‘What scuba equipment should I buy first?’ Is a very common question that our PADI Instructors and PADI Divemasters get asked by certified divers and beginners looking to really get invoved in diving. It is also a very good question as getting the right scuba gear can drastically improve your diving experience and make diving easier for you. Now obviously the type of gear you buy depends on your budget and diving needs so we will attempt to give a generic guide to the order you should buy gear in and try to answer what ‘scuba equipment should I buy first?’
We go underwater to see things. As such a good scuba diving mask is the most important item a diver should buy. It’s not at the top end of the expense scale of dive equipment and a well-fitting, comfortable mask really can make a difference to how you percieve your dive experience. All divers have individual preferences for their masks such as clear/black silicone, window size, window style, mask strap for example. You should try as many masks as possible to find the one that works for you. A final piece of advice. When you find a mask you like. Buy two in case you misplace or break it.
The natural companion to the mask, a decent snorkel is a great piece of scuba equipment to have. It enables you to enjoy the ocean in a non-diving relaxing snorkeling or freediving environment and is a required piece of scuba equipment for most training agencies. Snorkels come in a different range of styles and materials so you should consult your PADI dive centre where you are buying it on the best type for you. If you are just using it for snorkeling and diving then it should have a good purge valve and easy attachment to the mask. If you are using it for other activities as well such as freediving then you might want a snorkel that floats and doesn’t have the purge valve. If you want to be able to store the snorkel in your BCD pocket then a folddable snorkel might be the right choice for you. but it is an inexpensive vital piece of dive equipment and should be in the first set you buy.
On your PADI Open Water course you were taught to use fins and how to kick correctly. Fins are also a lower costing piece of scuba equipment and there is a weide range fo fin styles and materials available out there. First up the question is what kind of water you will be diving in. If it is not tropical water you will probably want a fin that can be worn with boots, whereas the full foot fins are preferred by some for tropical conditions. Again trying different fins is crucial to finding the one that works best for you and the style and weight might be a factor if you are planning on travlling a lot.
In this modern world dive computers are more and more evident on divers and an absllute must for regular divers. While it is important for you to learn and know how to use dive tables such as the PADI RDP, a dive computer will constantly recaculagte your no decompression limit as you change depths, keeping you constantly informed of your safety margins. It will also show you your depth and dive time and the higher end models can offer advanced features like air integration, gas switching and even heart monitoring in some cases. A dive computer is a vital piece of safety scuba equipment and an excellent buy for all divers.
5. Exposure Suit
Keeping warm and comfortable is very important to your enjoyment of a dive. As such wearing the approriate exposure suit, which fits you properly is absolutely vital. Now this all depends on the type and temperature of water you wish to dive in. For tropical conditions you might be ok with a rash guard, thermal rash guard or a shorty wetsuit. As the water gets colder then you will be looing at long thicker wetsuits or even a dry suit. This is not something you want to be cheap on and make sure it fits well to get the maximum enjoyment out of your diving. For dry suits you will need extra training in how to use the dry suit.
A good BCD is a great piece of scuba equipment to own. Having a BCD that fits absolutely correctly, and has the features you prefer can really aid your diving comfort, position and abiity to carry items underwater. BCDs care generally one of three styles, jacket style, wing style or a hybrid. There is also the option to use sidemount rigs. The BCD you use should suit the type of diving youi like and be the right item for other factors such as travel and attaching items. Having your own BCD is a must once you get into diving seriously and you should try as many styles as possible to find the one that best suits you.
7. Regulator, Alternate Air Source & Gauges
While the most important piece of the delivery system taking air from the scuba cylinder to the diver, the regulator is not size specific and can be quite pricey so we recommend this this is the final main piece of diving equipment that you purchase. This another piece of equipment that the conditions that you will use it in shoudl eb examined as special features such as environmental seals are needed for colder water. You will also need to decide whether you want a balanced or unbalanced regulator, what type of tank connection (Yoke or DIN) you prefer and the weight of the regulator with regards to travel. The type of alternate air source you want to use can also vary with some divers prefering to have an octopus, some an AIR2 and some a completely redundant air source. Consult your PADI pro for more information.
Being totally honest it is always better to have your own scuba equipment if you wish to pursue scuba diving as an ongoing hobby. Buy what you can afford and go for the piece of equipment that suits you. Just because it is the most expensive does not necessarily mean that it is the right thing for you. Your dive professional will be delighted to assist you in purchasing the right set of equipment. Try different styles of equipment. Ask other divers if you can try a piece they own. A lot of dive centres wl have trial equipment. Be weary of buyinmg online if you haven’t tried a piece of equipment. It is always better to go and try it out at your local dive centre to make sure it is the right fit and style. If you have any questions about anything in this article contact us at Ocean Tribe and we will be delighted to helpo in any way we can.