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Your scuba diving gear is your lifeline when you’re underwater. Making sure you have functioning gear is a must. A good SCUBA BCD or regulator could last you over a decade, and we see all walks of dive gear out on our boats! But, even if you clean and store your gear properly, and have annual inspections and services, there comes a time when you need to invest in new gear. Here are some tips to know when it's time to "take the plunge."
Generally, people dive in to buying new gear for two reasons: their current gear is broken, outdated OR they have outgrown the needs of their current set up. Often our sales staff hear that "my BCD just doesn't fit anymore!" Perhaps you gained some weight, (it happens!) or lost some (congrats! Wish I could do that too...) and your BCD is sized for you, and things change. A BCD too big for you can be shifty, saggy, and drag on a reef. This causes you to readjust often and detracts from the dive. A BCD too small - well, that's just self explanatory. BCDs do wear over time - there is stitching involved, fabrics, and sun damage - not to mention salt water corrosion, glue and rubber seals that crack. Punctures or tears can completely compromise a BCD's ability to hold air - and that's dangerous! Annual inspections can fix a lot of those things, but if your BCD is older than your local dive professional - it might be time for something new. Technology has come a long way for gear in the last decade - weight integration (amazing!), Airsource additions on the inflation hose, more durable materials used and even customized BCD options like the Backplate-Wing setup, Aqualung Rouges, or the Scubapro Hydros. Check out the newest latest and greatest BCDs, here!
Now, as for regulators - annual servicing really should keep them in tip-top shape. And a good investment in a regulator really can save you money in the long run! We have some of our guests diving with 20-year-old regulators - serviced with us every year and still working great! If you spend that initial money on a good, solid, strong regulator, then the foundation is laid - and replacing small o-rings, springs and valves can be all you need for a good long while. Buying a cheaper, plastic or lightweight regulator might not last as long, so the cheaper price point usually means they need to be replaced more frequently. Annual services will check for hose leaks, check your working effort (how easy or hard it is to breathe) and lots of other components to make sure you stay safe. If hoses need replacing, purge covers and internal workings, it might be more cost effective to splurge on that new regulator set. If you can, bring in your old regulator to us, and we can let you know if there's still life left to it, or it's time to upgrade! If you've got a nice regulator that doesn't need replacing, you might want to consider adding a transmitter to the first stage, if your dive computer has that option. It's nice to be able to look down at your depth, time, and air pressure all conveniently located on your wrist!
BCDs and regulators are the "big investments", along with dive computers. Dive computers come with so many different options - you can get ones with transmitters (see above), capable of gas switches and technical gasses, ranging all the way down to simple air/nitrox "puck" computers, which are normally kept as backups. Computers are 1-part style, 2 parts functionality, and 1 part necessity. Sometimes people change that recipe up, but - look for a dive computer that YOU can understand (functionality). Don't assume your dive guide knows how to set up your computer! Read the manual and quick-start guide, push buttons, understand it. When the computer starts beeping and getting your attention underwater - you most definitely want to know what it's trying to tell you! Make sure you can read it - is the screen bright enough, are the numbers too small? - look for what you need to function safely underwater. Sometimes necessity and style can battle for front seat, and sometimes we gotta have that beautiful, colorful, and sleek new Shearwater Teric - then change that recipe around a go for 2 parts style! But if your budget is a limiting factor, often the cheaper computers have all you need, necessity wise, and investing $400 into something simple, readable, and user friendly is the way to go!
Another reason to invest in new gear, be it a BCD, regulator, or dive computer, is that your current set up doesn't meet your needs anymore. Technical diving often requires different gear set ups from your recreational set up. Your jacket-style BCD might not be able to keep up. Perhaps you're interested in diving colder waters (not us, we live in Hawaii for a reason, but it sounds like fun!). Your introductory regulator set you bought after certification might not handle cold water diving. Your computer might not also handle nitrox mixes or be air integrated. You might want to look in to a different computer to be able to handle these capabilities. Your current gear can always serve as backup gear!
We hope this has helped you figure out when it's time to swap over to some new gear and "take the plunge" - but there are so many options out there. Each of our sales staff is well trained to help you answer any questions you might have when picking new gear. Most important, though - is trying things on! Come in for a BCD fitting, try a dive computer on your wrist, add one to your existing regulator, or feel the differences with each product. And when it comes time to make that purchase - support local, come on in, and we can put it all together for you, too!