What Scuba Gear Should You Buy First?

Unfortunately for our wallets, scuba diving can be an expensive activity so we might ask ourselves, what scuba gear should I buy first? From regulators to wetsuits to tanks to BCDs to fins to masks, there certainly is a lot of gear we need to tick off our scuba diving equipment list before we take the plunge.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy everything at once. Most dive shops rent out well maintained equipment and often at a reasonable price.

Scuba equipment is a very personal thing to choose and what works for other divers might not work for you. We all have unique body types and dive in different conditions. Fortunately, as you dive more often and rent various types of scuba gear, you’ll get a better feel for what type of equipment suits you the best.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

On high price items like your regulator, dive computer, and BCD, rent all types of equipment before you commit to buying. Ask to borrow gear from a friend and keep an eye out for scuba diving demo days, where you get to try out dive gear for free. Keep track in your dive log of the brand, model, and size of equipment that you tested and make a note of whether you liked it or not.

Don’t assume that just because you’re one size in one brand’s equipment, like a BCD or wetsuit, that you’ll be that size in every other. There’s no real manufacturing standard for most dive equipment so you’ll have to try on multiple kinds before investing. Different materials and styles mean that even within one brand, you could still fit in multiple sizes.

1. YOUR DIVING MASK

Shopping for your first mask? Take a look at our guide to help you choose the best dive mask for you.

Missed the manta ray because you were too busy clearing your mask (again)? Have a hard time seeing the disco nudibranch through the scratches? A foggy, leaking, or scratched dive mask can turn a what would have been an incredible dive into an awful one.

For the best diving experience, you’ll need a crystal-clear mask to see all that lives under the ocean’s surface.

Dive masks are one of the most mistreated pieces of equipment at dive shops. Many dive shops replace gear that’s linked closely to safety before they replace dive masks, where safety isn’t as much of a concern. The dive shop you rent from might not have one that fits you, causing you to have a leaky mask during every dive.

Careless divers often throw them at the bottom of their dive bags, leave them on the ground, or put them out in the sun for too long, warping the size and tarnishing the glass. You can’t always expect to show up at a dive shop where all masks are in top notch condition.

Not only is it annoying to dive with a faulty mask, adjusting your mask throughout your dive leads to increased air consumption and stress.

A dive mask should be the first piece of scuba equipment you buy because it’s cheap compared to most other pieces of dive equipment and gives you the most benefit for the lowest cost. Imagine that you just spent hundreds of dollars to join a liveaboard trip in the Maldives or on airfare to dive Roatan. Is it worth the risk of having your trip ruined by a faulty rental mask? All signs point to no.

2. YOUR SCUBA FINS

how to choose scuba diving fins

Photo provided by Aqua Lung

Humans have feet. Fish have fins. Care to guess which one is more efficient at gliding through the water? Like a mask, a poor fitting set of fins can set the tone of your dive. Fins that don’t fit properly cause cramps, are slow, and can pinch your toes. A comfortable set of fins helps you control your buoyancy, increases your speed, and conserves energy.

There are many different types of fins to choose from with various sizes, rigidness, and shape. As a rule, beginner divers who are less conditioned swimmers will probably want to opt for flexible fins with a smaller shape. More experienced divers usually invest in longer, stiffer fins. Try out multiple styles to find the best pair.

To learn how to choose fins and see our selection of the best models of the year, read our guide on the best scuba fins.

Scuba divers are also often avid snorkelers and after you buy your mask, fins, and snorkel, you’ll be able to skin dive just about anywhere. If you are into freediving you can also have a look at our guide about the best freediving fins.

3. YOUR DIVE COMPUTER

best dive computer reviews

Photo provided by Aqua Lung

One of the best things you can do for increasing your dive skills is buy your own dive computer. Many dive shops don’t offer them for rent and if they do, it’s often at a steep price. If you dive without a computer, you’ll have to rely on your guide without any real indicator of how long you’ve been diving and at what depth. Plus, making dive table calculations is a real pain in the urchin.

