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Scuba Kit Advice

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When delving into a new sport like scuba diving, the allure of acquiring all the necessary equipment upfront is understandable. However, the initial cost of scuba gear can sometimes feel daunting, deterring potential enthusiasts.

Fortunately, scuba diving doesn’t have to break the bank, especially with the myriad of great deals available online. My recommendation is to approach gear procurement pragmatically, particularly when just starting out. Instead of making significant financial commitments right away, consider acquiring the essential basics initially and gradually expanding your kit as you become more immersed in the sport.

For newcomers to scuba diving, I suggest prioritizing the purchase of a mask and fins within the first 2-3 months of training. This phased approach not only helps manage expenses but also allows you to tailor your gear selection to your evolving needs and preferences.

Scuba Mask

One of the primary pieces of equipment most individuals tend to invest in first is a mask, with prices varying from £10 upwards. While it’s typically recommended to try on a mask before purchasing, challenges posed by COVID and the closure of many local scuba shops have made this task more difficult.

For those who are members of a club, there’s the advantage of being able to try on masks belonging to fellow members, allowing you to gauge what suits you best.

I own two Apeks Atomic Aquatics Masks. While I paid full price for one, I acquired a second-hand backup through Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the cost at £40. Opting for a frameless design, which offers a broader field of view, was a priority for me. Additionally, after trying on another member’s mask and finding it to be an excellent fit, I felt confident in my choice.

When selecting a mask, achieving a perfect fit to your face is crucial, while the rest comes down to personal preference. A simple test involves putting on the mask without attaching the strap to your head; if it adheres firmly to your face when you breathe in, it’s likely a good fit. Numerous tutorials demonstrating this test can be found with a quick search on YouTube.

Masks typically come with either a clear or black seal. While a white seal allows more light into the mask initially, it may yellow over time, appearing dirty. In contrast, a black seal lets in less light but tends to last longer without yellowing. I opted for a black seal for my mask, though it’s worth noting that some individuals may find it slightly claustrophobic.

Additionally, investing in a neoprene mask strap is advisable, as it facilitates easy donning and removal—an essential skill learned during the Ocean Diver Course. Club-branded neoprene straps are available for purchase, typically priced around £10. Alternatively, they can be found online for approximately £12, depending on the brand.

Fins
The next essential piece of gear that many divers acquire is fins. Like masks, the price range for fins can vary, but you can often find a decent set second-hand.

I highly recommend opting for scuba fins rather than snorkeling fins. While snorkeling fins are suitable for pool use or casual snorkeling and can be worn barefoot, scuba fins require the use of boots. This versatility allows them to be used with either boots or a drysuit, which becomes essential if you plan to dive with the club. Investing in scuba fins eliminates the need for purchasing two sets, ultimately saving you money in the long run.

For reference, here’s an example of each type: Scuba Fin: Apeks RK3 Fins Snorkelling Fin: Mares Avanti Tre Snorkelling Fins

I acquired the Mares Avanti Quattro Plus fins second-hand from the Facebook Marketplace for £65, significantly below the normal retail price of about £90. Before making this purchase, I conducted thorough research by watching videos on YouTube, reading online reviews, and observing fellow club members who also used these fins.

Ultimately, finding the right fins boils down to exploration and experimentation. Don’t hesitate to ask fellow club members to try on their fins to determine what works best for you. Once you’ve identified a preferred set, I recommend shopping around, as prices can vary between shops. Platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace can also offer great deals.

It’s important to note that some scuba equipment, particularly when purchased second-hand, may require servicing. This typically applies to items like BCDs, regulators, and computers.

BCD – buoyance Controlled Device

The choice of BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) often hinges on the type of diving you intend to undertake and your level of involvement in the sport. Many clubs typically provide the standard jacket-style BCD, which wraps around your body and serves as the go-to option for most new divers due to its familiarity and ease of use.

BCDs vary widely in price depending on features and brand. My first BCD was the Scubapro x-Black, which I acquired second-hand for £400, significantly below its retail price of over £600. Despite being previously used, it was in excellent condition and provided a sense of security and reliability during dives. However, I found that the pockets were somewhat challenging to use when the jacket was inflated.

