Welcome to the world of diving! Now a certified diver, you have a relationship with your local dive shop (LDS) and you want to buy dive gear. . . . as well as, your LDS wants to sell you gear.
Full-jacket BCs, BCs with back-plates, weight-integrated BC, open heel fins, full-foot fins, jet fins, force fins, slates, knifes, snorkel that fold, booties, 3mm wetsuits, 5/4 wetsuits, dive skins, “safety sausages”, this carabiner clip, the clip that extends. . . is your head turning in circles yet? If not, it should be.
Dive shops in the US are there for you to learn to dive and then, sell you gear. The bottom line is, dive shops do not make their money by teaching, but they “make their biggest profit margin when they do sell you gear”, according to Dean Hollis, owner of DiVentures/Omaha, NE. While it is very important to support your local dive center, do not “jump in over your head”.
My first advice to you is do not rush into buying dive gear, however, if you wish to buy, start with the “absolute essentials”. Maybe the smaller things that are really important such as mask or fins. (Airlines, travel, and luggage restrictions may play a role in your decision too).
Hopefully, your local dive center has allowed you to try different gear during your training. This would certainly be advantageous to the dive center, and to the potential-gear-buyer, too and may have been part of your decision on choosing a dive center. Having the opportunity to try “different gear” and learn more about it, will allow you to make a more informed decision when it comes time to shelling out a few thousand dollars.
When buying gear, take into consideration where you are diving! In the Caribbean, we see a lot of divers with open heel fins and booties. Not so unusual, right? Not at all, but with water temperatures in the 80s, do new divers need to deal with booties, an article of dive gear that may sometimes cause buoyancy issues.
Hollis pointed out that booties are essential for divers who frequent Bonaire, a destination that is known for shore diving. Whereas Cayman is mostly boat dives or “easy access” shore dives and thus, neoprene booties are not needed. A simple, full-foot, slip-on fin will do the job. At Off The Wall Divers, our staff of three (3) dive a full-foot fins, with two (2) of us currently wearing the Mares Plana Avanti – it is easy to slip-on, very comfortable and provides any power we need.
While we (dive professionals) are not here to dictate what gear you buy or do not buy, but we are interested in helping you and getting you to purchase what works best for you.
Here is a quick story: walked into a major dive supply shop here in Cayman, and a gentleman (mid 30s) was looking at gear. He had a wings-style BC laid out with a backplate. He indicated he was looking to buy some gear interested in doing a course and I said, “oh, are you interested in a technical course?” He replied, “no, I’m not certified. I want to do my open water”.
The question arises, “why are you looking at this gear?” Here is a gentleman that just has “too much $$$ burning a hole in his pocket.” This type of BC is not made for a “new diver”. (We’ll address gear specifics in a future blog).
So, when buying gear, here are some things to consider:
* where will you be diving
* what type of special gear do you need
* ask for help from you local dive shop or dive instructor – use the sources you have
* don’t be forced into a decision you will regret later
* when doing dive training, ask your dive shop if they have different gear you can try – make an informed decision
Feel free to contact Off The Wall Divers at anytime regarding dive gear. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our “chat” on this website. S.A.F.E diving to all!
My wife and I recently visited OTW Divers while on a cruise. We were able to get two dives logged while in Grand Cayman. They were very friendly and helpful in every way. Both beginner and experienced divers would enjoy this crew. A big thanks to Tom, Kelly, Megan, and Hayley. You guys are truly awesome!!