Choosing your Scuba Gear - Part 2

15 June 2009

Now that you've made your list of things you want to do in the new world underwater, it's time to make some SMART equipment choices. Your next step is information gathering.

Manufacturers websites and brochures can let you see what's available. Often, they will explain the function of the equipment, activities and temperatures it's rated for, and the benefits their particular brand provides. Sometimes this will help narrow down the field. If you're wanting to pursue deep wreck diving and a technical diving path, you'll save money at the start by purchasing a back plate and wing set up, rather than a BCD like you trained in your class with.

Watch your local area for DEMO DAYS. A small number of companies have stepped up to the plate (DUI, Bare, Dive Rite, Whites) to offer the diving public a chance to try out the equipment prior to purchase. Let's hope these events prove successful and more manufacturers choose this path.

If theres' a dive show in your area, take a full day and talk to manufacturers representatives about their products. The representatives are not only familiar with the line they carry, but with their competitors products as well. Representatives have a vested interest in steering you towards a good buying decision, not just "their favorite BCD" in the line.

Then there's your dive buddies. This is a channel I would avoid. Everyone will tell you they have the best gear. (Even though it's the ONLY gear they've ever tried) Here lies the opportunity for misinformation to sink in. Often divers buy what their instructor uses and this can have a causal effect that everyone in their circle dives the same drysuit, regardless of the quality of the suit in reality.

Also, professional instructors often receive financial rewards for a student purchasing through the shop. This can be good...or bad. A quality instructor will assure you have the proper gear for what YOU want it for. This builds a good, long term relationship with the student. But often, an instructor, no matter how good intentioned, will be limited to the selection in their shop, and may opt to interest you in slow moving items in the store, rather than direct you to a competitor.

Now, start to gather the information about the equipment. Next article, we'll talk about being a SMART SHOPPER.