Later, I transitioned to the Scubapro Hydros PRO, a more travel-friendly wing-type BCD priced around £600 and up. While this BCD lacks pockets, it boasts integrated weights and a versatile belt-style system that can be easily swapped out. I managed to secure this BCD for around £400 second-hand, as the previous owner preferred the traditional jacket-style BCD.

Second-hand BCDs can be found for as little as £50 on platforms like Facebook or eBay, offering budget-friendly options for those starting out or looking to upgrade their gear. Ultimately, the choice between jacket-style and wing-style BCDs depends on personal preference and diving needs, with both options offering their own set of advantages and considerations

Regulators

Investing in a regulator set is a significant decision, with prices ranging from £300 to £1000. In my experience, Apeks stands out as a top-tier brand, a sentiment echoed by many members of the club. My initial regulator set was the Apeks MTX-RC, which I purchased from https://4thelement-diving.co.uk/ for £600, a substantial discount compared to its retail price of £900-£1000 on other sites. While these regulators are robust and well-suited for extreme conditions like ice diving, they may be considered overkill for typical recreational dives.

For a more lightweight and travel-friendly option, I acquired the Apeks XL4 regulators, originally priced at £650, but found a set on eBay for £300. These regulators are ideal for pool use due to their lightweight design. Additionally, I have a set of Apeks ATX40 regulators, which I use for my pony setup. Purchased second-hand from Facebook for £100, these regulators would have cost £320 if bought new.

When selecting regulators, I highly recommend considering Apeks due to their reputation for quality and reliability. It’s crucial to ensure that the regulators are suitable for the environment in which you plan to dive. For cold-water dives in the UK, look for models specifically rated for cold water, such as the Apeks XTX40, ATX40, MTX-R, MTX-RC, and XTX200. These models are well worth exploring to ensure optimal performance and safety during your dives.

DSMB

Delay Surface Marker Buoys (DSMBs) come in a variety of colors, configurations, and price points. When selecting one, it’s advisable to prioritize orange-colored ones that allow for filling from the bottom with an over-pressure valve.

It’s generally recommended to steer clear of DSMBs that require filling from a hose. While there are options available that utilize small crack bottles for filling, these tend to be more expensive. Personally, I prefer the Northern Diver DSMBs, which are priced at £45 when purchased new. However, I managed to find my first DSMB on eBay for just £15, and a backup one for £16. The first was slightly used, whereas the second was brand new, offering excellent value for money.

Torch

When embarking on dives in the UK, having at least one torch is highly recommended for safety and visibility. Torch prices typically start at £100 and can vary upwards from there. When searching for a torch, it’s important to consider the lumens, with higher numbers indicating a brighter light. Additionally, assessing features such as beam type (wide or spot) and the availability of a strobe function for attracting attention can be beneficial.

For my initial torch, I opted for the Tovatec Fusion 1500, which I purchased for £100 on eBay. This served as my primary torch until I upgraded to the Metasub KL1242, which boasts a longer-lasting battery pack. While the retail price for the Metasub KL1242 is around £700, I was able to find one on Facebook for approximately £300.

Many members of the club speak highly of the Green Force torches, praising their performance and reliability. Investing in a quality torch ensures enhanced visibility and safety during dives, making it a worthwhile addition to your gear arsenal

Dive Computer

Navigating the world of dive computers can be overwhelming due to the multitude of features they offer. At the entry level, you can find affordable options like the Suunto Zoop, priced around £70 second-hand and £225 new, or the Aqualung i300c, which typically costs about £100 used and £225 new. Both are solid choices for beginners.

Personally, my first dive computer was the Suunto D5, which I purchased from eBay for £380, a considerable discount from its retail price of £580 when new. As a backup, I recently acquired the Suunto D4i from Facebook for £150, significantly less than its retail price of £360 when new.

Some dive computers offer the option to pair with additional pods, albeit at an extra cost. It’s essential to weigh the features and compatibility of different models to find the best fit for your diving needs and budget.

PLEASE NOTE WHEN BUYING SECOND HAND GEAR IT SHOULD BE SERVICED.

Online Scuba Stores

Kent Dive – Gravesend 

Mike Dive Store – London 

SDS Water sports – Sheffield

Robin Hood Water Sports – West Yorkshire

Aquanauts – Plymouth

Diveinn – Europe

While there are numerous online dive stores available, I have personally utilized the following main ones for my purchases. However, it’s worth noting that some members of the club have also used Dinn Inn for their diving needs.

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