Rental computers can take time to get used to all its features – costing you precious time and air consumption while underwater. Maybe you’re someone who’s even been caught wearing your rental computer upside down. No? Just me? Okay then.

Once you buy your own dive computer, you’ll become more independent, confident, and skilled at guiding your own dives – one of the biggest benefits for obtaining your Open Water Certificate. Dive computers also calculate your no fly time which comes in handy if you flying and diving is a concern for you. Read our guide on the best dive computers to learn how to choose yours and the models we recommend.

Your first dive computer doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. A simple computer with a big display and easy navigation is perfect for those just starting out. If you’ve been diving for a while, you might want to splurge on something more flashy, like a computer with wireless air integration or digital compass.

4. YOUR WETSUIT FOR SCUBA DIVING

Many divers claim that your wetsuit should also be a priority when buying dive equipment. This depends on where you dive. Are you diving in all types of temperatures or are you sticking to just one area?

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A rental wetsuit is another item that is frequently abused by careless divers. They’re left in the sun, stretched out, stepped on, and we won’t even mention the pee. If you’ll be wearing one often, then you should buy your own pronto.

If you dive mostly in warm water, you might not need a wetsuit. Or, a leaky rental wetsuit won’t be a big deal. In very warm water, a cheap 1-2mm neoprene rash guard might be all that you need.

However, if you dive primarily in cold water or have poor circulation, you’ll need a wetsuit that keeps you warm without any holes or loose pockets for water to gather. According to an article on hypothermia and heat loss while diving by LeisurePro, “water conducts/draws away heat from a diver’s body almost 25 times more efficiently than air.” Staying warm is so important while diving and in this case, retaining heat with the help from a snug wetsuit is a top priority.

Ready to get your first wetsuit? Read our guide about the best wetsuits for diving and how to choose yours.

Try on many different brands, styles, and cuts to see what works for you. Remember that the wetsuit thickness and volume affects how much extra weight you’ll need and how flexible you can be.

Buying scuba gear for beginners

Find the perfect dive equipment with this scuba gear for beginners buyers guide!

Scuba gear lined up on boat

Are you a beginner scuba diver looking to buy your own dive equipment for the first time?

In this 11-part series, I will help you decide what to buy, where to buy it and in which order.

You will also find many useful resources for everyone new to scuba diving and tips that will help you throughout your first steps in the world of scuba diving.

About this guide

This guide is the introduction to my 10-part dive equipment for beginners series.

What scuba gear to buy as a beginner

I suggest you buy your scuba gear in the following order:

  1. ABC Set
  2. Boots
  3. Dive computer
  4. Wetsuit
  5. BCD
  6. Regulator
  7. Camera
  8. Other useful items
  9. Drysuit

This is my personal opinion and in no way an official recommendation by a training agency.

I think this order prioritizes the essentials and is a good way to reduce initial rental costs.

It also applies to any kind of diver, recreational, technical, beginner, or advanced.

Even once-a-year vacation divers will be able to get their money’s worth this way.

Where to buy scuba gear for beginners

The obvious first option is always directly from the store, instructor, or dive school you got your scuba certification from.

They taught you and know what could work for you or not.

Even if they don’t have a full-blown shop, they might still be able to let you test certain equipment, give you valuable tips, and order what you want if necessary.

Who knows, maybe they even offer some free diving sessions when you purchase from them.

My recommendations for buying scuba gear online are Dive Right in Scuba, Scuba.com, and Amazon.

Dive Right in Scuba homepage

Dive Right in Scuba

Great for all divers

Dive Right in Scuba has a super large inventory, very capable support, and great shipping rates. A must check-out for all divers in the US!

Leisure Pro homepage

Scuba.com

The largest scuba gear retailer

Scuba.com (previously LeisurePro) is the largest scuba gear online shop in the world and offers cheap prices and a large inventory. Price matching included.

