Talk to any diving enthusiast and they will tell you about their first dive. For many people their enthusiasm is cemented instantly – once they’ve tried it they just know, and can’t wait to get back in the water as soon as possible. They will also tell you how attached they are to their own equipment, particularly their wet suits.
Upon your first dive you will no doubt be assigned rental equipment from the diving centre. This is fine, after all nobody would seriously contemplate the expense of buying their own equipment for something they’ve yet to try. Diving isn’t for everyone and you’d be left with a sizeable unwarranted cost if you decided you didn’t care for it after forking out for the gear. Rental wet suits are usually serviceable for beginners but if you are bitten by the diving bug then your own suit should be one of the first things on your shopping list. Not only for that special sense of ownership but for safety and efficiency. Experienced divers often pride themselves on their equipment but there are more practical reasons to invest in your own beyond this.
Firstly, having a wet suit that fits your body perfectly improves its efficiency. Rental centres will no doubt have a few size options but having a suit tailored to your measurements will guarantee the best results. The way each suit works is that it heats the thin layer of water between your body and the suit in order to keep you warm and it lets you breathe by expelling sweat buildup. This means the suit needs to be the right size – too big and too much water can flow in and out, too tight and it can restrict your circulation. A suit that is too skintight can be more harmful than a one which is too baggy in the most extreme situations and you can overheat or pass out. Getting the right size will make your deep sea water diving experience as comfortable as possible.
Having your own suit ready to go will also speed up the process every time you go diving. Having to wait for rentals and try on multiple suits and sizes can be highly frustrating when you’re raring to go!
This brings us to the other, more disturbing, downside of not having your own equipment. None of us want to think about it but the truth remains – a lot of people will have used each rental suit, and people do urinate in their wet suits. As terrible as it sounds it is an inescapable fact. Dive centres do of course clean each suit after use but no amount of disinfectant will remove everything 100%. What’s more, after a group dive all suits will probably be thrown in to a large wash basin together so any urine on any of the suits will be in the mix as they all clean. After years of use you can imagine each suit beginning to smell!
The only way to know for sure what has come and gone in your suit is to own your own and make sure you only use it yourself. Sure the initial cost of equipment may be a little off putting you will soon see that it is an investment worth making if you want your dives to be as comfortable and efficient as possible.
Steve currently writes for Deep Blue Dive, a company that specializes in diving equipment and clothing.