Keys Spearfishing

By Joe Setzer

When I first started scuba diving, I quickly realized that it is an equipment-based activity. Without the proper equipment you can’t be an effective or safe diver. It plays a role in every aspect of your dive and at times, it can even become overwhelming. Due to the amount of equipment needed to have a safe and successful dive, some people choose to just use rental gear.

Using rental gear can be cost, time and space effective. As your gear is what keeps you alive, it needs to be maintained and professionally inspected and serviced. Using rental gear saves you from the headache of making sure that everything is in working order and is safe to use. Using rentals also saves people from the high costs of purchasing their own gear and the additional costs to maintain, repair and service it. Gear is often big, heavy and abundant. Renting gear from a dive shop saves you from having an extra bag to travel with along with the fees and hassles of having large items to travel with.

There are however, faults associated with using rental gear. Renting your gear often means you will not be very familiar with your equipment. Different dive centers carry different gear for rentals. There are a lot of brands on the market, and each brand has a multitude of different models. Each model has its own style and fits differently. Being comfortable in the water is extremely important. Most dives last between 30 minutes and 1 hour underwater. If you aren’t using gear that is comfortable, you won’t have the most enjoyable experience that you could have. The models also have different features and dictate things like how you connect your secondary regulator and even how you drop your weights. Features such as these are life dependent, so in an emergency you should be able to know and use your gear without looking at it.

Although I don’t advise against rental gear, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that I recommend purchasing that will result in a safer and more enjoyable dive experience. As it is like the heart of your dive set up and essential for life underwater, purchasing and utilizing your own buoyance compensator (BC) will mitigate the chances you will not know how to utilize or locate features and other attached gear. You will be knowledgeable, comfortable and familiar with the center of your equipment setup. Depending on your facial structure, a mask might be a necessity. I know it is for me! I have been diving for 10 years and have only found 2 masks that don’t hurt my face when I dive. Again, if you are not comfortable, you will not enjoy your dive! Dive computers are another piece of equipment that are life dependent and necessary to be familiar with. They also happen to be one of the more expensive equipment purchases. When it comes to diving computers, I always say to get the best one within your budget. They all have similar attributes, but some are more user friendly than others. Some have 4 buttons while others have only 1. Some computers are rechargeable (never needing a battery replacement), some are user replaceable, while others you must take into a dealer to get the battery replaced. They also may have slightly different features and functions along with multiple sizes and styles. The necessary information will be available on rental computers or ones you purchase but the ease and accessibility of this information can greatly differ if you are not familiar with the device.

Renting equipment is often the most economical and practical option for many divers. It is a common practice in the dive community, especially for those who are traveling. The more equipment you are able to be familiar with and comfortable in, the more likely you are to have a safe and enjoyable dive. Your dive equipment is your lifeline underwater. If you should need to use your lifeline in an emergency, you want to be knowledgeable, comfortable and familiar. Purchasing a BC, mask and dive computer will allow you to not only enjoy your dive more, but to do so with a greater level of safety.

Joe Setzer
FINZ Dive Center
5130 Overseas Hiwy,Key West • 305-395-0880