Amazon scuba gear category page

Amazon

Perfect for electronics, cameras, and cheap scuba gear

Amazon needs no introduction and it’s a great place to buy cheap scuba and snorkeling gear, and electronics like cameras.

Check out my article on where to buy scuba gear if you need more suggestions.

How much should you spend on scuba gear as a beginner?

Scuba gear is not cheap and it is important to only buy quality equipment even as a beginner. Beginners should be prepared to spend between $500-$1400 on entry-level scuba gear. A full set of quality scuba gear for beginners will be more expensive and cost between $1800-$2500 and last for many years before needing replacement.

How much you should spend on scuba gear as a beginner also depends on the following questions:

What do you want to buy? How much will you dive? What kind of diving will you do? What’s your budget?

As mentioned before, don’t go for the absolute cheapest option if you can afford it.

After all, underwater your life depends on functioning equipment, so please don’t try to save money on the wrong side.

Mask and snorkel laying on beach

You can spend as much or as little as you want on dive equipment.

As a rule of thumb, only buy equipment marked as “entry-level”, if you dive less than a handful of times every year.

In that case, there is no point in spending thousands on things you rarely use.

Naturally, manufacturers produce entry-level dive equipment at very low costs and it works.

But just like a bicycle, car, or electronics, you get what you pay for. In regard to scuba gear, this usually means higher-priced items will offer more features, more comfort, and last a lot longer.

A good set of entry-level dive equipment will cost you about:

Dive Computer€150 / $170
Mask & Snorkel€70 / $80
Fins€70 / $80
Boots€30 / $40
Wetsuit (5mm)€120 / $135
Regulator€400 / $450
BCD€350 / $390
LogbookFree (online)
Total Price€1,190 / $1,345

Entry-level scuba gear for beginners

This will not be high-end super fancy, super comfortable with lots of bells and whistles diving, however, it will serve its purpose well for several years.

On the other hand, my own dive equipment set (as an instructor) cost me:

Dive Computer€1,000 / $1,150
Mask & Snorkel€155 / $175
Fins€90 / $100
Boots€35 / $40
Wetsuit (7mm)€320 / $350
Drysuit (trilaminate)€1,950 / $2,150
Regulator€900 / $1,000
BCD€850 / $950
Logbook€35 / $40
Underwater Torches (2x)€400 / $450
Reel€40 / $45
Underwater Camera€600 / $675
Total Price€6,375 / $7,575

Average cost of scuba gear for a dive instructor.

See the difference?

It isn’t quite a fair comparison, as my BCD is technically two different ones (one for mono and another for double tanks), my regulator includes a second first stage and I own a separate drysuit set.

However, you get the point.

You can spend any amount of money on your dive gear and this is not even the upper 20% of what’s out there.

Last but not least, if deciding whether to buy more scuba gear or dive more, I suggest you do the latter.

After all, you want to dive because it’s fun and there is no point in not doing that next dive vacation because you spent all your money on equipment.

Why buy scuba gear as a beginner?

Whether you have just booked your Open Water Diver course, are already halfway through it, or have been diving for a while, eventually, you want to have your own scuba gear.

Scuba diver with fish underwater

Good scuba gear makes diving more fun.

There are many reasons for doing so:

You need dive equipment for your scuba certification

Your dive school or instructor might require you to purchase certain pieces of equipment before attending the course. This usually includes the ABC equipment, consisting of a mask, snorkel, fins, and neoprene boots in cold places.

Ask your instructor what’s required before signing up for a course, so you are prepared.

It’s more hygienic

At Social Diving, for example, we don’t rent out boots. Ever. It’s as simple as that.

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Boots get wet, and warm…people wear them on their feet…Eww…

Moreover, I just don’t like the thought of having to carry a large number of boots in our rental gear which we have to throw away after a year and will never be able to resell.

Neoprene suits on the ground

Just think whether you would find these hygienic to wear.

