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Scuba Gear on a budget

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by gcbryan, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. gcbryan

    gcbryan One Bad Hombre

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Seattle
    New divers frist looking at equipment are frequently on a budget. I thought it might be helpful to have a thread that addresses some of the issues a new diver faces.

    There won't be unanimous agreement on any specific gear choices or advice but diversity of opinion is welcomed and it should at least give a newer diver exposure to multiple opinions of gear choices. Sometimes advice can get one sided and this can be an expensive lesson for a newer diver.

    In my opinion, there are two bigger areas where savings can occur as well as other smaller areas for savings. The first is obvious but hard to accomplish and that is to buy something that you will not be replacing later either due to poor construction or to changing tastes. The is the most difficult since most of us do change our tastes with experience.

    This is also different than "buying the best" or buying something you'll be able to "grow into". Both of those concepts rarely work out.

    The other large area for possible savings is with how you get depth and time information. The most money will be saved by finding an inexpensive dive watch with depth info such as a new old stock Timex Helio. After that a used basic computer would be next in line in terms of money savings.

    If you live near warm water getting an aluminum 80 tank may save you twice as much money as buying a HP steel tank.
    If you live near cold water you might want a HP steel 100 from the start. Both can be affordable.

    If you have to use a drysuit something like an entry model Bare suit will save you a lot of money over much more expensive models and will do virtually the same thing and will probably last just as long.

    If you need a dive light and money is tight something like a Dorcy 220 lumen dive light is very affordable and can be used as a backup light later if necessary.

    A BP/W is cheaper than some more traditional BC's and is what a lot of people end up with anyway and so can save money in that way as well. At least be aware that you don't have to start out with a console. You can just buy a pressure gauge.

    If the weighting works for you Jetfins with spring straps might be the answer. Jetfins are cheaper than many other fins and spring straps pay for themselves since you won't need to be replacing rubber straps. Many people end up with Jetfins anyway so this is another potential savings. Depending on your local diving conditions it may be a safer choice as well if you need to get into your fins in a hurry.

    Buying a basic regulator (basic Sherwood model for example) is affordable and does more or less the same thing as any other regulator. Properly maintained regulators don't need external adjustment knobs.

    You can spend a ton of money on computers, dive lights, and drysuits but much of that is either for very specialized needs or just simply due to preferences much like the differences between a Honda vs a Mercedes. Often times it has little to do with function so if you are on a budget pick the Honda.:wink:

    Educating yourself further in the areas of light technology and decompression theory (in addition be being worthwhile in and of itself) can also translate into making more informed choices when buying gear as these are two areas in which a lack of knowledge can be expensive.

    There will be other opinions on most everything I've covered here but if several different opinions are presented that will at least expose a newer diver to the various options so they have something upon which to base their own decisions.
  2. vladimir

    vladimir ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    I'm glad you didn't say, "differences between a Toyota vs a Mercedes.":wink:

    I filled up a shopping cart at LeisurePro with gear that I would be happy to use for my warm-water vacation diving. The basic gear that I dive (not counting cameras, etc) cost at least twice as much, but I would be happy to dive the stuff in that cart. The total cost: $1498.50. Maybe another $100 in accessories I've left out--let's call it ~$1600. All new, reputable brands, and nothing that I feel is a big compromise. Yes, you could certainly do it cheaper; I'm sure you could get a package discount, and you could buy used. This is what I would do if I were on a budget.

    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  3. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    I thought that was an excellent post Vladimir. Can't get much more detailed than that.
  4. Druid

    Druid Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    Buying used can save you money, but you need to be selective.

    BC's and fins make good used buys, and if you outgrow them you can often resell at very little loss.

    Regs will need servicing, so you need to factor the cost of a service into the price.

    Similarly cylinder testing costs need to be taken into account.

    Used computers can be good value, but check out remaining battery life and replacement costs.

    Wetsuits are cheap enough to buy new, and at least you're sure that it's only your own piss in them :)

    Used drysuits can cost a lot if you need to replace seals/boots/valves. People generally only replace drysuits because they leak.

    Masks need to fit your face properly. Go to your LDS and try them on until you find one that does fit, then buy that one.
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    Before I add to this, let me tell you that I do use a BP/W and fins that are similar to Jets. I like them.

    On the other hand, in the grand scheme of things, not many people use these. In another thread on the topic of why so many shops do not sell BP/W's a retailer with access to sales statistics said that BP/Ws account for less than 1% of sales annually. My guess is that Jets or the equivalent are pretty similar.

