10 TIPS FOR BUYING DIVE EQUIPMENT
- Mask: When choosing a mask, first try it out by looking at the ceiling while fitting the mask over your face (don’t use the strap). Feel for any gaps between the mask and your skin. Now inhale through your nose, the pressure of which should keep the mask secured to your face. Repeat the process with a mouthpiece in place. If the mask falls off, it’s too large. Try a smaller size.
- Fins: Fins come in various sizes, shapes and levels of stiffness. The two main types include the full foot fins, or the open heel fins. Stiffer fins are better suited for those divers with more muscular legs, or those who are a bit more experienced. Divers with smaller frames and those less experienced are best served by fins that are more flexible. Make sure the fins don’t pinch your toes, which can lead to muscle fatigue or leg cramps while in the water.
- Snorkel: There are basically three different types: Dry, semi dry and basic J. Dry should keep most of the water out. Semi Dry will have some design that directs most of the water from a wave to the outside of the tube. A J snorkel is just that, a j tube you put in your mouth to breath out of and still be able to keep your face in the water.
- Wetsuit: Form-fitting neoprene wetsuits come in a variety of styles. You’ll have to choose which millimeter thickness you want (the colder the water in which you’ll be diving, the thicker the wetsuit should be). Do you need a hood? Or a “shortie” rather than a full-body one-piece wetsuit? The suit should fit your body snugly. One that’s too loose won’t conserve your body heat as well, and one that’s too tight will cut off circulation to your hands and feet.
- Buy gear at your skill level. Some new divers get caught up in the thrill of their new hobby, and wind up overspending on top-of-the-line gear that doesn’t best serve their needs. It’s smarter to purchase basic gear while still learning, and upgrade piece by piece as your skills advance over time.
- Try before you buy. Many dive shops have their own rental gear, which you should make use of while you’re in the market for your own. Try out several different brands to see which you like most.
- Solicit opinions. Ask fellow divers (and especially your instructors) about what they like or don’t like about their own gear. And you can always ask through any number of message boards devoted to diving. You also want to take into account, when looking on the internet, the fact that anyone can sound like an expert. Vet your sources to keep from being disappointed.
- Rent instead? Depending on how often you plan to dive, it may make more financial sense for you to rent your equipment. If you’re only planning to dive once or twice a year while on vacation, maybe you don’t need more than a mask, fins and snorkel. If, however, you intend to dive with any regularity, or in different environments — open ocean, grottos, quarries, etc. — then it’s better to have your own gear.
- Studies have shown that people with gear that they own, look for reasons to dive. People that don’t invest in gear tend to look for reasons not to dive. The best way to get good at diving is to go diving! The more confidence you have the more you go diving.
- Forget the flashy. Some buyers can fall for whatever gear seems “coolest” or “flashiest” on the sales floor. Beware of this. What looks most cool isn’t necessarily what’s ideal for you. It’s always smarter to buy the gear that best fits you physically, and that also falls within your budget range. Your wallet will thank you.
- Take care of your gear. It saves you money in the long run. After every dive it’s important to rinse your gear in fresh water. Saltwater is particularly corrosive to dive equipment. Wetsuits should be washed with special wetsuit shampoo, and everything should be thoroughly dried before storage to prevent mildewing. Get more complicated equipment like regulators, dive computers or tanks serviced regularly by a trained technician.
Bird’s Underwater is a ScubaPro Platinum Dealer that can help with your diving needs, from gear rentals and equipment repair to sales. Contact them today at 352-563-2763 to learn more.