When diving there are various accessories and safety items that we carry with us, such as a backup mask, a whistle or an underwater notebook, most of which don’t get used on every dive. When diving in my drysuit these items are stored in the two thigh pockets glued onto my suit, but where can I carry these items when diving in a wetsuit? BCD pockets are often small and difficult to access, and having the items simply clipped onto you causes unnecessary drag and can lead to items getting lost! The solution is pockets for your wetsuit, but there are lots of these to choose from. This blog aims to show you some of the many options on the market today and lets you choose the one to suit you best.
The wetsuit pockets generally fall into two broad categories – pocketed shorts to wear over a wetsuit, and pockets that can be added as accessories to your wetsuit or harness. I will start with the pocketed shorts option, which is the style I’ve personally chosen.
Apeks Tech Shorts
Price – £94
Pros – Large pockets, multiple internal D’rings, non-slip rear, very robust
Cons – Expensive, bulky, can be little restrictive
The Apeks Tech Shorts have accompanied me on multiple warm water trips, and have added valuable pockets to my travelling dive set up. They look as good as new, even after multiple trips, so they’re certainly hard-wearing and robust. When diving in tropical areas the shorts can be worn over a wetsuit, or just with a rash vest and swim shorts due to the 1.5mm neoprene they’re made from. They come in multiple sizes so you can get a good fit, and the large size is big enough that I’ve even seen people use them over a drysuit as a quick, easy way to add pockets!
I chose these shorts as they have two large leg pockets which easily fit all my accessories – DSMB, back up mask, whistle, wet notebook etc. All the items can be secured using the many internal D’Rings, and there is another internal pocket for slates or wet notes. They’re the most expensive option on my list, but with Apeks’ great build quality and design, you can easily see what you’re paying for!
Scubapro Hydrid Cargo Shorts
Price – £72
Pros – Men & Ladies sizing, Flexible 1mm neoprene, elasticated waist
Cons – Small pockets
Another excellent option for pocketed shorts is the Scubapro Hybrid Cargo shorts. These 1mm neoprene shorts are very flexible and come in both men and ladies sizing to make sure of a good fit. Similar to the Apeks shorts, they can be worn over a wetsuit or as a pair of wetsuit shorts in combination with a rash vest in warm water. They are secured with an elasticated waist, so can be pulled tight once on so you won’t find them slipping down – even after a giant stride into the water.
In both pockets, you will find a small bungee loop for clipping on your accessories. The pockets themselves are certainly smaller than those found on the Apeks shorts but are still big enough to keep your back up mask, DSMB or spool.
IST Diver’s Holster
Price – £40
Pros – Simple, cheap, wide range of fit, lightweight, internal d’rings
Cons – small pockets
IST has designed a simple way of adding pockets over a wetsuit, without the full cost of a pair of pocketed shorts. Using the main velcro and buckle waist closure and two velcro closures around your legs these shorts are easily secured over your existing wetsuit and add two pockets for storage. The pockets are smaller than those found on the Apeks shorts, but still, have internal D’Rings for securing your accessories.
Collette took a pair of these on our Maldives liveaboard earlier this year and found them very useful for carrying accessories. The pockets are lightweight, so excellent for travelling when you’re tight on your weight allowance. Coming in three different sizes you can choose the best fit for you.
Mares Smart Pocket / Waterproof WPAD Thigh Pocket
Price – £35 to £40
Pros – easily added & removed internal bungee loop
Cons – Only work with specific wetsuits so limits choice, small pocket, only one side
Suit manufacturers Mares & Waterproof have gone down a different route to add pockets when diving, with the Mares Smart Pocket and the Waterproof WPAD pockets fitting onto their current wetsuit ranges. The Mares pocket is secured with a quick-release buckle and two velcro strips along each side of the pocket, which works well. The Waterproof pockets zip into the wetsuit. Both of these pocket options are quite small, but as they’re made from a stretchy material both can accommodate larger items too.
The main downside to this type of pocket is that it only works with the specific wetsuit range. If you happen to fit perfectly into one of the Mares or Waterproof wetsuits then it’s a good option for adding a single leg pocket, however, I wouldn’t be going out of my way to buy a new wetsuit just so I can add a specific pocket to it.
Dive Rite Bellows Thigh Pocket
Price – £67
Pros – Quick to add, outer zippered pocket, an internal bungee loop
Cons – Attachment to the leg splits opinion, quite expensive for single leg pocket
The Dive Rite Bellows Thigh pocket works best when attached around your thigh and secured to your harness with the webbing loop. This keeps the pocket in place on your leg and keeps your accessories close to hand. It doesn’t work so well with other styles of BCD, as you can struggle to find a suitable attachment point for the webbing loop.
The pocket itself has everything you would need, with a large main compartment and smaller slate pocket and zipped pouch. The leg strap is rubberised so holds the pocket in place, however, this could be uncomfortable against your bare skin, so I suggest this pocket is only used over a wetsuit and not with swim shorts and a rash vest.
These options are some of the popular options currently on the market, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. If you’ve found an excellent option for carrying items when wetsuit diving why not leave a comment below.
Hidden Depths Scuba School Owner & Dive Instructor
* Prices correct at time of writing
Founder and Professional Scuba Diving Instructor
I’m Greg, the founder and professional Scuba Diving Instructor at Hidden Depths Scuba School. The school was established in 2012, and along with my fantastic team of staff, we offer high-quality training courses to everyone from total beginner through to your first steps as a dive professional. As well as a busy training centre we also run an active dive club, allowing students and fellow divers to continue diving and explore the amazing dive sites we have in the UK and abroad! I look forward to hearing from you, and sharing a dive together soon!”