What Scuba Equipment Should you Buy First?
There is no definite order in which you should buy your Scuba diving equipment first. Good quality scuba diving equipment can be expensive, therefore this article aims to provide you with a rough guide to prioritising which items to buy first!
The order will differ hugely depending on each individual’s preference. However, if you ask professional Scuba divers, the most common priority is comfort!
Scuba diving equipment allows us to defy nature, breathe underwater and explore the underwater world! Most pieces of equipment can come in different shapes, sizes and colours! This huge variety allows us to choose which equipment we feel most comfortable in.
Comfort in Scuba diving is everything. If you are ten minutes into a dive and your mask is leaking, your fins are rubbing or your wetsuit doesn’t fit properly, you can end up being frustrated and miserable! These two emotions are not ones you should associate with your passions!
This is a general order you should consider buying your equipment in:
Without a doubt, a good quality scuba mask should be first on your list. It is important to have your own mask, which fits the unique size and shape of your face, to increase comfort and reduce the chances of it leaking! A mask is a personal item, so it is always nice to have your own. Besides, you will be spitting in it!
As the goal is to ensure Scuba divers are as comfortable as possible, the first thing to purchase should be a Scuba mask!
We asked 4 dive shops which equipment should be bought first and they all said a mask is the most important first purchase, for all divers of all levels!
One dive centre, Ocean Turtle Diving, said a mask is “a personal item, so spending time ensuring the right fit is essential! A well-fitted mask can last years!”
Owning a mask is beneficial for many reasons!
The main reason is that everyone’s faces are different shapes and sizes! Finding a mask that fits your face properly, is the first step to being comfortable underwater.
Take your time visiting dive stores and trying many masks on! Put the mask on like normal, and determine if it is sitting comfortably around your eyes, on your nose and above your lip.
All around the outside of the mask is a rubber skirt. This creates a seal with your face, preventing water from entering your mask. If a mask does not fit properly, the skirt does not seal and water will seep in.
Leaky masks are incredibly frustrating!
You have to constantly clear your mask, increasing the risk of it fogging, and possibly missing something swimming past! Leaky masks happen more regularly when they do not fit properly, however, often your mask can leak when laughing, smiling or receiving a fin in the face!
Mask clearing is a skill you learn at the beginning of your Scuba diving adventure. It is great to practice your skills, but that does not mean we want a leaky mask! Besides, as a beginner, this might not be a skill you have perfected yet. You might find yourself losing your buoyancy while blowing air to flush the water out of your mask!
When you find a comfortable mask, which does not fog or leak, it makes a difference to your Scuba diving experience!
Fins should be your next Scuba equipment purchase! Varying hugely in size, some fins have bigger and wider foot spaces than others. Choosing a pair of fins that fit your feet comfortably, will reduce the risk of them rubbing.
One of the leading dive stores in America, Scuba.com, answered this question with Fins being the most important after a mask.
Scuba fins are just like shoes. You would not go for a run, in trainers that do not fit!
Visit your local dive store and try lots of different pairs of fins and see which ones fit best! You might have to try a few pairs before you find the ones for you!
If you are diving in booties, you’ll require open heeled fins, with either a spring mechanism or an adjustable strap. Some Scuba divers prefer one strap type over another. Playing around with each type will allow you to find the best method for you to easily take your fins on and off!
Ensuring your fins (and possibly boots) are comfortable, is a good way to prevent blisters while Scuba diving! Fins that are too tight or not sitting comfortably on the back of your ankle, will rub, create blisters and be extremely uncomfortable!
Not only are blisters painful, but you might also have to stop scuba diving until they heal. Scuba diving with open wounds such as blisters can increase the chance of them getting infected! Keep them covered and dry, speeding up the recovery time and helping to prevent infections!
