Freediving equipment is sometimes quite different to your diving or snorkeling equipment. It differs in its design/geometric and materials. Some Snorkeling or Diving products work well for freediving though, for example Mask (if you have a low-volume one) and Bi-Fins. Remember, there are specific equipment especially designed for freediver, you can expect a much higher comfort and/or better diving results. For special freediving disciplines its even necessary to have certain products. Certainly there are more than these 5 products you could possibly need in this freediving hobby, but those ones definitely get you into the water with a successful start.
1) Mask As a beginner, you most definitely want to choose a mask to dive. Works without too, but you will be much calmer with your mask on at the beginning. As you are looking for the right mask, you want a perfect fit at the first place. But there are further details and features you need to look at:
- Low Volume: low Volume means easier equalization during descent
- Nose: an enclosed nose prevents from mask squeeze
- Lenses: its important that your buddy sees your eyes, clear lenses are essential
- Fit and Flexibility: during dives you get pressure on your mask, for a good fit your mask should be very flexible to make a good fit on your face but furthermore for wearing it comfortable
You want do dive and no snorkeling, right? A Snorkel is a great and quite important tool.
Prior to your dive, you can spend some time breathing trough your snorkel and getting calm.
Additional you want do look for your buddies, it all is easier with your snorkel in.
Make sure the snorkel covers the following details:
- Fit: The mouthpiece should be comfortable and fit the diver's mouth well.
- Inflexibility: The snorkel should be rigid.
- Weight: Freeivers sometimes attach a small float to the snorkel to avoid loosing it on the surface.
- Valve: That is not important, but can be a real advantage. The advantage of choosing a snorkel with no purge valve is that water is less likely to enter the snorkel from the valve during deep breathing.
Freediver use special designed freediving fins. Those are mostly Bi-Fins, we are looking at Monofins in a separate threat. Each foot has a single pocket. This fins could also be used for snorkeling or even scuba (not optimal, but better than nothing, right!?) These are designed for maximum speed with the least effort and propulsion. Bi-fins should have the following features:
- Blades: Freediving fins have longer blades than Scuba or Snorkel Fins this allows maximum efficiency.
- Material: Fin-Blades come along in different materials, depends quite on your budget.
Plastic (low-cost), fiberglass (medium) and carbon fibre (higher- cost models) are used most.
- Pocket: Best and most comfortable is full-foot fins which let you feel the movement of the fin and give you more effective propulsion.
PS. there are also a lot of fancy looking fins out there. You can imagine these prints have nothing to do with the efficiency. But hey, they are nice but you pay the price :)
Depending on where you are diving its essential to wear a wetsuit. Even when you diving in warm waters, a wetsuit has tremendous advantages. Whenever the water is below 37 Degrees Celsius and you stay in water static, your body starts to cool down. The bigger the difference is, the faster you get cool. Thats obvious you think at this point, but there are more pro-reason and needs for a special designed freediving wetsuit.
- fit: Custom fit wetsuits are the best you could possibly have for sure. If you go for a standard line product, it is important that the fit is close and well with your body.
-material: Most suits come with open cell on the inside for maximum warmth and flexibility/mobility. Outside you can find plain neoprene, open cell or special coatings.
Plain neoprene is not as sensitive as open cell or special coatings whereas with those ones you have less water resistance and swimming is faster.
- design: Freediving Wetsuits are often designed as 2-piece suits, high trousers and a separate jacket with or without hood. Both pieces doesn't come with zipper to avoid/minimize water circulation.
- socks/gloves: depending on the water temp, you also want to add gloves and socks to your equipment
5) Weight System
You will need weight to stabilize your position during dives and comfort.
Freediving Weight system also has a few differences to Scuba diving.
- position: you want to wear your weight belt on your hips which allows deep breathing.
- material: belts are made of rubber so the keep their position on your hips even when water compresses the wetsuit during descent.
- design: freediving weight ofter are smaller and more aerodynamic to minimize water resistance. Additional they can come along with a quick release for emergency reasons.
Never dive alone and let the stress at the surface! =)