When working with new divers, I am often asked “do I really need to buy my own gear? What if I don’t want to travel with it?” or “Why is it so expensive?”
Learning to dive is one of the most rewarding experiences so if you are a new diver, bravo! Welcome to the amazing underwater world of scuba. Learning to dive and becoming familiar with all of the gear can be overwhelming for some divers, so I’ll try to address some of those questions and concerns here.
As divers, we want to see amazing underwater life. This often happens on a vacation either with loved ones, friends, or solo. On your first dive trip, you’re probably really excited! Maybe a little nervous, but don’t worry, as a certified diver you know what you need to start.
Most shops will happily rent gear to you either in a rental package or a-la-carte. This is of great convenience for divers who want to travel light or who may be travelling on an extended trip and are only diving one or two times.
However, please be aware that not all shops are the same. The quality of rental gear that you find here may differ drastically from what you find during your travels. It can be difficult and sometimes stressful to coordinate rental gear on a vacation. The dive center you visit may not have the size you need to feel comfortable in. Or they may have gear that is on it’s last leg. Ideally, vacations are about relaxing and having fun! Not the time to worry about your gear.
I will tell you that after I dove in Cozumel in a wetsuit 2 sizes too small that probably hadn’t been washed (ever), and required two grown men to zip me into each day, I was beyond ready to purchase my own wetsuit that I knew fit me perfectly.
I’ve rented fins that didn’t fit properly that left me with blisters on my feet for weeks. It’s a miracle I didn’t get an infection!
I’ve had masks that leaked constantly and left painful marks on my face.
I’ve had a regulator begin free-flowing at depth, greatly shortening my dive and possibly leading to an unsafe situation.
When I dive, I spend time and money in order to have the best experience possible. The last thing I want to worry about is gear. When an amazing manta ray, whale shark, or goliath grouper swims by, I want to be able to fully enjoy the experience, unencumbered by unnecessary gear woes.
When I first started diving, I rented most of my gear. When I started working towards my PADI professional ratings, I will admit I had some sticker shock. BCDs, Regulators, dive computers, it begins to add up.
Sometimes I think we forget how inhospitable the ocean is for us humans. Just as astronauts rely on their equipment when they take a trip to the ISS, we must rely 100% on our equipment to keep us safe on a dive. Scuba gear is life-support-equipment. Once I took the first breaths on my very own, high-quality regulator, I knew I would never go back to a rental regulator. I have learned to take responsibility for my equipment, because helps me be a better diver.
Having my own BCD means I know where all of my dump valves, pockets, and tools are and can access these items by touch.
Becoming responsible for making sure my gear is evaluated and serviced based on the manufacturers’ recommendations helps ensure that I stay within the warranty and gives me more confidence as a diver.
Purchasing scuba equipment can seem overwhelming but remember, you don’t need to get it all at once! Here’s my suggested order for purchasing dive gear and why:
Mask, snorkel, fins
Why: These are items that need to fit YOU well and are the essential pieces you need. It’s much easier to get sized for a rental BCD than it is for fins and masks. Also I’m not sure about you but personally I’d prefer to use my own snorkel rather than one tons of other people have used before me. Having your own kit of these items also gives you the freedom to snorkel on the last day of your vacation before you fly!
Dive computer + Surface Marker Buoy + Wetsuit
Why: Imagine you wake up for your first day of diving on vacation. Birds are chirping, the smell of sweet tropical flowers is wafting through the air. You sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee. Sounds amazing! Now imagine the same scene but you’ve got a rental dive computer and no idea how to use it. Now you’ve got to spend time reading the user manual (if you can get your hands on one!) in order to safely use your dive computer. Not fun!
As for SMBs, most dive operations now require every diver to carry their own to ensure each diver’s safety. All divers should have at least one visual and one audible signaling device.
Why buy your own wetsuit? Would you rent a bathing suit from someone? No! Also see my above wetsuit horror story.
BCD and Regulator
Why: These two items will complete your kit and will revolutionize diving for you. By having your own full kit of gear, you will be able to dial in your weights, trim, and overall buoyancy control. Just make sure to always have your gear serviced per the manufacturer’s instructions and rinse your gear in fresh water after every dive! If you take care of these items they will take care of you.
I hope this post has helped you in your diving journey. As always, please reach out to us at Carolina Dive Locker if you have any questions about gear! Happy Diving!