An ordered list of scuba gear to buy first

An ordered list of scuba gear to buy first

Scuba diving can be an expensive hobby. A days’ worth of diving might run you a couple hundred bucks depending on where you are diving and what gear you might need to rent. If you’ve found yourself diving frequently and are thinking of mitigating your long term gear rental cost the list below will get you the most bang for your buck.

This list is below subjective and assumes that you don’t have an unlimited budget. You can easily spend a couple thousand dollars on a full setup (BCD / Regulator / Tanks)

1.) Mask / Snorkel and Fins

I would venture to guess that most divers renting equipment have a mask, snorkel and fins and probably rent the BCD , Octo / dive computer and tanks. The mask and fins are more personal and unique to the diver because of sizing and therefore finding the right size and style you like is important. There are a variety of mask sizes and types for different face shapes. Fins come in different foot sizes and lengths which can effect propulsion (i.e. spearfishing fins are longer and more flexible while dive fins are typically more rigid). You also might not want to rent a mask that other people have had on their face. Finding the right fit for you personally will make your dive more comfortable and enjoyable.

Image by Andy Piper CC

2.) Wetsuit

Even in the warmer waters of the Caribbean, once you pass the thermocline it’s going to be cold. At normal / beginner dive depths this isn’t unbearable however have a full wetsuit make the dive more comfortable and can protect you from jelly’s and coral that otherwise might irritate your skin. Rented wetsuits have also been urinated in and sweat in. . .which is kinda gross because they probably don’t get a thorough wash after every use. Getting in and out of a wetsuit that doesn’t fit you is also miserable. Investing in your own ensures a more comfortable dive and the peace of mind that only you have pee’d in it.

Image by Darla Hueske CC

3.) Dive Computer

A dive computers importance doesn’t need explaining but newer dive computers offer additional data, reliability and accessibility that rented dive computers typically don’t. Rented dive computers will provide the necessary indicators you need when diving. Remaining air, bottom time and depth are important but newer and more advanced dive computers now offer no fly times (important when traveling), PC integration additional memory storage for dive log information. Investing in a dive computer also offers you the ability to wear it on your wrist. If you’ve been diving you know that reaching for your computer can occasionally be a pain. Wrist worn computers eliminate that inconvenience and double as a watch in addition to all the upgraded bells and whistles.

Image by Tonyrandine CC

4.) Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)

BCD’s typically come in small medium and large sizes so different brands may fit better depending on your size. BCD’s are categorized by the way in which they inflate. There are 5 different types of BCD’s – Back inflation, Jacket / waist inflation, hybrid, back plate and side mount BCD. The jacket style and back inflatable BCD’s are the most common rental BCD’s and are the oldest style. BCD’s are highly adjustable with waist and shoulder tightening straps so if you are renting and you don’t quite fit into the size that fits this comes in handy. The BCD is lower on the list of priorities because if you rent one chances are you can adjust it for comfort. The advantage to investing in a newer style like a back plated or hybrid BCD comes in the form of range of motion and perfect fit. For more information on BCD styles see the Divers Supply BCD buying guide.

Image by Aenneken CC

5.) Octo / Regulator

The regulator converts pressurized air in your tank to breathable air when you’re diving. This is accomplished with a two stage system common to all regulator types. Most regulators used in recreational diving use a yoke (versus the DIN) attachment to your tank. The good news is that even if you’re renting a lower end regulator they are all safe as the technology has advanced significantly over the years.

Image by Alexander Z. CC

6.) Tanks

Dive tanks appear last on list because unless you have a machine to fill them you are going to be stopping by the dive shop before your dive anyway to have them filled. Filling your own tank can be hazardous if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t know how to property operate a compressor. Deciding to buy your own system to fill your tanks can also be costly. There isn’t a huge advantage to buying your own tanks aside from gaining some additional capacity and fit depending on your size and measurements. If you buy a tank it is critical that you get it inspected periodically so that it meets safety regulations.

Image by Max Pixel 

Investing in your own scuba gear should involve research to ensure you find equipment suited to your needs. You can easily spend a couple thousand dollars for a decent setup depending on the brand and style you like. Below are some great online retailers and also offer equipment specific buying guides.

Leisure Pro

Divers Direct

Divers Supply