This is one of the most common questions scuba divers ask, and the answer is…it depends. If money is no object, then by all means buy away. However, most of us aren’t Donald Trump with seemingly bottomless pockets.
Some dive shops may make you feel like you have to have your own scuba gear, so if you’re getting that vibe from a shop, go elsewhere. Shops that push gear are more interested in earning revenue instead of earning your trust.
That being said, there are many advantages to owning your own gear, but as in most cases, disadvantages frequently spar with advantages. Let’s explore under what circumstances and what gear you should consider buying.
Scuba Gear You Should Definitely Buy
Even if you’re only going to be diving a few times per year while on vacation, buy your own mask, snorkel and fins. If any these are uncomfortable, leaky or low quality, it will ruin your dive. Another bonus is you can easily snorkel whenever you want without the hassle and cost of renting.
You should also consider a buying your own wetsuit, because if you’ve rented them before, you know how often you end up with ill-fitting, worn out wetsuits that leak. Plus, it’s a little unsettling to know the suit has been filled with fluids other than water…if you know what I mean!
Owning your own BCD has advantages too, especially if you’re a female since it will fit better than a traditional rental BCD.
Advantages of Owning Your Scuba Gear:
- Cost Savings: If you dive frequently and maintain your gear properly, you’ll save money in the long run.
- Comfort: You know your gear will fit well so you can focus on the dive instead of chaffing, leaking or having your limbs impeded from normal movement.
- Familiarity: You know where your dump valves are and how to unload weights quickly.
- Safety: If maintained properly, you know your gear is safe to use, reducing the chances of an underwater gear failure.
Disadvantages of Owning Your Own Scuba Gear:
- Cost: You pay for gear itself, but you also need to pay for yearly maintenance. In addition, you’ll pay for excessive baggage and weight fees when flying. If you’re renting a car, you’ll need a larger, more expensive car.
- Maintenance Hassles: You, not the rental shop, are responsible for cleaning your gear after every dive and having your regulator, BCD, cylinders and computer batteries serviced yearly.
- Proper Storage: You need a clean, large enough space to store your gear.
Advantages of Renting Scuba Gear:
- Convenience: No need to buy, store, or lug gear around, just show up and rent.
- Cost: If you don’t dive frequently, more than once or twice per year, you can begin diving right away and avoid a big, upfront cost as well as the overall cost of ownership.
- No Maintenance Hassles: Once you’re out of the water, you hand the gear off to the rental shop staff and they rinse it, while you head to the bar or a shower. They also (hopefully) inspect and service it regularly.
Disadvantages of Renting Scuba Gear:
- Safety Risks: You can visually inspect rental gear, but you won’t have any real way of knowing if the BCD, regulator and computer work properly.
- Correct Size, Weight, and Buoyancy Problems: The rental shop may not have the correct size BCD, so you end up with ill-fitting gear at best and potentially dangerous gear at worst, such as a BCD that can’t sufficiently lift you to the surface or that impedes your movement.
- Comfort: Rental gear can be uncomfortable, which can be distracting from the pleasure of the dive as well as potentially dangerous, such as a dry suit that leaks and you’re in frigid water.
What About Used Scuba Gear?
One option worth exploring is buying used scuba gear. Some shops sell used gear, as well as you can search on sites such as Craigslist.com. However, be wary of used life support gear (BCs and regulators) from private parties, since you’ll have no guarantees about the condition of the gear, if it can be serviced or know anything about its performance.
The bottom line is you have to choose what you can afford and what kind of hassles and risks you’re willing to endure, whether from buying or renting.
At Scuba Toys, we can help you explore your scuba gear options, compare products and try things on. We have a vast online selection of gear too! Call us at 877-728-2243, visit our website or swing by the store today!
Have you had bad experiences with rental gear or have you always owned your own gear? Let us know in the comments section below!
Should I Buy My Own Scuba Gear?
Buying your own scuba gear has many advantages, but there are maintenance and other factors to consider in addition to cost. Read on to learn more.