Great dive equipment tips from a gear Tek.

Aqualung, TUSA, Forth Element, Waterproof and many more. All these brands on the market, but what to buy and where to buy them?

This is a question as old as time and while some people have a good idea of the gear they need, for others, sifting through the countless brands available can be daunting. Here is my guide to help you get what you need, while avoiding spending your retirement fund on dive gear!

  • Choose a reputable dive shop, close to home: Supporting your local dive shop is really important in giving back to your dive community. Let’s discuss the term “reputable” – this is a dive centre that prides itself on customer service and always has your best interests in mind. Choose a shop that takes your qualification level, budget and specific needs into account instead of pushing the most expensive, top of the range gear that might not suit your needs!
  • How easy is it to get your gear serviced? Can you get your new dive equipment serviced locally or does it need to book a flight, this is when a general service becomes very expensive, so the closer to home the better.
  • Does your gear suit your base requirements and not break the bank. The most expensive gear does not always mean it is the best equipment for you or your intended type of diving, so research is very important before making a purchase.
  • How is dive gear broken up into tiers? So, when it comes to how gear is broken up into different price points is actually quite simple. Tier 3 or less expensive gear is produced mostly for dive shops as rental gear, cheap to maintain and easy to replace. That being said it’s also great for the newly qualified diver that maybe dives a few times a year. Tier 2 or mid-price range is aimed at the recreational diver that would do a number of trips a year and rack up a number of in water hours. This is normally a little more expensive but still affordable in the long run due to the features of the equipment and the demands of the diver. Tier 1 is normally the most expensive gear that is available but comes with all the bells and whistles. Mostly this is aimed at the professional and dive enthusiasts out there that live by the mantra eat, sleep, dive, repeat. This gear is feature rich and very adaptable but comes at a price which for an individual that is looking at working in the industry or dives year-round makes financial sense.

When adding equipment to your dive bag or getting your first set there is a method that I like to use. I always suggest to people that they should invest in a mask first, a mask can make or break a dive so find one that fits properly and suits your specific needs. The second item would be a wetsuit, this might require a bit of research as to which one you should buy for certain environments but a good full length 5mm wetsuit is probably the most versatile available, and additional layers can be introduced in the form of rash guards and neoprene vests for colder environments. Thirdly fins are next on the list, there are many fin types to choose from but one that fits your dive environment, for example shore or boat diving and weather you require dive boots is a good place to start. Next you want to look at the blade of the fin and its length, this will give you an idea of how much water it will move in a single kick cycle and how much effort it will take from you to move the fin in the water, a ratio of little effort to maximum propulsion is advised. Try to steer clear of gimmicks and fin features that don’t make sense to you. Lastly after a period of renting and diving with a BCD and regulator from your local shop or a dive resort, look into buying your own and as always do your own research before your purchase.

Once you have dived into the endless sea of dive gear that is available to you as a consumer and chosen equipment that meets your needs it is very important to maintain your investment as best as you can.

  • One of the easiest ways to make sure that you do not have a fault with your regulator is by following the age-old method of replacing the dust cap into its intended position before soaking in fresh water. This is an action that all divers know is important but is often forgotten and can lead to the failure of not only the first stage of your regulator but all of the other components, especially your pressure gauge. Replacement of this cap is also necessary because general wear also occurs over time and can lead to water entering the first stage without noticing.
  • Another trick is when drying or storing your gear make sure that it is in a position that allows any water to slowly drain, with a regulator make sure that the first stage is positioned above all the other components and the hoses are hanging free. With your BCD make sure that the bladder and inflator hose are water free to firstly combat corrosion and secondly eliminate the possibility of mold setting into your gear.
  • One more thing to remember when storing your gear is to do so in a well-ventilated container or cabinet that won’t allow it to start to become moldy as mentioned above. The inset of mold will also start to degrade certain parts of the gear and possibly make it necessary to have get it serviced more often than desired.
  • I also have a rule that I like abide by when it comes to how frequent you get your gear serviced by an accredited service technician and that is simply a duration of 6 months or 300 dives whichever comes first. Please also make sure that the technician is certified by the brand of gear that you own, to do the service required. No brand is the same and don’t put your safety at risk.
  • I would also suggest enrolling in an equipment specialist course that is offered by PADI in order to be able to deal with novel gear related problems and to avoid missing that dive because of an issue. This course allows you to be aware of things that you might have to deal with or potentially ways to avoid certain problems in the future.

Words: Jethro