I personally think it’s a good idea to buy at least anything you wear directly on your skin, such as boots, mask, and suit.

A regulator might fall under the same category, however, more on that later.

You know how it works

No more fiddling with knobs you’ve never seen or figuring out how to switch to dive mode on an old rental computer. By buying your own dive equipment, you know exactly how it works and don’t waste time getting to know new dive gear.

When you are traveling, you do so to have a good time, see new places, and explore. If your new equipment doesn’t work as expected, you will be stressed and maybe even miss out on dives.

You know who has used it

I like knowing who used my scuba gear. It makes me feel safer and more comfortable than relying on rental gear that has been used by strangers.

It’s serviced and intact

If you have your own dive equipment, you know exactly the shape that it’s in.

Most dive centers take good care of their gear, however, you will definitely trust your own stuff more.

Just make sure to keep it serviced regularly!

It will teach you more about diving

Buying scuba gear involves a lot of upfront research, comparing, and understanding how it works and where the differences lie.

All this will teach you a lot about diving itself and make you a better diver right from the start.

It’s cheaper than renting all the time

If you dive a lot (more than three times a year on separate occasions) then having your own dive equipment makes sense also from a financial standpoint.

Good dive computers start at around 150€, while the day rate for one at some dive bases can be up to 20€. You do the math but it certainly adds up.

I am not suggesting buying everything so you never have to rent! Browse through my scuba diving packing list if you want to know my suggestions on what to bring to a dive trip.

Check out whether to rent or buy scuba gear and decide for yourself.

It’s fun

Oh, I love buying new shiny scuba gear. Everyone does. There is just something special about taking that new dive computer out of its box or opening the wrapper of your new semi-dry suit.

It’s like opening birthday presents. 😃

When not to buy scuba gear as a beginner

Somebody told you to

Unless somebody is a certified instructor, don’t buy anything because you were told to do so. It’s an investment and you’re the one who should be comfortable with it.

You have never done a dive

Occasionally, we get students who buy a full kit online before even starting their beginner course.

Please don’t. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I discourage you from purchasing anything other than an ABC set before finishing your Open Water Diver course.

And never before a Discover Scuba Diving event.

Happy diver during discover scuba event

Don’t buy any scuba gear before your first dive.

You don’t know yet what to look out for, don’t have a reference for how it should feel, and will most likely have to buy again once you find out what works for you.

You are traveling and don’t want to rent at all

Renting scuba gear allows you to try out different pieces of gear and see if you like it. It also puts into perspective what you might need and what parts you feel comfortable in not owning at first.

What to look out for when first buying scuba gear for beginners

When buying scuba gear for beginners it is important to follow these guidelines before making a purchase to prevent getting the wrong equipment or spending too much money:

  • Take your time
  • Set a budget
  • Compare different options
  • Ask around for opinions
  • Read (online) reviews
  • Check different stores
  • Don’t fall for hype
  • Don’t trust Social Media (too much)
  • Don’t limit yourself
  • Price is not everything

Take your time.

Taking your time when buying scuba gear for beginners is important. There is no rush and you can always come back another day and decide.

Set a budget

Setting a budget should be a priority when buying scuba gear as a beginner diver.

Don’t get the “shiny bling-bling” syndrome and overextend your budget.

Compare different options

Compare different options before you make a purchase.

There are many scuba gear manufacturers which are worth checking out.

Ask around for opinions

Ask around if anyone knows about the particular equipment you’re looking at. (but also don’t blindly follow their advice)

Read (online) reviews

At Social Diving, I test a lot of dive equipment and review it. You’ll find mostly unbiased reviews on any type of dive equipment here that might be worth checking out.

There are many more sites out there that can help you and don’t forget the product reviews from online store customers.

Check different stores

Of course, sometimes it is great to just get it done and over with.

However, it’s never wrong to look around to see who offers decent prices, good support, or simply other equipment options.

