There’s no getting around it; diving is not the cheapest of hobbies in which to embark. I spent years hiring kit when abroad rather than invest in my own. This was for a number of reasons which included not knowing what to actually buy, and not having a wad of cash at any one time.
If you’re not going to dive that often (and mainly when you go abroad) then it may be better to hire kit. There are a lot of on-going expenses involved with buying your own equipment that are prohibitive for some people. However investing in kit is worth a consideration.
If you have your own kit you know that it’s serviced and you know how it works. Being familiar with your own equipment can make your diving experience a little easier. The cost of servicing, however, should be considered in the overall decision to buy.
Hiring kit can add up. The dive school has to cover its own costs too. If you consider that they need to fill and service their equipment too, not to mention the time it takes to arrange this (and this is their job, not their hobby) then you will appreciate these costs need to be covered in the hire charge.
Certain items can be used for different activities. I would always recommend having your own mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit although in the UK you might consider a semi dry. The cost of buying equipment can be reduced by purchasing second hand although again you should take care to check servicing documents before buying equipment. If it’s not serviced, then this should be reflected in the price.
There are lots of places online you can purchase second hand equipment including Facebook and Ebay. We suggest chatting to more experienced divers first. Our club and school does not have a shop and we are completely impartial in our advice. We also have a local dive shop we recommend as they’ve always given honest advice in the past. Have a chat to your local dive shop or school and see what they recommend for kit and they may have second hand items available too.
So, to hire or to buy? That has to be the choice of the diver but if you’re going to be continuing to dive in the future then consider picking up an item at a time and building your own collection. And then you can start thinking about building a little tool kit too… although that’s a lot cheaper!