After purchasing a mask and a pair of fins that fit you perfectly, the next thing on the list should be a wetsuit/drysuit! Just like faces and feet, our bodies also come in all different shapes and sizes. This is why it is important to spend time finding a wetsuit that fits you well, has a good range of motion and keeps you nice and warm!
If you are planning on diving very often, a wetsuit should be high up on your priority list. Knowing you have a good quality wetsuit to keep you warm and comfortable during your dive is crucial!
Hiring equipment at dive centres is great for when you are a complete beginner, trying out the sport or travelling and do not want to bring all of your gear! However, you cannot be sure that the perfect size wetsuit will be available for your dive, especially in really busy dive centres during the high season!
If you are travelling a lot, and you do not want to take a lot of equipment, you might decide to prioritise the next item on the list!
But first, let’s have a look at why owning a wetsuit is so important!
Just like everyone on this planet, all scuba divers are of different shapes and sizes. Finding a wetsuit that fits you perfectly can be a struggle for some. Wetsuits have improved their sizing by adding different lengths and the ability to be customised.
Scuba diving is a lot more stress-free when you know you have a good quality wetsuit to keep you warm!
When scuba diving on holiday or while travelling, you never know what wetsuit you will be given, if it fits well, or if it is in good condition! Having your own will remove all these worries.
Buying your wetsuit is not just for comfort and warmth… but for hygiene! I don’t know about you, but I am not a huge fan of getting into a shop rental wetsuit, thinking of all the people that have gone diving (and pee’d!) in it!
Another thing to think about is where and when you will be diving.
When asked what equipment to buy first, Aldershot Dolphins said if cold water diving, you should be “looking at a dry suit as an early purchase, a wetsuit really limits your options diving throughout the year”.
Coldwater diving will require a drysuit to be purchased pretty early on! Hiring drysuits is possible, but it is much better to have your own, which you can clean, care for and rely on to keep you dry and comfortable during those cold water dives!
Dive computers are becoming cheaper and more available to beginner Scuba divers. Before, a dive computer was only something professional divers would invest in. Now, many beginner Scuba divers are arriving at their Scuba diving courses with/or planning on buying a dive computer to use throughout their course!
This item was very difficult to place on the list. It hugely depends on everyone’s budget and preference as to which items come after a mask and fins.
If you are diving in colder water, you might prioritise a drysuit first over a computer. However, as mentioned above, basic dive computers are getting much more affordable!
Taking your dive equipment on Scuba diving trips is great, feeling comfortable in your gear, knowing exactly where everything is and how to use it! Scuba diving equipment can vary slightly between brands!
However, if you are travelling and Scuba diving, you might not want or have enough space to take a lot of Scuba diving gear! Therefore, you might prioritise a dive computer over a wetsuit!
Dive computers are much smaller and lighter than a wetsuit, and most are slim enough to be worn as everyday watches between dives!
Despite what some people think, it is never too early to purchase a dive computer! Even if you are a beginner! When learning to Scuba dive, having a dive computer has many benefits.
One benefit is that you can monitor your dives with your computer. Directly on the computer, on an app or by connecting your dive computer to a laptop, you can see your dive graphically.
Your dive profile is visible on the screen, with more statistics such as depth, dive time and temperature!
When sitting with your instructor during the debrief, having this information available is a great way to discuss your abilities and how to improve!
Tracking your dives on your computer is great while you are learning, to keep track of your logged dives! Most computers can log around 200 dives, and on some apps, you can even log each dive under the name of the dive site! Pretty cool!
Having a dive computer is especially important when you are diving multiple times a day.
When hiring a dive computer from a shop, if you are diving multiple times you will keep the same dive computer for all dives, as the data from the dives and your surface time are used within the algorithm to calculate your no-decompression limits at certain depths.
Personal dive computers can ensure your no-decompression limits are accurate to you and the dives you have completed within that day.
Even if you dived the same amount of times that day with the same buddy, you should always have a dive computer each. This is because you will have stayed at slightly different depths for different times, and all of this information is used within calculations.
