How Much is Basic Scuba Gear? The Complete Guide.

How much is Basic Scuba Gear?

Scuba GearCost
MaskPrice range: $20 – $200
SnorkelPrice range: $10 – $70
FinsPrice range: $20- $270
WetsuitPrice range: $35 – $600
RegulatorPrice range: $90 – $1000+
Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)Price range: $200 – $1500
Dive ComputerPrice range: $150 -$1500
Scuba tankPrice range : $130 – $650
GlovesPrice range: $20 -$100
Weight BeltPrice range: $20 -$100
Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG)Price range: $70 – $450
Dive KnifePrice range: $15 – $200

Scuba diving is a lot of fun. So, you’re considering taking a plunge? Way to go!

But you’re a little worried that you’re not yet clued in on the gear you’d need, right? You’re wondering: What’s a snorkel? What’s a buoyancy compensator? What’s a dive computer? (One needs a computer underwater??).

At first glance, these expressions sound strange and complicated. 

Trust me, they’re not. If you sit a spell with me, I’d get you up to speed on the stuff you’d need, what each one’s used for, a bit about how they work, and the cost.

Besides having this info when you’re about to buy (or to compare to the cost of renting) you’d also need to know about the gear when you’re ready to take your scuba certification exam.

Below is a list of the basic gear you’ll need when SCUBA diving:

  1. Mask
  2. Snorkel
  3. Fins
  4. Wetsuit
  5. Regulator
  6. Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)
  7. Dive Computer
  8. Scuba tank
  9. Gloves
  10. Weight Belt
  11. Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG)
  12. Dive Knife

Let’s check out each gear’s function and cost.

1. Mask

Unlike fishes, we humans can’t see underwater (at least not for long), so this is a must-have. It’s your “mobile window” while underwater.

It’s through it you’d see the wonderful sights that await you, and it keeps water away from your eyes. Besides, it has an air pocket that helps you equalize your ear as you descend into the water.

I’ll explain what this means soon.

A good mask has the following standard features: Lenses made from strong composite materials or tempered glass for safety.

Tempered glass is made via a thermal process to ensure it’s stronger than normal glass. 

It has an enclosed nose with which you can adjust for changes in pressure and exhale easily. And finger pockets around your nose to equalize your ears.

  • Equalize your ears?
  • What does this mean and why is it vital? 

When you’re scuba diving, you’ll experience an increase in pressure. We have some air spaces in our bodies. Such as our lungs, the sinuses which are connected to our ear and ear-drum, and between the mask and our face. This is why we have to counter the effects of this increased pressure. 

One of the ways to equalize the ears is “pinching of the nose” (technically known as the Valsalva Maneuver).

You close your nose with your fingers (pinch it), breathe out and also close your mouth, so the air can’t go through your mouth and will be forced into the eustachian tubes, and then directed toward the eardrum, you do it a few times, bending your nose down. 

Make sure that you always equalize your ears before you go down. Always!

If you don’t you’d start feeling uncomfortable, as if you’ve got something in your ears. There’s the possibility of the ears being damaged if one goes down with doing this simple process!

Another simple way that is equally effective is to swallow or wiggle your jaw.

Price range: $20 – $200

Lady wearing a Scuba mask

2. Snorkel

The snorkel is used for breathing on the surface before you descend, that way you don’t have to start using your air supply from the get-go.

It’s a simple curved tube you attach to your mask that helps you breathe while you’re floating face-down on the surface of the water.

You don’t need to have one, but as a beginner, it helps.

Its short end is kept in your mouth, while the longer part sticks out of the water. Essentially, it’s a means of conserving the air in your tank. It’s personal gear because it goes in your mouth.

So, you want to choose something comfy. It’s made up of a purge valve, flexible bottom portion, and of course, a mouthpiece. 

The self-adjusting valve helps you clear water from the snorkel. A good snorkel would have a water-blocking device for when you go down in the depths, a way to easily attach or detach it from your mask strap, and can be easily folded and kept in the pocket of your wetsuit.

Price range: $10 – $70

3. Fins

Just the same way they help fish, fins aid movement and propulsion.

They help you move with ease through water. Because of the way they’re shaped, it’s a breeze to move while underwater.

They help harness and translate power generated from your leg motions into propulsion. Interestingly, they also help you conserve energy. You get to move faster, so you don’t use up as much energy as you’d have used without them. And they’re fun to boot. 

Now, you might wonder: hard or flexible fins, which one’s better? The flexible ones are better.

You don’t want fins you’d need to expend so much energy on. The hard ones require more energy. They suggest power and efficiency.

