So you’ve passed your beginner diver through PADI, NAUI, BSAC, GUE...etc, and you want to spend more time underwater.
What if you went diving a couple times a month? Imagine spending a few hours every week exploring the Ocean… that sounds magical, life changing for sure. Having your own dive gear provides freedom to be able to dive on our own schedule and to become familiar with your gear.
Diving with a Dive-Master (DM) or certified dive company is quite important in the beginning of your diving career. One should only consider diving alone under a Dive-Masters consent or if you’ve mastered diving yourself and feel comfortable going with friends and other advanced divers.
It seems ever diver has a personal relationship with their gear and you probably will too. A connection with your equipment is natural since it is sustaining your life underwaterwill and getting familiar with your gear will likely enhance your diving experience.
But where to go, online or your local dive shop, what brands are best, new vs used and is it really worth it? These are some of the questions I’ve noticed pop up alot with myself and other divers so here’s our take on buying Scuba Gear.
What scuba gear you need
First off, lets talk about the gear itself. Barebones scuba gear consists of Mask, Fins, Snorkel, BCD Vest (Buoyancy Control Device), Regulator, Depth Gauge, Submersible Pressure Gauge (monitors your amount of air in your tank), Compass, Octopus (secondary demand regulator) and Dive Computer.
In addition, a tank banger, which is a elastic band wrapped around the tank that can be pulled / snapped to create a pinging sound which alerts other divers, and a diving knife are helpful tools that I recommend...safe diving is essential.
A quality diving mask is the gateway to the worlds that lay below the surface. This is where it is really worth spending the extra money for a well fitting, full field of vision mask that you like. A well fitting mask is key, so trying masks on to find the perfect fit is the way to go. For this item, since it’s quite a personal fit,I recommend that you head to a dive shop nearby and shop around.
When trying on a mask make sure it is tightened evenly and that it creates a seal against your face. Suck in with your nose, you can do this without the strap over your head, and feel how it stays against your face. You can always find a mask you like and order it online but it’s always kind to support your local dive shop.
Online or in the Store (supporting your local scuba shop)
I say both, but it’s really whatever you prefer. The dive mask is the only piece of gear that you should buy in the store for the sake of trying it on. For a BCD Vest, online works great but as it is with any scuba purchase, whether it be a trip or gear, one should go through licensed and reputable stores. There are online charts (HyperLINK) that can help you find your size as well.
The regulator, depth gauge, SPG, Compass, Octo and Dive Computer are standard and vary by brand. I suggest getting a new regulator and Octo but the rest can be often found second hand. Make sure everything works though and if you feel more comfortable buying new from a store by all means do it...whatever makes you happy!
Personally, when I can, I’m a big fan of supporting the local dive shop since it is a chance to talk to experienced divers, get advice / questions answered, frequently easier return policy if needed, and it helps keep the diving culture alive and well.
If you decide to buy online, make sure to check out our scuba gear guide to find the best scuba gear packages for all of your needs!
Aqua Lung, Cressi, Mares, Scuba Pro, Sherwood, Atomic Aquatics
The big four are without a doubt Mares, Cressi, Aqua Lung and Scuba Pro. These brands are used all over the World by novice and professional scuba divers meaning you really can’t go wrong with any of their gear. They have everything from underwater flashlights and writing pads to the newest BCD and Dive Computers. Mares, Cressi, Aqua Lung and Scuba Pro really are all excellent brands and quite trustworthy.
You'll probably meet divers that swear by a certain brand and be fully decked out in all Mares or Cressi but that's the same as any sport, for example some golfers love Calaway and others love Ping but it's all quality gear. There are hundreds of brands not listed here that are also quality scuba equipment but dig around and do research to see what the reputation is of the brand and item.
New vs Used
This comparison is relevant to almost anything. Again, I say it's personal preference. Buying something new of course has its advantages such as confidence it works as it should, a seemless return policy and help in store if you choose to buy from a dive shop. But, it will be more expensive and scuba gear can add up fast... it's not difficult to spend a thousand dollars once you begin to choose multiple pieces of gear.
Used scuba equipment can be a great option if you're looking to save some money, yet still get excellent gear. Use discretion here though, the gear you buy will be your life support system under the surface and when you're diving down to 50-100 feet down, you want full confidence that everything works as it should. Many dive shops will have used gear for sale that they have looked over and made sure it's good to go. This is my favorite way to shop since it is cheaper than brand new gear, the dive masters in the dive shop are always helpful with questions or recommendations and it gives a certain peace of mind that knowledgeable divers tested the used gear and gave it their stamp of approval.
The Important Stuff
Buying scuba gear really breaks down into a few simple things :
Does it fit you / do you feel comfortable? Is it a brand you can trust? Do you know it works and is fully functioning?
You don't have to go and buy a full set of scuba equipment tomorrow. You can slowly collect gear, investing a killer mask first, but if you want to get a BCD and then wait a year to get your own fins or snorkel that's totally fine. It is nice to have your own Regulator and Octopus (secondary regulator) since your mouth will be on both but even that is personal preference.
Regardless if you just purchased the finest dive gear around or you only have a 20$ mask, the vital thing is to love your time in the water and to dive safely.