Why You Should Own Your Own Scuba Gear
Scuba diving is an expensive activity whether you own or rent your gear. Adding the cost of purchasing the essential gear is probably not something you want to think of when you start with the sport.
However, there are many good reasons why you want to own at least some of your gear compared to renting it. We’ll have a closer look at the advantages of owning at least some of your essential scuba diving gear.
You certainly don’t have to go to the bank and take a loan out to buy a complete set of scuba gear but you should start to at least get the most essential pieces of equipment rather soon. You might be wondering what these required parts of your gear are so here’s the short list:
If money is an issue, as it is for most of us, then rather get less pieces but get high quality. In the end your health can and will depend on at least some of that gear!
With regards to additional gear besides the essential components listed above, you want to think of getting the gear that you have the hardest time getting used to first. If you for example have large feet and you could run into issues finding fins to rent then buy the fins first.
Owning your own gear does mean that you’re the only one wearing and using it. You clean the equipment to your standards and not to the level that somebody else deems as good enough.
Don’t forget that a lot of scuba gear comes in contact with your skin. For some people, it’s simply a disturbing thought that they end up putting gear on that others have worn and where they don’t know how it got cleaned afterwards. If it is in any way a problem for you then make sure you get your own gear so you can dive comfortably.
2. Best Fit Possible
Some scuba gear needs to fit perfect to feel just right. Take your fins for example. If they don’t fit nearly perfect you will not enjoy your dive at all. You might end up with cramps, slide out of the fins, etc.
Owning the pieces of gear that need a lot of adjustment or perfect sizing to guarantee the best fit possible makes a lot of sense. You safe a ton of time fiddling with the different settings and adjustments that you otherwise have to deal with if you rent.
A large problem you face is that sizing for scuba gear that you wear is kind of randomly assigned. A medium sized BCD of one brand is a completely different size than another one from a different manufacturer. Same is true for wetsuits, masks, etc. You won’t know all sizing standards of all different brands so finding the wetsuit or BCD that fits will be very time consuming and frustrating. You also won’t know what brands the specific rental shop will have available so there’s a good chance that you have to try on several different pieces of gear before you find one that somewhat fits.
Another problem is that sometimes you don’t know that some gear doesn’t fit perfectly until you wear all of it. Or even worse, until you are actually in the water. There’s pretty much nothing more frustrating than having to call a dive because your gear simply doesn’t fit.
3. Renting Requires Trust
You’re renting gear that your safety and well-being rely on. And, as you go on a diving trip you’re renting it from a place that you’ve never been at before and that you’ve never seen.
You do not know what kind of rental shop it is. Do they keep their gear up-to-date and maintained to the highest standards? Do they replace their gear regularly or is it so old that even a swap shop wouldn’t give them money for it?
Hygiene was already brought up above but this really is a question of safety and to make sure that you go diving with top-notch gear that will help you stay as safe as possible. Using outdated and badly maintained gear can put your health at risk and that’s the last thing you want to worry about while you dive.
You don’t know the history of the equipment you rent. Even if the shop takes care of the items, you don’t know what the previous renters did with the gear. If gear gets abused then it will eventually break and the last thing you want is that it breaks while you’re under water. You will often not be able to know or see that the gear is not in perfect condition. Yet, you will definitely find out when you get into the water. And by then your dive can end up being ruined before it even began.
You might think that you can go by reviews of the dive shops that are in the area of your vacation. Yet, these reviews can’t be trusted. Many people that write such reviews experienced probably near perfect weather and conditions. The gear will not be pushed to its limits in that case and even if it is not well-maintained, the reviewer will most likely give it high ratings. Simply trusting those reviews might offer an unwelcome surprise for you when you get to the dive shop!
Renting new equipment every time you go diving takes a lot of time. You have to dig through and try a lot of different pieces of gear to find the best fitting one. Time is better spent either basking in the sun or under water.
Dive shops also have limited amounts of gear in certain sized or of certain brands. You will have to be there early to get the best pieces of equipment which can take time away from your otherwise relaxing vacation. And even if you get the early, there’s no guarantee that you will get the best fitting equipment so that trip can end up being a complete waste of time.
5. Gear Familiarity
Problems with equipment are responsible for a large percentage of fatal accidents during scuba diving as reported by the Divers Alert Network. A lot of these fatal equipment related accidents are not due to the gear failing but simply because the diver doesn’t know how to use it.
Not knowing your gear means that you have a much higher chance of making a mistake when using it. This in turn increases the risk for your health. Just think what’ll happen if you use for example an iPhone and your friend hands you his Android phone. Eventually you’ll figure it out but it will take you a while. It's the same when you rent gear and you end up with yet another dive computer from the shop!
It’s the same with dive gear you rent and you’re not familiar with. Unfortunately, when you’re under water you might not always have the time to ‘figure things out’. Most of the gear is somewhat similar in use but the small differences will make it hard to switch in difficult situations.
If you’re renting then always try to get the same gear so you don’t have a learning curve trying to figure out the different parts. Being familiar with your gear is especially important when you get into an emergency. You won’t have time to think of how to use the gear but have to just use it!
For your safety it’s important to know your gear as well as possible. The more familiar you are the faster you are able to use it and adjust it when you have to.
6. Knowing the Purpose of Your Gear
Besides being familiar with your gear it’s also important that you gain a good understanding of the purpose of a piece of equipment. It’ll help you while you dive and especially in emergencies.
You’ll know how to maintain the different components and why you have them. It’ll improve your overall skill levels and help you make better choices when you are diving.
7. More Regular Dives
Owning your own equipment makes it a lot more convenient to go diving. You end up diving more as you waste less time in rental stores but instead spend more time under water.
It also allows you to decide on a whim to go diving. You don’t have to get gear rented first but you simply have it available. This makes it easy to go diving with a group of friends if they want to enjoy a dive.
8. Saving Money
You might wonder how you’ll save money if you think of the amount of money it takes to buy your essential gear in good quality. Yes, it is expensive to purchase that gear. However, if you think of how much it costs to continuously rent equipment then you’ll pretty quickly start to save money by owning your own gear.
If you consider that you will most likely go more often to dive you’ll be able to offset the cost for purchasing your gear pretty quickly if you consider how much you’d pay for renting it every time. You’ll have to assume that renting will cost you anywhere from $30 upwards. Diving several times a month on average will cost you quite a bit of money for renting.
Another advantage of owning your own scuba diving gear is that you can sell your used gear when you’re ready to upgrade. This makes it easier to justify the purchase of the new and more expensive gear while allowing you to dive with the best equipment possible. It’ll increase your safety while diving.