There comes a point in every serious diver’s life where they feel compelled to stop using rental gear and take the plunge into buying their own equipment. This is different for every diver – some start their lessons with their own mask, fins, and snorkel as they may already own them or they just feel uncomfortable using equipment that’s been soaked in the saliva of another enthusiast. The fact is that these three pieces can be easily used again even if only for snorkeling off the beach.
Scuba Vs. Snorkel
If you do decide to purchase your own scuba diving gear, just make sure that it’s actually built for scuba diving and not just snorkeling. If you look at fins, for example, diving fins will typically be slightly longer than snorkeling fins to allow for propulsion in deep water. They also normally have an open heel to allow room for diving socks or boots which you’ll need in colder temperatures.
And squeamishness about other people’s saliva aside, if you plan to continue scuba diving, one of your first purchases should be your own diving computer. This is not a cheap purchase, but it’s something that could actually save your life. And although you may have been able to rent one when you took your lessons, you may not have this ability at every dive shop in Roatan or other Caribbean locations you end up visiting. Even a basic dive computer will keep you safe in the event that you lose your bearings or diving partner while underwater.
After a diving computer, mask, and fins, the next purchase considered is typically an exposure suit. Whether you choose to buy a wetsuit or a drysuit will really depend on the conditions you plan on diving in. If you only plan on diving in the tropics while on holidays, it may not matter as much what you’re using, but if you’ll be diving in cooler waters, a good wetsuit will prove invaluable. If you want to dive in cold waters you’ll definitely need to invest in a dry suit. The good thing about owning your own exposure suit is that you’ll have a consistent fit which isn’t always possible when renting.
Buoyancy Control Device
A personal Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) will give you depth control and make diving much more comfortable as you’ll be used to how its weight system works. This will allow you to choose your preferred depth quite easily without having to learn a new system. You’ll experience a consistent and comfortable fit, which, like exposure suits, may not always be easy when you’re renting.
Scuba Diving Regulator
A scuba diving regulator allows you to breathe underwater. Obviously, this is important when it comes to diving! It will also allow the integration of the rest of your equipment, such as your tanks and BCD, with your body. With your own regulator, you’ll know exactly when it was last serviced and it can be set up to suit your own personal tastes. Regulators can be expensive, so it might not be the first piece of diving gear you buy, but it will be an important purchase. Many people wait until they’re diving regularly before they buy a regulator.
About the Author: Karen K. is an avid scuba diver currently exploring the island of Roatan. She has been hanging around the beach at Blue Bahia Resort and usually can be found underwater.