Shopping for a long-planned vacation is just part of the fun – but there are times when borrowing or renting can be a better bet than buying. Most dive operators (including our dive company Global Dive Expeditions) have gear available for rental. How do you decide if borrowing or buying gear is right for you?
A mask, snorkel, and fins are the first items to consider purchasing, since they don’t cost a lot and can cause problems. For one thing, masks have to fit properly, and it’s hard to keep a mask from leaking if many people before you have rented it, worn it for a long period of time, and tugged and pulled on it until it’s warped.
Renting the most expensive gear is a strategy many divers use. A regulator can cost a lot – and divers very soon find that they prefer one regulator over other brands. So renting until you can afford to buy the one you want is a good strategy. It’s the same with BC’s (buoyancy compensators). Don’t buy your BC until you buy the regulator you want.
Aside from cost, maintenance and convenience are the primary reason to rent some kinds of equipment – especially specialized gear you may only need occasionally. Many divers rent dive weights – they aren’t fun to travel around with!
Renting is also a good way to try before you buy. Most dive shops will let divers try out gear in the pool, but renting equipment for a real-world test before you buy can help you choose the brand that’s right for you.
If you are planning on renting, it’s a good idea to have a candid conversation with the dive operator before you leave home, especially if you need a special size, or specialized needs. Not all dive shops and tour operators are created equal – you may have had a great experience renting in one place, and arrive somewhere else to find that the local dive shops don’t have what you need or the brands you prefer. So ASK before you leave home.
As with most things, it winds up being a personal choice whether to rent or purchase equipment. Some members of our tribe who have dived with us for years rent much or all of their equipment for each trip. They say that they rent because they want the convenience of not having to pack, carry, or maintain the gear between dives. (We think there’s another reason – not packing their own gear leaves room in the bag for pounds of blue M&M’s candies.)
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