Test it if you can. This one is important. If you can, test any equipment before buying it. Many larger local dive shops will allow you to test dive BCDs or even regulators before making a purchase.

Don’t fall for hype

Marketing is great. Everyone does it. However, initial hype is almost never justified to the extent that it can be observed.

Don’t trust Social Media (too much)

Sigh…social media…a blessing and a curse. While Facebook groups or forums can be super valuable and allow you to ask your questions to a large, knowledgeable audience, remember that everyone has an agenda.

Overly positive or negative opinions are almost always given out of emotion and often are not objective at all.

Don’t limit yourself

I am a strong proponent of telling people to not look at one option only and explore what’s out there.

I haven’t used every single BCD under the sun so I might have never heard of the one that would fit your needs perfectly.

Don’t limit yourself to only one approach either. Of course, most beginners learn to dive with an ADV style BCD, however, there are zero reasons whatsoever to not buy a backplate/wing setup, even as a new diver.

Just because something is declared as “advanced” doesn’t mean that it won’t be a good fit for you.

Price is not everything.

Don’t only look at the price tag but consider other factors such as “will I gain substantial benefit from buying the more expensive option?“, “am I sacrificing quality for price?“, or “what service can I expect in return for a higher price“.

Conclusion

This concludes the introduction to my ultimate guide to buying scuba gear for beginners in 2022.

I hope you learned something and feel more comfortable and knowledgeable to make an educated decision when buying dive equipment.

What Scuba Gear Should You Buy First?

Unfortunately for our wallets, scuba diving can be an expensive activity so we might ask ourselves, what scuba gear should I buy first? From regulators to wetsuits to tanks to BCDs to fins to masks, there certainly is a lot of gear we need to tick off our scuba diving equipment list before we take the plunge.

Read Post  How do I become a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor?

The good news is that you don’t have to buy everything at once. Most dive shops rent out well maintained equipment and often at a reasonable price.

Scuba equipment is a very personal thing to choose and what works for other divers might not work for you. We all have unique body types and dive in different conditions. Fortunately, as you dive more often and rent various types of scuba gear, you’ll get a better feel for what type of equipment suits you the best.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

On high price items like your regulator, dive computer, and BCD, rent all types of equipment before you commit to buying. Ask to borrow gear from a friend and keep an eye out for scuba diving demo days, where you get to try out dive gear for free. Keep track in your dive log of the brand, model, and size of equipment that you tested and make a note of whether you liked it or not.

Don’t assume that just because you’re one size in one brand’s equipment, like a BCD or wetsuit, that you’ll be that size in every other. There’s no real manufacturing standard for most dive equipment so you’ll have to try on multiple kinds before investing. Different materials and styles mean that even within one brand, you could still fit in multiple sizes.

1. YOUR DIVING MASK

Shopping for your first mask? Take a look at our guide to help you choose the best dive mask for you.

Missed the manta ray because you were too busy clearing your mask (again)? Have a hard time seeing the disco nudibranch through the scratches? A foggy, leaking, or scratched dive mask can turn a what would have been an incredible dive into an awful one.

For the best diving experience, you’ll need a crystal-clear mask to see all that lives under the ocean’s surface.

Dive masks are one of the most mistreated pieces of equipment at dive shops. Many dive shops replace gear that’s linked closely to safety before they replace dive masks, where safety isn’t as much of a concern. The dive shop you rent from might not have one that fits you, causing you to have a leaky mask during every dive.

Careless divers often throw them at the bottom of their dive bags, leave them on the ground, or put them out in the sun for too long, warping the size and tarnishing the glass. You can’t always expect to show up at a dive shop where all masks are in top notch condition.

Not only is it annoying to dive with a faulty mask, adjusting your mask throughout your dive leads to increased air consumption and stress.

