A surface marker buoy, or SMB, is an important safety accessory for every dive. It’s basically a buoy with a line that indicates your location to your dive boat or other boats that may be in the area. Choosing the best SMB for scuba diving will give you confidence to ascend without fear of dive boats passing overhead or become separated from your boat skipper.

SMBs can also be used as a visual reference when ascending, which can be especially important during safety stops in a strong current when you may drift further away from the boat.

In some destinations, like Colombia’s Malpelo Island, using an SMB is compulsory, while in others it’s still said to be a crucial accessory for divers so they don’t get separated or lost, or have boats pass over you during your ascent to the surface.

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to make your life easier when it comes to choosing scuba diving gear. In this article, we’ll walk you through what to consider when choosing a SMB and show you our selection of the best models of the year.

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide to Scuba Diving

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FINDING THE BEST SMB FOR SCUBA DIVING

PICTURE
SURFACE MARKER BUOY
AIR DUMP VALVE
LENGTH
REFLECTOR
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SURFACE MARKER BUOY
AIR DUMP VALVE
LENGTH
REFLECTOR
PRICE
RATING
Zeagle Deluxe Signal Tube
Yes
5 in.
No
$$$
4.9

Carter Personal Float
Yes
6-9 in.
Yes
$$$
4.8

OMS Safety Set III
No
6 in.
No
$$
4.7

OMS Safety Set I
No
3 in.
No
$$
4.7
Dive Alert Deluxe Surface Marker
Yes
5.4 in.
Yes
$$
4.5
Blue Reef Diver Below Deluxe SMB
Yes
4 in.
No
$$
4.5
XS Scuba Surface Marker Buoy
Yes
7 in.
Yes
$$
4.3
Blue Reef SMB
Yes
6 in.
No
$
4.3
XS Scuba Safety Tube
No
6 in.
No
$
4.2
Aqua Safety Sausage Marine Rescue Tube Signal
No
6.5 in.
No
$
4.0

 

 

SCUBA DIVING SURFACE MARKER BUOYS 101

 

7 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST SMB FOR SCUBA DIVING

 

1. SEA CONDITIONS

Knowing what sea conditions you plan to dive in will help determine what size SMB you should be looking for. In calm conditions, smaller SMBs are perfectly adequate however in choppy or rough seas, you’ll need a bigger and longer tube in order to be clearly seen from a distance.

 

2. REFLECTIVE STRIP

All SMBs are brightly colored usually in orange or yellow to attract attention. Some have a reflective strip on them to increase visibility. If you’re doing lots of night dives then it’s best to choose an SMB which has at least one reflective strip either at the top or down the sides of the tube.

 

3. AIR DUMP VALVE

Mastering the inflation of an SMB takes care and practice. Over-inflation can send the buoy promptly up to the surface. This brings two risks – forcing the diver to ascend too quickly if they are holding onto the buoy, or it could rupture. An air dump valve will release air if it is over-inflated, reducing this risk of accelerated ascent and any possible rupture.

 

4. DIMENSIONS

Another thing to consider is the size of your SMB, not only the length when inflated but also when packed away. You need to be able to carry it with you on your dive, such as tucked into a pocket of your BCD or attached somewhere that won’t get in the way during your dive. Either way, you need to have it on you for the duration of your dive. If you are a newer diver, you won’t want anything too bulky or heavy which might affect your buoyancy or get in the way of you being streamlined.

 

5. LINE/REEL ATTACHMENT

Some SMBs have a line and reel attached so you can deploy it at depth and follow it to the surface. You don’t want to send up a safety tube in a strong current, for the dive boat to arrive at the scene and find that you have drifted miles away! Some SMBs come with a spool or reel attached while others you may have to purchase separately.

 

6. BUDGET

The most basic safety marker buoys cost a little more than a couple of coffees while the top-of-the-line SMBs can be well over $100. Consider your budget along with your dive experience. The top options may be more suited for a Divemaster or Dive Instructor and those who are comfortable inflating SMBs at depth as they may be heavier and bulkier to carry. The good thing is there’s a range of options to suit all levels of diving and all budgets – so there’s no excuse not to have this safety accessory in your dive kit.

