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Thread: Archive: "Advice on buying Scuba set"

  1. #1

    Archive: "Advice on buying Scuba set"

    This is an archived thread that was originally posted on, the predecessor to MerNetwork. For more information about, click here.


    Posts: 37
    10/05/10 14:27:11
    I'm ready to buy my own equipment, however I'm not sure how best to go about it. Priorities are safety first, then cost. I'd rather not have to buy it all at once. Which parts should I purchase first? Which items are easiest to rent? Is it safe to buy any items used, like weight belts?

    I would appreciate advice on brands too.

    Capt Nemo #1

    Posts: 573
    10/05/10 20:25:38
    Are you certified? Most dealers will not sell or fill cylinders if you aren't.

    Buy your equipment from a local dealer! Any warranties on gear bought on the web will be void. Lots of counterfit gear on the web. The web is good for buying wetsuits, weightbelts, mask, snorkel, fins, and other non life support gear.

    For a regulator, the Scubapro G250/Mk 25 is an excellent choice. That reg has been going strong since 1986, and very few regs surpass it. I still use my 1987 model and a 1990 version. Still on the US Navy civilian equipment approved for purchase list. The S600/Mk 25 is also there. The R190 is good for a warm water octopus reg. For cold water, G250 or S600. I haven't had problems ice diving with the G250 in fresh water, but the IP needs to be lowered for colder water or the reg will freeflow.

    For a BC, I would look into either a backplate/wing, or a Scubapro stabilizer jacket. While I dive a front adjustable style, many don't have much lift capacity. Look for a BC that has at least 40 pounds of lift. Also, I'm not a fan of integrated weight systems. A seperate weight belt can be used when you're snorkeling in your wetsuit, as well as, when you're on scuba.(also neoprene tails) Avoid the HUB and any other systems like it!!! Replace your cylinder strap with a Scubapro cinch strap.(stainless cam buckle) I've never seen a one fail yet! All the others are crap compared to it. I am also a fan of the Scubapro balanced inflator, although the new version is harder to do manual inflation on.

    For dive computer, I wish Oceanic still made the Datamax.(analog gauges w digital bottom/surface timer) It was really easy to do your paper logbook with. Not a fan of computer logbooks as the computer can't be set to account for cold water/heavy work schedules, and you can't get the info you need for paper logs without downloading to a computer first. Currently, I use the Pro Plus 2 with the compass. It's large display is nice when you're narced at 100 ft. Another downside is the data cables. $100 for the proprietary USB cable seperate from the computer. Another nice thing is that you can set alarms for time, turn pressure, ect. I always use the computer as a backup to the paper tables/dive plan.

    For cylinders, aluminium are cheaper than steel, but will gain 2 lbs of positive bouancy when empty. I think the Luxfer aluminium cylinders are now made to go neutral when empty. Expect about 10 years of life from aluminium cylinders. After that stress cracking can begin to be a problem. Salt water also corrodes them faster. Many hydro stations will fail an aluminium cylinder after 10 years. Only buy new aluminium cylinders, as older ones pre 1999 may have been made of an inferior alloy. Run away from cylinders made by Walter Kidde! Their Neutrabuoy cylinders were of the bad alloy, and several have catastrophicaly failed blowing dive shops apart.

    green52 #2

    Posts: 37
    10/06/10 10:33:16
    Wow, thanks, this is all extremely helpful.

    I'm PADI certified for open water, but I intend to get research certified in the next few years.

    I don't have a lot of money, but I figure that if I'm serious about doing this I should be willing to go above basement prices, so I really appreciate all the info.

    Wetsuit: full or top and bottom separately?

    Also, in BC reviews, I see a lot of contrasting between back plate and wing designs. Is one the newer alternative? It seems like one has reduced drag or something, but I'm not clear on the pros and cons of each.

    Capt Nemo #3

    Posts: 573
    10/06/10 18:42:00
    For a wetsuit, how cold is the water?

    For cold water, look at either a drysuit or 7mm semi-dry or 7mm 2 piece.

    Above the thermocline in the Great Lakes during summer, 5-7mm jumpsuits. For snorkeling, 3-5mm jumpsuits.

    Tropical waters, 3-5mm jumpsuits or shorties.

