People just getting into a new hobby always have questions.  I know I do.  I try to answer some of the questions I had by publishing them on my site when I find my answer, hoping to, maybe, just maybe, help someone out. 
  The biggest question I had about SCUBA was the equipment.  What people used and why.  There are so many different brands out there to choose from, you have no idea where to start.  And, as normal, everyone has an opinion about everything.  I can't voice an opinion about anything except what I personally own.  As a new, inexperienced, and learning SCUBA diver, this is the equipment I own and use at this time.  Listed beside the product is the reason I purchased that particular one and any hints I can provide when buying them.  The Website that is listed below the write up is where I purchased the item. If there is no link, I got it from my LDS. A lot of the images below were also borrowed from the Diver's Supply website.
You can email suggestions and comments to:

Sea Elite Tek X
I finally made the jump and purchased the rest of my equipment.  Second jobs really help out when you have an expensive hobby!!!  Scuba Steve helped me pick out most of my equipment and we went for this regulator.  It has a balanced 1st and 2nd stage.  It's built for Tech diving, so it will do what I want it too.  I dove with a type just like this as rental gear and dove with this one a few times. It works great!!
Sea Elite XR-3
I went with this on the recommendation of an Advanced Diver.  I was looking at the swiveling one, but in their opinion, because of the swivel, the otco wouldn't stay in the right position when diving and it would flip over and free flow.  They said it was just better to get the non-swivel.  After all, it's an octopus.  Made sense to me.
Gauges/Computer 2:
DACOR Darwin Air
Well, I got more than I had expected on this one.  I was actually looking at the DACOR set that had the analog air gauge with the built computer console.  But, Scuba Steve and the the Diver's Supply person talked me into this one.  With the price they gave me, it was only a bit more than the set I was looking at and considering the options I got with it, the few extra bucks didn't come close to the upgrade in equipment I got for it.  That was well worth the upgrade.
DACOR Darwin Air Compass Kit
I actually purchased this kit the same day I bought the BC, the reg and Darwin Air, but, they didn't have it in stock.  Although I won't go into details, this particular piece of equipment was the hardest part to get delivered to my house.  But, after 6 weeks and many phone calls, I finally got it.  All this is, is a compass that fits right into the top of the Darwin Air.  You have to take your Darwin Air apart and pull off the top cover, then replace the top cover with the compass kit. Very easy installation.

Buoyancy Compensator:
Sea Elite Tek Balistic 60
After many discussion about BC's, I finally came to my decision.  Everyone I talked too, loved their back inflate versus any jacket style they ever used.  I didn't particularly like the squeeze the jacket would put on you, but I wasn't sure how easy it is to keep your face out of the water when you are at the surface with a back inflate.  But, after diving with it, buoyancy control seemed easier to me and keeping my face out of the water at the surface was no big deal at all.  Scuba Steve liked this BC. He has an older version of the Sea Elite back inflate and loves it.  So, he was happy to point me in this direction.

Extra Weight Pouches:
OMS Weight Pouch
After getting to know my Tek Balistic 60, I noticed that it had only two weight pockets.  If you dump your weight, you would be dumping 100% of it.  I, personally, would like to have a bit of control on my ascent, even if I have to dump, so I've opted to have some non-dump weight on my system.  The way the Tek-60 is set up, just about the only option I had (other than the one I picked) was to hang weight pockets of the bottom d-rings.  I didn't want to do that since they would be flopping all over the place, so I got the two OMS pouches and mounted them to my upper tank band.  One on each side.  The majority of my weight will be housed in the dump pockets and then I will have the smaller amount in the tank pouches.

Dive Watch:
Momentum M1 Pro SE
Since the wife was having a baby and wanted me to be able to track contractions, she asked me to buy and wear a watch with a second hand.  I've never been a watch wearer, but since she asked, I decided it would be a good time to purchase a dive watch.  Not to mention the fact that when we were diving in the Bahamas, I kept asking my brother-in-law how much time had passed since I wasn't wearing one and I hated doing that.  So, after looking around and not wanting to spend a bunch of money (again), I found this watch.  I have small wrists, so most guy's watches looked big on my arm.  This one was a bit smaller in size.  so, for around a hundred bucks, you have a 200m dive watch that seems to be very well made.  No problems with it so far and it's not so huge on your wrist.

