August 15, 2010
Taking a Chance Diving New Gear
A few weeks ago we went to Roatan on a dive trip. Along with using different photographic and video equipment for almost every dive, I decided to try out a new travel buoyancy compensator for the trip. Our local dive shop was very helpful, as they contacted the sales rep and asked him if he’d send over a demo model for me to take on the trip. Later that week I received a call that the BC had arrived if I wanted to try it out.
So, I drove over to the dive shop, tried the new BC on, adjusted it, and took it home with me. I decided to try it out in our pool, even though our flight was later that evening. For well over a decade I’ve used the same BC, so trying something new was risky. Both are back flotation, so I knew it couldn’t be too different.
I attached the new BC and a spare regulator on an aluminum 80cf tank, hopped in the pool and swam around for a few minutes. I swam, I hovered, I inflated, I deflated, I floated on the surface, I hovered head down. I tried the BC in every position I’d do while underwater. I was, indeed, impressed! Afterwards I got out and hung the BC over the rail to let it dry as much as possible.
I wanted to give this extremely lightweight and small BC a try because it never fails, our luggage is always close to the maximum weight allowed by the airlines. This BC only weighs 3 pounds where my old BC weighs 11 pounds. That’s a HUGE difference, especially when the weight limit for a checked bag is 50 pounds! So, even if there had been a little water left in my BC after the pool test dive, it couldn’t possibly have come close to weighing what my old BC weighs!
It’s always risky taking a new piece of dive equipment on a trip with no back up. Dive gear generally needs to be broken in before it’s totally comfortable and before you get 100% used to it. Think about how much time it took you to get used to your first mask. Chances are it leaked a little at first until it memorized your face and until you got it adjusted just right. Trying out a new BC and getting it adjusted correctly can take time, too.
If you don’t own your gear and usually rent equipment when you go diving, chances are you spent a fair amount of your first dive or two getting used to the rental equipment. I cannot speak about my own personal experiences in that department because I purchased my own gear while I was still taking scuba lessons way back when. I decided up front I wanted to be as comfortable as possible in the water and that meant being completely comfortable in my gear. MY gear. Not rental gear.
Not everyone chooses to go that route for a multitude of reasons, and I do understand that. If you rent equipment when you go diving, you’ll likely agree with me that it does take time to completely familiarize yourself with the gear. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to try out new gear or rental gear in a pool before taking it on a dive. Since that’s not always possible, be sure to hook everything up and become completely familiar with the system before you go underwater.