Dive Gear: When to Buy What?

Dive Gear: When to Buy What?

You might ask yourself: When should I buy my first set of Dive Gear?

Here on DIVE.in, we've already covered what dive equipment should be your first bit of dive equipment. But what about the remaining kit? When should you go all-in and buy your own? How much should you spend? And what should be prioritized over what?

Read on for our guide to selecting what to buy when.

The answer isn't universal, as some considerations need to be made depending on where and how you dive. We’ll cover the basic dive equipment step-by-step and give you the info you need to decide.

First things first

The first things most people buy are fins, mask, and snorkel, some buy them even before they start diving.

Here's The Complete Guide To Snorkeling Gear

Many dive schools require that students bring their own, or purchase it before beginning on any course. But even if they don’t, many people still buy their own.

Basically, it comes down to knowing who was the last one to spit in the dive mask you’re about to put on your face. And also, this gear can be used for snorkeling on holidays.

When you do buy, make sure you buy things that are suited for diving, not just snorkeling. Consider buying open-heel fins and booties instead of the closed-heel fins popular with snorkelers. The mask should be low-volume and of high quality. And the fins themselves shouldn't be overly long (as snorkeling fins sometimes are), and be able to generate a reasonable amount of thrust.

Scuba diving Fins

Open-heel fins are most commonly used for Scuba Diving - Tarasov

Full-foot fins for snorkeling

Where as Full-Foot fins are used for sorkeling and in some tropical areas - Emi Delli Zuani

Dive Computer

The first thing you should be getting once you start diving is a computer. More and more dive centers have started renting out computers, but most places they are still hard to find as rentals.

The price of dive computers have dropped significantly in recent years, and owning one might just save your life if you’re separated from a group during a deep dive.

Read Buying a dive computer: Tips and tricks

When it comes of basic safety, all dive computers are more or less created equal, so if you’re budget is tight, get the entry model of a well-known brand, and you can’t go half-wrong. Suunto is always a good choice for a good quallity dive computer.

Dive computer

This is the first piece of dive gear you should buy - Nart

Exposure suit: Wetsuit or Drysuit

The level of priority of this depends on where you dive.

If you primarily dive in tropical water while on holiday, it is low priority, as even the most tattered shortie will give you adequate protection.

But if you routinely dive in cooler waters, you might want a good wetsuit of your own, rather than renting one. And if you live in an area with cold waters, a dry suit can be a necessity to dive year-round. And buying your own drysuite is often the only option.

Same considerations go for gloves and a hood. Exposure suits do get worn relatively quickly, so generally, no need to break the bank here. But owning your exposure suit is well-worth it, as rentals will rarely fit as well as one you’ve bought yourself.

Here's our Guide to packing for a Scuba Holiday

Wetsuit for snorkeling

Choose a wetsuit that is closed all around your body, but not too tight - R.M. Nunes

BCD

A good, sturdy, well-fitting BCD really adds to your diving experience and comfort. It's important to know where the pockets are, how the weight system works, and all the other little details also helps to add to your safety and peace of mind during a dive.

If you’ll primarily be using your BCD during travel, consider buying a light-weight version made for travel.

Cost will of course depend on the level of luxury you require, but a mid-range BCD will fit most divers’ needs.

Full set of dive gear

Often you can get lost in the functions of a modern BCD, but choose fit and quality first - Sergiy Zavgorodny

Regulator

Having your own regulator means always knowing when your gear was last serviced, and allows you to set it up the way you want it.

This is one area where you don’t want to go too cheap, not so much for safety reasons (even budget version are perfectly safe), but the little extras, such as cold water setup (if you dive cold water), adjustable flow, and the other little things that still matter.

Guide Choose the right Regulator Mouthpiech

However, as regulators are relatively pricey and quite heavy, this is something you may want to wait with purchasing until you’re diving quite regularly.

Diving equipment - inhalator and regulator

Go with ease of breth over design - Lasse Kristensen

Dive Torch

If you intend to do a fair amount of night diving, you should consider getting your own torch.

If you’re a recreational diver doing an occasional night dive, there’s no need in investing in a monster of a cannister torch. But a good quality torch, preferably rechargeable so you don’t have to lug around a bag of batteries, with a decent light output is a great tool, and not just for night dives.

Looking into holes and crannies on reefs, or holes on wrecks, often allows you to see wildlife you otherwise would have missed.

Also consider a backup light for night diving.

Here's 5 Pieces of Equipment to Improve your Safety while Diving

 

Dive torches are comparatively expensive, but there are range of mid-range LED torches out there that will suit most recreational divers.

