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Freediving is an activity with immeasurable benefits. Part meditation, part sport, it takes you inward as you explore the sea. As a sport that caters to minimalism, we’ll cover the freediving gear you need to get started. From there, you can hold your breath and participate in the art of freediving.
Use this guide like a toolbox. Not every freediver will need every piece of freediving gear. Here are the items you should becoming familiar with if you want to learn and progress when it comes to freediving.
Your freediving mask is your window to the underwater world. Freediving masks are typically low volume, meaning they don’t need as much air as a snorkel or scuba diving mask to equalize. Because of their small frame, visibility is often more limited than that offered in a scuba diving mask.
Choose a mask that fits flush against your face and has a nose pocket that is easy to pinch for equalization. You can tell if a mask fits by placing it against your face, inhaling, and seeing if the mask stays on with ease.
If you are using a freediving mask in lieu of goggles, you will not need a freediving nose clip. A freediving nose clip pinches the nose shut and allows the freediver to swim/fin without reaching to their nose for equalization.
A freediving snorkel is a J-shaped snorkel. It differs from most snorkels on the market because of its rigid shape. Freedivers strive to cut down on drag, and a the shape of the snorkel is essential.
Freediving fins are arguably one of the most important pieces of freediving equipment. Freediving fins are designed to propel the freediver efficiently through the water, allowing them to use as little air as possible. Many freedivers wear neoprene socks with their fins to ensure a snug fit.
There are two main types of freediving fins, bi-fins and monofins.
Bi-fins are elongated fins that are more efficient to use than snorkeling or scuba diving fins when it comes to moving the freediver over a large distance. However, they are somewhat less agile than typical snorkel or scuba fins.
Bi-fins are usually made from durable plastic, fiberglass, or carbon and vary when it comes to stiffness. As a general rule, the softer the blade, the easier it is to kick through the water. Softer blades tend to be less efficient than stiff blades once the technique is down.
The deepest constant weight freediving records have been broken with a monofin. A monofin looks like a mermaid tail, where both feet are connected to a single fin. Freediving with a monofin takes practice and a honed technique to use effectively. Once it’s mastered, it is best for taking freedivers in one direction. This is why monofins are such a popular choice among competitive freedivers.
A freediving computer is one of the best tools a freediver can have to progress safely. Basic freediving computers calculate the depth, time of the dive, surface interval, and water temperature. Some freediving computers also have an alarm system that notifies you when you’ve hit a certain depth or have been down for a set amount of time.
A freediving wetsuit keeps freedivers warm in chilly water. Feeling cold can be a major factor in combating relaxation, leading to shorter breath hold times.
Unlike a wetsuit made for surfing or scuba diving, freediving wetsuits are much more hydrodynamic. Freediving wetsuits are made from closed-cell neoprene, making them a bit more challenging to put on and take off. They typically come as two pieces — pants and a top that connects with the pants with a clasp. Some freediving wetsuits have a hood.
Freediving wetsuits are made from open cell neoprene rather than closed cell neoprene (the type used for surfing and scuba diving). Open cell neoprene means that the air bubbles in neoprene are ‘open’ and suction against the skin. Closed cell neoprene means that the bubbles are closed, and a thin layer of water is able to pass between the neoprene and the skin. Open cell neoprene needs less material to be warm, allowing freedivers to wear a thin wetsuit that won’t affect buoyancy as much as a closed cell (thicker) wetsuit might.
Freediving wetsuits often have an open cell interior and occasionally a closed cell exterior, increasing their thickness and durability.
Freediving weight belt and weights
The human body is naturally buoyant, especially on a full inhale. Freedivers wear weight belts to help them dive deeper and reach negative buoyancy at a shallower depth.
A freediving belt is made from rubber and worn at the hips. Unlike a scuba diving weight belt, typically made from nylon, rubber belts compress with the freediver as they go deeper into the water. Freediving belts are worn lower than scuba diving belts so that they do not limit the freediver’s capacity to take a full breath.
Lead weights are attached to the waist belt. How much weight a freediver uses depends on their preference and body composition. As a general rule, beginner to intermediate freedivers should try to be neutrally buoyant at 10 meters depth.
A neck weight is worn around the freediver’s neck to aid them in diving down in a straight line. The weight is typically made from a rubber tube and filled with lead beads or sand.
Freediving buoy and flag
One of the best ways to train as a freediver is on a freediving buoy. This is an inflated buoy with a line attached to it. Freedivers use the buoy to hold onto and rest in between dives, as well as guide them to target depths. A flag on top of the buoy is used to alert boats and other divers in the area of their presence.
Freediving buoys often have a compartment in the middle of the buoy for water, camera gear, and other miscellaneous items. It’s best to get one that can accommodate the size of the group that you’ll be diving with. If you have more than four divers, it may be worth connecting another flotation device for freedivers to rest on in between dives.
A freediving bag is used to hold all of your freediving gear in one place. Choose one that can fit all of your essentials. Mesh bags are best for day trips, but you’ll a bag that is more robust for longer journeys.