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The difference between freediving with a buoy and without a buoy can be massive. On one freediving trip The Salt Sirens writers went on, we spent a few days freediving without a float. Our dive times were short, and it felt like we could never relax. Frustrated, we finally got our hands on a float. It was not only safer diving with a float, it was also a relief knowing you could relax once the dive was over.
Freediving buoys can help you store water and snacks, allow you to breathe up properly between dives, alert boat traffic to your location, and force your buddy to stay with the float. In this guide, we’ll show you the best freediving buoys on the market and highlight their top features.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
The best freediving buoys including our top picks
The importance of freediving buoys
What to look for when choosing the right freediving buoy for you
Table of Contents
The Best Freediving Buoys: In Depth
XS Universal Floating Object (UFO) – Our Top Pick
Best freediving buoy overall
One of the larger freediving buoys available, the XS UFO resembles a miniature rubber boat. But, instead of humans as its passengers, it’s perfect for storing extra freediving gear that stays put with the help of bungee cords. This is the best freediving buoy overall if you have the storage space, and want to swap out gear as you dive.
The main buoy is made from a thick PVC film with an outer polyurethane coating. Found on all sides of the buoy are several tie downs, ropes, clips and D-rings for attachment and for you to hold on. This float comes with a red dive flag that connects to the front of the float.
Another boat-shaped buoy is the Seac Sea Mate Float and Flag. Made from a hi-grade polyester divided into 3 separate air chambers, you can ride this buoy by placing your upper body on the flat surface while holding the handle straps and your legs with the fins acting as an outboard motor.
The Seac Mate Float and Flag comes with its own descending line that is stored in its own storage area at the bow. On the sides are straps and D-rings where the primary D-ring can be found at the bow that can also be dragged during swimming.
Scuba Choice Deluxe Inflatable Float and Flag Buoy
Best budget freediving buoy
The Scuba Choice Deluxe Inflatable Float is a great budget option when it comes to freediving buoys, as it has the main components of what a proper freediving float should have.This is a circular inflatable buoy that, when inflated, measures 55 cm (22 inches) in diameter and 25 cm (10 inches) in height. It has a small open storage at the center and side ropes that you can hold onto for resting.
This buoy is brightly colored yellow with a “diver below” print. Contributing to its maximum visibility factor is the red dive flag. The flag has its own poles that can be attached and detached to the main buoy. Overall, this buoy weighs 1 kg (2.2 lbs). This size of a float is great if you’re diving with multiple divers, as there’s plenty of space to hang onto without having the dive float feel too crowded.
The Trident buoy is similar to the above-featured Scuba Choice buoy, except that it is heavier, weighing at 1.1 kgs (2.5 lbs). This buoy is also slightly smaller only measuring 58 cm (23 inches) in diameter and 20 cm (8 inches) in height. But being heavier and smaller is not a disadvantage since this equates to stability, especially on choppy waters. Complementing the side ropes that you can hold during the surface interval, this buoy has a weight attachment strap which adds more stability.
When fully inflated and set-up, The Trident Inflatable Buoy is highly visible at the surface. Aside from the bright yellow color of the main buoy, it has a collapsible red dive flag that adds more to its surface visibility.
The Marlin Safety Buoy is one of the most popular floats for freedivers and spearos. It has a unique design where the main buoy resembles a raft and the red dive flag is set on a long pole making it highly visible on the sea’s surface. It has a few pockets that close, making it a great pick if you have small, easy to lose accessories like nose clips, spare masks, and lanyards.
The main material of the Marlin Safety Buoy is a combination of nylon that coats the outer layer and PVC which covers the inner bladder. Within the main buoy are 3 pockets that are secured with velcro locks. On the sides, it is mounted with D-rings and carabiners for attachment of additional equipment.
If you’re looking for a no-frills freediving buoy with no complicated features, the Salvimar Torpedo Buoy could be a good fit. The main buoy is made from an orange fabric that is supported by 3 lateral straps at the bottom. It has a pole stand at the stern where you can attach a flag. This buoy also comes with 2 dive flags: the blue dive flag and the red dive flag. At the front is a D-ring which can be used for line attachment or held onto to relax between dives.
