There are lots of different factors here, such as your size, gender, preference etc. But the biggest one for most people is probably cost. Generally speaking the more you pay, the better gear you will get, the more comfortable it will be and the better your diving experience will be. There is a limit though, if you were to do blind trials of the top brands most expensive gear, I bet most divers couldn’t tell the difference. There is however a lot of difference between entry level gear, and good middle of the range gear.
The first two things you should consider are your budget, and the fit of the gear. You might want the best mask, but if it doesn’t fit your face, it’s pointless buying it. So in the same way you try on shoes before you buy, you need to try on all the gear and test it out. Don’t buy online, you can’t try the gear on, check the quality or make sure it works for you.
Lucky for you, Tauranga Dive have an indoor heated 4 meter deep training pool that you can use anytime you like for trying out gear, or refreshing your skills etc, and we are experts at fitting you out with the right gear.
Our package deals start at $1,600 for a full set of gear and from there the skys the limit.
Come in and see us, try the gear on, and get the right advice.
There are many different kinds of fins that all do different jobs. But yes, you can freedive and Scuba with the same fins if you aren’t fussy about performance.
Long flexible fins
Used for freediving because they shift a huge volume of water and getting down fast when you only have one breath is important. Not so suitable for Scuba as they make turning slow, especially when hunting for crays, and manuveribility is reduced.
Easier on the legs and ankles as they have less resistance against the water. So yes very good for anyone with a low tolerance to cramp, muscle or joint pain. As well as being very useful for the “Cruiser” such as a photographer or anyone that wants to slow down and take it all in. Difficult to back pedel with them and you get a reduced thrust, so they are usually slower.
Most of the big brands are doing these now. These fins have a joint of some description just in front of the toes, allowing the fin to flex or bend way more than fixed fins. The result is more water is shifted so therefore more thrust is created. They are usually expensive.
There are essentially 2 different kinds. Scuba and Freediving. Scuba have an endless variety, shape and colour. Some are frameless, some clear, some give good peripheral vision, some have a purge valve for getting rid of any leaking water. It just depends on what you like and what fits your face.
Freediving masks are always black, have no side windows for peripheral vision so no distractions, and have a very low volume and profile. All essential when you have only one breath.
Again lots of different kinds and colours. We prefer those without a purge valve, as they usually end up leaking, and made of soft silicon as they bend in the kelp rather than getting entangled. But it really depends on what you primarily use it for.
Semidry, 1 piece, 2 piece, , neoprene, dry suit…all with different functions for different kinds of diving. But the main function is to keep you warm. Dry suits are the best as they do what they say and keep you dry. 1 piece suits are more flexible but usually are not as warm as 2 pieces, and rubber freediving suits are incredibly warm, but take a lot of putting on and taking off as they are delicate.
Are responsible for taking you up and down in the water current, so essential unless you don’t wear a wetsuit but there are not many divers choosing this option. BCD’s all have a bladder in them which you fill with air as you go down, and empty as you go up, which sounds back to front but isn’t. Some are front inflated, some back inflated. Most have pockets of one description or another, and the more expensive ones have a lot features and are super comfortable. Some are weight integrated so you don’t need a weight belt, making your dive more comfortable and one less piece of gear to carry.
GAUGES & COMPUTERS
A dive computer makes the whole experience practically worry free. There are two different kinds, integrated and non-integrated. And integrated computer tells you your depth, time left at that depth, decent and accent rate, whether you need to do a safety stop, no fly surface time, safe time between dives…everything! All you need to do is get in the water and it does the rest. Most all record the number of dives, and are downloadable, for statistics etc. Some are even wireless, transmitting direct from the tank to your wrist where the computer is your watch.
Non integrated do the same with one major difference, they don’t tell you your remaining tank pressure, or how much air you have left, and for this they have a simple pressure gauge as well as the computer. The difference being cost of course, but if you have any problems with your computer, you will still know how much air is left.
If you don’t use a computer, you will have to rely on tables which require you to know your depth before you dive, so a depth sounder is essential. You will also not be able to deviate from your dive plan or go deeper than you planned on the surface. With charts, the deepest depth is the depth used to calculate your residual nitrogen, even though you may only have been there for a few seconds. Computers are very reliable, and much safer.
You will need a weight belt if you use a wetsuit, to compensate for the buoyancy of the wetsuit. Unless you use an integrated BCD (See above)
2 different kinds, aluminium or steel. Aluminium are cheaper, Steel are smaller, but more importantly they don’t turn into a floatation device when they are getting low on air, which is a major advantage over Aluminium. Yes they are more expensive but it is a very rare occurrence that steel cylinders will fail a annual inspection.