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Renting SCUBA Equipment or Owning – An Insider’s Perspective

Over the past few years the airline industry actually seems to be searching for ways to make travel more difficult.  The latest assault on the traveling public is to charge for checking bags.  Rather than charging a bit more per ticket, the airlines now penalize travelers for daring to bring luggage with them on a trip.  The result is people are hauling more stuff on board, making the planes look like a crowded bus in a third world country.  For divers, who need specialized gear to enjoy our sport, it has become especially challenging.

There has been discussion recently about renting dive gear rather than taking your own.  While this is certainly an option, my advice would be to consider the cost of renting vs. the cost of checked bags and then consider the advantage of diving with familiar gear vs. unknown equipment.

I have seen countless negative scenarios where a diver plans their dream vacation, and decides to rent gear as opposed to purchasing their own.   We recently  had a client join us on a trip to Indonesia who decided to rent his dive gear at the destination rather than to purchase his own gear.  On the first dive his rental regulator failed, and his BC inflator stuck open.  It was a shore dive so we were able to get him some new gear, but he was understandably shaken by the experience.  On the second to the last day of diving he accidently missed a decompression stop because he wasn’t sure how to read his computer.  As a result,  the computer locked him out.  When he showed it to the dive master to inquire why the computer wasn’t reading correctly, the DM realized what had happened and wouldn’t allow him to dive for 24 hours.  The client missed two days of diving out of a seven day trip due to unfamiliar equipment.

On a trip to Zanzibar, a guest rented a BC that was too small and it had to be jerry-rigged to fit.  The regulator he rented felt like he was sucking air through a straw.  Both situations created significant anxiety prior to the first dive.  The dive operator was very organized, and had two other rental regulators on the boat.  Each of these regulators breathed worse than the first.  The guest made the dive, but was uncomfortable the whole time, and opted not to dive the rest of the trip, due to the lack of functional rental gear.

There are too many stories to relate, but suffice it to say I’ve seen numerous broken fin straps, chewed through mouthpieces, leaking hoses and wet suits that I don’t even want to think about.  Not to mention, rental regulators Cousteau might have personally used, and buoyancy control devices that long ago failed to live up to their promise.

When you own your gear you can make sure you get gear that fits you, and that you are familiar with.  You are in control of the maintenance and service, and you know that you are the only one who has put that regulator in your mouth!  When you consider what you spend on a vacation, you want to maximize your enjoyment on that trip.  Having gear that fits and that you can rely on will makes your diving experience much more enjoyable.  Probably the most important thing to consider is that this is life support equipment!

An extra piece of checked luggage typically costs about $30.00 to $35.00 each way, renting a set of gear can cost more than twice that much for a week, much more for longer trips, and you don’t know what you are getting until you get there.  It irritates me to pay anything for a piece of checked luggage.   However, I would rather have my own gear, and know that I’m going to enjoy the diving, rather than to take my chances on unknown gear, that could potential ruin my vacation.

Steve Weaver is the owner of DreamWeaver Travel in Boulder, Colorado. He leads a variety of regular dive trips for divers of all levels. For more details, visit


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