The savvy shopper is always on the hunt for a great buy. Finding that fantastic deal or superb discount can sometimes be euphoric. The price of scuba gear is often high, an avid diver finding that perfect item at a discount can sometimes lead to less than perfect expectations once you are out on the water. Before you finalize that purchase here are few simple tips that may guide you with the purchase process and hopefully ensure the gear you grab is the gear you need.
1. Ask yourself is this gear still relevant?
If the equipment is marked down because it is an old model you may well be getting a good deal on a decent piece of gear that just doesn’t have the latest superficial design nuances. However, have there been major changes in the product’s functionality? Occasionally dive gear manufacturers drop a product line or shut down altogether. If this is the case it may be difficult or impossible to service your equipment in the future or find compatible gear. Make sure you know which type of “deal” you are getting.
2. Inquire about the discount gear being new or used
Again, sometimes used equipment can mean a great deal and other times it is nothing more than an expensive paperweight. Obviously, you want to avoid the latter option. To do that, really consider what you are buying used and the condition you are buying it in. At IDC, for instance, much of our rental stock is always for sale so that we can continually refresh the rental department; when you purchase a former rental regulator, you receive will receive one that is completely serviced and tested upon purchase – it will work like new. Make sure you are getting a product that continue to be serviced (parts aren’t discontinued) and be sure to understand the cost of maintenance and repair. Some dive equipment service and repair can be quite costly and it will change your purchase from a bargain to a loss.
3. Check the warranty
A lot of scuba gear comes with some kind of warranty. Some warranties are more flexible than others and they vary in duration. Most warranties protect you for at least a year against manufacturer defects, while many are longer and a few are for the lifetime of the product. Some products remain in warranty even if resold secondhand whereas others only cover the original owner. In some instances, warranties can save you big bucks pretty quickly, such as warranties that include service kits on regulators – these might cut the cost of a service in half for you on an annual basis. Warranties often give you insight into the quality/durability of an item – this isn’t always the case, but they can be a good clue.
4. Always check the fit, returns on discount gear may not be an option
Let’s be honest: Ill-fitting dive equipment just plain sucks. If you’ve ever struggled to manage the air in a drysuit that is too big, tried to utilize your full range of motion in an undergarment that is too small or tried not to be swung around by a BCD that doesn’t fit properly you know this. It is my experience that if you sacrifice fit for cost, you will find yourself paying for alterations or upgrading to a proper fit sooner rather than later. If you are ready to invest in your own dive gear, it is worth purchasing something that works for you. Some items are “one-size-fits-all”, but most are not. Try things on. Look for adjustability. Take a look at sizing charts and maybe take a few of your own measurements before looking for equipment in earnest. We’re happy to help divers or potential divers, snorkelers, swimmers, et cetera find their size. Our staff is happy to explain fitting techniques if you are unsure as to what you’re looking for in terms of size.
5. It’s a great buy, but is it suitability to your diving
This goes hand in hand with properly fitting scuba equipment. The gear you purchase should suit the type of diving you are doing and the kind of diving you want to be doing in the foreseeable future. If you plan to dive in Vancouver then a great deal on a discount warm water regulator and bcd isn’t a great deal for you. Alternatively, finding something that will work with what you want now and can be used in your future diving endeavors may save you from buying two of the same item.