and hope makes it to your destination.

Here is what I do now. No laughing. I line a largish (maybe 24 or 26”) roll-aboard suitcase with some bubble wrap, pack everything flat, hard cases first, followed by BC, fins, and then wetsuit on top, wrap the bubble wrap over the top and zip it closed. I’ve never had anything broken or stolen, but I wonder if I’m not tempting fate.

I’ve looked at a Pelican 1650, but it has some major drawbacks. It practically screams, “I’m holding something valuable!” It is also expensive, and will put me over the airline weight limits every time.

I’ve also looked at the 25gal Rubbermaid Action Packer, maybe zipped inside a cheap duffel. It’s inexpensive, light, and inconspicuous, but I don’t know if it will hold up well enough as checked baggage. It also doesn’t roll!

Any thoughts?

As a diver and relatively new underwater photographer, I can share what I do to pack (and has worked well so far). My packing is more concerned with the airline losing my luggage than the safety of my gear. But the strategy is similar.

So I carry-on (and yes it is a lot) the essentials that I won’t miss a day of diving if my luggage is lost:

  • regulator
  • mask
  • dive skin (which I wrap around my mask for protection)
  • camera (I make sure I carry this on to be sure of the handling)

I do pack the rest in my checked luggage:

  • BC
  • fins
  • booties
  • gloves
  • camera housing (in a protective case)
  • strobe (also in a protective case). Be sure to remove the batteries !
  • spare mask
  • wetsuit
  • dive light

There are a number of dive bags designed for travel (as opposed to just hauling on a boat). I have a nice Stahlsac bag that is big (two big compartments) and has worked well for a number of years now.

I have seen a number of fellow dive travellers with the big Pelican cases (covered in stickers reflecting exotic dive locations no less), but they are always carried on. So if you go that route, also plan for it to be one of your carryon bags.

Hope this helps.