Another freediving buoy with a simple yet functional design is the Sporasub Mini Bluewater Float. The main buoy is made from a black rigid fabric with a large red coloration at the center. While this buoy looks simple, its straps are rated to be one of the best in the market. Using the Daisy Chain method, the Sporasub Mini Bluewater Float has a series of webbing loops and D rings for equipment and accessory attachment. This buoy can hold up to 3 persons where each freediver has their own handle to hold and rest.
Most freediving buoys have a circular or balloon shape. But if you’re not using the center compartment of a circular buoy to store gear, a torpedo shape is good for offering more space to spread out. That’s the case of the Cressi Torpedo. This torpedo shape is also great if you have to swim long distances to get to your dive site, as it’s pretty easy to drag on top of the water.
The Cressi Torpedo is made from a thermoplastic urethane with a reflective lateral strip for surface visibility. While this buoy is large and looks like a tube measuring 100 x 23 xs 20cm (39 x 9 x 8 inches).
The best freediving buoy for travel – the bare minimum
The DiveSmart buoy has a reversed teardrop shape, a detachable red dive flag at the top and an attachment at the bottom for the descending line. This buoy has a line, reel and a brass hook. Thos freediving buoy works if your main goal is to have a surface marker. Resting on it isn’t super relaxing, and the line isn’t strong enough to use as a proper freediving line.
When fully inflated, the brass hook is attached to the bottom of the main buoy. When swimming or making a direct descent, all you need to do is hold the reel with one finger and let it roll as you go deeper. Once you ascend, just roll the line back to the reel until you reach back at the surface.
Runner up of freediving buoy for travel – bare minimum
This vinyl type of freediving buoy has a reversed teardrop shape that stands upright (not flat) at surface water. At the top is a detachable red dive flag and an attachment for the descending line at the bottom. Since this line attachment is centrally located at the bottom of the float, the buoy and the flag will lean side to side (as if it is waiving) every time it is hit with waves or the line is tensioned. Like the float mentioned above, this is best if you plan to snorkel and do an occasional dive. You’ll want something more robust for proper freedive depth training.
Note that there are no side ropes to hold onto. Instead, most freedivers hug the float at the surface or just use this float as a marker.
Freediving buoys are essential if you really want to progress in depth or freedive safely. Here’s why you might need one:
Freediving buoys allow you to hang onto something and relax in between dives
In murky water, following a line or the shape of the buoy back to the surface keeps you close to your buddy
Your dive buddy will be able to know where you’re diving at all times
The float can hold water, snacks, and freediving accessories
Attaching the Descending Line
Disorientation, getting lost underwater and being swept away by current is always a possibility in freediving. This can easily be addressed with the use of a descending line.
Descending lines can give you a reference and this is often attached to the freediving buoy at the surface and connects to a weight system at the bottom. If you don’t have a freediving computer, you can use the line to know how deep you are. A lanyard can connect you to the line just in case you back out or need help.
Provides a Resting Place in Between Dives
Freediving buoys have handle ropes that you can hold while resting in between dives. This allows you to recharge your energy levels. It also relaxes you, which in turn, lowers down your heart rate–essential if you want to prolong your dive time.
Without a freediving buoy, you will be treading water the whole time you are on the surface. It really isn’t possible to do a proper breath up like this. You’ll be wasting energy leading to shorter dive times, muscle fatigue and cramps.
Storage for Accessories and Essentials
Thirsty? Hungry? Want to try out your new nose clip? You can bring a small bottle of water or food pack and place it in the storage area in the freediving buoy. This means that you can hydrate anytime while you’re in the water and without going back to the boat or to the shore.
The storage area can also be a place to store first aid kit, flashlight, and other small accessories. You can even bring your camera for some epic underwater shots.
Acts as a Surface Marker
Freediving buoys are brightly colored making them highly visible at the surface. This is very important in marking your presence on the water especially for passing boats. And, without the stress of worrying about whether or not a boat will see you, your dive will be much more relaxed.