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Equipment and the Academy of Scuba

Scuba diving is an equipment intensive sport. Breathing and exploring is not normal for us land-walking mammals. Scuba diving requires the training, familiarization, and use of all types of equipment. As a diver matures, the use of different equipment for different types of diving only adds to the complexity of equipment selection. Equipment selection should not be a cavalier or impulsive purchase. It is life support equipment. Proper training, fit, comfort, and practice makes this equipment feel like a second skin. Proper maintenance is essential to the proper performance of all Scuba gear. Buy right, buy once. This is the mantra of advanced divers!

Selecting Personal Scuba Equipment
Personal Scuba Diving Equipment includes: (1) Mask (2) Snorkel (3) Fins (4) Timing Device (watch, bottom timer, or computer). Generally, most dive shops or charter operators do not rent personal dive equipment. There are many sizing options and "fit" issues. With this in mind it is not economically or logistically viable when, for a few hundred dollars, most divers can be outfitted with some great choices in personal dive gear.

Being that this is personal dive gear, fit is essential! You have to try it on. When buying fins, you have to try the boots on with the fins (if open heel). Masks are very individual and fit directly on the face and create a seal. I am not saying you can’t buy through a catalog or Internet, but you have to try it on first. Treat personal gear as such. A nice mesh bag to keep it all in is a very nice add-on.

Buying versus Renting
Familiarity of gear is an essential component to advancing your diving skills. Call it muscle memory. That's why most golfers don't rent clubs. When you rent, there is an adjustment period for familiarizing yourself with the gear you have rented.

Additionally, when renting gear, you do not know its history or maintenance cycles. How can you rely on gear to save your life when you don’t know its history or if it has been maintained appropriately? Additionally, rental gear tends to be the lowest cost, most basic setups available in the market. How far would you want to take basic dive equipment? Lastly, the pure economist in me just hates putting money into other people’s pocket. Most dive rental gear is paid for over and over again. If you buy right, that equity is yours to keep. Of course, the reward is far greater than economical. Divers who own their own equipment have a safer, longer, more enjoyable experience exploring the underwater kingdom.

The Pitfalls of Used Gear
Full Disclosure: I don’t support purchasing used gear!
Most used gear is poorly maintained, misused, broken, out-dated, and lacks the necessary qualities for an advanced diver to progress with his/her skills. Now, I am not going to say I have never bought used gear. But, I have done so with the knowledge of who owned it before and how they stored and used it. Additionally, I usually insist that it undergoes maintenance before buying it. I at least know it is in working condition and safe to use. When buying used gear, you do so under the auspice of Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware).

Computers Helping Divers Stay Safe
Dive computers are an essential piece of gear for advanced divers. Dive computers are another tool that a Scuba diver can employ to not only increase bottom times, but also increase safety. Dive computers monitor (conservatively) decompression profiles and have time, depth, and ascent alarms (both visual and audible). Some dive computers also monitor air consumption and tank pressure. These air integrated computers generally have a lower margin of error than analog gauges (at lower pressures).

Recreational, Advanced, and Technical Divers can benefit from dive computers. Dive computers require about as much training as dive tables. Don’t make the same mistake many divers make by purchasing a computer and relying on trial by error as your training guide.

As you progress through your diving education, your experience, your local dive shop and your mentors will help guide you through equipment choices. Don’t underestimate trying new gear configurations or be afraid to purchase more gear. Many of us, once we buy our first set, think we have finished. However, trying new gear and further using that new gear can be rewarding and exciting.

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Brands at Academy of Scuba
Akona (by Sherwood)
Amphibious Outfitters
APS Mantaray
Atomic Aquatics
Cramer Decker
Fourth Element
Franko’s Maps
Glo Toob
I-Dive (by Trident)
Innovative Scuba Concepts
IST / Dolphin Tech
JBL Spearguns
Light & Motion
Light Monkey
Liquivision Computers
McNett Diving
Ocean Rhino Spearguns
OMS Dive Systems
OTS Full Face Mask
Pinnacle Aquatics
Sea Dive
Surf Fur Jackets
Trident Dive Products
XS Scuba

Photographic Equipment
SeaLife Cameras
Bonica Cameras
Ikelite U/W Systems