If you’ve always loved frolicking in the waves on some sun-drenched shore, it’s only natural that your next inclination would be to explore the underwater world that you’ve only seen from the surface thus far. In other words, scuba diving could become your next hobby.
The process begins with taking classes so that you can become a certified diver, ensuring fun and safety each time you have an adventure beneath the waves. However, this hobby also requires that you purchase appropriate equipment, and because it can be pricey, you want to make sure you’re spending wisely.
Before you buy your first set of scuba gear, there are a few things you should know. Here are some tips to ensure that you get the right gear the first time around and that you don’t end up overspending unnecessarily.
Speak with an Instructor
If you’re not sure what to buy when it comes time to purchase your first set of scuba gear, your instructor can be a veritable font of useful information. This professional can tell you exactly which equipment you need, as well as advise you on brands or even products that are likely to provide you with the most bang for your buck.
Naturally, you’ll also want to do some comparison-shopping on your own, and you’ll likely find plenty of information and advice through online communities and consumer reviews. Your instructor, however, is not only familiar with the gear you’ll need but also has your best interest at heart and can act as a trusted source of information.
Know What You Need
A set of scuba gear has several components you can’t do without. Any time you’re underwater you’ll want items like a mask, a snorkel, and fins. You’ll also want a wet suit. Even if you don’t think this is necessary, it falls under the category of essential gear because it protects you from exposure.
You’ll also need the life support system that separates your set of scuba gear from the average snorkeling activity. This includes your regulator setup (which attaches to oxygen tanks to give you air underwater), buoyancy compensating device (BCD) and dive computer. Some people will tell you this last item isn’t necessary, but considering that many tour operators require it, you should definitely add it to your must list.
Try it On!
Before you purchase your first set of scuba gear it is absolutely essential that you try everything on. Yes, this will take some time and it’s not as easy as perusing items online. However, it is of paramount importance that the items you select fit properly and are comfortable.
The last thing you want when you’re underwater is to discover that your mask leaks, your regulator is uncomfortably large, or your wetsuit is a shade too tight. Don’t be afraid to try everything out in the store until you find the items that fit your body like a glove.
Compare Features and Pricing
Fit and comfort is important, but so is the price tag. If you’re on a budget then you need to be a smart shopper and take the time to compare items and prices from a variety of stores. Before you hit the dive shop, compare gear online to get an idea of price ranges for each item you’ll need, as well as see what features are offered for the price.
By the time you go to try on gear you’ll be much more informed about what is available and what you might prefer so you can ask pertinent questions and truly select the gear within your budget that’s right for you.
There are certain extras, including purge valves in your mask, which can definitely add to the convenience of your scuba diving experience. Then there are extras like jet boots that are not something the novice scuba diver needs to purchase on the first outing. So when you hit the dive shop in search of your first set of scuba gear, don’t let someone talk you into gear you might not need or want.
Buy as You Go
You’ll find that there are certain items you cannot do without when it comes to scuba diving. You wouldn’t scuba dive without a BCD any more than you’d skydive without an altimeter. Although purchasing your first set of scuba gear can be pricey, you have to get the whole kit and caboodle if you’re serious about participating in this fun and exciting pastime.
That said, there will also be some amount of trial and error. You don’t necessarily have to purchase the most fancy, most expensive mask right out of the gate. What you’re bound to discover over time, though, is that paying a little more for extra features is worthwhile if you are a frequent diver.
Start with a basic mask and other equipment until you figure out how much you enjoy scuba diving and how often you’ll really use your gear. Then you’ll feel more comfortable shelling out the dough for a better set of scuba gear.