Step by step to your own diving equipment - Tips from the Experts: Mask, snorkel and fins
Purchasing diving equipment: what should you consider when buying your own diving equipment?
So you've completed your diving course - what now? After a few demanding but fun days, you finally hold an official diving certification card in your hands. So let's go - off to new and amazing underwater adventures!
For your first dives it surely makes sense to rent the necessary diving equipment. But once you are infected with the scuba diving virus, it is time to buy your own diving equipment. But where to start?
As a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and CMAS 2* Diving Instructor, in terms of diving equipment for beginners I've seen a lot. Some people do long research before they buy, others simply choose bargain deals, and some go for the complete diving equipment overkill.
Basically, when buying equipment you need to keep one thing in mind: Scuba diving is an extreme sport! We are moving in an element where longshore lubbers do not belong. Our survival under water depends to a large extent on our diving equipment!
First of all: Thanks to the pioneering invention of digital cameras and the matching underwater housings, now there are as many underwater photographers as sand on the beach. That's fine, but the first piece of equipment should NOT be a housing for your camera - the underwater world will thank you for that!
First, I would recommend buying proper snorkelling equipment. Discount stores and eBay are in all probability not the right way to start. Some sound advice in a specialized scuba diving store is almost certainly needed! Nevertheless, here are a few tips from my side:
The Scuba Diving Mask
- I recommended masks with a small volume, i.e. masks, which have little space between the face and the mask glass. If the mask floods under water, it will be easier to clear it.
- Ensure a good fit. The silicone of the mask should be soft. A good way is to test the fit of the scuba diving mask is to put it on the face without using the mask strap. Now inhale through the nose to create a vacuum. The mask should suck on your face tightly enough not to fall off even when shaking your head. Men should shave before this fitting test!
- Colored or transparent mask? This is and remains a matter of taste. For beginners, I recommend a transparent mask, because it will not restrict their visual field, and thanks to the improved light transmission the underwater world will seem brighter and friendlier.
To start with, a transparent mask is probably best. After a few dives you can then switch to black silicon, because this results in the feeling of being able to focus better - and it looks super cool!
- Here you should take care that the snorkel is made of silicone and not of plastic. Thus, it is flexible and will not break so easily.
- Exhaust valves at the bottom of the mouthpiece can be helpful when it comes to blow out water which might enter the snorkel; however, it is also worth considering that these valves can easily leak or be damaged.
Here, I personally think that less is more.
- Basically, you can distinguish between two types of fins: the closed fin and the open fin. Closed fins can be worn barefoot, for open fins you'll need neoprene booties.
- In both cases, the fin blades should be quite soft. Although hard fin blades allow more driving force, they also tend to create cramps in the calf and/or leg. Super soft is not good also. In conditions of counter-current the thrust of soft the fins might be too weak, and that could be dangerous.
- Slotted holes, round or rectangular blades ... the choice is sheer endless. First of all, the fin should fit comfortably, and - especially for ladies - it should match with the color of the wet suit.
I like to dive with split fins. They are very comfortable and allow a great propel. Also, I personally prefer open fins with neoprene booties. On the one hand they keep your feet warm; furthermore, the booties offer more protection, in case you need to walk from the shore into the water.
So, now off to new adventures and have fun scuba diving!