Why do i need a freediving wetsuit? Can i not freedive in my scuba wetsuit?
This is a very common question we are asked all the time. And the answer is: Yes you can. But it won’t be so nice!
Why is a Scuba wetsuit different from a freediving wetsuit?
Scuba wetsuits are designed with a completely different concept in mind than freediving.
They need to be tough because of the nature of scuba diving, for example having heavy and rough equipment to wear on top of them, such as BCD (inflatable jacket used for scuba), tanks and heavy weight belts. Scuba divers often need to sit on rough surfaces to don their equipment before jumping in the water, and while practicing drills underwater they will kneel on the bottom. Scuba wetsuits are made with more dense neoprene which makes the wetsuit quite stiff. Usually they are more bulky and have many zippers (on the wrists and ankles) for wearing it more easily.
These are all characteristic that you don’t want in your freediving wetsuit. A freediver want to be warm but at the same time he wants to wear the least amount of neoprene possible so to reduce the amount of weights he needs. The deeper he goes the more this becomes an issue. He also wants a flexible wetsuit so he can move freely (in all depth disciplines you will need to have full range of movement with your arms, and in No Fins you also need your legs to be free from constrictions). Also, reducing bulk (such as zippers and thickness of neoprene) is important as this will reduce drag and less effort is needed to move through the same distance.
That said, scuba wetsuits are usually good enough for beginner freedivers, especially those diving in warmer waters. Beginners don’t dive too deep and don’t face big buoyancy changes during their dives; they usually do many more dives, so they move more and don’t get cold as easily, while deeper freedivers who only do 4/5 dives per session and spend long intervals resting on the surface.
What makes a wetsuit a freediving wetsuit?
The typical freediving wetsuit is a 2 piece wetsuit designed in a way that reduces the water flushing through the suit. The bottom part is usually high waist pants (higher waist variations for very cold waters are also available) and a jacket with the hood incorporated that has no zipper (and that can be difficult to wear without instructions). It can be made of many different materials both inside and outside and this will be the subject for a new post later.
Why freediving wetsuits are so much better for freediving?
These wetsuits will satisfy all the needs freedivers have, as we said above: warmth and flexibility, improved streamlining, ad reduced buoyancy changes. If you want to freedive deep this is a must have!
Are there any other options?
Yes, there are.
If you are not a professional freediver and do other watersports, you might not want to buy different wetsuits for each of your hobbies. In this case a surfing wetsuit or a swimming wetsuit might satisfy all your needs.
These are much more flexible than scuba suits because they are designed for movement, they have a more streamlined design and usually are coated with rubbery materials which keep you warmer.
However, this will work only if you freedive in warm waters. Swimming and surfing require a lot of movement, so a 3mm suit can be very comfortable also in 20 degrees celsius water or less. For freediving this would not work, and you can expect to use this kind of wetsuit only if the water temperature is 25 degrees or more.
Some final thoughts
If you are a water person and do other watersports, our favorite is new Mares 3mm Apnea Instinct 30 Steamer, which has both Men and Woman sizes. This wetsuit is extremely flexible and easy to wear. The outer “smoothskin” coating makes it much warmer than a similar wetsuits with nylon coating.
At Freedive International we use these for everything: recreational freediving and even sled diving in the Red Sea’s warm waters and for swimming and SUPing in Tenerife’s waters.
If you are a freediver who is hooked to the sport and doesn’t do other watersport activities, get yourself a freediving wetsuit! A high quality wetsuit is not so much more expensive than the regular brands, and for just a little extra you can have a tailor made westuit, which is designed specifically around your measurement, to minimize water flush and keep you even warmer. Our favorites are Polo Sub wetsuits; available in a great range of neoprene and thickness, their price range starts at as little as 150 euro (excl. VAT) for a standard size and 170 euro for a tailor made!
if you wan to order your tailor made wetsuit we can help you choose the right material and thickness for your needs and take care of your order, at no extra charge than the regular Polo Sub price list!