What to Know Before You Rent SCUBA Equipment!

In this week's tip we are going to learn a few things about how to rent SCUBA equipment.

Would you rent a car from a car rental company if it were in the condition of the equipment you rent from your local dive store? You should expect the same, if not more, care taken with SCUBA rental equipment as with the rental car. If the car breaks down it is a minor hassle, but if your SCUBA equipment malfunctions it can be a major problem.

When you go into a store to rent equipment you should only rent equipment that you are familiar with and the same brand and model that you expect to buy. There is nothing worst then spending the time and money to rent equipment then spending half the dive trying to get comfortable in new gear. Not only does it take up a lot of dive time but it can also be very dangerous to dive in gear that you are not familiar with. The ocean is not the place to try different equipment. You should always try new equipment in a pool where you can sort out any minor issues before you jump in the ocean and they become major problems. Any change, however minor, in equipment can change the amount of weight you will require and the adjustment of other equipment.

What do you mean adjusting other equipment?

Correctly sized equipment is essential. All of the gear has to be sized together. The boots not only have to fit your feet but they also have to fit properly in the fins. The BC has to fit properly over the wet suit but it cannot cover your weight belt. The biggest issue in sizing - the wet suit. Make sure that you try on the wet suit before you leave the store your renting from. If you have to pull the zipper together more than an inch to zip it up, the suit is too tight. Don't let anyone tell you differently! To stay warm in a wet suit you need a layer of water between you and the suit. Without that water you will freeze. You are better off to have a suit a little big than the least bit tight. Another thing too look at with the suit is the amount of weight it will take to counteract the buoyancy of the neoprene. All suits do not have the same buoyancy. Some wet suit material is more buoyant than others.

Don't forget about the tank. The material, steel or aluminum, and the size of the tank will also affect your comfort in the water. You should determine the size of your tank, not the store your renting from. Why carry a huge tank if you don't breathe a lot of air? If you are consistently coming out of the water with a lot of air left, why not try diving in a smaller tank? It will reduce your breathing rate, and you will have less to carry in and out of the water. Remember the smaller the tank the easier it will be to control in the water. A larger tank will push you around more in the water where a smaller tank will be easier to control. Remeber the less you have to work the easier it will be to breath.

The alternate air source is another piece of equipment you should consider when renting. Is the regulator set up with an octopus or is the alternate air source built into the inflator on the BC? Octopuses are notorious for being filled with sand. You want to be sure that the regulator has been cleaned properly and that the octopus is clear of sand. Did you know that if you put an octopus in your mouth upside down that there is no way to get the water out? This means that when you try and breath all you will get will be a blast of water. These are all things that you should know but have probably never been told.

The last thing to consider when renting SCUBA equipment is the store's staff. You should never feel rushed and never accept "oh, that's good enough". The store staff should take the time to go over all of the equipment with you to make sure that you are completely comfortable with everything you are renting. In fact if you have never used their gear before they should let you jump in their pool with it and help you go over how each piece fits and works so that you are comfortable with it.

When you find gear that you are comfortable diving in you should take the time to write down all the information you can so you know exactly what to rent the next time.

Now here is something you may not be aware of…in order to be properly equipped to dive in the northeast where on average our summer water temperature is about 52° you need to have specific equipment. You should wear at least a 5mm suit, 2mm Aeroskin, 5mm boots, 5mm gloves, a 3-5mm hood, fins, BC, tank, weight belt and regulator with some type of secondary air source like an octopus or an alternate air source built into the inflator of your BC. Toss in a quality mask, snorkel, compass and dive knife and your looking at spending about $3000 if you want to buy quality equipment.

Let's think about that, do you want to go underwater with anything less then quality equipment? If you were hanging on a rope on the side of the mountain and that was the only thing that kept you from falling would you be proud of yourself for getting the cheapest rope you could find? Well SCUBA gear is the same way. Now all that being said when, you figure you would spend about $3000 for a full package you should expect to rent quality gear for about $100.00 a day.

In closing let me add that the best way to rent gear is not too! Huh? That's right. You should strive to own your own equipment so that it will always be configured to your liking and you won't lose time having to fuss with it. Imagine getting to the dive site and just putting the stuff on. No adjusting, no tweaking and most of all no wondering what the last guy did to the gear. Now I know I work for a SCUBA store and I sound like a salesman but hey have I steered you wrong so far? Owning your own gear will make you life easier and your diving a lot more fun. Ask anybody who does. Remember you can buy it piece by piece or all at once. The key is to work towards owning it all.

So until next week time and tide wait for no man, so get out there and DIVE! :-)
And NO I don't work on commission!

Return to Diving Tip List.