A dive mask should be the first piece of scuba equipment you buy because it’s cheap compared to most other pieces of dive equipment and gives you the most benefit for the lowest cost. Imagine that you just spent hundreds of dollars to join a liveaboard trip in the Maldives or on airfare to dive Roatan. Is it worth the risk of having your trip ruined by a faulty rental mask? All signs point to no.

2. YOUR SCUBA FINS

how to choose scuba diving fins

Photo provided by Aqua Lung

Humans have feet. Fish have fins. Care to guess which one is more efficient at gliding through the water? Like a mask, a poor fitting set of fins can set the tone of your dive. Fins that don’t fit properly cause cramps, are slow, and can pinch your toes. A comfortable set of fins helps you control your buoyancy, increases your speed, and conserves energy.

There are many different types of fins to choose from with various sizes, rigidness, and shape. As a rule, beginner divers who are less conditioned swimmers will probably want to opt for flexible fins with a smaller shape. More experienced divers usually invest in longer, stiffer fins. Try out multiple styles to find the best pair.

To learn how to choose fins and see our selection of the best models of the year, read our guide on the best scuba fins.

Scuba divers are also often avid snorkelers and after you buy your mask, fins, and snorkel, you’ll be able to skin dive just about anywhere. If you are into freediving you can also have a look at our guide about the best freediving fins.

3. YOUR DIVE COMPUTER

best dive computer reviews

Photo provided by Aqua Lung

One of the best things you can do for increasing your dive skills is buy your own dive computer. Many dive shops don’t offer them for rent and if they do, it’s often at a steep price. If you dive without a computer, you’ll have to rely on your guide without any real indicator of how long you’ve been diving and at what depth. Plus, making dive table calculations is a real pain in the urchin.

Rental computers can take time to get used to all its features – costing you precious time and air consumption while underwater. Maybe you’re someone who’s even been caught wearing your rental computer upside down. No? Just me? Okay then.

Once you buy your own dive computer, you’ll become more independent, confident, and skilled at guiding your own dives – one of the biggest benefits for obtaining your Open Water Certificate. Dive computers also calculate your no fly time which comes in handy if you flying and diving is a concern for you. Read our guide on the best dive computers to learn how to choose yours and the models we recommend.

Your first dive computer doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. A simple computer with a big display and easy navigation is perfect for those just starting out. If you’ve been diving for a while, you might want to splurge on something more flashy, like a computer with wireless air integration or digital compass.

4. YOUR WETSUIT FOR SCUBA DIVING

Many divers claim that your wetsuit should also be a priority when buying dive equipment. This depends on where you dive. Are you diving in all types of temperatures or are you sticking to just one area?

A rental wetsuit is another item that is frequently abused by careless divers. They’re left in the sun, stretched out, stepped on, and we won’t even mention the pee. If you’ll be wearing one often, then you should buy your own pronto.

If you dive mostly in warm water, you might not need a wetsuit. Or, a leaky rental wetsuit won’t be a big deal. In very warm water, a cheap 1-2mm neoprene rash guard might be all that you need.

However, if you dive primarily in cold water or have poor circulation, you’ll need a wetsuit that keeps you warm without any holes or loose pockets for water to gather. According to an article on hypothermia and heat loss while diving by LeisurePro, “water conducts/draws away heat from a diver’s body almost 25 times more efficiently than air.” Staying warm is so important while diving and in this case, retaining heat with the help from a snug wetsuit is a top priority.

Ready to get your first wetsuit? Read our guide about the best wetsuits for diving and how to choose yours.

Try on many different brands, styles, and cuts to see what works for you. Remember that the wetsuit thickness and volume affects how much extra weight you’ll need and how flexible you can be.

Source https://www.theadventurejunkies.com/scuba-gear-buy-first/#:~:text=A%20dive%20mask%20should%20be%20the%20first%20piece,the%20Maldives%20or%20on%20airfare%20to%20dive%20Roatan.

Source https://www.social-diving.com/guides/scuba-gear-for-beginners/

Source https://www.theadventurejunkies.com/scuba-gear-buy-first/

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