 

7. TOP ATTACHMENT

This is another important feature if you do lots of night diving. A d-attachment is a hook at the top of the SMB which allows you attached a dive light or strobe to the top of the tube. If your SMB doesn’t have any reflective strips on it then you will need to have this feature in order to attach a light to it to signal your dive boat skipper in the dark.

 

The Adventure Xperience

 

 

 

SCUBA DIVING SMB REVIEWS

TOP 10 SMBs FOR SCUBA DIVING

 

ZEAGLE DELUXE SIGNAL TUBE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Daytime diving, all levels

SIZE: 7″ X 60″

LINE/REEL: Can choose 65′ or 115′. Comes with thumb reel.

SIGNAGE: Neon yellow one side, neon orange the other

PROS: Compact and easy to deploy, air dump valve

CONS: No reflective strip. Requires separate ties for non-Zeagle BCDs

 

 

CARTER PERSONAL FLOAT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Night diving

SIZE: 72″ X 4″, 120″ X 4″ or 90″ X 5″

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Yellow with red and white dive flag tip and reflective strips, light attachment

PROS: Heavy duty, excellent material quality, air dump valve

CONS: Bulkier and heavier

 

 

OMS SAFETY SET III

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Rough seas

SIZE: 6’

LINE/REEL: Comes with plastic finger spool and 100’ line

SIGNAGE: Red and yellow

PROS: Comes with own storage bag. Height, closed bottom and power/oral inflator makes it better suited for rough seas

CONS: No reflective strip

 

 

OMS SAFETY SET I

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Travelers, calm, tropical waters, new divers

SIZE: 3’3

LINE/REEL: 50’ plastic finger spool

SIGNAGE: Red and yellow

PROS: Easy to use for new divers, lightweight and compact for traveling or diving in calm waters

CONS: Too small to be seen in waves or rough waters

 

 

DIVE ALERT DELUXE SURFACE MARKER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Advanced divers, night diving

SIZE: 65” x 8”

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Bright yellow and orange with reflective strips at the top, handle at top to attach light

PROS: Easy to use, solid construction, over-pressure valve

CONS: Large and a bit bulky, reel and line need to be purchased separately

 

 

BLUE REEF DIVER BELOW DELUXE SMB

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Advanced and recreational divers

SIZE: 4’

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Comes in yellow and orange, both with Diver Below signage, light attachment

PROS: Dump valve, easy to deploy, over-pressure and manual dump valve

CONS: Slightly bulky, reel and line need to be purchased separately

 

 

XS SURFACE MARKER BUOY

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: All divers including technical, cold water and recreational

SIZE: 7’ + 22” circumference when inflates

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Yellow or orange, vertical reflective strip at top, light attachment

PROS: Tall, includes reflective strip, over-pressure and manual dump valve

CONS: The size makes it bulky to carry while diving

 

 

BLUE REEF SMB

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Advanced divers

SIZE: 6’

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Bright orange or yellow with Diver Below signage

PROS: Good size to be seen when in rough seas

CONS: Only inflates orally, not with 2nd stage, reel and line need to be purchased separately

 

 

XS SCUBA SAFETY TUBE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: New divers

SIZE: 6’ x 9” circumference

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Bright orange

PROS: Tall, easy to be seen, lightweight

CONS: No reflective strip, not as durable as other SMBs, oral inflation only

 

 

AQUA SAFETY SAUSAGE MARINE RESCUE TUBE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: New divers, calm, tropical waters

SIZE: 6’5

LINE/REEL: None attached

SIGNAGE: Bright orange

PROS: Tall, easy to inflate with 2nd stage, lightweight, ideal to signal location at the surface. Extremely affordable.

CONS: No reflective strip, not ideal in rough seas, thin material.

 

Top 10 Best SMB For Scuba Diving of 2017 – Scuba Diving Gear and Equipment Posts – Dive Products and Accessories
34 Shares
Pin27
Share5
Tweet2
Flip

LOOKING FOR AN EPIC GIFT FOR DIVERS?