Fins 1:
TUSA Imprex Tri-Ex
I went with these fins purely on the recommendation of one of the Instructors at Diver's Supply.  I knew nothing about fins and had nothing to compare them too.  My sister and brother-in-law both have fins, but were also looking to upgrade from what they had.  The Instructor didn't own a set of these, but she had used them and they were what she was going to buy next.  There were much more expensive sets in the store, so it wasn't a money issue.  She was really impressed these fins.  After diving with them for awhile now, I can tell you, I love these fins!!!
Fins 2:
OMS Slipstreams
I wanted to get a more "tech" pair of fins. I want to do some tech type diving (cave/wreck) and I want to learn the different finning techniques used in the se disciplines.  The TUSA's aren't very good  at those types of kicks, so I got the Slipstreams.  I searched around choosing between the OMS and the ScubaPro Jet fins. After talking to people that used both, most preferred the Slipstreams, so I went with them. The cost was the same for both, so I went with OMS.

Mask 1:
EDGE Panoramic
As with most gear, you really need to try masks on to make sure you get a good seal. Not all masks fit the same.  This one fit me great.  I also , personally like the one piece glass as opposed to the two piece.  Although, after watching the others in class, the two piece masks take less effort to clear during a partial/full fill situation.  To purge or not purge?  I went without a purge for the simple fact that it's one less thing to break or malfunction.
Mask 2:
Dive Rite ES125
I'm starting to work a little more towards the technical side of diving. So, I wanted to get a "tech" mask that I could use. Plus, I've always heard that the black skirted masks were great to dive with.  So, as I was surfing the web one day, I found the Dive Rite for almost half price.  Dove with it: LOVE IT!!!


EDGE Folding Snorkel
Again, another "Instructor's Choice."  They liked the fact you can fold this up and put it in your BC pocket if you choose.  Some people don't like the drag a snorkel can cause when diving.  This alleviates that drag.  Of course, now that I've been diving for awhile, I rarely use my snorkel anymore anyway.  Most of the time, it just sits in the pocket of my travel bag. I do keep it in case the operator we are with makes having a snorkel mandatory. But, other than that, I don't even wear it anymore.
Boots 1:
Sea Elite Deluxe Zipper Boots
Cheaper cost, brand name boots that do the job.
One thing I will note here: All of these dive boots seem to run VERY small.  I usually wear an 8 1/2 shoe, I wear a 10 in these boots. As with everything else: Try them on!!!
Boots 3:
Oceanic Neo Classic Boots
The boots above are good boots, but when I moved to the fin springs, I had a tendency to kick my fins off if I was over working them (as I did in my Rescue class) so I needed to pair of boots that had rubber nubs on the back to catch the springs. My Dacor Grippers would have been great for this, but they were too tight and it looks they aren't made any more by Dacor.   So, I went and found a new pair of boots.  The soles on these boots are HUGE, so now the springs I have are too tight and I need to go up a size on them. But, the boots are comfortable.
Wetsuit 2a:
NeoSport 2mm Shorty
After having my Edge wetsuit ruined in a small accident, I replaced it with this one.  This type runs a big larger than Edge does and the LRG in these fit a bit looser than the LRG in Edge. But, it's not so loose that it doesn't work. I actually like the looser feel of this one.

Wetsuit 4:
NeoSport 7/5mm
Although it looks like I have gone overboard with wetsuits now, but there is a method to my madness.  Since most of my dives during my Dive Master training will be of long duration in the Florida Springs (normally around 72 degrees F) I needed more exposure protection than what I had in my current inventory.  So, I decided to go ahead and get the 7/5mm wetsuit and not worry about getting cold later in the day like I do with all the rest.  The fact that it was a cheap price helped me make up my mind also.  The only drawback, the zipper is only about half as long as my other back zip suits.  Makes it big pain in the neck, back and ass to get in and out of. I would like a longer zipper on it.


Wetsuit 5:
Mares Trilastic 5-4-3
I've been wanting a suit I could wear in warmer water. I got a shorty and I've got my 7/5, but I needed an in-between suit.  A dive buddy had the same suit and told me I ought to get one also.  So, I tried it and the 5-4-3 fit the bill perfectly.  And since my LDS had them on clearance to make room for the new '07 Deluxe Trilastics, I got it for a great deal.  I wore it on my Oriskany dive for the first time and it worked out great.  The neck is a bit open, but since I got to wear in warmer water, that wasn't a big deal. I like the suit.

Hood 1:
Henderson NeoSport 5/3mm
After diving in the Florida Springs, I realized what a great purchase this was.  The water is 72 degrees.  After awhile in the water, you get chilled very quick.  You wear a hood, you keep your warmth much longer.  If you dive anywhere else other than the tropics, this will be a great addition to your gear.  Believe me..  After your first trip to the Springs, you'll be looking for a hood to wear  if you don't have one.  That fact that you can buy this one for 20 bucks at your local dive store will be a great bargain compared to the 45 bucks they'll want at the dive site. :)
Hood 2:
Custom Dragon Hood
I wanted something "fun" to wear when I was diving with the students as their safety diver so, in case they had problems, they could pick me out of a crowd.  I think I've been able to make that possibility.  This was custom made by Chris at Terrapin Wetsuits.  A great lady to deal with and she does AWESOME work.  I misjudged the size I needed and when it came too big, Chris just told me to send it back and she would alter it.  Great Customer service. Highly Recommended!!! The hoods are on the "Accessories" page of her site.

