Skip to content

Caught in The Riptide: Tales of Impulse Buying Scuba Gear Gone Wrong (+ Some Bonus Stats)

As an avid scuba diver for over 10 years, I’ve made my fair share of regrettable impulse purchases when it comes to gear. The lustrous shine of a fancy new BCD or the latest high-tech dive computer can certainly be tempting. But more often than not, giving in to those impulses leads to buyer’s remorse once the thrill wears off.

Put simply, impulse buying unnecessary scuba equipment is an easy pitfall to tumble into, but one that can be sidestepped by sticking to a thoughtful gear philosophy of purposeful purchases over passing fancies.

The Psychological Allure of Shiny New Gear

As divers, we’re constantly exposed to the latest and greatest gear on the market. Scuba magazines, YouTube reviews, and dive shop displays all plant the seed that our current equipment just isn’t good enough. This backdrop makes it easy to get caught up in the hype of a hot new regulator or BCD and pull the trigger on an impulse buy.

As psychologist Dr. Amanda Cohen explains, “Divers are prone to developing what I call ‘gear acquisition syndrome‘, where they compulsively seek out new equipment to obtain a temporary high, often regardless of need. Marketers capitalize on this vulnerability through targeted ads and constantly introducing features divers feel they must have.

For me, the urge to upgrade my gear tends to strike after diving with friends who have newer or more advanced equipment than me. Even if my current setup is perfectly functional, it’s hard not to feel a tinge of gear envy. I find myself combing online dive forums and chat groups, convinced I need to buy the latest must-have item.

The Vicious Cycle of Wanting More

The thing about buying new dive gear is that it often creates a vicious cycle. As soon as I purchase one high-end item, I start feeling pressure to upgrade the rest of my kit.

For example, after splurging on a fancy dive computer, I then wanted a newer BCD and regs to match its sleek aesthetic. This “domino effect” has a way of escalating quickly. Before I knew it, I’d spent thousands of dollars to overhaul gear that was working just fine before.

The Stats We Have at Hand Don’t Lie: Impulse Buying Is Alive And Kicking Among Divers

Our team at Diver’s Abode conducted an email newsletter survey around April 2023 of over 1,500 active recreational divers who frequented our website or social media page. What our team found was quite astonishing:

  • 61% of rec divers made at least one impulse scuba gear purchase they later regretted within the past 3 years
  • The average diver spent a median of $342 annually on gear they rarely or never used
  • 84% said they were motivated by “wanting the latest gadgets” rather than need
  • 62% admitted they would have been better off spending funds on dive trips or training

This data highlights just how common and wasted needless spending on new equipment is. As divers, we owe it to ourselves and the underwater world to cultivate more mindful consumer habits.

Tales of Regret from Of Impulse Buying from The Team of Diver’s Abode

If it’s of any consolation to you even the team of veteran divers behind Diver’s Abode got more than a few stories of gear purchases they made on impulse and later came to regret.

Misery loves company- so why not browse through a few of our hilarious impulse-buy episodes just to know you aren’t alone on the boat?

The Ego-Boosting BCD Inflator Not Needed in The First Place

This one is from my own Santa’s bag.

Several years back when I was still a relatively new diver, I had my heart set on a particular BCD that all the “cool” divers including our dive instructor had. Never mind that my current BCD was comfortable and functional. I was drawn in by the aesthetics and status of this trendy new design (totally not to impress my dive instructor, whom I had a crush on as well). $800 later, I had my shiny new BCD delivered.

At first, I loved showing it off at the dive shop and on the boat. But after just a few dives, the flaws were apparent. The cumbersome weight system was a hassle, and the bulky air cell design made precise buoyancy control difficult. Turns out my old BCD worked better for me, but my ego wouldn’t let me admit it. This was an expensive lesson on why buying gear for image rather than performance is always a mistake.

The Unnecessary Backup Regulator of William

“Not long after completing my open water certification, I decided I needed a backup regulator. In my mind, this was a crucial piece of equipment that no seasoned diver should be without. Like every other delusional diver with a newly gotten rescue diving certification, I envisioned emergencies where I’d need to buddy breathe or assist a panicked dive buddy. Never mind that I had not encountered any of these scenarios in my very limited dive experience at that point.

Caught up in the imagined drama, I rushed out and bought a shiny Aqua Lung secondary regulator, spending nearly $400 once I added on a second octo. But in reality, I never used it outside of the occasional practice drill. It sat gathering dust while I continued using my perfectly functional primary. Chalk this purchase up to simple FOMO of not having gear I thought all ‘professional’ divers should have.”

William Dupre, Founder and Owner of Diver’s Abode

The High-End Dive Light that Scott Calls a Piece of Useless Junk to This Day

“On a trip to a local dive shop in Cancun, I came across a display case of impressive-looking canister lights boasting 1000+ lumens. My tec diving-compatible light suddenly seemed woefully underpowered in comparison. I became enamored with thoughts of illuminating the sea floor like an underwater stadium. Without hesitation, I bought one of the most advanced lights in the case for nearly $600.

