Gear Guy

Should I rent or bring my own gear when scuba diving abroad?

I'm trying to decide whether or not to shell out on a bunch of new equipment for a scuba diving course in Turkey this summer. What does the all-knowing Gear Guy say: buy all and be ready before I go, or rent equipment once I'm there? Grant Washington, D.C.

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Well, let me put it this way: Do both.

Here’s what I mean. I’d rent all the mission-critical stuff—the regulator and tank in particular. Probably the buoyancy compensator, or BCD, as well. The reason? For one thing, this stuff is bulky and heavy and will make getting through airports a pain. For another, if you get it all over there and then have some sort of mechanical problem, you’ll end up renting gear anyway. If you rent gear and need to swap something out, then that’s not a problem. Plus, you might be able to try several brands of equipment, or different styles, and that will help you make a better buying decision when you do invest in your own gear.

In contrast, I’d be somewhat inclined to take all the “comfort” gear—mask and snorkel, fins, diving suit if needed. Sure, that stuff will be available in Turkey, too, but it’s not hard to pack. Plus, it’s stuff where fit and personal preference may make a difference in how much you enjoy the dives—maybe a particular kind of mask fits you best, or certain fins give you a favored propulsion level. And of course, if you have an underwater camera or anything, take that along.

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