Rash Guard:
Henderson Lycra Shorts
When you go to a dive, sometime you will change into your wetsuit at the dive site.  If you don't mind stripping to your skivvies in front of people, then no big deal. If you have a bit of modesty about you, these shorts are great for wearing under your clothes and under a wetsuit.  They make putting the suit on much easier, they add a small layer of warmth and they dry quick after the dive.  They also make stripping down unnecessary.  And considering the lack of amenities at some of the dive sites we've been too, you'll be be glad had something like this when it comes time to change.
TUSA Titanium DG-2000
I decided to get some gloves I could use as reef gloves and have a bit of protection from stings, metal, etc.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money (like always) and I didn't want anything very thick.  These 2mm gloves do the trick.  I can have some protection , but still have my dexterity while wearing them.  They fit so well, I can even type on my keyboard with them.

Dive Knife:
TUSA Imprex Blunt
Just needed a knife as part of the full equipment list. I was up at Diver's Supply today to pick up a rental tank and went ahead and got the knife.  This one comes apart and locks in the sheath.  Got a blue colored, blunt one.
Photography Setup:
NIKON Cool Pix 5600 and Nikon WP-CP3 housing
After seeing some of the great shots you can take underwater, I HAD to have an underwater camera. I've used some of the disposable and reusable film cameras over the last year, and they have done a pretty good job.  All of the pictures I took in the Bahamas were taking with one of the disposable and one of the reusable 35mm film cameras.  The scans turned out pretty grainy because I let Eckerd's make the scans.  But the pictures themselves turned out great.  However, digital is the way to go now-a-days.  Instant knowledge if your picture turned out of not, not to mention the capability of taking short movies also, if your camera has that ability.  Heather wanted a 5mp camera for when the baby was born, so I searched and surfed for months.  I decided on the Nikon Cool Pix 5600. It wasn't the newest or most MP, but it was in line with the budget and I found a great water proof housing for it.  I've got about $400-$450 tied up into this setup.  Not bad considering what you could pay.  I've taken some great shots with this setup and the little movies even have sound.  I don't regret this purchase at all.  Of course, I'm no Pro, so this will do me fine.

Strap Wrapper 2
The mask strap above was a pain in the butt to adjust.  You couldn't just tug on one end or the other to adjust it bigger or smaller. You had to take it off, feed a bit through the loop system and then try it on. The strap itself is nylon, so there was no give in it.  I decided I wanted to have an elastic strap, but I still wanted the neoprene backing, so the wrapper was the answer to it.  Just like having your cake and eating it too.  Not the easiest thing to fit over your elastic strap, but once it's on, you're good to go.

Strap Wrapper 3
When I got the Dive Rite mask, I needed another strap wrapper.  I bought the mask from Leisure Pro and they had these wrappers that had different certifications on them.  Since I will be a Rescue Diver in a few weeks, I bought the Rescue Diver wrapper.  Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can trade that one in for my Dive Master one.


EDGE Gear Bag
After going on my last trip, I knew I needed a gear bag instead of using Heather's good luggage to haul my equipment around.  As with everything, I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I also want some quality, so I look for a happy medium.  I found that in this bag.  Cheaper price and well made.  Not the greatest, but it held over 55 lbs of gear in it with no problems.  The pull handle seems a bit flimsy, but if you are careful with it, it will hold ok.  Over all, for the price, I'm happy with the bag.  Of course, you can't get this bag any more.
EDGE Mesh Gear Bag
I actually didn't pick this one.  Since most of the gear above was purchased at one time by my sister for my Christmas presents, the salesperson at Diver's Supply threw in the bag for good measure.  It's a mesh bag to take on the boat.  Seems to be a good bag and you sure can't beat it for the price my sister paid.
Rubber Octo Holder 2
Since the one above ripped after only a couple of uses, I decided to try this one.  One of the folks at Diver's Supply pointed towards this one.  We'll see how it goes.

Glo-Toob FX
Another accessory I bought, just to have.  Basically, it's a small light that attaches to your equipment somewhere and lights up.  The regular Glo-Toob just turns on and off. The FX version has 7 different programmable ways for it light up.  It can be constant on at 100% brightness, constant at 25% brightness, and 5 different flashing modes to include the S.O.S. Morse code flashing.  Of course the brighter and the more it does, the faster it wears down the battery.  Right now, I just have it set at constant 25% bright.  Just another small safety device for when we dive at night.

