Have you ever wondered what is a freediving wetsuit, why do you need it, and how to use it? Read on, and you will find the answers to all your questions!
What Is a Freediving Wetsuit?
A standard freediving wetsuit is a two-piece wetsuit used to reduce the water flushing through your suit. It usually consists of a jacket with a hood and high waist pants.
However, most freediving jackets have no zipper, so it can be quite difficult for beginners to find out how to wear them. The waist height of the freediving pants also varies. You may need a higher waist model to swim in very cold water.
Freediving wetsuits are made of several different materials, so you need to check what type of wetsuit is the right for you before purchase. These pieces of diving equipment are designed to satisfy the needs you have: flexibility, warmth, reduced buoyancy changes, and improved streamlining. For this reason, it is a must-have if you want to free dive really deep.
If you are not going to become a professional freediver, and it is one of your many hobbies, you do not need to buy different wetsuits for each water sports activity you like. Even a regular swimming wetsuit or a surfing wetsuit will satisfy your needs.
They are designed for movement; therefore, these wetsuits have a more streamlined design and are much more flexible than scuba suits. Besides, they are usually coated with rubbery materials to keep swimmers warmer.
Nevertheless, these might work only if you intend to free dive in warm water. Even a 3mm suit is quite comfortable for swimming or surfing in 65ºF water or less since these sports require a lot of movement. But it would not work for freediving, so you should use these kinds of wetsuit only in case the water temperature is 80ºF or more.
How Do You Use a Freediving Wetsuit?
You can do freediving training in a swimming pool or recreational freediving in the ocean without a specific suit if the water is warm. However, what to do if it isn’t? Use a freediving wetsuit, of course!
Freedivers spend a lot of time in the water, swimming to extreme depths, where the water is really cold. Low temperature restricts blood circulation to the extremities, lowering your heart rate and making you very susceptible to the cold.
The main purpose of this piece of diving gear is to keep you warm. For this reason, freedivers often wear wetsuits even when training in swimming pools, where the water is not cold.
They also serve another purpose for professional athletes. These wetsuits are designed to have a super smooth surface, making passage through the water easier. When you are working on improving depth or distance underwater, a good wetsuit can make a marked difference.
Warmth and durability also become the focus in recreational freediving, where you spend many hours in the water doing multiple dives, for instance, underwater photography or sight-seeing. The wetsuits for recreational freediving can also come in handy for spearfishers.
In professional freediving, even a 1% advantage means the difference between winning a competition or not. This is why most freedivers prefer smooth skin wetsuits. These specialized suits allow a significantly faster passage through the water. For this reason, they are used in both ocean and pool disciplines.
Nevertheless, smooth skin wetsuits have one major drawback – they are very delicate and vulnerable to damage when brushed against coral or rocks. Moreover, with thinner suits, additional care is needed, as you can easily damage them when putting the wetsuit on and taking it off.
What Do You Wear For Freediving?
If you worry about the amount of equipment you may need for freediving, breathe easy – freediving gear is less demanding than scuba one, does not need filling, and requires less servicing. Moreover, it is usually cheaper, and with proper care, will last for many years.
Please note: Before drying your kit after diving, always make sure to wash or rinse it in clean water. Also, find a dark, dry place to store it. Strong sunlight and saltwater are your kit’s main enemies.
There are numerous details to look out for when choosing a wetsuit for freediving. Some of them are listed below:
Wetsuits are usually built from different types of neoprene. The suit thickness also varies, and it depends on how cold you get. The thinner your wetsuit, the easier it is to breathe and the less weight you need.
Most freediving wetsuits are two-piece with a joined hood. These suits must be extremely flexible while allowing only the smallest amount of water in, keeping your body warm.
Freediving equipment manufacturers offer three types of wetsuits: ‘open-cell’ or uncoated neoprene suits, ‘closed-cell’ or smooth skin suits, and suits covered in nylon. The first two types of wetsuits keep you warmer in the water but are vulnerable to tearing.
