One of the big decisions that scuba divers have to make is whether it is better to own your own dive gear or make use of the rental services at a scuba centre each time you go diving.
There are many factors worth considering when making this choice including cost, frequency of use, fit, travel convenience and hygiene.
Let’s take a closer look at these important factors so you can decide whether the advantages and disadvantages of buying your own scuba diving gear are better than the pros and cons of renting diving equipment.
Cost of Buying vs Renting Diving Gear
Certain pieces of scuba diving equipment are more affordable than others. For example, fins and masks are generally inexpensive while a wetsuit and BCD can cost several hundred dollars.
When purchasing a complete set of new gear, expect the bill to be around $1000 – $2000. Of course, it varies depending on whether you are buying low end or high end items.
The cost of renting scuba diving gear also varies per location but in most cases it will only be a fraction of the retail price.
However, you cannot make an accurate comparison of the cost of buying versus renting gear unless you take the frequency of use into consideration.
Renting gear is only more affordable when you are an infrequent diver.
Frequent divers get more use out of their equipment so when you calculate the cost of gear per dive, a frequent diver might already have saved money by not renting within a couple of years or even less.
Besides comparing the purchasing and rental costs, also think about the cost of maintaining scuba diving gear.
Whereas the rental company takes care of all the gear after the dive, this is your own personal responsibility when you bought your own scuba diving equipment.
Proper maintenance is very important because the sea salt and occasional bumps and scratches can cause considerable wear and tear. If not handled properly, your equipment gets damaged and might not even be safe for use anymore.
Proper maintenance includes rinsing with fresh water after every dive, making sure all the residue has been removed and drying in a cool shaded spot. But, this is not a costly part.
The costly part is when it is time for a proper service. Again, scuba gear servicing costs vary per location so it is worth comparing the prices of several places.
A complete service can cost over $100 so that is something you should keep a budget for. Expect to hand in your gear for a professional maintenance service after 200 hours of diving, after a long period of not being used or once a year.
When renting gear you don’t have to think about the maintenance and service costs so that is one way in which rentals can work out to be more affordable.
A final price tag to consider is the cost of travelling with heavy, bulky gear. When traveling by airplane, chances are that your dive gear alone already reaches the maximum luggage limits.
This means that you either have to travel with barely anything else or pay for excess luggage which quickly adds up. There are products specifically designed for travel but these are limited and often only suitable for tropical waters.
So, consider how you travel to your dive locations and whether the cost of excess luggage evens out the costs of renting at the location.
Other Considerable Factors
Besides the associated costs, there are other factors that are worthy reasons for investing in your own scuba diving gear. These are fit, safety and hygiene.
Rental gear does not always fit you properly and when the stock is limited you might get stuck with too big wetsuits, tight masks, pinching fins etc.
Such fit issues not only make the dive uncomfortable, it might also be an issue of safety considering how it affects your movement and how water seeps in or out.
Finally, it is simply more hygienic to have your own pieces. Think about all the bodily fluids the gear comes into contact with – still want to share those pieces of equipment with strangers?
To Own or Rent
To get an accurate calculation of whether renting or buying scuba diving gear is more affordable you have to consider the following factors;
- Required gear for type of dives
- Frequency of use
- Maintenance costs
- Travel costs
There is also another option; buying a selection of scuba diving gear and renting the rest. We recommend owning pieces where fit is important like a BCD, suit, fins and mask.
Read these BCD reviews before buying because there are many differences in design with considerable impact.