It isn’t worth buying diving gear prior to taking your first course for a couple of reasons, firstly – there’s the (small) chance that you may not feel that diving is a sport for you after all, and secondly, you won’t have had any practical experience using different types of equipment and therefore won’t really know what suits you best. Trying on a mask in a shop is very different to wearing a mask for 30 minutes underwater.
Diving is an equipment intensive sport. Unlike jogging or soccer – where all that are needed are shorts, t-shirt, socks and the appropriate footwear, diving requires a variety of specialised equipment. It’s important that although a lot of equipment is required, it is all necessary in order to dive safely. Each item was developed to perform a specific function.
Owning your own equipment will enhance your enjoyment of the sport. Of course you will always be able to rent equipment no matter where you choose to dive, but do you really want to rely on much-used rental equipment for your personal safety and enjoyment of diving?
The best way to ensure that gear fits and is comfortable is to use your own. You will know how to operate it properly and will have looked after it responsibly. You will know the condition of your gear, where it has been, and who has been using it. That familiarity contributes to the highest level of safety, which in turn gives you peace of mind when underwater.
A basic set of equipment would include a mask, snorkel and fins. All enthusiastic snorkellers probably own this gear already. Divers who have completed their Open Water course will probably be looking to add a Regulator and Buoyancy Compensator to the basic equipment. A wrist worn Dive Computer is a very handy piece of equipment to have when diving in unfamiliar waters. Wetsuits come in all styles – some suitable for cold water diving others for warm water such as those found off Koh Chang. . Unless you know where you will be doing most of your diving a wetsuit probably isn’t a necessary purchase as dive shops will rent suits to fit the local waters. Fit and comfort , and not fashion, are the main criteria you should use when selecting gear.
You will find the process of buying dive gear is fun, adds to your knowledge of diving and also ensures that the gear you dive with does what you want it to do the way you want it to. Owning dive gear also marks you out as a serious diver and motivates you to dive more often . . . . . which can only be a good thing!
Now let’s look at each piece of kit in more detail.