Nylon covering improves the suit’s durability but decreases its streamlining. For this reason, this type of wetsuit is usually preferred by recreational divers, spearfishers, or beginning freedivers, as they do not need the wetsuit to be perfectly shaped.
- Semi-dry scuba suits
These suits can be used for surfing, triathlon, and freediving as they provide enough elasticity for easy breathing and are warm enough. However, semi-dry scuba suits do not come with an integrated hood, so you have to get one separately.
A freediving computer is another essential piece of freediving equipment. Features to look out for include:
- Depth alarms
This feature is useful if you’re diving on a line deeper than you planned or are using mouth-fill equalization. Many freedivers wear depth alarms in their hoods, as they are often too quiet.
- Maximum depth
With a diving computer, you do not have to constantly check your wrist, as it will automatically register the maximum depth you reach.
- Current depth
This device will also measure your current depth so that you can know how deep you are.
- Time underwater
It is also important to know how much time you have spent underwater. A diving computer will keep track of it.
- Water temperature
You may wonder how the water temperature impacts your performance. The freediving computer will measure it so that you can record it in your logbook.
- Dive time
Most computers also measure the duration of each dive.
A perfect mask for freediving must incorporate the following components:
- Clear lenses
Some masks have tinted or mirrored lenses, but it will be better to choose clear lenses so your buddy can see your eyes. Freediving lenses are usually made of tempered glass and installed on a single plane. These lenses provide you with perfect vision and are super durable.
- Low volume
Choose masks with a low volume of air inside as they require less air from your lungs to equalize.
- Soft silicone skirt
Soft silicone masks are the best option for freediving, as they form a good seal around your face and are surprisingly comfortable to wear.
- Nose pocket
This element allows you to equalize the air in the mask, preventing the risk of mask squeeze.
Freedivers also use a specific type of fins. They feature:
- Long length
Freediving fins are much longer than fins for scuba diving. They allow you to create more power with less effort.
- Fin retainers
These cheap rubber straps are worn around your ankle and over the heel of the fin. Fin retainers decrease the risk of losing your fins, which becomes especially crucial when you are wearing expensive carbon fins.
- Full foot fins
Full foot fins keep your feet warm and protect them against chafing.
How Cold Can You Dive In a Wetsuit?
Wetsuits use your body’s temperature, along with the surrounding water, to keep you warm while you dive, swim, or compete in water sports. However, you need to ensure you use the correct type of wetsuit for the water’s temperature. So how cold can you dive in a wetsuit?
Wetsuits are recommended for use in water temperatures of 40ºF or higher. However, it all depends on the thickness of your suit – the thicker it is, the colder temperature it can handle. For example, a 2 mm suit is suitable only for water around 70 degrees Farenheight or higher.
Open Cell vs. Closed Cell Wetsuits
Pros and Cons of Open Cell Wetsuits
- An open-cell wetsuit offers excellent insulation against the cold.
- Diving in the open cell wetsuit feels more natural as these suits are more flexible.
- Open-cell wetsuits are more comfortable, so you can wear this type of suit for longer when diving.
- Even though you have to use a lubricant to wear an open-cell wetsuit, it is easy to wear.
- Open-cell wetsuits are quite resistant to abrasions.
- An open-cell suit is pretty delicate, and even a fingernail can rip into it, damaging your suit.
- Open-cell wetsuits are much more expensive in comparison to closed-cell ones.
Pros and Cons of Closed-Cell Wetsuits
- Closed-cell wetsuits are much sturdier than open-cell ones. You will not rip it with your fingernail, as would be the case with an open-cell suit.
- As was mentioned above, these suits are much cheaper.
- Closed-cell wetsuits are less flexible and less comfortable than open-cell ones.
- These suits do not adhere to the skin, so they are not suitable for diving in extremely cold water.
- The material of these wetsuits is quite stiff, so it can be really tricky to put a closed-cell wetsuit on.
As you can see, a freediving wetsuit is an essential part of diving equipment, both for beginners and professionals. It keeps you warm and allows you to reach extreme depths.
However, there are many factors to consider when choosing a wetsuit. It all depends on your preferences and needs. Whatever is best for you is the best option for freediving.