Purchasing SCUBA equipment is a big undertaking, and there is a lot of information available to consumers. There are a lot of people with opinions – user forums, social media outlets and post-diving conversations. As an open water diver contemplating my first purchases, I was highly skeptical of the opinions expressed in stores, but also of the various on-line sources. As a dive shop owner, my goal is to educate my customers to the best of my ability as a technician, equipment expert, instructor, and most importantly, as a diver.

The opinions below are as balanced as I can possibly be – in no particular order, we have put together the this list of the most common questions most dive shops receive. I have been where you are, and hope that this helps you make good decisions.


1. Should I buy used dive gear?

The quick answer – no.

As divers, we are entering a hazardous environment with life support equipment. Would you trust a random person to look after toddlers without checking credentials, or someone you didn’t know to fix the brakes on your car in a parking lot? You are taking someone’s word that the gear you are buying is maintained on the INSIDE. Regulators, BCDs and computers may look fine on the outside, but the insides can be corroded, pitted, filled with gunk or have broken components. Even certified technicians need to take things apart to render an opinion during service. A diver has no way of knowing what the state of the gear is when they look at it. Additionally, there are programs from many manufacturers that subsidize regular service and warranties. Scuba equipment is often a lifetime purchase – used equipment often costs more to maintain than new over a 10 year period, sometimes by hundreds of dollars.

The only exception is purchasing used equipment from a dive centre. You can get a great deal on used equipment that is maintained and serviced by professionals. REMEMBER – there is still no warranty, and generally no parts-for-life or other manufacturer sponsored programs. The cost of maintenance is a long-term consideration still.


2. Why are mask/fins/snorkel combinations cheaper at big box stores?

These packages are designed for people who stick to shallow water in pools, lakes and beaches. They are not designed for diving. The buckles, straps and other materials are very light-duty and are designed as “throw away” items. The masks generally seal poorly due to the materials used on the skirts. Most dive shops sell “dive ready” gear for snorkeling. It is a little more expensive, but will last a very long time. Comments we hear from customers are that they have purchased the same “cheap” gear 2 or 3 times before buying something better. It is cheaper in the long run to buy something better!


3. Cold vs Warm Water Gear?

You can dive cold water dive equipment in warm water, but not the either way around! You get better equipment and can dive in more places with gear designed for use in Canada. It’s the best bang for the buck!

4. Beginner or Entry Level Equipment

Unlike other sports and hobbies, there is no such thing as “beginner” scuba gear. Whether you are a brand new 10 year old Open Water Diver, or a seasoned technical diver, equipment is essentially the same – aside from specialty attributes and configurations. There are a variety of manufacturers and models to choose from. A dive professional is your best starting point to determine what gear you should look at. Education and knowledge are the most important tools a consumer can use. Opinions are like mouths – everybody has one, especially on the Internet!


5. Differences Between the Least and Most Expensive Gear

There are a variety of features, where the equipment is manufactured, brand name, materials, specialty functions and a variety of other parameters. Discussion with certified technicians or people with a lot of experience with dive equipment and an objective approach (or at least someone who will admit to their biases and preferences). Ask your Divemaster or Instructor what they dive, and why!


6. Full Foot vs Open Heel Fins and Boots

Some consider open heel fins and boots to be cold water dive gear – and they would be correct. They also can be used in warm water, in fact, many people prefer this equipment configuration when they dive in the tropics. Hot sand, rough docks, slippery boat decks, sharp shells and climbing ladders onto dive boats are some of the reasons divers prefer boots and fins.


7. Shorty vs Full Wetsuit

A wetsuit is more than thermal protection, although this is it’s primary function. Divers tell us that they get the most utility from a full-length suit. In addition to staying a little warmer when you need it, the long sleeves and legs protect you from cuts, abrasions, fish hooks, jellyfish plus their nasty cousins, fire and black coral.


8. Buying Online vs Store

Online purchases seem to be less expensive, but most people will tell you that online purchasing will generally cost you about the same as visiting your local dive shop. Purchasing from international vendors can have a number of hidden costs, such as currency exchanges, additional shipping fees after your shipment crosses the border, customs and brokerage fees. Most dive manufacturers and distributors protect their dealer network with a variety of dealer – level service agreements. Simply put, dive shops don’t make much money on the equipment, but can make a small profit on the recurring service of equipment. Many manufacturers will offer parts for life on regulators if you take them back to the shop you purchased them from. Warranties are often voided when equipment is serviced outside of the vendor’s home territory – for example, a regulator purchased online from a store in Florida will not receive warranty coverage from a store in Calgary. That being said, if you move from Australia to Canada, your local dive shop will contact the manufacturer and make arrangements to transfer your warranty (if allowable).

As with used gear, the savings from purchasing online are often lost after as little as one year.

You also can’t touch, check sizes or try an example of the gear before purchasing online.


9. Try Before Buy

Many dive shops have an extensive rental fleet where you can try all sorts of dive gear. The best way to tell if you like to dive a particular piece of gear is to take it to the lake or pool and see how it works for you.


