Freediving and Spearfishing wetsuits

Freediving and spearfishing wetsuits

Freediving and Spearfishing wetsuits

How to choose the right material and thickness… 

In this article, we’ll explore the world of freediving and spearfishing wetsuits, informing you what you need to know to choose the right one for you.

Why wear a wetsuit?

Whether you’re diving in tropical waters or exploring the colder depths, a good wetsuit is essential to keep you warm and protected. Considering that relaxation is the key to progression in freediving, comfort should be maximized in all areas possible. You can’t improve if you can’t stay warm. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love ocean swimming without a wetsuit. However, It’s important to note that water (being a better conductor than air), pulls heat from the body more quickly. The body can quickly lose heat without proper insulation, even in relatively warm water. Thermoclines’ are also worth considering. This refers to a layer of water where there is a rapid drop in temperature, often caused by a change in water density. This can have a significant impact on relaxation during the descent or ‘free fall’ phase of a freedive.

Basic design

Freediving wetsuits are usually two-piece, zipless, streamlines and flexible. One of the most important features of a freediving wetsuit is the hood. A hood insulates the head (a potential area of increased heat loss). It also streamlines the body (hair is slow), and protects the head from intense sunlight.  

Get a custom fitted wetsuit if you possible

Getting a wetsuit custom fitted to your unique measurements can provide a number of benefits. Brands like ‘Elios’ and ‘Polo Sub’ in Europe, and ‘Bestdive’ in China, offer custom wetsuit tailoring services that take your measurements and create a wetsuit that fits you perfectly. This ensures maximum comfort, flexibility, performance, and warmth in the water. You can also specify the type/density of neoprene and whether or not you want nylon layers anywhere. Most of these companies will make suggestions based on the type of diving you want to use the suit for. 

Heiwa Vs. Yamamoto neoprene 

I prefer ‘Heiwa’ because it is flexible enough for my needs and retains its thickness for a longer period of time. Yamamoto is technically more flexible but less dense than Heiwa. This means it compresses under pressure at depth, losing its thickness over time and use. This makes the suit less warm over time.

Open cell Vs. closed cell for the inside surface

The inside layer of a freediving wetsuit can be made of either ‘open cell’ (bare neoprene) or ‘closed cell’ (nylon layer). Suits with an ‘open cell’ inner are warmer, sticking closer to the skin. However, they require lubrication to get on. Cheap conditioner works well as a lubricant, but be sure to flush out the soap before diving. It’s not an environmentally friendly or healthy substance for the ocean or your skin. ‘Closed cell’ (nylon layer) wetsuits are quick and simple to put on (requiring no lubrication), but not as warm. 

Nylon Vs ‘smooth skin’ for the outer surface 

The outside surface of a wetsuit can be either nylon or ‘smooth skin’. Nylon provides  durability and lasts longer. Smooth skin degrades faster (particularly via direct sunlight) but creates less drag and water resistance, making it faster. Nylon is usually used for spearfishing or recreational purposes. Spearfishing wetsuits often include extra protective layers around the knees and on the chest pad, where the gun is loaded. 

Smooth skin is more commonly used for competitive freediving, where an edge on energy efficiency is desirable. If you are not trying to break world records and can’t afford to replace the suit so often, go for a nylon outer. 

Choosing thickness of the wetsuit

When choosing a freediving wetsuit, it’s important to consider the water temperature and the thickness of the wetsuit. Assuming the suit fits you (ideally custom fit) and has an ‘open cell’ inner, I recommend 5mm thickness for anything below 24 degrees celsius. For anything above that temperature, 3mm is enough.  

Conclusion:

A good freediving wetsuit is essential for any freediver. When choosing a wetsuit, consider the water temperature, the type of neoprene, the surface texture, and the custom fitting options available. With the right wetsuit, you’ll have a better experience and be a better freediver. 

 

 

Sam Henry

PADI freediving instructor trainer, spearfishing instructor and underwater photographer with a degree in Marine Biology. Originally from the UK, Sam is now based in Bali Indonesia where runs ‘Fathom Freedive Bali’.

Sam is also involved with holisitc healh, breathwork, yoga and meditation