Dive computers are also an incredible reminder of no flying times.
A small watch-like dive computer can be worn at all times, small enough to act as an everyday watch. After a day of diving, a no flying symbol will be on the dive computer, reminding you that you are still off-gassing the built-up nitrogen throughout the dive.
Buoyancy Control Device
A Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) is the jacket that Scuba divers wear, which they inflate and deflate to determine their buoyancy! This Scuba diving item is fifth on the list, as it is very common to use a shop BCD throughout your Scuba diving courses, and even for fun dives!
Entering a dive centre for your very first dive can be incredibly exciting but slightly nerve-racking! Your nerves are put at ease, as your instructor provides you with all the equipment required and explains how to use the BCD throughout the dive!
When completing your first ever Scuba dive, whether it is a PADI Discovery dive or a PADI Open Water course, most students will arrive with no equipment! This is very common, as you are trying a new sport!
You are probably not going to buy all of the expensive equipment when you have not even tried it yet! Some students might have tried Scuba diving before, therefore they arrive at lessons with their masks and possibly fins!
After taking your first breaths underwater and having your mind blown by the incredible tranquillity of the ocean, the obsession is likely to start!
It is at this point, you will want to start buying your equipment and perfecting your skills!
As your skills develop, you become a more comfortable and confident diver, having personal equipment allows you to dive more often, in more locations, with the same comfort and confidence. Getting to know your equipment like a second skin, is where a lot of confidence comes from.
Knowing exactly where your octopus, dumb valves and releases are can improve your ability to react fast in an emergency or difficult situations!
Being one of the most expensive Scuba diving items, regulators are usually purchased further down the line! After completing a Scuba diving course, buying your own set of regulators has many benefits, from comfort, detecting problems and safety.
Having your own set of regulators can feel great for many reasons! It is an incredible feeling buying your first set of Scuba diving gear, diving with it, cleaning and caring for it!
All Scuba diving equipment can be considered essential, but regulators are what supply you with air.
After a while of diving with the same equipment, you know what it should feel like and you can begin to identify if something is wrong.
Identifying issues in your equipment and fixing them sooner can prevent big problems from occurring during a dive.
For example, if you realise your breath through your regulator does not feel normal, this can be a sign of issues within the first stage or within the regulator itself.
Renting regulators is widely available at Scuba centres, however, as you start to Scuba dive more, having your own set is highly recommended. Not just for safety and comfort, but you can pick your type of regulator, colour and style!
After all the essential purchases, you can start collecting dive accessories.
These include clips, lights, torches, cameras and more! When first starting your Scuba diving journey, it is recommended to start with the items on the top of the list, then work your way down to accessories. As you Scuba dive more, you will find what works best for you, and what accessories you would like.
Diving accessories are usually the cheapest Scuba diving equipment, meaning people are often tempted to buy them first. However, as mentioned above, there are many benefits of buying the essential items first and customising your equipment afterwards.
There are many different Scuba diving accessories. The most common and recommended are Scuba knives and torches! Torches are very important for night dives, looking into holes and under rocks!
Knives are recommended for all divers, to cut rope, line or equipment to release a Scuba diver from entanglement!
A knife can literally be the difference between life and death underwater!
Other accessories include clips. Double-ended clips are extremely handy to attach equipment to your BCD, including SMBs, tank bangers and torches. Hose clips are very popular to tuck your secondary regulator neatly to the side and prevent it from dragging behind you.
As you become a more experienced Scuba diver, you will discover new accessories and begin to collect and customise your dive gear to suit your needs and preferences!
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:
Of course, you can buy your Scuba gear in any order that you desire! You can even buy it all at once!
This article aimed to provide a rough guide, to help you prioritise which Scuba diving equipment to buy first, so you do not have to buy it all in one hit and end up breaking the bank!
So now you have heard from some professionals, which Scuba equipment will you be buying first?
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