But once I got it underwater, I realized I had overestimated how much light I truly needed. Yes, the wide beam lit up a huge area, but it often ruined the ambiance by overexposing everything. And after just a few dives, the novelty wore off and it mostly stayed tucked away in my gear bag just like my old light. Turns out my humble little handheld was still the perfect amount of light for recreational diving.”

Scott Braxton, Contributor At Diver’s Abode

5 Ways to Avoid Your Impulse Purchase Spree

Hopefully, it’s clear how easy it is as divers to get sucked into gear hype and make impulse purchases. But it’s not an inevitable trap, and there are steps you can take to avoid needless spending:

1. Stick to the Gear Philosophy

The first thing I recommend is taking time to write out your gear philosophy – essentially an overarching vision for your equipment choices. This should articulate values like reliability, cost-consciousness, and environmental impact rather than prestige or status. Refer back to this philosophy statement any time you’re tempted by an impulse buy. That shiny new regulator might not align with wanting durable gear that lasts.

2. Assess Your Actual Needs

When the urge strikes to upgrade your equipment, carefully assess what need is not being met with your current setup. For example, if your regs are functioning fine but years old, servicing them is likely a better investment than replacement. Or if you simply crave a gadgety dive computer, admit to yourself that want versus need.

3. Seek Objective Input

Talk to trusted and experienced divers in your community to get objective feedback about any major gear purchases you’re considering. They may provide insights you haven’t thought of, or point you to more cost-effective options. The conversation can serve as a reality check against your subjective impulses.

4. Establish a Cool-Off Period

When the urge to impulse buy hits, implement a mandatory waiting period of a few days before making any purchasing decisions. This pause will allow the initial excitement to subside, and let you rationally contemplate whether you truly need this item. Chances are the urge will pass, and you’ll be glad you didn’t pull the trigger.

5. Review Past Regrettable Purchases

Before clicking “buy now,” review past gear purchases you came to regret. Reading old journal entries on my ego-boosting BCD always helps halt hyper-rationalization of the latest shiny object that catches my eye. Learn from your past behavior to make more mindful choices.

Cultivating Mindfulness in Gear Choices

Learning to avoid impulse buys is ultimately about cultivating mindfulness around all our gear choices. Every time you’re tempted by a flashy new dive widget, pause and ask yourself:

  • Is this addressing an actual shortcoming in my current gear?
  • Will this be a durable item that enhances my diving for years to come?
  • Am I motivated by genuine need or superficial desire?
  • How will I feel about this purchase 6 months or a year from now?

We all have moments of weakness when it comes to gear lust. But by diving mindfully with purpose and intention, we can break out of impulse buying patterns. Enjoy the equipment you have rather than chasing the fleeting high of a new purchase. Your bank account and inner fulfillment will thank you.

5 Psychological Tricks to Suppress Your Impulse Buying Urges

Being more mindful about gear purchases is a process that develops over time. Here are some exercises you can practice to build your impulse control “muscles”:

1. Window Shop Without Buying

Go to dive shops and browse gear just for fun without making any purchases. Appreciate innovative designs without feeling a need to own them. Take it as a challenge to leave empty-handed.

2. Wait Three Days to Buy Online

When buying gear online, add items to your cart but force yourself to wait 72 hours before completing the purchase. More often than not, the momentary excitement will have passed after a few days.

3. Unfollow Dive Gear Newsletters and Influencers

Temptation strikes most when we constantly see images of shiny new gear online and on social media. Unfollow accounts focused purely on pushing products so they’re not fueling your impulses.

4. Prioritize Skill Development

Shift your mindset and budget to developing your skills and knowledge as a diver. invest in a course like nitrox or cave rather than material items that offer little growth.

5. Focus on Experience Over Gear

Remind yourself that it’s where you dive and who you dive with that creates great experiences – not gadgets and accessories. The joy is in the journey, not the gear.

Derive Fulfillment from Within the Sport Itself, Not the Accessories

At the end of the day, satisfaction as a diver comes from the inner thrill, wonder, and connection with nature we feel underwater. No item you can purchase will ever provide that magical sensation that initially drew us all to scuba.

Whenever the impulse strikes to buy new equipment, pause and ask what lasting fulfillment it will bring. Often, the answer is very little beyond a temporary dopamine hit of excitement. Deep and lasting contentment as a diver must come from within, not from material whims. By focusing there, you’ll spend money in ways that enrich your underwater journeys rather than sidetracking them.

So mind those urges next time your inner consumer perks up at the latest gear fad. Don’t believe the hype that you need to buy happiness underwater. Stick to the setup that works for you rather than chasing the latest BCD or regulator. Your wallet and inner diver will thank you.

Millicent Clifton

Millicent Clifton

Meet Millie, the adventurous author who dives deep into both the literary and underwater realms. With a pen in one hand and a snorkel in the other, she crafts enchanting stories while exploring the mysteries of the ocean. When she’s not busy conjuring tales or discovering hidden treasures beneath the waves, you can find Millie indulging in her second passion: wildlife photography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *