Scuba Gear Essentials for New Divers

Learning to scuba dive is one of the most rewarding adventures of your lifetime. As a new diver, you are inundated with information about the aquatic world, how to explore it, and the scuba gear you will need to start diving. Although most dive destinations rent almost all scuba gear, there are essential pieces of scuba gear we recommend that all new divers purchase. That way, you will always be ready for every scuba adventure!  

What gear do you need for scuba diving?

Part of the excitement that learning to dive brings is getting to buy all the cool new stuff that goes with it. The scuba gear you need will depend on your dive goals, your experience level, your budget and your personal priorities. Visiting your local Training Center or chatting with your SSI Instructor is the best WAY to figure out what scuba gear you need. You will get outfitted with the right gear for you and be ready to explore. Welcome to the amazing world of scuba diving!

How much does scuba gear cost?

Scuba gear does not need to cost the earth and the most expensive piece of scuba gear is not always what you need. There are great scuba gear options for all budgets, so focus on what you can afford, the functionality and fit.  

Checklist - Beginner scuba gear to buy.

  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Fins
  • Booties
  • SMB
  • Gear Bag
  • Defog
  • Dive Log

1. Mask.

A dive mask is one of the most important pieces of scuba gear you will own. It is your window to the underwater world, and without it, diving is impossible. We recommend purchasing your own mask to ensure that it fits your face perfectly, because nothing is worse than diving with a mask that constantly leaks. Top tip: Try lots of masks on to find the right fit for your face and nose shape. Choose one with a flexible nose pocket so you can pinch your nose and equalize easily.

2. Snorkel.

Since you wear your snorkel in your mouth, it is a very personal piece of scuba gear. Not only is purchasing your own snorkel essential to ensure it fits comfortably, but it is the most sanitary option. Top tip: Choose a snorkel with a purge valve to make clearing your snorkel easier.

3. Fins.

Purchasing a good set of fins is high on our list of must-have scuba gear for new divers. If you want a high-performing pair of fins that fit comfortably, buying instead of renting is the way to go. Frequently, rental fins are worn-down and not as efficient as those you can purchase for yourself. Having a nice pair of fins helps propel you through the water better, cutting down on fatigue levels and helping you to conserve air and energy. Top tip: Try open-heeled fins. Worn with booties, they keep your feet toasty during cooler dives and protect you from blisters.

4. Booties.

Most hard-working fins are of the open-heel variety and require the diver to wear dive boots (otherwise known as booties). Typically, dive stores do not rent out dive booties, so purchasing your own pair is essential. We recommend a 3-5mm zippered bootie with a thick yet flexible sole. Top tip: Selecting a pair of booties with good grip will help you keep your balance when shore diving or diving from a boat. READ MORE: HOW LEARNING TO SCUBA DIVE CHANGES YOUR LIFE.

5. Surface marker buoy.

More and more dive destinations require divers to carry their own surface marker buoy (SMB) on every dive. Shore divers drag an inflated SMB with them while shore diving to mark their whereabouts, making boaters aware of their presence. Boat divers inflate their SMB when surfacing, to mark where they are during boat diving so that the boat can spot them and pick them up. Top tip: Launching an SMB successfully can be tricky at first. Practice launching yours with an SSI Professional so you can do it with ease when needed.

6. Gear bag.

Purchasing a scuba gear bag may sound like a given, but you would be surprised how many new divers show up to the dive boat carrying all of their gear by hand. A nice mesh backpack-style gear bag is perfect for hauling your dive gear to and from the pool, boat, or shore diving location. Being mesh, it will also dry easily between dives. Top tip: Choose a bag that has both shoulder and backpack straps, so you can carry the bag on your back and keep your hands free when boarding dive boats.

7. Mask defog.

The old wives' tale of using spit to defog your mask can work in a pinch, but nothing works better than actual defog. Buy a bottle and store it in your dive gear bag, so you never leave home without it. Top tip: Gently rub your mask lenses with toothpaste and rinse with water before you first use your mask. This will help prevent mask fog on future dives.

8. Dive log.

Whether you set up a digital dive log in the MySSI app or go old school and keep a paper dive log, logging your dives is an important discipline to start from dive #1. You will use your dive log to track your experience level and show it as proof of dive numbers when working on advanced ratings like Adventure Diver and Master Diver. READ MORE: HOW TO OVERCOME DIVE ANXIETY – PART I.

Checklist - What scuba gear to buy next.

You have got some dives under your belt, so you are likely well and truly hooked on scuba diving and beginning to explore the world’s top dive destinations. Now is the time to invest in your own complete set of scuba gear and wave goodbye to ill-fitting rental kit.
  • Exposure Suit
  • Dive Computer
  • Buoyancy Control Device
  • Regulators

9. Exposure suit.

There is nothing better than an exposure suit that fits you properly and keeps you warm during every dive, all day long. It completely removes the need to end dives early due to being cold. Owning your own exposure suit is an investment you will not regret. Top tip: A full-length 5-7mm wetsuit that comes with a 3mm shortie is a great combination for cold water, multi-dive days and warm water diving.

10. Dive computer.

A dive computer is one of the first pieces of dive gear that new divers buy. Not only is it a great way to celebrate becoming a certified diver, but it is also an essential piece of kit that will keep you safe underwater by helping you monitor your depth and bottom time. Top tip: Make sure you choose a dive computer that is easy to use whilst you are diving, with a big display for clear viewing.

11. Buoyancy control device.

Owning your own buoyancy control device (BCD) might seem like a luxury at first but it is a great investment. The right BCD will fit like a glove, helping you to control your buoyancy with ease, prevent back pain and no longer need to adjust your BCD’s position during your dives. There are different sizes and styles for every body shape and diving preference. Top tip: Try a range of different BCDs to find the right fit and check if the pockets can carry dive weights to reduce loading on your back from traditional dive belt and weights setups.

12. Regulators.

Buying your first regulators can seem daunting but it does not need to be. If you are doing warm water diving and traveling a lot, you might prefer a lightweight set of regulators, whereas cold water diving requires specialist regulators that can cope with low temperatures. Talk to your SSI Instructor about what type of diving you will mostly be doing, and they will help you find the right regulators for your needs and budget.

Scuba gear - Keep it simple!

Looking for an easy way to understand your scuba gear and know what to buy? The SSI Equipment Techniques program teaches you how to choose, maintain and store your scuba gear. It is the best way to get the most out of your equipment on every dive and make your investment last. DISCOVER 9 IDYLLIC DIVE DESTINATIONS FOR NEW DIVERS.