Dive Knife or ShearsDive Knife

Note that I haven’t mentioned a dive knife yet? That’s because I don’t want you to rush out and buy a huge Rambo-esque dive knife that you strap to your calf. Go for a small, lightweight (preferably titanium) dive knife that you either stick in your BCD pocket or attach to your low-pressure inflator hose. Alternatively, a pair of trauma shears can work just as well, or better.

 

When to buy what?

So when do you buy your own kit? Not right off, that’s for sure. No need to rush out and break the bank the day after you finish your first dive course.

Take some time to get some dives under your belt and find your personal preferences.

Over the course of a few dives in differing rental kit, you’ll start to pick up on things you like, or things that annoy you, which can help you in making your choice.

What is the first piece of dive equipment you bought? Tell us why you choose this and what you are going to buy next!

About The Author

Thomas Grønfeldt Senger

Thomas is a Naui Instructor and has been diving in Australia, France, Egypt, Sweden, Indonesia, Iceland, and numerous other locations around the world.

17 Comments

  1. Torben Lonne

    I could have used this article when I first started diving!
    When I started diving at the age of 16 the dive equipment was my primary thing. I wanted all my own equipment and the bigger the better. This made me buy a top-notch huge dive knife with a 15 cm scissor blade.
    Eventually I found that this knife wasn’t the most handy to bring and all-in-all not much better than a smaller dive knife.
    Hope you can use this guide and not make the same mistakes as I did.

    Reply
  2. Mark Larss

    I started with the regulator and later supplied with a bcd. In retrospect a computer could have been a better purchase. I never rent them instead usually I end up following the dive guides computer. Quite sure it is not the best idea. I think I need to get a computer next. Oh first was mask and fins, but that was most for the snorkeling on holidays.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Mark, my best advice to you is diffidently to buy a computer as the next item. And bonus to all the safety, ti give more bottom time :)
      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Max rr

    Got the computer already that was a gift from my wife. Now I’m looking at reg and bc. It’s a jungle on what to get and where to get it. I don’t mind rental it’s just better having our own, right..

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      That is a nice wife! I got mine from my father he wanted to make sure I didn’t get bend :) hehe Own equipment is of cause best, but if your on a budget or only holiday diver renting is a great way of saving a bunch!
      Thanks for commenting, Max!

  4. Darren D

    When I originally certified back in 1985, I first bought my BCD (a used one from my LDS that they serviced for me as part of the sake) and then regulator and spg. Over 25 years later and I’m just returning to diving and now my first purchase will be a dive computer. The rental used during my course was fine, but I can definitely see where this is a valuable piece of equipment that may be slightly less available to rent as the remaining equipment. Once you learn all its functions, you’ll be comfortable with it and unlike regs and BCD’s which can be easily swapped out in event of malfunction by the renting dive shop, a failing computer caused by mishandling on a previous rental could ruin your day (or holiday) particularly if you’ve done multiple profile dives.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      I could not agree more! I’ve been saved by my computer, not all the other equipment. And when you rent, you can get a computer with a different divers profile, from previous days. Or worse mix them up, between dives, so you don’t get your saturation from the first dives on the day.
      I wrote this some time ago about what first to buy: https://www.divein.com/guide/what-is-the-first-equipment-i-need-to-purchase
      Thanks for commenting Darren and welcome back to diving!

  5. Amanda

    I just got my Open Water Diver this weekend! I bought fins mask & snorkel after my discover SCUBA session. I then bought a wet suit – shortie & full length from Ebay – real bargain, boots and gloves the same. I want to buy a 2nd hand computer next but bit of a minefield, researching like mad at the moment.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Thanks for sharing your second hand dive purchase, experience. It’s a great way of getting a lot of great equipment at a much lower cost.
      The one and only: dive computer. It’s always hard to find the right one. I’ve used Suunto for a long time, and it always works. And it’s easy to understand and use. Good luck.

  6. Robert Evert

    My first purchase was a used drysuit. It was surprisingly a perfect fit, and after 8 years of diving the suit, I’ve replaced one seal and it’s still going strong. The reason? It’s simple why the drysuit was my first purchase. Timing! It was available and I bought it. Second was a very good cold water regulator with air integrated computer. It wasn’t for sale when I bought the dry suit. Timing is everything. :)

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Robert,
      When buying secondhand dive equipment, timing is everything. And your story is a great example of how good secondhand equipment can be. Still working after 8 years. A great way to save loads on your dive gear.
      Thanks for sharing.

