Ok, so you’ve decided to buy your own scuba diving equipment. Whether you are newly certified or a seasoned diver, used scuba gear may seem like a great opportunity to save some money. Buying secondhand diving equipment can either be the greatest deal of your life or the biggest mistake, the difference is knowing what to look for.
We like to look out for you guys, so here are 6 tips to buy used scuba gear:
DON’T buy from a rental shop
You may find cheaper deals but the equipment used at a scuba rental shop tends to be more abused than the ones privately owned. One exception would be if you find some rental shop that sells used scuba gear less than a year old or if you can get some deal on services for your equipment. This would save you some money down the line as well.
DO give an opportunity to Facebook Market/garage sales
One advantage of garage sales (or its more modern counterpart: Facebook Market) is that you can talk to the owner and find out sort of conditions the equipment has endured, as well as look at it yourself (in the case of Facebook Market, sellers are normally open to schedule a rendez-vous so you can assess the gear before committing with a purchase)…this is rarely possible with other kinds of second hand shops. This will be great help to determine if a piece of equipment is still in adequate enough conditions for your use without compromising safety or quality of diving.
DON’T get confident with wetsuits
Since wetsuits are used in a wide variety of water sports, not only for diving, this is one of the pieces of gear that most commonly appear for sale after some use. There’s nothing wrong with buying a used wetsuit but there are two things you should carefully evaluate before purchasing: the fit and the conditions of the material.
An improper fit of a wet suit can create severe problems underwater. You want one that is snug but not restricting. Neoprene is normally the material used in wetsuits. This is a type of foam with small air bubbles. It is these air bubbles that give the wet suit the thermal properties and add buoyancy. Placing a heavy weight on a wet suit or improper cleaning can cause some of these bubbles in the Neoprene to burst. Check the suit for areas that seem flattened. This would indicate that the Neoprene has been damaged.
DO buy a used BCD
Buoyancy Control Devices (BCD) are meant to withstand a great amount of time and use. A BCD used for pool training sessions may look faded due to the chlorine in the water but it may not be as abused as it looks. Just remember that chlorine bleaches much faster than sun exposure.
The truth is that, unlike some other parts of your scuba gear, there isn’t much difference between buying a new BCD or a used one. As long as you check that it is fully functional, you are good to go.
How to select a scuba BCD:
- Check the straps and connectors for frays and functionality.
- Check the ribbing around the edges of the bladders for places where they may have been damaged.
- Check the pockets for torn linings.
- Using the oral inflator, inflate the vest to three fourths full. Check all the straps again to see that they function smoothly.
- Check each of the release valves to ensure that they are working properly.
- Put on the vest, adjust the straps and check the fit, ensuring that you have full movement especially in the chest area.
- Inflate the vest until it is full. Ensure that it is still comfortable.
- If the BCD uses integrated weights, check that the pouches are in good shape and they release easily.
- Remove the BCD and release the air.
- Remove the caps over the valves and check the inside of the bladders. You will want to look for mold or oil, both of these can weaken the air bladders. Some mold or oil may be acceptable. If the opening is too small for your finger use a cotton bud.
DON’T buy something online and expect your local dive shop to service it for free
This is pretty self-explanatory. It may even sound obvious but it would surprise you how many people don’t get it. When you pay for your service, you are not only paying for the parts (if that’s the case) but also for the labor. Someone invested time and money in learning how to properly manage and care for your scuba equipment. It is only right to pay them for their work.
DO make sure the gear you are buying is still serviceable
This is important when buying the regulator, the BCD and the tank. Trust me, you do not want to spend money on equipment that you won’t even be able to use and maintain properly (or easily). Look for that information and if it’s not available, just ask. In case the seller doesn’t know try to take the item to a dive shop so they can give you a diagnostic on the availability of parts and the amount of service it needs or will need.
DON’T dismiss the possibility of buying new scuba gear
Most manufacturers nowadays offer some sort of “parts for life policy”. Buying secondhand gear voids that warrant. This is particularly relevant for items that need regular service, such as regulators. The amount of money you may have saved by buying a used scuba regulator pales in comparison to the amount you will spend every year paying for the labor AND the parts when you take your equipment for service. Spending a few extra hundred dollars upfront for a new regulator may be worth it because, on top of actually getting a brand new regulator, you will be saving money on the long run.
DO remember this is life-support equipment
Saving a few bucks is well and all, but please remember every element of your scuba diving gear is meant to work together to keep you alive. If at any time you feel iffy about the used scuba gear you are checking but it seems a very good deal, please refrain from purchasing. No deal is good enough for you to risk your wellbeing. You want equipment that is fully functional and serviceable, for your safety.
Now that you’re ready to buy used scuba gear that fits your budget and is in tip-top condition, how about a place to debut your new diving equipment? Take a look at all the exciting options Aquaworld has to offer for certified divers or get certified with us!