Scuba diving has become my number one go-to activity when I need to get out and relaxed after a hectic week. No other activity helps me relax and completely forget about the rest of the world and its troubles as Scuba Diving does.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. With so many dive charters, dive schools and equipment brands available, you’re bound to run into some “less than great” gear out there. I’ve heard of a few experiences, and even experienced a few myself, where old rental gear that divers weren’t used to, or weren’t on par, turned an amazing dive into an unhappy experience.
The key to making the most out of every dive, is to know and be comfortable with your gear. Initially, you should try different brands & styles through rentals, but when you get serious about diving, you should really consider buying your own.
Here’s 3 things to look out for:
Fork Out a Little More On Soft Gear.
You’ll be spending a lot of time getting in and out of your wetsuit. Get one that fits you properly, even if you have to get it custom made.
Your Mask will quickly become the single most focused on piece of equipment that you don’t want to worry about. Leaky masks are not only uncomfortable, but they are distracting. I’ve heard many stories about people missing sightings of whales, dolphins and sea turtles due to them fiddling with leaky masks. Get a good quality mask.
Your fins can make you a very tired diver, or a very fast one. A proper set of fins is the difference between exhaustion & relaxation. Find a pair that works for you.
There are a plethora of different brands and options available, and every manufacturer will tell you their product is the best. And just so, every dive shop will tell you what they believe are the best, based on their experience. But what works for me, might not work for you. The key to finding the best gear for you, is to experience as many options as possible. Try different regulators, try different BCD’s, and only make your decision when you’ve done a couple of dives with the gear you have your eye on. Most Advanced, Tec, & Sidemount divers love Hollis. The Hollis SMS 75 for instance is a backplate BCD that fits like a harness, light weight, and compatible with most diving configurations. On paper, it looks brilliant. Heck, physically it looks brilliant. Most of my friends have one. So I tried it and it just wasn’t me. I prefer a jacket style BCD. I like the way it wraps around me and it feels like I’m sitting in a capsule. To each his own, so make sure you find what’s comfortable to you. Being uncomfortable will ruin diving for you.
Buy From a Reputable Shop.
Most PADI Dive Shops sell the same products, get them from the same suppliers, and normally have the same margins. The value for me has never been in saving a buck or two, but in pre- and after sales service. Buy your gear from someone that wants to understand your needs before they try and sell you product. Buy from someone that will help you fit your gear & help you test it out. And lastly, buy your gear from someone that is an authorized distributor & repair centre, so they can check, service & repair or replace your gear if necessary. You don’t need a shop assistant, you need a dive buddy that understand you. For me, that’s always been Dawie at Geko Divers.
So whether you’re just starting out or been diving for ages, make sure you get the chance to experience dive gear before buying, and make sure you buy from someone that cares about your comfort.