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Should you buy or rent scuba gear?

Scuba gear lined up on boat

Should you buy or rent scuba gear?

Once you get started with scuba diving, you inevitably have to think about diving equipment, the cost involved, as well as logistics while traveling.

Many beginner divers, therefore, ask the question: Should you buy or rent scuba gear?

Both have advantages and disadvantages and in this article, we will clear up the following points:

  • Should you buy or rent scuba gear?
  • Questions to ask before buying your own dive equipment
  • What scuba gear to buy and rent?

Should you buy or rent scuba gear?

Every scuba diver should buy essential equipment pieces like a scuba mask, snorkel, and fins, as well as a dive computer. If you only dive occasionally, it is best to rent the remaining scuba gear. This way you don’t have to pay for extra luggage when traveling or worry about servicing and maintenance of the equipment. If you dive more regularly and do at least 10-20 dives a year, buying scuba gear is the best choice to save money and increase safety.

All divers ask whether it is best to buy or rent scuba gear when they first get started. This is a good question as it is not only a matter of cost but also convenience, comfort, safety, and use case.

There is no right or wrong approach, and there are divers who buy their entire scuba gear right after learning to dive, while others never purchase a single piece of equipment.

Rental equipment at most places is of good quality so there is nothing to worry about.

Don’t forget you can also mix and match as needed and buy only some parts of your scuba gear while renting others.

I think it makes sense for all scuba divers to buy an ABC set, consisting of a scuba mask & snorkel, and fins. A dive computer is recommended but optional.

Buying an ABC set is a good choice because you will ensure you have a well-fitting mask that you are comfortable with and that will not fog up or leak excessively.

The beginner’s guide to buying a scuba mask & snorkel will help you find something within your budget.

Dive computers, on the other hand, are usually the most expensive item to rent while taking up the least space in your luggage. This makes them a perfect choice for a second purchase.

Definitely check out my guide on buying a dive computer for beginners.

Questions to ask before buying your own dive equipment

Let’s look at a few things to ask yourself before deciding to buy or rent scuba gear.

How much will you dive?

The following table shows my suggestions for when to rent or buy scuba gear, depending on how often you dive per year.

#Dives per yearBuy or rent?
0-10Get a cheap ABC set for diving & snorkeling if you like, rent all scuba gear
10-25 (1 dive trip)Buy ABC set & beginner dive computer + optionally wetsuit. Rent the rest.
25-50 (2 dive trips)Buy ABC set + quality dive computer. Beginner wetsuit & BCD are recommended. Rent the rest.
50+ divesBuy a full set of scuba gear, except for tanks & weights
50+ dives & regular local divingBuy a full set of quality scuba gear & get your own tanks + weights
Rent or buy scuba gear, based on the number of dives per year.

If you only dive occasionally or not more than around 10 times a year, then it’s best to rent your scuba gear.

Save yourself the hassle and cost of purchasing, maintaining, and packing your scuba gear before every trip, and just rent it from the local dive center.

Owning an ABC set is still a good choice as you can use that for snorkeling, as well.

If you dive between 10-25 times a year or plan to do a full diving trip, buying your own scuba gear or parts of it makes sense.

In this case, definitely get an ABC set and buy a dive computer. It doesn’t need to be super fancy or expensive, so check out the best beginner dive computers for some inspiration.

If you plan to do at least 2 separate dive trips every year, or around 25-50 dives in total, getting your own wetsuit and maybe a BCD is recommended.

There are many great beginner BCDs on the market that won’t break the bank. A regulator doesn’t make much sense at this point, as the annual servicing cost will most likely be higher than the rental fees.

Once you dive regularly and more than 50 times a year, getting a full scuba set of dive equipment is the best way to go.

This includes ABC set, BCD, exposure suit, and regulator. If you dive locally, it can also make sense to get your own tanks and weights, so you don’t need to rent those from a local dive shop every time you dive with friends.

Most scuba divers won’t need to buy their own scuba tanks.

Where will you dive?

Warmwater scuba gear is easier to rent than coldwater dive equipment and also much cheaper.

Drysuits, for example, can be hard to find as not every dive shop rents them out.

If you enjoy diving in freshwater lakes or quarries, getting your own scuba gear is therefore the best way to ensure you actually have well-fitting equipment.

Check out the best beginner diving destinations and see what kind of environment you will find there.

What kind of diving will you do?

Renting scuba gear is fine for recreational reef diving and for going on liveaboard safaris in warm water.

When you get into the more advanced areas such as wrecks, cold water, or altitude diving it is best to buy your scuba gear. Not only will you feel more comfortable in it, but it also ensures you know how to use it and which increases diving safety.

Once you want to make the step forward to become a professional or technical diver, owning your scuba gear is required and often mandatory before starting your dive training.

If you want to dive in cold water, it is often better to buy your own scuba gear.

You will also need an advanced dive computer that features different breathing gases and altitude modes.

What is your budget?

Buying scuba gear can come at a significant cost, especially if you want to get high-quality items.

While a scuba mask or thin 5mm wetsuit are very affordable, a full-blown coldwater setup with a coldwater certified regulator and a drysuit will get expensive very quickly.

If you know you would have to go for extremely cheap equipment pieces, consider saving your money and renting it until you can afford a higher-quality model.

Do you have a place to store your scuba gear?

Before deciding whether to rent or buy scuba gear, think about where and how you could potentially store it.

Do you have a cellar in your house or a spare room in your apartment for your gear? Or would you need to put it outside because it won’t fit into your home?

Scuba gear needs to be stored dry and without direct exposure to sunlight. In addition, you should refrain from folding up your exposure suits as the neoprene will start ripping faster if you do.

Also think about your family or whoever else you might live with. Is it okay to fill up a lot of space with your scuba gear or would it be better to just rent it when you need it?

Only buy scuba gear if you can store it in a safe place.

What scuba gear to buy first?

Beginner scuba divers should buy their scuba gear one by one. Start with a scuba mask, snorkel, and fins, as well as a dive computer. Once you are more comfortable with diving, move on to an exposure suit, as well as a BCD. Regulators require annual servicing and should therefore only be bought if you dive regularly. Scuba tanks and weights are only needed if you dive a lot at home.

If you are new to diving, it is best to buy your equipment one by one instead of getting it all right away.

This way, you can practice your skills and decide better which type of diving interests you most.

Additionally, by renting scuba gear on your first dives you can try out different brands before deciding which one you like best.

The beginner guide to buying scuba gear will help you find the right dive equipment when you are just starting out.

Conclusion

We looked at whether you should buy or rent scuba gear and saw that both have advantages and disadvantages.

I recommend renting scuba gear on your first dives to try out different brands and get a better feel for what you like and need.

Get my FREE scuba diving trip packing list and see what equipment makes sense to rent or buy.

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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