  7. Tommy

    First thing was Mask, boots and fins, then after quite a few dives without a dive computer i obtained one of those. Came back to Ireland and went diving with a rented 2 piece in low temperature waters (12c surface and 7c measured at the bottom) the suit was alright untill at one point i looked down towards my fins and the velcro neck seal decided to give up, it got freezing cold in the suit fast and i had to abort the dive. – so next piece was an exposure suit. Next will be BC and Reg.

    Reply
  8. Davide

    I’m about to move down to South Florida to start getting my divemaster certifications (starting from essentially scratch to divemaster): starting off, what equipment would you suggest buying versus renting, and, at what stages in the training should I consider buying the different pieces? Or would you suggest buying everything at the beginning in order to become as familiar as possible with all of my gear? Any advice you have is most appreciated!

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Davide,
      It’s a really good question. When I did my DM i bought the gear in bits and pieces at a time – it has good and bad points. The best part is you really only buy what you need. The bad part is you’ll miss not having your own, as DM it’s nice to have your own gear you fully trust and can adapt as you need. Plus if the dive shop is ever out of a size it’s always the dm trainee that gets another (not proper fitting) piece of equipment.

      I wouldn’t but gear before booking your course, sometimes dive centers will have a special deal for DM’s or if you book and buy all the gear you can surly bargain for some discount.

      If you buy as you go, you will have the chance to see what other divers have and like, and what they bought and never used or didn’t like. That is always good info to have.

      I hope I was able to help a bit.

      All the Best
      Torben – DIVE.in

  9. Peter Cannon

    I just had this debate the other day and couldn’t disagree more with you what to buy when list, so here’s mine.
    1-Mask, fins, snorkel, gloves/mitts and a hood
    2-Dive watch. In my opinion, next to the regulator, this is one of the most important pieces of equipment a diver should own
    3-Regulator, no octopus (I’ll explain later) pressure, depth gauge, compass consol. The regulator without question is the most important piece of equipment a diver can own. Renting one is fine but the ick factor of not knowing when and if it was cleaned properly makes me gag. Notice I didn’t say dive computer. My reason being this. computers seem pretty cool, however, a beginner diver should learn the basics first, always.
    4-Wetsuit. After renting one for a while, you can decide which make, style suits you best.
    5-BCD. Like the wetsuit, rent before you buy. Lots of different style out there, so give them a try before jumping in and buying the 1st one that fits your budget.
    6-Tank. Eventually you’ll want your own. Redundant air supply. Personally I’d go with a Spare Air. My reasoning is simple. If my buddy runs out of air, then I’m close to empty as well and we have really screwed up with our dive times, so if you suck on my tank I’m empty as well. A redundant air supply solves that question for me. Also anytime something goes wrong with your air supply, the dive is done, right, so at least this way, well you know where I’m going.
    7-This can be bought at anytime after you start buying equipment and I have never seen this in any to buy when list. Spare parts! How many of us have broke a fin strap for example. Saved many dives for me. 1st Aid Kit. Goes without saying why.
    8-Accessories. Float, knife, dive light etc
    9-If after time, you decide to expand your dive knowledge, now might be the right time to look onto investing in a dive computer or a dry suit.
    The reason for a computer at the end of the list, is simple. I have being diving for 30 years and have never used one, I have dive tables. Will I someday buy one, maybe. I am quite comfortable using the old fashioned way, and think it’s highly questionable for anyone, diver or instructor, to tell anyone they need a computer. Call me old school, but the basics must be mastered first before using and relying on technology to get you to the surface safely.
    Finally use common sense, it’s free, how it’s used though is up to you. If things don’t feel right, call it, you can always dive another day.
    Be safe, stay wet!

    Reply
    • Randal

      I’m in your camp. I am almost feel it is irresponsible to recommend a dive computer as one of the first things a new diver buys. You should be able to confidently plan your dives as well as account for changes of plans without the aid of a dive computer before purchasing on.

      The only way to be able to plan and adjust your dive plan is using the skill. If you purchase a dive computer straight away you likely have not mastered the skill or will soon forget it. What happens when your dive computer fails and you do not have the skill to continue your dive without the aid of a computer.

  10. PAtric

    Good info as I am just starting to get my cert over the next few weeks. I have my mask/fins/snorkel and will probably get a shorty suit soon since 99% of any dives I do will be tropical 2-3 should be plenty warm. Found some good deals on full set up on Amazon $800-$1000 for BCD/Computer/Regulator/1st stage but not sure about the whole online thing when it comes to this…..Cressi was one of the brands Any suggestions? I do like the idea of having my own equipment as I learn so that I am learning my own stuff but not sure.

    Reply

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