The problem with buying scuba diving equipment from a sports department shop
Last night we headed to a sports shop in Lanzarote to buy a new mountain bike. They have lots of sports departments including bikes, walking, camping, running, golf, tennis the list goes on! For something we thought would be an easy process, maximum an hour – we were totally wrong!
Due to the lack of organisation buying the bike took a while! First trying the bike, then heading to another department getting you to sign up and become a member for the guarantee. Then heading back to the bike department, collecting the ticket for it. Waiting for them to put any extra accessories on and then heading over to pay. Finally, we were done we just had to go back to the bike department collect it! It took forever - roughly 2.5 hours!! (and we had gone into the shop knowing what we wanted!!) The biggest problem we found was that the staff were only trained on certain departments and they didn’t know information on anything else!
During the process of ordering the loyalty card we noticed they also were offering scuba diving equipment for sale. So being the nosy diving instructors that we are we went over to check out what they had on offer! The main items we looked at were the BCD and regulators. Not a huge selection, not great quality and very cheap. The other big problem which a lot of first time buyers for scuba gear may not take into account is they weren’t a well recognised brand in the scuba diving industry so finding a certified technician servicing would be a problem.
As we went back to the desk to continue waiting, there was a couple in front of us who were buying regulators. The man behind the counter didn’t know any information about them. The couple had taken over 2 boxes and didn’t know which to buy. The truth was they needed both as one was the first and second stage and the other was the alternate air source. This is the biggest problem when buying from a large sports department shop. There may have been 1 person working there who knew about scuba diving equipment but he wasn’t there to offer any advice.
There are so many questions to ask when buying regulators:
- DIN or A-Clamp?
- Can you adjust the flow rate?
- Does it include a pressure gauge or is that separate?
- Is it warm or cold water rated?
- Which brand to go for?
- Is there a local technician who can service it annually?
- Fit and comfort
- Do you want light weight travel version?
- Do you want one where you can adjust the exhaust valves?
The list is endless!
So what do we recommend?
Ask questions! If they don’t know the answers don’t buy it from there!
Do your research, if you’re looking at buying your first set of scuba diving equipment then talk to your instructor who certified you. You trust them, they taught you to dive! They dive all day everyday and know the equipment inside out. They can help you choose the best option for you based on what you want and where you will dive!
Visit your local dive shop, they may not have what you want in stock but they can probably order it in for you. Most dive shops have accounts with all the major brands.
Head online to the dive forums and see what people recommend.
Check out dive magazines like Scuba Diver magazine for their kit reviews.
When I bought my first set of regulators I went around speaking to my scuba diving friends and my instructors where I was doing my PADI Divemaster course. With their help we choose the best set for me. I bought the Apeks XTX 200’s with the XTX50 as my alternate air source. Knowing that I was going to become a scuba diving instructor and that I was going to use them regularly. I still have these regulators today, 10 years on and they breathe just as beautifully as when I first got them! Thanks to the great advice I found exactly what I needed!
6 years ago when we first took over Manta Diving Lanzarote we choose to change our supplier and restock the entire dive centre. We looked at all the major brands and the main thing we took into account was quality of the equipment. Some of the other brands were offering cheaper equipment but instead we choose Aqualung and Apeks. (they are the same company!) We choose them thanks to our own great experiences with the brands. This is one of the best decisions we made as a dive school as we find their diving equipment is good quality, comfortable and durable.