As a city boy living in Kuala Lumpur, diving has always been sort of a “hassle” for me. I say “hassle” because, there is nowhere near KL for me to get decent diving.
The closest places for me to get decent diving from KL would be the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, and getting there itself is an adventure of its own. But then again, whenever asked “Where is your favorite dive site?”, I find that I cannot just ignore the diving that I get in the East Coast, particularly the Perhentian Islands.
The Perhentian Islands, to me, deserves a few blog posts by itself, which I will probably do soon enough. But my point of this post today is something else entirely.
At some point in time, even if you stay near the ocean, you will think about diving somewhere else besides your own backyard. And my my, I have done A LOT of travelling for some diving.
And the biggest concern, of all things, is the luggage. I literally have my hands (and shoulders) full every time I go on a dive trip. I have the “main” bag, which contains my dive gear and also my clothes. My camera tray as well as strobe arms also go in there. And then, there is a “camera bag”, for the cameras(I say cameras because Chloe’s camera goes in here as well) and the various lenses, chargers, and sometimes, my laptop. Finally, there is a separate Pelican case, for the camera housing, strobes, batteries, etc.
Packing for a dive trip is an art, carefully managing whatever space I have in the bags, some backups, while trying not to go over the luggage allowance by the airlines.
Well, enough of the rant, I shall attempt to answer the question in the title. I guess the very first thing to consider is:
This point actually depends on the diver. If you dive regularly, it would be better owning your own gear, as some day, the cost of rental will add up to the amount that you can actually purchase a full set of gear. Depending on where you’re diving, some places actually charge exorbitant prices for rental gear. If you’re just going to dive a couple of times, then it would be better to just rent.
If you’re looking to buy gear, do some research, and you may find that you can actually get reliable gear at affordable prices. Not everything expensive is good, or what you need. You may also opt to purchase some of the gear first, like your mask, snorkel, fins, and exposure suit, which is more “personal” and should fit you, and then move on to purchase a dive computer, BCD and regulator.
But the cost doesn’t end there. Dive gear require regular servicing to ensure that they function normally. You may rinse your gear thoroughly after every dive, or dive trip, but regular maintenance of the gear is necessary. Dive computers will also require battery changes, unless you purchased a rechargeable one.
Travel and Luggage
Like I have mentioned above, travelling can be a big part of the diving experience. You will have to consider that you may have to lug around a couple of heavy bags with you if you were to bring along your own dive gear.
Flying will present you another “problem” where luggage limitations according to airlines may cost you more if you have your gear with you. Some people check all the gear in, while some may choose to carry some gear such as regulators on board with them as carry-on.
You will also need some space at home to store all of them!
On the other hand, if you are renting, these points will not be much of a concern.
Comfort of Having Your Own Gear
This can be a very personal reason. I am really comfortable with my set of gear and have dived with them for 9 years. I know where all the buckles, latches, bells, whistles, etc are on my gear and can more or less operate them without really looking.
Having your own gear also eliminates some other problems like leaky masks, wrongly sized BCDs or fins, broken mouthpiece on the regulator, etc.
This point can also be really important in emergency situations, where if you’re not familiar with the gear, you may run into problems trying to operate them. With your own gear, you may know exactly what to do, or where the problem is during an emergency.
In conclusion, owning your own dive gear may be a big investment, but if you’re planning on diving for a long time, it may be best to have your own equipment. It’s a lengthy post, but if you have read it all the way down here, thank you, and let me know in the comments if you have any opinion in owning or renting dive gear. Til the next post.. dive safe!