    Again, for wetsuits, I'd go Ebay or elsewhere on the web. Also try the local thrift shops. I've picked up some nice 7mm beavertail wetsuits for $25 or less by hitting the thrift shops. Some of the older suits are the Rubatex G231 neoprene. It's stiffer than the newer neoprenes, but compresses less, and lasts longer. The superstrech suits suffer the most from repeated compression. The Henderson Gold Core suits are warm, but the skin interior is easily damaged and is very hard to repair. Seal Cement and Aqua Seal will not stick to the lining, only the neoprene between. The skin lining will seal to the skin much like a drysuit seal, reducing the flushing of water thru the suit keeping you warmer. Use a lubricant like Wet Platinum to get into the suit. The suit likes to stick to moist skin. I've spent an 1/2 hour in my 5mm Gold Core suit in 32 degree water before I had to call it quits. Not bad for that thickness and temp.

    For drysuits, I'd buy them new. I prefer the neoprene over the shell suit. The neoprene will reseal somewhat to small punctures, where shell suits will continue to flood. The neoprene also tend to be more streamlined allowing less drag, and you need less thermal clothing underneath. The neoprene drysuit is buoyant and needs 20+ pounds of lead on the belt for freshwater. The Harvey's Aqua Capsule is a good choice. I think they still do custom fit suits. One option to look in to is a manual inflator hose for the suit. You don't see them any more, but they come in useful when snorkeling or any use outside of scuba. Also add a relief zipper to the suit!!! Try to get urathane dipped boots and avoid the rock boots! The rock boots tend to make fin removal real hard. For thermal wear look into a polartec dive skin. In mine, I'll normally wear a t-shirt and running tights, and I'll come up soaked in sweat.

    Marla #4

    Posts: 248
    10/07/10 06:06:12
    I've only been certified for a little over four years and just recently obtained my Advanced certification, so Capt Nemo is definitely the pro on this subject, but just wanted to add my two cents from a women's prospective :-) I am more of a fan of the integrated weight BC's as weight belts have always caused me discomfort on my boney, body frame and always tend to shift around as I dive - lol. I totally agree with everything Capt nemo suggests in regards to buying locally for all the life-support items. We've had great luck in purchasing wetsuits (if you want new) from They really work with you if needed and have great sales every now and then. I had to return a wetsuit three times before getting the size correct and had no problems returning them. The thickness is going to be totally subjective as I dive a 7mm even in Florida waters! I only dive a 3mm when the water hits 87 degrees or above, but anything below that I have to do a 7mm as the thermal climes get me everytime! My hubby is suggesting I get drysuit certified as I get cold way too easily.... Hope that helps a little :-)

    Capt Nemo #5

    Posts: 573
    10/07/10 10:06:29


    Have you tried a shot belt instead of hard weights? For my drysuit I use a compensating belt to keep things tight.

    You ought to hit the thermocline in Lake Superior at 60'! 60-70 degrees above, 33 degrees below! You hear everyone scream when they hit that! Feels like bathwater on the way back up! Clears your narced head right up!

    One thing with drysuits. Dump some or all air before ascent. I had a slow valve leak that sent me rocketing to the surface from 100'. Had I dumped before the ascent, things would have went normal. Also, some agencies teach that you use your drysuit for buoyancy. THAT IS BS!!!! Your BC is for buoyancy, and your suit is for comfort. The only time you use a drysuit for buoyancy is if your BC got holed. Using your suit for buoyancy is a real good way to rocket to the surface FEET FIRST with no way to stop it! With the neoprene suits, the air trapped in the suit during donning is usually all that's needed for the dive. I rarely had to add. Try asking for dump valves on the ankles in addition to the valve on the arm. I wouldn't recommend a drysuit for those under 25, as it's a big investment, and you're still growing.

    The metal backplate/wing combo is one of the oldest designs, but also the most useful of any design. The tec/cave divers all use them. They can mount both single and double cylinders, various size buoyancy wings, hang stage bottles and side mount cylinders. It also allows you to customize the harness with D-rings, pouches, ect. It is the best way to go. Very few recreational systems are that versitile.

    Marla #6

    Posts: 248
    10/11/10 05:30:44
    Capt Nemo - excellent advice again! I guess I'm so used to the integrated BC's that a belt just seems like extra stuff I have to worry about... I have see the shot belts and they definitely seem much better then the hard weights! I pretty much would never go near a lake - way too cold - ha ha! The springs here in Florida are about my threshold at 72 degrees....

    The whole drysuit thing has always made me nervous. I've heard many horror stories about them, but also know if you know what you're doing they are quite safe. I'm not sure that I will ever get the nerve up to get certified for them, but at least I know they are there as an extra option to my cold challenge :-)

    Capt Nemo #7

    Posts: 573
    10/11/10 10:50:50
    Don't be too worried about the drysuit class, for mine back in 87, it was pretty much a tryout in the pool. The neoprene ones are pretty much just an inflateable wetsuit. Not much to it at all.

