Diving Equipment: A Buying Guide

Most of us start Scuba Diving with rented gear from the dive shop we get our first certification or first exposure to Diving. Eventually (especially) if you’re diving often you may want to buy your own equipment sooner than later. Our advice is that if you are diving at least once a year, take that plunge and get your own equipment. We have outlined here the order we suggest you should make your purchases in, depending on the need and other factors like fit and hygiene. We would advise that you go through this list and make a decision for your comfort. Remember, we are here to help you with any guidance you may need. Just drop us a line and we’ll get back to you.

Our recommendation is to buy your equipment in the following order:

Phase One: The Basics

  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Fins
  • Exposure Protection (Wetsuit or Rash Gaurd)

Click here to read an in-depth explanation of each of the above items.

Phase Two: Life Support Equipment (The Good Stuff!)

  • BCD
  • Regulators
  • Dive Computers

Click here to read an in-depth explanation of each of the above items.

Where Should You Buy Gear?

Scuba equipment can be purchased in dive stores, at other retail outlets, Online or as used equipment from individuals. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each.

Used from Individuals. Buying used gear from an Individual may be the cheapest possible way to go, but provides absolutely no guarantees. Unless you are extremely knowledgeable or an equipment technician, you will not know if a regulator, for example, can even be serviced. You will also not have any performance data. The seller’s statement that the regulator “breathes fine” and your breathing on it out of the water are both meaningless. We recommend not buying used life-support equipment from private parties.

Nondive store retail outlets. Sporting goods and discount stores may have scuba gear for sale. Some of these stores actually have scuba departments and should be considered dive stores. However, most are simply retail outlets and cannot provide the service, support and expertise that a dive store can. Other than price, there is no reason to buy at these nondive store outlets. And even price may not be an advantage since name-brand gear can often be purchased at dive stores at discount prices. We do not suggest this route.

Internet. Online buying is a popular and useful way to shop, particularly when some products are not available locally or may be purchased through an online store for significantly less money (including shipping and handling charges) and for India even duty! Yes! Its true. Some brands have unreasonably high pricing for the Indian market and preferred for other areas, hence the final price is sometimes exhorbitant.

But buying scuba gear through the internet is not like buying a sweater from a clothing catalog. In particular, our concerns are these:

Diver life-support products should not be sold to unqualified buyers.

Dive gear should not be sold when operating incorrectly.

Gear should not be sold to a diver without regard to proper fit and function. (For example Exposure Protection and BCD)

Little service or support is available online, and gear that is not purchased locally may not be able to be serviced locally and may have no warranty. (Always check with the online store before buying)

Dive Stores. Retail dive stores have been the focal point of local dive support since recreational diving became popular. Your local dive store can provide instruction, dive travel, local dives, inspection and repair services, compressed air, rental equipment, equipment advice and the opportunity to look at, feel, compare and test equipment before purchase. In addition, the store can back up products immediately if necessary. Personal contact is also an important part of a dive store’s value. In short, a dive store is in a better position than a mail-order dealer to provide the service and support you need and should expect.

So What’s This Going To Cost Me?

No doubt about it: scuba is a gear-intensive activity. But scuba gear is also built to last. When properly cared for and regularly maintained, your first set of gear can last a long time.

When You Get It, Take Care of It

Scuba gear is designed to be rugged and durable. Most items will last you many years–if you take care of them properly. Some top tips from old pros:

  • Immerse your gear in fresh, clean water after use. Do not spray.
  • Partially fill your BC with fresh water, slosh it around, then drain.
  • Allow each item to dry thoroughly before storing in a cool, dry and clean area.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, heat and chlorinated water.
  • Do not allow contact with petroleum products or other solvents.
  • Protect your gear from physical shock when transporting it, especially on airlines.
  • At least once per year (more if you dive frequently) have your BC, reg and computer serviced by your dive store. The leading cause of equipment failure is lack of maintenance.
  • Do not allow moisture into the air intake of your regulator’s first stage, and do not depress the purge on your second stage unless the unit is pressurized.
  • Inspect each item of gear well before a planned dive trip so there is time for repairs. Do not dive if your equipment is less than 100 percent reliable.

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