You might ask yourself: When should I buy my first bit 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
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.
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.
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.
When it comes to basic safety, all dive computers are more or less created equal, so if your 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 quality dive computer.
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 drysuit is often the only option.
The 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.
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 help 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.
The cost will, of course, depend on the level of luxury you require, but a mid-range BCD will fit most divers’ needs.
Having your own scuba 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.
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.
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.
Dive torches are comparatively expensive, but there is a host of mid-range LED torches out there that will suit most recreational divers.
Dive Knife or Shears
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 (and 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 using different 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.