    More advanced drysuits can be equipped with pee systems, and a womens system is now available. For both sexes it will mean some shaving and adhesives, but being able to do a long dive/decompression without wet diapers, or having to hold it, can be worth it.

    Marla #8

    Posts: 248
    10/12/10 12:46:16
    OMG - I never even thought about those aspects!! Yea - not liking the drysuit option more and more - ha ha!!

    green52 #9

    Posts: 37
    10/13/10 11:34:59
    I'm not interested in dry suits right now either. One day, perhaps, but right now I just want to get more experience at the basics.

    You and a friend have sold me on the backplate/wing system. I'm looking online to try and find a make and model that suits me. Which BCs have you tried?

    Can I demo equipment from dive shops? Is it possible to try a BC out before I buy?

    Capt Nemo #10

    Posts: 573
    10/13/10 14:52:42
    I'm still running with my Scubapro front adjustable BC, and stablizer jacket from the 88-90 era, but I'm considering going to a plate system for photography dives. A dual rig can offer redundancy that a single can't, and would be perfect for solo diving. (more divers spook the fish too much)

    If your dealer handles tec gear and classes talk to them about a demo on a backplate system. Most will have a number of styles available in their rental stock.

    Halcyon and Dive Rite are two good manufacturers.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Pod of Cali
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Hey! This brings back memories. I should follow up on what I ended up getting:

    BC: An OMS backplate with a bright red wing. Love it. It fits well, its minimalist, and easy to customize. Great balance, too. Way better than a vest.
    Regulator: Aqualung micron. Also a great buy. I have a friend who has this too, its got a very low profile, and was a good compromise of price, quality, and features
    Gauge: Simple analog depth/pressure/compass/temp. My dives are all less than 18m, so I don't really need the convenience of a dive comp., and I prefer the simplicity.
    Mask: ScubaPro black single lens mask. Its fine, but when I replace it it will be with something much more compact, preferably with clear frame.
    Fins: Cheap, conventional flat fins. They suit me fine.
    Wetsuit/gloves/hood: ScubaPro 7mm. Its gotten a bit scuffed from beach exits. Don't know if that can be helped.

  3. #3
    Glad you love your wing! It really is the best way to go!

    I'm also looking at Microns for modeling use. The old Oceanic Omega's were good for that too, and used to have a huge range of colors.

    <--Hates black dive gear! Be as colorful as the fish!!!

  4. #4
    I train scientific divers and the needs for gear just depend on the type of diving being done.

  5. #5
    I can see it now

    "Can't manage the girly dolphinkick?
    No problem!
    In this suit, not only will you be cooler than all those giggling mermaids;
    you will also look like BATMAN!!"

  6. #6
    Senior Member Pod of Cali
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    I've seen so few colored setups. I'm surprised that wet suits in cool colors aren't more popular.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Pod of Texas Seatan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Arlington, Texas
    Add Seatan on Facebook
    I have heard different reasons why wetsuits are black, from the idea that black absorbs UV rays and keeps you warmer to it being the natural color of the material and any other color being an extra step, but my opinion is probably because people who make wetsuits know there is not a huge market for brightly colored suits. You wear A LOT of gear while diving, and so being all colorful is not the first thing on most peoples' minds--especially since a good number of divers are middle aged men. Also, once I REALLY got into scuba, all my careful planning about matching the colors of my stuff vanished, which is fine when your mask doesn't match your fins, but would look really weird if you got a green wetsuit with red fins and a pink mask and a blue tank and a electric yellow BCD. Interchanging colors of suits would be hard (since your "accessories" cost about twenty times what the suit does), also. Most divers who are serious enough to have more than one wetsuit probably wouldn't be interested in paying the extra money (cuz pretty costs more) on a colored wetsuit when they could put that money toward a liveaboard trip. If the market is not good, then nobody is gonna bother. There are some more colorful ones, though, they just have colored accents instead of the whole suit. I will admit i bought a pretty ladies' BCD, but i didnt really buy it for the look. if there had been a better one in black only, i would have gotten that even though I like color. nobody really looks GOOD when diving anyway lol. I started out trying to match, but then said screw it when i wanted something that wasn't available in blue. Personally, I also think one bright colored unitard would simply be too much for most people, and if there's no market then they won't make it. Luckily, scuba companies are gettingy "trendier" with their gear, especially for women, so you may see them in the future! I know one company makes ones for surfers with patterns that are supposed to make you less visible to sharks, so maybe they will start coming out with colored ones too.
    Last edited by Seatan; 12-06-2013 at 01:12 AM.
    Once upon a time I was known as Seavanna. Going by Seatan these days. I always wanted to be the high lord of underwater hell.


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