When you started your open water course you may have relied on the dive centres equipment. Most dive centres use high quality, well maintained gear for your comfort, safety and peace of mind. As you get grabbed by the scuba bug you will most likely want to look at buying your own kit. Long term its more cost effective and gives more confidence and comfort knowing your own gear. If you plan on diving 20/30 times a year, then it’s certainly worth investing in your own gear. With an excellent range of high-quality equipment from reputable manufacturers you will be spooled for choice and will still be able to include in your luggage once we can start international travel again.
There is nothing worse than having a mask that fogs up and spoils your dive experience or keeps leaking. Choosing a mask is a personal thing, go for quality over anything else. A good quality mask should last you for years, and if you wear glasses or contact lenses you can get special corrective lenses applied to your mask. A good quality mask should have a good soft silicone skirt. It all makes for a better diving experience, easier to clear and then you focus on the good stuff, i.e. the dive. If you can manage to get a good fitting mask prior to your open water course, it will make life even easier. If you go to a physical dive shop the staff will be more than happy to help you chose a good quality mask that fits. If you go for the online option, most online shops will again be happy to help. I have had a great experience with www.scubadivestore.co.uk . I use the Apex VX1. Great mask, easy to clear and super soft silicone
As a recreational diver we rarely learn to dive with “the tables” now and with that in mind diving with a dive computer is a personal thing. Our individual dive profiles are unique to a degree. Sharing a dive computer is not really an option. Purchasing a dive computer doesn’t mean handing over inordinate amounts of cash. Allowing you to continually check your depth, remaining no Deco limits and with the Suunto D5 your remaining tank pressure. All of this will help make you a safer diver and a better diver in due course. The great thing with current dive computers is that they are no longer big and clunky, they are wearable and fashionable. Wearing your D5 in the office, people see it’s a bit funkier than an iWatch. My preferred choice is the SuuntoD5, as it has a great smart phone App and gives you the option to connect a Suunto Tank Pod to your air cylinder. This allows you to always have a backup to your SPG. My second choice would be the Aqua Lung i200c. Simplistic and stylish. The keys ease of use and making sure you can understand your readouts underwater in low visibility or just when you need a quick glance. I found the advice from Damian @ Scuba Dive Store priceless. While they don’t do Suunto , the choice is great and the advice is free…..
Why a Submersible Maker Buoy is an important part of your first kit? You should have hopefully learned how to use one on your open water course or at the very least watched your dive guide or dive master deploy one. All reputable dive centres will insist that you carry one and your dive guide/dive master will carry one. We have all heard horror stories of divers getting separated and lost, surfacing and not being seen. All modern SMB’s come with an oral inflation valve, high reflective material, easy stowage and easy to deploy. It’s much better for your own safety to have your own SMB and get used to using it early in your dive career.
This is a personal choice; we all know that sometimes you get “caught short” at 15 metres or when you hit a cold current. No matter how well a dive shop cleans or sanitises a wetsuit, it’s not really the same. The other factor is thickness, a 3mm shorty might be snug comfy and warm to me (I have my own internal insulation layer) may be uncomfortably cold to somebody else, particularly on a deep dive or night dive. With that in mind I use a 3mm Beauchat Optima for Bali during the day and the Beauchat Optima 5mm for night dives and my fair-weather diving in the UK (Sorry I like my water warm). The wetsuit for me must fit anatomically, and as much as I like certain wetsuit designs, giving my like of food, Bintang and cake they just wont work. Any dive shop whether online or in-store will guide you well, both of mine were purchased online and no complaints.
This for me was a big step, and a bit of a turning point. Although I bought my first BCD/Wing at the same time, it was a guarded, calculated purchase under a lot of good advice. Going back to rental gear at dive shops and dive centres, the gear is usually well cleaned (especially now), well serviced and of high quality being the workhorse of dive gear. Having said that, it has been in somebody else’s mouth and you have to pay to rent it. When I bought my reg set, I relied on good expert advice and I haven’t looked back since. Besides the investment you have the peace of mind of getting to know your gear, it’s yours. You know it’s going to work at 30m, you know it’s going to work in a cold lake near Heathrow Airport in mid-January. You also have the peace of mind that having it serviced annually as per the manufacturer’s instructions, its safe and you can trust your gear. Like your mask , investing in good quality gear serves you well long term. I invested in an Apexs XL4 reg set. It’s a thing of beauty ,easy to set up and so comfortable to use on fun dives and courses. I have just sent it in for service with a trusted dive shop in Selsey, UK called Mulberry Marine Experience Ltd. Straight forward, strict protocol with Covid, but I know they are in good hands. If you ask a dive shop or online store for advice , they will help you.
With all your gear, take your time, you don’t need to buy it all at one time. There is no need to rush, shop around, ask for advice, ask your dive buddies. Before you know where you are, you have a collection of great dive gear that you love and enjoy travelling all over the world with you.