10. What Type/Brand Should I Buy?

The simplest answer is the gear that fits you best, meets your current and projected dive requirements, and your budget. Going the cheap route always ends up in compromises, and re-spending the money later. Every regulator that you can purchase in any dive store on the planet will deliver air to you in recreational limits. Any store or diver that tells you that Brand X is better than Brand Y has a bias – it’s up to you to see through the hyperbole. A good dive shop will identify the features, purchase price and cost of ownership of any dive equipment. Any sales representative that tells you their competition is inferior is not doing you a service. They should understand the features of their competitor’s products and have an informed opinion of them.


About the Author: Drew Nageleisen is the owner of Tri-City Scuba Centre, a PADI IDCS, rebreather diver and an avid diver.


Tri-City Scuba Centre is proud to welcome Ron Benson as our CCR Instructor! Try a rEvo CCR March 5. Space is limited and filling fast! Learn about the history of rebreathers, information on the rEvo, diving with rebreathers and how to build one. This is going to be the best Saturday of the Winter – only $150.00. Reserve your space today!

January 2016 Newsletter

Drew January 2nd, 2016 0 Comments

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tri-City is starting off 2016 with a full calendar of events, courses, trips and much more!  We’re offering a PADI EANx (Nitrox) Diver Course every month in 2016, Winter Wednesdays will help you beat the dismal blahs while we’re not at Gulliver’s Lake, and lots of other fun events in and out of the water!  We will also be hosting an early Spring PADI IDC in March – if you’re a Dive Master, and ready to take the plunge to the Open Water Scuba Instructor level.  Read on to find out what’s happening!

Wednesday January 13th – 6pm until 9pm
Call the shop to sign up!
PADI Courses January

Bubble Maker
January 16

Discover SCUBA
January 23

*We are hosting a PADI Instructor Development Course in March, candidates will be ready for the June Instructor Exam
Please call the shop for more details.

PADI EFR and Oxygen Provider courses offered for diving, workplace, or just peace of mind.  We offer renewals too – check to see if you’re certification has expired!  Sunday January 31st 9am to 5pm.
2016 Calendar
Our 2016 Calendar is now complete, and available online via our website!

Check out our Facebook page too!

Saturday April 30th 2016!

The annual Tri-City SPRING Fling is back!  Don’t miss this great event – tickets on sale now at the shop.

Winter Wednesday!
Wednesday January 20th 6-8pm

Our first in a series of workshops to break up the winter blahs.  This week we’ll be going over dive tables and computers.  Always wanted to know more about how they work?  Just need a quick refresher?  This night is for you!

December 2015 Newsletter

Drew December 29th, 2015 0 Comments

So much stuff going on at Tri-City this month – and more in 2016!
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It’s that time of year again!

I know everyone is busy with the holidays, and shopping, as are we at Tri-City!  Lots of new things for 2016!  First off, our 2016 Calendar is now available online at our website.  Tons of courses, trips and events for next year already planned.  So head over to the website to check it out!  We are running Nitrox Diver courses every month throughout the Winter.  Also, we will be hosting Winter Wednesdays which are short evenings to discuss various topics that are often overlooked.  Check out the calendar for more info.  We are also very excited to announce that we have booked our first ever Dream Trip to the Maldives!  Call Andrew or Drew for more info on that exciting getaway!  Pop into the shop to see us, join our Face Book page, or call anytime to find out about all of our trips, events, courses, and exciting things happening around Tri-City for 2016!

View Calendar!
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We were excited to see the store profiled in the Shop Local In Waterloo blog on Sunday, March 15, 2015. Amanda Mathewson is doing a great job evangelizing the virtues of supporting small, local businesses. In this day of disposable consumerism (big box stores and dollar stores), it seems that people are rediscovering the value of truly personalized service, quality products and the attention to detail that you can’t receive from a multinational corporation.

It’s a great article, thanks Amanda! Please contintue to support local businesses, people. We look forward to seeing more businesses profiled in the future.

You can follow the link below to see the article:



Save the date for the 2015 Spring Fling! Email not displaying correctly?View it in your browser.


Tri-City SCUBA

Join us again for our annual Spring Fling!  Dinner, dancing, drinks, socializing, and a TON of door prizes!  Come on out for a fun night to meet new & old friends, see what trips and courses we’re running, have some fun, and hopefully win something cool!

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8-300 Trillium Drive

Kitchener, ON



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Winter Update

Drew February 1st, 2015 0 Comments

Don’t miss this quick winter update for Courses in February & March plus Summer trips!
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February Schedule

  • Feb 15th PADI EANx Specialty
  • Feb 21st Discover SCUBA
  • Spring Fling Tickes Now on Sale!
  • Oceanic VEO 1.0 Computer Sale!
  • March 18 TEC REC Orientation
Tri-City Calendar
Summer Trips!

  • May – Gilboa Ohio
  • June – Cedar Hill Park
  • June – Wexford
  • July – Cedar Hill Park
  • July – Picton Wreck Trip
  • July – Tobermory
  • August – Tobermory
  • August – Cedar Hill Park
**Call the shop to register, our trips fill up quickly, and spaces are limited on all of these.  Also, register with a deposit by March 1st and receive 2 FREE air fills!
Copyright © *|2015|* *Tri-City SCUBA Centre Inc|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Tri-City SCUBA Centre Inc
8-300 Trillium Drive
Kitchener, ON

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