If you've ever seen someone diving in the ocean for an extended period of time, they were probably wearing a scuba mask attached to an oxygen tank that allowed them to breathe while underwater. Freediving differs from this because it involves divers holding their breath while underwater for as long as they can. Freedivers wear very limited apparel and only use a few pieces of equipment, making it as easy as possible for divers to get deep quickly and return to the surface in even less time. Freediving competitions are held in various bodies of water and require different types of skills. Freediving requires advanced swimming skills and the ability to hold your breath for an extended period of time. Let's dive a little deeper into what you need to be a freediver!
Bi-fins are the most common type of fins that people use when they are freediving. They are great for beginners due to the increased maneuverability they possess. They are extremely simple to use as any beginner should be able to strap on a pair and master the flutter kick with near perfect technique. Fins are long and give the diver a large snap of power that make them more efficient when diving. They will cost around $200 to $400 for a nice quality pair.
When purchasing a pair of fins, it is important to note that the most expensive one is not always the best option. You want to consider your leg strength for when you decide how stiff they should be, and also your level of freediving for the blade material.
A freediving buoy and line is great for a variety of reasons and is a vital piece of equipment in order to keep you and other freedivers safe. The buoy will act as a place to rest whenever you might want to take a break. The color and the shape is easily recognizable to boats on the water, which is important because there has been an increased amount of injuries and deaths to divers due to boat accidents. The line is also great because it provides a sense of direction when you are underwater. