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To get started, every diver - regardless of the type of diving - needs a scuba mask, snorkel, and dive fins. All forms of Scuba diving require a buoyancy compensation device (BCD), dive computer, scuba regulator and octopus setup, compass, pressure and depth gauges, and dive weights. Depending on the conditions you’ll be diving in, you might want to add a rash guard, dive skin, or wetsuit (or a combination). A hood and gloves might also be a consideration. For safety, you’ll want to look into a reel, safety sausage and/or signaling devices, and at least one clip. Finally, if you plan to dive a lot, you might consider investing in your own tanks as well. What’s all this mean? Let’s dive into it:
Scuba Masks: Do I really need one? A mask provides protection for your eyes from the water and particles in the water. It also provides an air space which allows your eyes to focus better when you’re in the water. So yes, you do need one. Everything else is based on personal preference. For a breakdown of the different categories and types of masks, check out our Scuba Masks page.
Scuba Snorkels: Necessary device used on the surface to breathe when your face is in the water. You’d think a snorkel is just a snorkel, but there are options and features.
Dive Fins: Necessary because they make moving through the water much easier. You don’t realize how much they help until you take them off. There are so many options - where do you start? For more on the differences in the fins and guidance on selecting the right fins for you and your dives, check out our page dedicated to Scuba Fins.
Scuba BCDs (Buoyancy Compensation Device): What you need to know is that this is basically a vest that you wear like a backpack. Your tank attaches to the back of the BCD, it usually has pockets to hold your weights, and there’s an inflation valve and several dump (deflation) valves that allow you to establish neutral buoyancy underwater and positive buoyancy on the surface. Here’s your roadmap for navigating through the many considerations and options for your Scuba BCD.
Dive Computers: wrist, console, transmitter...It’s so confusing. We got you. The basics here boil down to personal preference again and how technical you want to get with it. You need a dive computer so you can keep track of the vital information on your dive: how long you’ve been down, how long you have before you need to surface, dive planning, dive logs, and to monitor things like depth, ascent rate, safety stop, etc. Each computer is different and we get more into the specifics and considerations on our Dive Computers page.
Scuba Regulator & Octopus setup: This is the dive equipment that allows you to breathe the air from your Scuba tank. You breathe off the scuba regulator and, when necessary, your dive buddy would breathe off the Scuba Octopus (aka Scuba Octo). There are lots of designs and options - you just want to make certain to choose a set that will perform in the conditions you intend to dive in.
Compass: Every diver needs one at all times. You’ll use it to take a heading when you enter the water and to find your way back to the boat. If you don’t know how to use a compass, you’ll learn in your Scuba certification course. A compass is as fancy or basic as you want to get, just make certain it’s made for use underwater and is rated for the depth(s) you’re looking to dive.
Pressure Gauge: This tells you the pressure in your tank at all times, which translates into how much air remains. This is not something you want to take any risks with. Being something you will likely check more than anything on your dives, make sure you can read your pressure gauge easily and in any conditions. If your computer monitors tank pressure, you may not need a seperate pressure gauge.
Depth Gauge: Tells you how deep you are. Yep. It’s that simple. If you have a dive computer that includes this information, this is optional.
Dive Weights: Used to compensate for your natural buoyancy combined with wetsuits and gear. How much weight you need depends on your weight, the weight of your gear and how buoyant your wetsuit is. There are hard and soft dive weights - again, largely based on personal preference.
Rash Guards, Skins, and Wetsuits: A rash guard is a tight fitting (some are looser) long sleeve shirt that will protect your arms and torso from the elements, including the sun. These are usually made from a lightweight material that will shift and move easily with your body. A dive skin is a lightweight piece typically made from lycra that’s best described as a full body bathing suit. It covers your arms, legs, and torso, providing a minimal layer of protection from the elements. Wetsuits are heavier, typically made from neoprene and generally provide more thermal protection. They vary in thickness (usually 2.5mm to 7mm) and come in shorty (covers your torso, has short sleeves and short legs), full (covers your torso, long sleeves and long legs), or 2-piece (usually an overalls style bottom with a long sleeve style jacket/top). Yes, we have more info on how to select the right rash guard, skin, or wetsuit.
Hoods: These are typically made from lycra or neoprene, slip over your head and cover your head and neck. Some have a ‘skirt’ which is just extra material at the bottom of the hood so you can tuck it into your wetsuit for more protection. Generally used for added warmth and protection from stinging sea creatures, these are not necessary but sometimes a good idea. Check out our page on why you might want to pick up a Dive Hood.
Gloves: Another personal preference item and these vary in thickness, features, and intended functions. Some dive gloves are intended specifically for warmth, some are for protection from the environment/elements/stinging organisms.
Scuba Tanks: You need tanks, whether you buy or rent them, because they hold the air you breathe while underwater. We discuss the differences between aluminum and steel tanks as well as sizes over on our Scuba Tanks page.
Additional Safety items: There are additional safety items you’ll want to consider like dive reels, a safety sausage and signaling devices. Not required as you start diving and get certified, but items you’ll want to pick up as you begin to dive outside your courses. You’ll want to check out our Scuba Diving Safety Gear page for more details.
In addition to all of the above, night dives and low visibility dives add the need for dive lights. Underwater photography presents the opportunity for all kinds of camera equipment, including trays, housings, lights, etc. We won’t get into those specifics here, but know that these and many more options are out there - and we’re here to help you with those choices too.
Truth is, there are advantages to both. If you’re honestly only going to dive once or twice a year, do you really need to buy gear? Maybe. Let’s explore both options.
Renting SCUBA Gear
Advantages include traveling lighter, which means you won’t have to pack up all your scuba gear or worry about weight limits or the added costs of multiple checked bags at the airport. Another advantage is that when you rent gear, you have everything you need, there’s no leaving something at home (or on the dive boat) accidentally. Often, we think another advantage to renting is that it costs less if we’re not diving often. This can be true, but there are times when it’s not.
Buying SCUBA Gear
When you buy SCUBA gear, you’re making an investment in your diving. Not just a financial investment, but an emotional investment as well. When you have the gear at home, you’re more likely to be active in the sport. And you’re ready to dive at a moment’s notice. So when you get invited to join someone for a dive at the last minute...you don’t have to find a dive operation that’s open with gear available in your size to rent. So the question becomes...are you a diver?
You want to take the time to research gear before you buy. The right gear for a 5’4” female doing recreational dives in warm waters will be very different from the right gear for a 6’2” male doing tech dives in the cave systems or even wrecks. Your height, weight, build, physical fitness, and rate of breathing all play into what scuba gear will be right for you. Additionally, we need to take into account what conditions you’ll be diving in, where you intend to do most of your diving, etc. Once you have all that settled, you’ll have the gear you need and it’ll perform the way you want it to perform.
When you buy gear, you know when it was last serviced, how many dives it’s been on between servicing, you know how to operate it without thinking, and you know all the quirks - the ins and outs of that particular set of gear. And you know with confidence, each time you put it on, that it’s going to work in the conditions you’re diving in. You did the research ahead of time and made sure to buy gear for the way you wanted to dive. Maybe even bought gear with more features than you need because you knew you’d want to expand your field of experience at some point.
And for the stuff nobody wants to talk about: rental gear is...well...used. Think about what you do in your wetsuit. And with spit being the best de-fog out there...yeah. Lots more we could talk about here, but we think you get the gist.
Additionally, when you own your gear, you know how much weight you need for buoyancy. Overweighting or underweighting on a dive both cause problems. And as most of us are sensitive to maximizing dive time, we don’t want to be the one to hold things up while getting it just right.
Finally, there’s the safety issue. When you know your gear, you can respond to emergencies and problems at depth without even thinking. However, when you don’t know your gear, something as simple as finding that dump valve near your butt can become a serious problem quickly. Still think renting gear costs less in the grand scheme of things?
It all boils down to this: When you dive, you want gear that’s comfortable. And when your butt starts inexplicably heading for the surface (we’ve all been there), you’re familiar enough with your scuba gear that you know how to correct the error quickly and easily. Major factors in safety while diving are comfort, fit, familiarity, and function. When you own your scuba gear, you are in control of all of these.
