TIPS FOR CHOOSING YOUR DIVING EQUIPMENT AND ACCESSORIES

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BASIC SCUBA DIVING EQUIPMENT

The essential fins, mask and snorkel

For most budgets, it won't be possible to buy all of your diving equipment during the first year, since this would mean having to spend around €800 for everything…
To begin with, you'll need to buy fins, while giving some thought to neoprene booties if you opt for adjustable fins. Fins are your main source of propulsion, so choose the right fins according to how you plan to get around at your level of diving skill. Full-foot fins are more flexible for beginners when learning proper fin technique, while adjustable fins are more rigid and practical since they have to be worn with booties. Not a bad thing when having to reach certain dive sites on foot. Then, you'll need a mask and a snorkel. It's best to have a box to protect your mask, and even to buy a second identical mask if you've had it customised for your eyesight, so as to be able to replace parts if necessary.

TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT

Wetsuit, regulator and a buoyancy control device.

This choice will depend on where you plan to go diving. Indeed, your diving club may sometimes provide the regulator and BCD. But buying your own equipment has several advantages. For a wetsuit, it will be suited to your size, and you can choose it according to your sport (choice of thickness, 2-piece or 1-piece, etc.).The advantage of buying your own regulator is primarily for hygiene. Also, you'll know how it has been maintained. In fact, in some clubs, servicing is not always performed by approved technicians, and your regulator is your primary safety device, so care regarding its maintenance is important. A little tip is to buy a clip of some kind so that your hoses don't get all twisted together. Finally, the benefit of having your own BCD is the fact of being familiar with the location of the purge valves and inflator, it's adjusted your size and, like the regulator, you know all about its maintenance.

When making your purchases, think about hangers for both your wetsuit and your BCD. Hangers are more practical and resistant for drying them out!

VARIOUS DIVING ACCESSORIES

Then there's the "small" equipment…

These different items can be purchased as you advance through the levels and in keeping with the purchase of your other equipment:
- A computer: mandatory as of level 2, you need at least a way of monitoring your depth and dive time. If it doesn't come with one, think about a pouch for protecting your computer.
- A compass and surface marker buoy: you will also need these tools during your level 2 training. Remember a clip for your compass, and a line and weight for your SMB if not provided.
- A dive lamp or torch: you can initially start with a torch that will help you to see better into all of the nooks and crannies where some species may be hidden. After that, you can consider buying a much more powerful dive lamp, especially if you're interested in underwater photography or video. Remember something to attach your torch so as not to lose it.
- A weight belt (if you opt for this system): such a belt is generally purchased when doing your initial open-water dives.
- A knife (or cutter): whether worn on your ankle, arm or attached to your BCD, it's a safety tool. It will enable you to cut a line or wire if you get entangled.
- A bag: a way of carrying around your equipment. It should ideally be waterproof, to avoid getting your car all wet. I would recommend having several, including one for the pool that could hold your fins, mask, snorkel, bathing suit and towel, and then a bag or box for carrying all of your equipment for open-water diving. I would even recommend a rolling bag, since the equipment is heavy and no one wants back problems. You can also have a net bag for keeping your equipment together on the boat.
- Gloves: gloves are generally purchased at the same time as your wetsuit or before you start open-water diving.
- Tank: far from being mandatory, since when you go diving with a commercial structure or club, a tank is generally provided at no extra cost. So I would recommend that you buy a tank if you plan to go diving with friends (without a structure) and you have your own compressor, but this isn't really an obligation.

A LAST WORD OF ADVICE

Choose your equipment according to your needs!

To summarize when it comes to making purchases, wherever you want to buy your equipment, ask for advice from several people (diving friends, salesperson, etc.), think about how many dives you'll do each year, how you can spread your purchases according to your needs, etc. These are important questions to consider before buying your diving equipment.
And in conclusion, being a diver is a great for the people around you. Don't hesitate to suggest diving equipment the next time someone asks you "What would you like for Christmas or your birthday?"

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ARTICLE CO-WRITTEN WITH

Benoît, vendeur au Décathlon du Mans Subea
Benoît, salesperson at Decathlon in Le Mans

I am 39 years old. I have been diving for 23 years. I began diving with my family thanks to my uncle who first took me out, and I just never stopped. I have mainly dived in France (Mediterranean, Atlantic, pools, tanks, etc.) but also abroad, particularly in Egypt. Today I am a FFESSM level 5 diver and also a level 2 instructor.

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