Is it better to rent diving equipment or buy your own? The answer to this question is - it depends, and there are a couple of factors to consider. We will look at the pros and cons of each arrangement. We have many new divers coming into our Showroom asking for the best Entry Level Budget Set for Beginners?! Our Chiswick Showroom Staff usually asks them how often they dive and what sort of diving they do?
How often do you scuba dive?
While many dive centres worldwide will provide equipment for the duration of the open water course, once it is completed, nothing is free. While standard tanks, weight and gas - air or nitrox - will be provided in the essential dive package cost - other equipment rentals will cost you extra. If you are diving in the Red Sea, the average cost of renting an entire set of equipment is around £25-£35 per day. If you travel further away to places like the Maldives, the price can be between £40-£50 or sometimes even more in some upmarket and remote resorts. On average, people travelling on a seven nights holiday purchase a five-day dive package. So if you are diving for five days, the bill for equipment rental will be at least £150 - £300 - this is on top of your diving package. This price often excludes a dive computer as well - worth noting. If you are going on an occasional single dive or holiday once a year, this seems all right. However, if you travel more frequently, additional costs of renting diving equipment stack up quite quickly, catching up and, in some cases, exceeding the cost of a budget, entry-level or mid-range equipment set.
We live in times when there are many brands with nobody exercising a monopoly on diving equipment. As a result, there is a lot of competition out there, and we as customers benefit from it. Owning a good quality entry-level regulator and BCD set does not need to be expensive. You can purchase an excellent BCD and regulator set for as little as £500-£700. An entry-level dive computer like Suunto Zoop Novo will cost you around £190. Realistically you can purchase the whole set of diving gear for under £1k at Mike's Dive Store. This is for equipment that will last you a few good years to come.
Consider quality before the price
Diving is an extreme sport. However pleasant diving is, we mustn't forget that even a standard recreational diving set is a life support system that keeps you alive underwater. Most dive centres rent the whole equipment for the duration of the course. Often, this type of equipment will fit just all right. But trust me, there is nothing more stressful on your first confined open water dive than a poorly fitted mask that leaks. It takes the fun away from the whole experience and causes some stress for an inexperienced diver. The same rule applies to a scuba regulator or BCD. Let's be honest - rental scuba equipment, however suitable it is when new, is getting a lot of usage and, unfortunately, wears off quickly. When I worked in a dive centre, our technician was regularly busy as the rented regulators and BCDs that came back from visiting divers - the first stages were full of sand or, even worse, flooded and mistreated. Jack, our technician, did a fantastic job, serviced them and made them suitable for diving again, but a lot of this equipment had a short life span and was not as smooth in operation. Someone once asked - what is the fastest car in the world? Answer: the one you rent? I know that you take care of your rented equipment, and we wish everyone did the same. Many divers who rent their equipment don't. If you own your set of quality regulators or, as a matter of fact, any other piece of equipment, you know what you have and enjoy it more as it is fine-tuned and used by only one person. If you purchase a brand new rig go for the best you can afford and stretch a budget a little bit - it is worth it. My regs cost a little bit more than average, but after 10+ years, they are still going strong.
Consider own mask, snorkel and wetsuit
This has been even more important in recent years! As an old captain on a liveaboard once told me: "There are two types of divers - the ones who pee in their wetsuits, and the ones who admit to it". Many dive centres will use some sanitiser to clean their equipment, but there is no cleaner wetsuit than your own. The same applies to your regulator and mask. Cleaning rental equipment is a time-consuming exercise. It may be done at a dive centre on busy, multiple dives per day schedule, but not to extend it should. While dive centres claim they sanitise rental equipment, many often rinse it with fresh water. For example, to clean a wetsuit correctly, a wetsuit should be treated with a special wetsuit shampoo. Shampoo should be massaged into the neoprene, zipper, and velcro, soak for about 30 minutes and then hung dry in the shade. A humble scuba mask and regulator do not require much more attention, but they should still be washed thoroughly with a special disinfectant. As an instructor, I strongly advise my students to purchase a correctly fitting personal mask before starting the Open Water Course and perhaps purchase a wetsuit. These pieces are relatively inexpensive but owning them is also essential and more hygienic to use your own rather than renting.
Build your equipment gradually
Suppose you can't buy it in one go. If you can purchase the equipment in one go - that's great! I built my diving kit gradually. Take time, observe experienced buddies, explore the pros and cons of each setup, and take an informative decision when you are ready. Talk to the Mike's Showroom Staff. They will point you always to the best equipment for the type of diving you do. Depending on experience, the typical order for buying dive equipment for beginners divers is:
- Mask, fins and Snorkels
- Wetsuit suitable for the planned diving
- Entry-level dive computer
- Entry-level regulator and BCD
- Diving Accessories like knives, cutters, SMBs, Torches
Here at Mike's, our Showroom Staff prepared a few sets of packages that your would gladly use when they were beginner divers - they will not break your bank, but they are a quality entry-level diving set our Staff built for you!
Advantages of renting scuba equipment
There are some advantages of renting scuba gear. For instance, you do not have to pack your gear - that takes quite a lot of pounds, stones, kilos from your suitcase, which means you can travel light. On the other hand, when I was backpacking, I used lightweight equipment configuration, and surprisingly it did not take a lot of space either. Check for some ideas in our Lightweight Dive Travel Equipment Here.
Some people argue that you do not have to bear any servicing costs by not having your own set of equipment, so renting is better. To some extent, this is true. Regulator, being a life support system incorporating moving parts, should be serviced regularly. Generally, defined by the manufacturer, your equipment should be serviced every one to two years or 100-200 dives (model dependent, so check a relevant manual). These servicing intervals vary from one model to another, and an intermittent service costs around £90 - 100 per set here at Mike's Dive Store. However, if you purchase your regulator and BCD set from us, you qualify for free servicing from the start for ten years! This takes a lot of cost of owing your diving equipment and make purchasing your entry-level diving equipment much more approachable.
Free Servicing on all Entry Level Packages
This includes any new BCD and regulator rigs as at Mike's Dive Store, we make sure your equipment is 100% mission ready and offer FREE SERVICING on all new regulators BCD sets purchased from us since Feb 2021! Dive Forever and Keep on Diving is our motto :-) This exceptional scheme from Mike's Dive Store . It is a massive saving as you only need to pay for the labour of servicing your BCD, regulator or a drysuit. All standard servicing parts are provided by us free of charge.
Lastly, we want to know your diving experience and thoughts on owning your scuba equipment. If you have any questions, we are always a few strikes of the keyboard or a phone call away. Please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 8994 6006.