The reality is that you want to enjoy being underwater and take the time to luxuriate in the beauty and wonder, not rush through the experience. 

So flexible fins are not inferior. Comfort and fit are top factors to consider. You don’t want loose fins, because they can be easily kicked off while you’re diving! And they can give you blisters and chafes. So, you want something that fits well.

Price range: $20- $270

4. Wetsuit

As you probably know, a wetsuit is a garment that divers wear. It’s available in varying sizes and thicknesses. But it’s not just a piece of clothing.

It’s designed to keep divers warm. This is its key function. 

The suit is made from neoprene and it allows a layer of water to be trapped against the body. This water is consequently heated by the body’s warmth, and this is what insulates the diver.

Did you know that the cooling effects of heat can rob your body 25 times than air? Now, you see why divers wear these cool “superhero” suits.

Neoprene is a synthetic polymer that’s like rubber. So, it’s resistant to oil, heat, and weathering. It needs to be said, however, that wetsuits cannot perform this function of insulation in really cold water, they’re adequate for minor thermoclines — the changes in temperature at different depths.

The suit is lined with fabric or sprays (for color and strength) so that you can easily slide into it. 

It offers exposure protection, some depths are really cold and it also protects you from stings, scrapes, and cuts. It’s called a wetsuit because despite the protection it affords you, you still get wet.

They come in a variety of sizes and styles. So, you choose appropriately based on the kind of water you plan to explore. Get a suit (or suits) that fits you perfectly. It shouldn’t be loose and at the same time, it shouldn’t be too tight.

There are three basic styles: shorties, full-body suits, and two-piece suits.

Shorties are one-piece suits, usually short-sleeves and thigh or knee-length legs. Full-body suits cover your arms and legs and often have front or back zippers, while two-piece suits are effectively two suits in one. You can use each singly or both together. They’re highly popular because they offer double insulation.

The different suits come with a variety of optional features such as pockets, wrist and ankle seals, a spine pad, a hood, knee pads, and ankle and wrist zippers. 

Price range: $35 – $600

5. Regulator

How is it that divers can breathe underwater? That’s what the regulator handles. Its function is to reduce the pressure of the air that’s stored in the tank to a level that it’s safe and more breathable to be used. 

The air in the tank is at 3000 psi, the regulator reduces the pressure to 140 psi (psi is a measure of pressure or stress). Expressed in full, it’s pound per square inch.

It has a mouthpiece through which the diver breathes underwater. The mouthpiece is connected to the tank. It’s smart to always have an extra regulator. A fellow diver might need one or yours could malfunction (this is a rare occurrence). 

Price range: $90 – $1000+

profile of a scuba diver, showing mask, snorkel and regulator

6. Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)

A buoyancy control device is that stuff that vaguely resembles a rucksack that divers have on their backs. As its name shows, it’s a mechanism that’s used to control how high or low they plunge.

It has air pockets and is connected to the tank through a hose. The BCD holds your tank and offers you more control as you slither weightless through the water.

Besides its use for controlling depth, it’s also used for compensating the weight of the diver’s equipment. So, another name for it is buoyancy compensator.

You can automatically adjust your depth and compensate for the weight by pushing a button. Or, if you prefer a manual option, there’s a mouthpiece you can blow into. 

The following are its standard features: Adjustable buckles, bands, straps, sturdy tank plate, and tank band. Overpressure valve and deflator mechanism, expendable bladder, oral inflation mechanism, and low-pressure inflator.

And, it comes in a variety of styles, such as the Jacket style that’s used a lot for recreational scuba diving. It’s made especially for women. There are the Wing (back-mount) style and a few others. 

Price range: $200 – $1500

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

If you liked this article, please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and like our Facebook page

7. Dive Computer

Some divers use a depth gauge, dive watch, or dive tables, but most prefer a dive computer because it’s easier to use.

A dive computer provides vital real-time info a diver would need to know. Info such as how long they’ve been underwater and how much time they can still spend underwater without getting into trouble, current depth, maximum depth… and more, depending on the brand. Some have more features than others.

It takes data about the time you’ve spent and the depths you’ve reached and correlates that with a model that keeps track of the nitrogen that’s dissolved in your body during the dive.

The computer does what you’d ordinarily need a pressure gauge, timer, and depth gauge to do.

The following are some of the key info it provides:

  • Low-battery warning.
  • Enriched air compatibility.
  • Ascent rate.
  • Emergency decompression.
  • Depth.
  • Time.
  • No stop time remaining. 