    Outside of my tech diving experiences, I rarely see these items on divers. I have dived in resort areas all over the world, and I don't believe I have seen more than 12-15 BP/Ws on divers on those dives, and it would be those same divers in Jets (or something similar). Most of the ones I have seen were worn by ScubaBoard people I had arranged to meet.

    It tends to be very regional. There are places where these are relatively popular, and there are places were they are virtually nonexistent. My guess is that the vast majority of recreational divers will never even see either a BP/W or Jet fins, let alone buy them.
  6. halocline

    halocline Solo Diver

    Used gear is definitely the way to go for saving money. The resale value on scuba gear is horrible and 90% of certified divers do not continue to dive. Most scuba gear is built to last and can be easily rebuilt to like-new condition, aside from cosmetic concerns.

    These things make for a buyer's market in a big way. A new diver just needs an experienced mentor to help select appropriate gear.

    Regulators are the perfect example of this. They are built to be rebuilt, have not really improved in the last couple of decades, and can be found VERY reasonably. I've seen MK5/R109s for $50 that are the equal of practically any modern reg, MK10/G250s for less than $100 (plus service), and many other great deals.
  7. JohnB47

    JohnB47 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
    How about these from Leisure Pro:
    Regulator - Scubapro MK17/S555 or MK17/X650, both on sale (closeout) for $374.95
    Fins - Scubapro Jet Fins, $89.95
    One thing you have to know about Scubapro, however, is that online retailers like Leisure Pro are not authorized dealers of Scubapro, so you don't get the lifetime warranty, and you have to pay for parts when you get a regulator serviced. But Leisure Pro is a reputable company, and their prices are often low enough to make it worthwhile. IMHO, despite what your LDS may say, unless you really dive a lot, a quality regulator does not need to be serviced every year. Aqualung recommends every other year, and that will work for other brands too (Your Mileage May Vary). But that will void your warranty on a Scubapro reg, so you might as well just buy from Leisure Pro and plan to pay full price for service in a couple of years, or when the reg breathes hard. One more thing about regulators - there are no really bad ones anymore. When I started diving (40 years ago) some of them were downright dangerous. This is no longer the case. Now they all range from good to excellent.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  8. Crowley

    Crowley Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Planet Crowley
    For basic gear, some basic advice - and tailored to the busy resort environment in which I work:

    If you plan to dive maybe on one or two holidays a year, basic gear is more than good enough if you are on a tight budget. Scubapro, for example, have a "rental package" of bcd, regs and gauges all-in-one which is made available to dive centres to use - obviously - as rental gear. It's cheap, basic, and robust - after all, a busy dive centre is not going to buy crappy stuff that will break after a few dives.

    In many warm water holiday locations, a wetsuit is as much for keeping in the wobbly bits as it is for thermal insulation. If you're diving in 30 degree (Centigrade) water all the time then a cheap suit is as good as any, as long as it looks okay.

    Masks and fins are very personal items and if you have the chance to try before you buy I recommend you do. There are all sorts of Jet-Split-Bendy-Hydrodynamic paddles out there but a basic $40 paddle fin from the likes of Mares will serve you well until you figure out what you really need. Some people will tell you split fins are the best - I dive every day and I they simply do not suit the way I like to swim. Jets I find too heavy, and through much trial and error I have arrived at a solution I like. Similarly for masks.

    Of course this is only for a particular type of warm water resort diver, but that's where I live and work, so...! :D

    Safe diving,

  9. MikeMarlow

    MikeMarlow Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Annapolis, MD
    Oceanic has a great deal on BC/Reg/Octo/Comp right now:

    Buy a complete SCUBA Package including adjustable regulator, weight-integrated BCD and dive computer for just $749!


    * GT3 Sport Regulator
    * Alpha 8 Octo
    * OceanPro weight-integrated BCD
    * Veo 100 Combo

    Offer valid through 8/31/09 on new orders only in the USA and Carribbean. Offer may not be combined with any other special offers.

    All very good gear, at an amazing price. This is just an example of the specials that manufacturers are offering all the time, so look around. As for used gear, be very careful, since this is LIFE SUPPORT EQUIPMENT!!! I'm not saying to avoid it, just buyer beware. Spend the extra money to have a certified technician go over it.

  10. RJP

    RJP Scuba Media & Publications

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New Jersey



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