Lanyard: A Versatile and Essential Tool for Scuba Divers


A lanyard, derived from the French word “lanière,” is a fundamental piece of equipment in scuba diving, as well as various other outdoor and aquatic activities. Typically made of rope, cord, or webbing, lanyards serve a multitude of purposes in the underwater world, ranging from securing essential gear to functioning as a safety device.

History and Evolution

The history of lanyards dates back to the 15th century when sailors used them to secure essential tools while navigating the high seas. In the early days, sailors fashioned lanyards from spare lengths of rope or woven fabric, attaching them to their belts or clothing to keep items close at hand. As maritime technology advanced, so too did the lanyard, with the material and designs evolving to suit the changing needs of seafarers.

In the realm of scuba diving, lanyards have experienced a similar progression, becoming an indispensable part of a diver’s equipment setup. Today’s lanyards are available in various materials, including nylon, polyester, and even stainless steel, each offering unique properties such as strength, flexibility, and resistance to the harsh underwater environment.

Functionality and Uses

Lanyards play a vital role in securing and organizing scuba gear, ensuring that essential items remain within reach and do not become lost or entangled during a dive. The most common uses for lanyards in scuba diving include:

  1. Attaching dive lights, cameras, and other accessories: Divers often use lanyards to secure flashlights, underwater cameras, and other accessories to their BCD (buoyancy control device) or wrist, allowing for easy access and preventing loss.
  2. Securing cutting tools: Knives, line cutters, and shears are essential safety tools for scuba divers. A lanyard ensures that these tools are always within reach and ready for use in case of entanglement or other emergencies.
  3. Fastening compasses and dive computers: A lanyard can be used to attach a compass or dive computer to a BCD or wrist, ensuring that critical navigational and dive information is always at hand.
  4. Safety devices: In addition to securing gear, lanyards can also be employed as safety devices. For example, a lanyard can be used as a buddy line, connecting two divers to maintain proximity and assist with communication in low visibility conditions. Additionally, a lanyard may be employed as a surface marker buoy (SMB) reel, allowing divers to deploy a buoy to signal their position to boats on the surface.

Types of Lanyards

Scuba diving lanyards are available in various styles and materials to suit different purposes and preferences. Some of the most common types of lanyards include:

  1. Adjustable lanyards: These lanyards feature a sliding mechanism that allows the diver to adjust the length to their preference. This type of lanyard is particularly useful for divers who require versatility and adaptability in their gear setup.
  2. Coil lanyards: Coil lanyards are made from flexible, elastic material and are designed to extend and retract as needed. This type of lanyard helps keep gear streamlined and secure while still allowing for easy access when necessary.
  3. Quick-release lanyards: Equipped with a quick-release buckle, these lanyards enable divers to quickly detach and reattach gear as needed. This feature is particularly beneficial in emergency situations where a swift response is crucial.
  4. Stainless steel cable lanyards: For maximum durability and strength, stainless steel cable lanyards provide an excellent solution. These lanyards are resistant to corrosion and abrasion, making them ideal for challenging underwater environments and heavy-duty applications.
  5. Wrist lanyards: Designed specifically for attaching to a diver’s wrist, these lanyards ensure that essential tools and accessories are always within reach. Wrist lanyards are commonly used for dive lights, cameras, and cutting tools.
  6. Retractable lanyards: Similar to coil lanyards, retractable lanyards feature a spring-loaded mechanism that keeps the lanyard coiled and streamlined when not in use. This design prevents entanglement and ensures that gear remains secure while still allowing for easy access.
  7. Custom lanyards: Some divers prefer to create their own lanyards tailored to their specific needs. Using materials such as nylon webbing, bungee cord, and stainless steel hardware, these divers can craft personalized lanyards that cater to their unique diving style and preferences.

Maintenance and Care

Proper care and maintenance of lanyards are essential to ensure their longevity and reliable performance. After each dive, lanyards should be rinsed thoroughly in fresh water to remove salt, sand, and other debris. Divers should regularly inspect their lanyards for signs of wear, such as fraying or damage to the material, and replace them as necessary.

In addition, divers should take care to avoid overloading their lanyards, as excessive weight can cause the material to stretch, weaken, or even break. By adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended weight limits and regularly checking for signs of wear, divers can ensure that their lanyards remain a dependable part of their gear setup.


The lanyard, a seemingly simple piece of equipment, plays a crucial role in the safety and organization of a scuba diver’s gear. With a diverse array of styles and materials available, divers can select lanyards that best suit their needs and preferences. By properly caring for and maintaining their lanyards, divers can ensure that this essential tool remains a reliable and valuable component of their underwater adventures.