Before you buy, ask to see the user manual. You want a user-friendly computer. Some models offer conservative data (they help factor in safety margins) so that you have a bit of extra time. You may prefer these models.

Price range: $150 -$1500

8. Scuba tank

The tank is where compressed air that’s used for breathing underwater is stored. It’s regular air comprising 21% oxygen, 78% oxygen, and1% other gases, that’s been compressed to 3000 psi.

The tanks are small, yet strong containers that are usually made of aluminum alloy, steel, or some other composites. You’d have to carry it on your back. That’s one of the defining rituals of scuba diving.

As you probably know already, SCUBA, expressed in full is Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. So, this is a gear you want to select carefully. 

The tank is connected to your regulator and a valve controls the flow of air from the former to the latter. Its capacity depends on its pressure and size. Their capacities range from 6 to 40 cubic feet for reserve cylinders and 45 to 150 plus cubic feet for main cylinders.

Some come with extra you may wish to consider because they’d help prolong your cylinder’s life. There are cylinder boots, valve covers, and meshes. There are even handles which makes them easy to carry. 

Tanks need to be checked periodically. The time varies from region to region, but on average it’s from two to seven years.  

Price range : $130 – $650

Scuba diver standing in shallow water

9. Gloves

Gloves function like wetsuits: they provide exposure protection for your hands. They keep your hands warm and protect them from abrasive surfaces such as reefs, rocks, and wrecks. They also protect them from the risk of infection.

Price range: $20 -$100

10. Weight Belt

We’re naturally buoyant in water. So, to help you descend into the depths. You need weight belts. The idea is to add some weight to your current weight so that it’d be easier for you to descend.

That’s the sole function of a weight belt. In some cases, the weights are added to the buoyancy compensator.

Price range: $20 -$100

11. Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG)

A few paragraphs above, we learned how the regulator reduces the pressure of the air. But how would a diver know what quantity of air is left? After all, it’s critical info to know.

That’s the job of the pressure gauge. A depth gauge, a computer, and a compass are added to the pressure gauge’s console in some cases.

Price range: $70 – $450

12. Dive Knife

Why do you need a knife to go diving? In all likelihood, you’ll never need to use your dive knife. But that’s the point. Divers carry knives in case they get entangled in fishing lines, nets or plant life. They would use it in emergencies to free themselves.

So, whilst mostly not used, they could be considered the most important piece of equipment you buy.

They are never used as weapons or to damage marine life.

Price range: $15 – $200

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

If you liked this article, please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and like our Facebook page

Where Can You Buy This Stuff?

One of the things that stands out from the range of prices in the paragraphs above is that you don’t have to part with a king’s ransom to get started diving.

But, where can you buy your gear?

One of the easiest ways is to buy your equipment from dedicated online dive stores. There are also sporting sections of retail outlets. Of course, if you’ve done a bit of research online, this should be easy. 

But, if you prefer to talk to folks who know a lot about what you’re buying, dedicated dive stores are a better option. There are a lot of them, and they’d be willing to provide more support than your run-of-the-mill retail outlet.

But, don’t overthink it.

Check out House of SCUBA, they offer free shipping to the continental US and will also ship worldwide. I have found their customer service to be excellent when I’ve used them.

That’s it. It’s a wrap. We’ve got to go back to the surface.

 As I said in the intro, you’d be clued in pretty quickly. I know the names seem strange, at first glance, but as we’ve seen they’re not complicated stuff. They are effective and proven products, the result of decades of research.

They are all designed to make scuba diving a safer and more fun experience. 

With the right gear, you don’t have to worry about a thing, all you need to do is explore and enjoy. Of course, you’d also need training.

Get started with articles on my site, and you could plan to take a certification course. In one of my recent articles, I wrote about the best scuba diving certification.

If you want to get the most of your diving, it’s smart to get dive certified. Do check it out.

In the preceding paragraphs, we explored virtually all you’d need to get started, we covered a lot, we looked at what each gear is designed for and the cost.

Like most things, there are options. So, even if you’re on a budget, you can still take the plunge. I hope I covered all that you’d like to know about the basic gear you’d need for scuba diving.

Do let me know if there are parts you’d like me to add more info to or topics you’d like to read about.

Have fun diving.


  1. padi.com 
  2. House of SCUBA
  3. Amazon.com

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Paul Fulbrook

Paul Fulbrook is a writer, scuba diver, ex-science teacher and marine biologist. He has a passion for coral reef biology, diving on coral reefs and writing about diving. He also loves cats and his children (sometimes).

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