Though the sticker price might make your stomach churn, there are so many advantages of owning your own set of scuba gear. Not only is diving with your personal set-up more hygienic, a better fit, and a better use of your time, it’s safer to do so as well.
You don’t need to splurge and buy an entire set of scuba gear at once. You can buy it piece by piece as your budget allows. If you’re wondering what to buy first, check out our recommendations for the most important core pieces of gear.
If you dive regularly, you’ll actually save money by maintaining a personal set of gear. Renting gear tends to cost around $30-70 per day. This adds up quickly after a few dives, especially if you’re on a holiday with many days of diving. Once you own your gear, you can always sell it to recoup the cost of upgrades.
1. NOT ALL RENTAL SHOPS ARE EQUAL
Unfortunately, rental gear can vary from rental shop to rental shop. One rental shop might be hyper-vigilant about keeping their gear in top-notch condition while the dive center next door might be using gear that looks like it’s come out of a 1970s thrift shop with regulator mouthpieces that apparently once doubled as teething binkies.
Even if the rental shop or dive center takes pride in maintaining their equipment, careless divers exist everywhere. They’re more likely to mistreat and roughly handle equipment that they won’t own.
The problem is also that many equipment issues aren’t obvious until you start your dive. A warped mask or a leaking hose might not be apparent during the pre-dive check or while you’re sorting your equipment, but could pose a problem as soon as you jump into the water.
Reviews for dive centers can’t always be trusted either. If the dive conditions and guides were good, reviewers are likely to look past the quality of equipment they rented – if they rented at all. Likewise, many reviews on equipment are left by beginner divers who might not know a well-maintained piece of gear from a poorly taken care of one.
2. SAVE TIME FOR FUN
Every time you go to a new dive shop in search of rental equipment, you’ll have to spend time sorting and trying on multiple sizes of gear. If you’re on vacation, wouldn’t you rather spend that time sipping a coconut or exploring the nearby paradise?
You’ll want to get to your dive shop as early as possible if you’re diving during a busy time of the year. Divers fighting for the last medium sized BCD can quickly turn into an all out war. All it takes is one extra person with your size to snatch the last pair of fins. It’s annoying to have to arrive early, try on equipment, and hope for the best during a time when you could be doing better things.
When you own your own set of equipment, you can simply show up right before the dive and go.
3. A PERFECT FIT, EVERY DIVE
There is no standard sizing when it comes to wetsuits, BCDs, masks, and other pieces of dive gear. You might be a size small in one brand of wetsuits, but a medium in another. Some brands distinguish sizes by male and female, while others don’t. Rental shops vary in what brands they carry and what sizes. Even if you know that you’re a size medium in a certain brand of BCD, they might all be rented out – leaving you with an ill-fitting set up.
Many times, it’s impossible to see whether something fits correctly until you start diving. Those fins might feel great in the shop, while you’re standing on dry land, but are they comfortable finning in the water?
Wetsuits are another item that are notoriously hard to fit into. Too big, and you’ll have now thermal protection as a neutrally buoyant water balloon. Too small, you might be too restricted to move.
Owning your own set of gear means that you’ll know that on every single dive, you’ll have equipment that fits properly.
4. FAMILIARITY WITH GEAR MEANS SAFER DIVING
According to Alert Diver, equipment problems account for 15 percent of all diver-related deaths. This isn’t necessarily because there was something wrong with the equipment – in fact, it’s almost always due to user error. When divers are unfamiliar with equipment or don’t maintain it properly, they’re likely to use it incorrectly.
Imagine going onto someone’s laptop – who has a different model and setup to yours – and sending an email. A task that might take you literally one minute on your own laptop might take a few minutes on someone else’s, even though you have the same general equipment. It’s similar to diving. Though most gear is generally the same, it takes practice and time for tasks to become second nature.
Even if you’re renting, it’s important to be familiar with what you’re getting. A post on what you should know before renting equipment by Atlantic Aquasport advises every diver to ask their rental company to let you jump in their pool with the equipment on before diving, so that you’re comfortable.
Owning your gear is the best way to become familiar with how to use everything and respond to any problems without panic.
5. BETTER DIVE GEAR KNOWLEDGE
Continuing from the safety point above, owning your own set of scuba gear gives you a better understanding of what each piece of equipment does and how it should be maintained. This makes you a more skilled diver overall and teaches you how to look for flaws in rental equipment in the future. Are you unsure how scuba gear is supposed to fit? Scuba Diving Magazine has a great round-up of dive gear and how it should fit.
6. YOU’LL DIVE MORE OFTEN
Once you own your dive equipment, you can dive more spontaneously and more frequently. Are your friends are going diving? You’ll have no excuse not to join them, especially since the days of suffering through the frustrating rental process are over.
Mentally, you’ll also want to lower the cost per dive by getting as many dives out of your equipment as possible. Sure, owning your own set of dive equipment is expensive if you only go a handful of times per year. But if you go a few times per month or per week, you’ll be saving money per dive and as a bonus, diving with equipment that you can trust.