When I was getting into Diving it was kind of daunting to figure out what gear I need, what is good gear, and what to buy and what not to buy and It also seemed so expensive. Now I see that it really is fairly simple and most equipment on the market is going to work perfectly fine for what most people do. The Basic equipment is a Regulator (I encompass the whole assembly in one, so that means regulator, octopus, depth gauge/dive computer, and pressure gauge), BCD, Fins, Mask, Knife, Wetsuit, and gloves. I know, I know it sounds like a lot but each purchase will last a long time.
As far as regulators go you might hear about diaphragm or piston, Basically more design goes into piston and they are more reliable and give you more air, however, they are more expensive. A diaphragm is perfectly fine, really any regulator will work just fine as long as you keep up on the yearly maintenance. With this in mind get your regulator all at one piece. Get a regulator first and second stage with at least a depth and pressure gauge it’s even better is you can get a dive computer with it.
The other one is whether DIN or Yoke fitting is better and personally I like yoke only because most people have is, it’s still very safe and you can buy a DIN adapter to bring with just incase the tanks at the site use DIN.
BCD is a big money spender. Truthfully as long as it fits comfortably and has enough buoyancy with your body weight. One thing that helps is weight pouches that are easy to ditch. This is a big safety concern. Often times people will have too much weight and can’t get rid of it easily. Another thing to think of is the size, I personally like smaller BCDs just because it’s easier to move around with and less likely to get snagged on.
Fins, mask, and a knife. I think that you should always have your own gear that you can personally take care of that way you know it fits and that it operates well. Fins with booties need to fit snug but not too tight, mask is simple but some people have bigger noses and it can be uncomfortable if its resting over the bridge of your nose. A knife is a must. It is not to defend yourself against sharks and ocean monsters but more so as a tool against entanglement. Getting fouled in fishing lines, nets, and lines is one of the most dangerous things for divers. Having a good sharp knife that is easily accessible by both hands is a must.
Wetsuits are a nice thing to have but are usually able to rent at dive shops near where you are diving. I like having my own but rarely bring it if I am traveling overseas just due to lack of space. A good set of warm gloves, however, is great to always have. I personally have 2 sets one for warmth and one just for chafing protection a good set of Mechanix gloves work great!
It takes a long time to get the gear together but once you do and you keep up on the maintenance it really is an affordable sport and a ton of fun. Try shopping the sales on Diversdirect.com or amazon.com you will be surprised what you find. I bought my regulator and BCD in a clearance deal 5 years ago and still use it today.
If you have any questions drop a comment!