A scuba gear package is an easy way to get everything you need for diving. Most gear packages have a special, lower price and include your regulator, octo, dive computer, and BCD. Some of the packages include more gear while a few of them include a little less.
Gear packages provide the added benefit of knowing that everything in the package is intended to work together, so you’re not buying extra pieces that you don’t need. They also make it easy to buy gear specifically tailored to your needs. The most popular gear packages include packages intended for novice divers, more experienced divers, dive travel, and packages tailored for women.
Outfitting scuba divers with all their dive gear needs for over 35 years, we understand there are many dive shops to choose from when selecting your scuba gear. We appreciate you trusting us with your dive equipment needs. To express that appreciation, we offer you the best prices combined with world class customer service and our Direct Rewards program that lets you earn free gear every time you purchase. Our staff of dive gear professionals listen to understand your concerns and then recommend gear based on your responses and our experience. Our team is made up of divers like you.
We offer a huge selection of the top brands of Scuba gear, dive gear, clothing, and accessories at the best prices, guaranteed. An Authorized Dealer for every product we sell, most items are eligible for free shipping and come with the manufacturer’s warranty.
If you don't find the scuba gear you’re looking for, let us know. We can special order the dive gear you need at no additional cost. For more information, contact us at 1-800-DIVE-USA.
There are so many options...where do you start? Don’t worry, we got you.
First, we need to determine what type of scuba diving you’ll be doing. Recreational (Open Water) diving requires different equipment than wreck diving, tech diving, cave diving, cold water diving, low visibility diving, night diving, deep diving, etc. A lot of divers start out thinking they’ll just do recreational diving, then discover they actually love tech diving. No worries. We’ll help you when you get there too.
Additional considerations when looking to buy dive gear include: the conditions you’ll be diving in, whether you’re diving with air or nitrox / enriched air, or even tri-mix, if you get cold easily, are doing shark dives, etc. There’s also a difference in the gear you want if you’re driving to all of your dive sites and dive boats versus traveling to your destinations (i.e. cruise or airplane). You might even want two sets of gear - one for home and one for travel. And then you have women’s dive gear. Yes, there is a difference.
What does all that mean? Let’s break it down:Recreational diving aka Open Water diving: This is typically defined as dives down to about 65 feet and includes all your scuba diving down to that depth. You’ll need a mask, fins, BCD, weights, air, depth gauge, pressure gauge, compass, and regulator set (including octopus). You might want to add a wetsuit and if swimming on the surface a long distance, a snorkel.
Wreck diving: In addition to everything you want for Recreational diving, you’re going to need to add a reel and dive light for wreck penetration. Plus, you’re going to want to get certified on Wreck diving to make sure you know everything you need to know to penetrate wrecks safely.
Cold Water diving adds the considerations of warmth and gear performance. You’re going to want to choose gear that will provide the warmth you need for the temperatures you’re diving in as well as gear rated for the temperatures you’re looking to dive in. For example, you’ll want a regulator tailored to function properly in cold water. You don’t want your regulator freezing up when you need air.
Low Visibility diving and Night diving: You might want to choose gear that is highly visible. Meaning you might want those bright yellow fins instead of the black ones for these dives. You’re going to want lights so you can find your dive buddy. Before you venture down this path, you’re going to want to get certified in Low Visibility and/or Night diving so you’re prepared to dive successfully.
Deep dives: We cannot stress how important it is to get certified for Deep dives before you go out and try to do one. For these dives, you will absolutely want to take a primary and backup dive light, ensure your gear is rated for the depth you intend to dive, and make sure your dive computer has the features you’re going to rely on for these dives. We highly recommend you consider a pony bottle (small scuba tank meant for reserve/emergency use), and possibly staging bottles (bottles left at a certain depth just in case you need them). Details on these considerations are on each of the gear category pages.
Tech diving and Cave diving require additional certifications and specialized gear. We would prefer to work with you one on one when you get into this realm so we can make certain you have the gear you need specifically for the dives you’re looking to get into.
We highly recommend deciding what type of dives you plan to engage in before buying dive gear so you avoid buying a full set of gear that you’ll never use. This is one of those times that our experience will save you a lot of hassle, time, and money. It might seem like a lot, but we’re with you every step of the way.