Spring Fin Straps 1
While we were shopping yesterday, my sister pointed these out to me.  I get tired of loosening and tightening my fin straps every time I put them on.  I wanted to just pull them on and be over with it.  These look like the ticket. I didn't know anything about them, so I inquired at the sales counter.  They were given a "thumbs up" so I decided to try them out.  They fit great, and they are VERY sturdy.. I'll let you know what I think after I use them.  There is no adjustment on them at all, so you need to make sure you get the right size when you buy them.

OMS Spring Fin Straps 2
After using the above spring straps on my "rec" fins, I knew I had to have them on my "tech" fins.  So, when I purchased the OMS's, I also got the springs to go with them.  They work great.

Save-A-Dive Kit
No brainer here.. Just in case you blow an o-ring, snap a strap, bite your mouthpiece, ect..  You'll have these available.  12 bucks for some peace of mind, isn't a bad thing.

Items No Longer Used and Why Items No Longer Used and Why
Dive Computer 1:
DACOR Darwin Wrist Computer
I bought this when I was getting certified. After certification, I went with the Darwin Air console. No need for this one. I sold it on eBay.
Dive Light 1:
Princeton Travel Pack
This basically was my cheap way out of getting a light for a night dive that never came about.  To be honest, this set is crap.  The little bitty light won't light up anything but, maybe, your watch.  The bigger one has some light, but no penetration. If you shine it on a wall from 5 feet, you might see the light on the wall, you might not.  Up close, it's ok, but the beam is too spread out.  If you want a light to really use and want to go cheap, don't go this route, in my opinion. 
Round Octopus Retainer w/Clip 1
This octo holder ripped at the place where the ring goes through the rubber at the top of the bulb on my second dive with it.  Some people like them, but I was dissatisfied with it. 
EDGE Neoprene Mask Strap 1
This strap is no longer used due to the amount of time it took to adjust it from hood and no hood.
Wetsuit 1:
Henderson Titanium Hyperstretch 3mm Full
I gave up trying to fit into a MED of this suit.  My brother in law is thinner than I am and this fit him perfect.  So, I sold it to him in hopes of buying a LRG for myself.  I haven't done it yet, but it is on my list.  Of all the wetsuits I have worn, this was the best feeling of any of them!!!
Wetsuit 2:
EDGE 2mm Shorty
After day one of the confined water class, I got a bit chilled near the end of the day.  So, before the next day started, I went and looked at wetsuits.  A couple of the folks had shorty's so I decided that would work for me too.  I looked at a few and decided on the EDGE strictly because I already had a couple of their products and had no problems with them so far.  Not to mention I'm always on a budget.  There were more expensive models, and cheaper ones for that matter, but this was about middle of the road, and after a day of wearing it, I was happy with my choice.  This particular brand does run small. Normally, I wear a MED or MED/LRG, this is a Large and it's a perfect fit.  Again, always try on your picks prior to purchase.
Note: This suit got ruined in a small accident.  Basically a good cheap costing suit..
Boots 2:
DACOR "Gripper" 6 mm Boots
These boots are normally $40 or more. When you can get boots like this for less than 20 bucks, you jump on them, whether you really need them or not.  I could, so I did.  Good 'ol eBay.  Again, these run small.  These are 9-10 and they are tight.  In the winter they are wearable, but in the summer, they are just too tight. Great condition..
Wetsuit 3:
EDGE Sport Farmer John 3mm
I rented this suit when I got my Open Water certification. Of course rental gear is worn out and mine even had a hole in the crotch, so you can imagine to chill I was getting.  I didn't feel like wearing an old one when I went back to the Springs for my Advanced, so I got my own set.  It's a "Farmer John" and is warm enough to wear in the Springs.  I got another wetsuit that was better fitting than this one, so I sold this one on eBay.

Dive Light 2:
Pelican SaberLite 2020 Recoil LED
I wrote a few divers and asked for their opinion on a good (CHEAP) dive light.  If money was no object, I'd have a Dive Rite setup, but since it is always about money, I needed to go cheaper.  Scuba Steve immediately pointed at this light.  My Brother-in-Law and Sister also used the same light on their Advanced trip and liked it.  I took their word for it and bought one.  LOVE IT!!! I've done three cavern dives with it and, for the price, it's awesome!! Highly recommended. The link below is the cheapest price I found on the web, even with shipping from Ohio.  It flooded on my last ocean trip and got ruined.  Not sure if it had a bad o-ring or I didn't service it right.  Whatever the case, it's gone now.

Fox International

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