Here at the Gili IDC we always tell people to shop around a bit, but to also be careful. Of course the next question is “What do you mean by, be careful”?
So hopefully this article will help divers of all levels choose the right equipment for them.
Should I buy my scuba gear from my local dive shop?
The most common ways of buying scuba equipment are to either purchase it online, or to buy it from your local dive shop. Online purchases can be a good idea if you know exactly what you want and the price is right, but there are some common pitfalls associated with online purchases.
Make sure that the item is exactly what you want and also make sure you have seen and tried the item in the particular size that you are ordering. We often hear stories of people who have had an item such as a wetsuit of a BCD in a certain size and decided to go online and purchase a new brand, however when they have gone to use the item concerned it turns out that another size may have been more appropriate. Other thing to consider when buying online is to make sure all the accessories are included, for example make sure a regulator includes the primary and alternate octopus. We have often seen people who find a much better price online for a regulator set, only to find that the online price did not include the alternate octopus or a BCD which did not include the weight pockets or the back plate.
Buying from your local dive shop can often be a more favored option. Not only do you get a more personal service from dive professionals who work within the industry on a daily basis, but also you will often get to try the equipment on allowing you to check the size and comfort properties. Dive shops often get updates from manufactures about their latest products and get first hand reviews from the industry and from their customers and often have direct access to distributers and the associated deals or special offers. There is also a matter of supporting your local dive shop and its staff. Diving can be a very expensive activity, not only for the customer but also for the shop. In many cases a small dive shop will be barely making ends meat, with instructors being paid very little. I have often overheard instructors saying “I’m not in it for the money, but it’s my passion”. In many places you will find that equipment sales can form the majority of an instructor’s income, and I would be a shame to see enthusiastic and passionate dive professional’s fall by the wayside.
Which Brand should I choose?
When buying equipment there are a number of factors to consider. Dive equipment should be seen as an investment and can last a long time with the correct care and servicing. You will find many seasoned dive professionals who have had the same equipment for many years. As a professional it is always a good idea to weigh up cost with time; if it lasts for several years and makes your life easier it will be well worth it. If on the other hand you take one dive trip a year you may wish to sacrifice the quality in respect of some financial saving.
Maintenance is also another issue. It is important to consider that most dive shops will only service equipment that they have sold and it is dependent upon were you are in the world, a manufacturer may not have a service center or distributer in your local area. This can be a big problem for professionals sometimes having to send their equipment halfway round the world for repairs and servicing, leaving them out of pocket due to postage costs and having to rent a suitable replacement. Particularly in the case of professionals, it is always a good idea to purchase your dive gear in the area that you are training or working. It is also a good idea to buy the equipment from you training facility or directly from the distributer.
Again especially as a professional diver it is important to remember that your dive equipment accompanies you on every dive and can be considered an extension of you, fulfilling not only the comfort factors of your dive, but also potentially becoming your life support system . Therefore the experience properties of the dive rely heavily on the equipment, which makes your choice of equipment not only an important choice but an extremely personal choice.
There are some fantastic resources available to you before purchasing your own equipment. All manufacturers provide online specification sheets, magazines are constantly reviewing the marketplace, and of course the dive professionals themselves. Being directly on the frontline, instructors and dive masters not only get constant updates from manufacturers and distributers, they see all the latest’s equipment being tried and tested by customers every day in the field.
New or Secondhand?
As your dive equipment can potentially become your life support it is important to exercise a degree of caution when buying used equipment. It can never be recommended to buy used equipment off of the internet where one has no idea of its usage or service history.
If buying secondhand becomes the only option than a good idea is to approach your local training facility or other dive shops in the area. You can often find good deals on ex rental equipment and although there may be an element of high usage, you are safe in the knowledge that the equipment has been regularly maintained and serviced and should you have any problems the dive shop knows the equipment.
Of course buying second hand will not usually come with a warranty of any description so, there will be additional costs should something go wrong with the item.
Hopefully we have been able to provide a comprehensive guide to buying your scuba diving equipment.
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