I have recently passed PADI open water and was hoping to get kitted out for Scuba diving. How do I find out what equipment I need and approximately how much will this cost?
Is it a good idea to look for this second hand? Thanks.

You need to give us more detail: where you are in the world, where you plan to dive, how often you hope to go diving, stuff like that. (Where did you do your OWD course?)

In defence of the PADI system, the OWD course DEscribes scuba equipment, it doesn’t PREscribe it, for the simple reasons that: one set of equipment is not suitable for all diving situations; and different people have different needs and preferences.

It’s the Instructor’s job to advise students appropriately for the local conditions, but they can’t be expected to provide full and detailed advice for all other possible diving locations in the world. (e.g. What experience does an Instructor in Thailand have of ice diving in Norway?). That’s what the PADI Continuing Education program is for.

The advice given so far is mostly good, although beware of people foisting their personal kit preferences on you (e.g. unlike a previous answerer, I think the Mares Volo fins are flimsy, and too expensive: Mares Avanti Quattros are cheaper, and more robust, BUT your finning technique affects what fin is best for YOU).

As a new diver, I would recommend you to get yourself the basics first, starting with the thing on which the greatest amount of underwater comfort depends: your mask. Also a pair of boots, especially if you have very big or very small feet, as clubs and resorts tend to have fewer pairs (and they tend to be replaced less often) at the upper and lower ends of the size range.

If you have a non-standard shape (i.e. very tall and thin, or short and wide), it might be good to have your own suit as well, as resort rentals rarely fit well (and can be quite battered). The question of what kind of suit you get depends on where you want to dive.

A modular 3- or 4-piece wetsuit will cover most warm-temperate to tropical conditions (20-30°C water temp.), but won’t be so good for cool-temperate (15-20°C) or cold (less than 15°C) waters. For those you’d need a thick semi-dry or even a drysuit (but buoyancy control is sllightly different with a drysuit, so learn how to use one in shallow controlled conditions before you take it into open water).

Also, in my experience, most OWD students on resort courses have the greatest difficulty getting their heads round the dive tables (usually because there isn’t really the time that they need to spend on learning how to use them). So a computer is a very good investment, as you can learn to use it in your own time, between dives/holidays, and it means you don’t have to rely on resort-hire gauges of dubious accuracy, or learn how to read a new computer with every holiday.

(OPINION: I like the SUUNTO brand of computers, because they’re fairly intuitive to use, and easy to read. The Gekko is a good entry-level comp, and is also Nitrox capable, if you choose to go that way later.)

You can start thinking about buying the more expensive bits, i.e. BCD, regulator, cylinder later on, once you’ve tried a few brands out and decided what you like (and don’t bother buying a cylinder unless you’ll be wanting to dive regularly, and locally: there’s no point taking it on a plane!).

The better dive shops will quite often allow you to ‘try before you buy’ during their pool sessions, or exchange gear that’s not quite right (assuming you haven’t damaged it)–that’s part of what makes them a ‘better’ dive shop. Obviously this does not hold for second-hand gear, and usually not for Internet dive shops either (check their refund/return policy first).

As far as second-hand gear goes in general: check your source. Do you know them? Do you trust them? Can they show that the BCD/regulator/whatever has been well looked after? It might be worth thinking about buying ex-club/diveshop rental gear, as that will be cheaper than buying new, but it still has to be ‘saleable’ (i.e. maintenance has to be documented, and you have legal protection against being sold shoddy gear), Again, the ‘better’ shops/clubs will renew their gear regularly, so it shouldn’t be too battered.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and shop around. And if you feel that someone’s being too pushy and not considering you as an individual, take your custom elsewhere. This is going to be YOUR gear, on which YOU will be depending underwater.

Good luck, and have fun.