I often think of the difference between men and women on the approach to buying and renting, when my friends and now my kids and their friends get married. I have never known a groom who went out and bought a tux to wear for three hours, and have never seen a bride in a rented gown. (Not saying it doesn’t happen; just have never seen it myself.)
It’s partly a practical choice, and partly an emotional one. Go to a tool rental shop and you’ll find all kinds of great and handy devices that you may only ever need ONCE for one job and that job pretty much can’t be done without it. You know you will pay about ten percent of the value of the tool, but you are pretty sure you won’t use it nine more times in the next ten years, so it makes sense to rent.
Now, with dive gear, to become a scuba diver you have to take a fairly expensive course, and invest your valuable time to get certified to enjoy our great sport. It’s probably not something you did on a whim, you thought about it for a long time, or a friend has got you interested, but the point is you made a commitment. The dive industry has known for years that the dropout rate of divers who invest in their own gear is lower than those who don’t. Who wants to wear a wetsuit that 500 others have worn before you, or have a regulator in your mouth under the same circumstances?
Dive gear is a life support system that is your gateway to one of the most exciting experiences on the planet. When you are 100 feet underwater having a great time, it can be hard to imagine that you are a fifty cent part away from being exposed to an environment that is as hostile to the human body as outer space.
When you own your own gear, you spend the time to get every piece of it adjusted and configured EXACTLY the way you like it. It becomes like an old friend; an old pair of slippers that just slide on easily every time. There are no surprises, and your task loading on the dive prep is much lower – especially if you are on a boat full of divers you don’t know, and some piece of unfamiliar rental gear starts giving you grief.
In cold water, it’s really hard to enjoy the beauty when your rented dry suit leaks, or wetsuit is just not keeping you warm. For the travelling diver, in the face of recent massive airline restrictions and fees, most manufacturers have introduced high quality lightweight gear. I recently flew halfway around the world to dive in Australia. I took every piece of my own gear, except for weights.
I geared up in a couple of minutes, everything fit, I knew where it all was and how it worked, and the second I hit the water I forgot about and enjoyed my dives. If you want to truly enjoy diving and stay in for the long haul, go buy some gear….