Rental Gear 101

16 July 2009

Mask, snorkel, fins, hood, gloves, BCD, regulator, drysuit and tank...check!

One of the most frequent questions from would-be scuba divers is "how much does it cost to buy all of your equipment once you're certified?" And, depending on who you ask, the answer can sometimes deter one from taking the first step in exploring another world.

For the average diver, renting equipment at the beginning of your dive journey is an economical and intelligent way to go. Most scuba centers have rental departments and with a little forethought, you can enjoy the sport of scuba for the same price as any other one-day outdoor activity.

Forethought: Check out your local dive centers rental equipment. Visit three or four shops, compare pricing and actually LOOK at their gear.

How old is the equipment? Sure, the equipment will be "used", but if it appears more than a year old, you may want to keep shopping. Two years, on most rental equipment, is the max life. If the shop is managed properly, the daily rental rate should allow for upgrades every year or two on all of the vital rental equipment.

Is the equipment designed for local diving? If you're certified in a cold water environment, your instructor probably talked about weight integrated BCDs and how important it is to split your weights up, not wear a 30# weight belt that could slip off at depth. Are the BCD's weight integrated? Do the regulator sets come with a dive computer, or are you relegated to a gauge setup? Most dive centers have comparable rental pricing, so find the shop with the best (and safest) rental for your dollar.

Do your part. What size are you? How much weight do you wear? What size boot, hood, gloves? Some dive centers have the organizational ability to record all of this information, but the rental department in most locations is a "sideline" and, quite honestly, the staff doesn't usually have every customers size and weight recorded. If you're a frequent renter, ANY shop would be happy to keep a printed copy of your sizing and weight requirements so they can pull your gear with a simple phone call.

Scuba can be as costly of a sport (as can any other outdoor activity) as you'll allow. However, the undersea world is available to those who are wanting to start with baby steps first. Take the plunge, get certified. Daily rental rates generally run from $70-85 per day/weekend and offer the opportunity for a full day of diving beneath the waves in one of the most abundant ecosystems in the world.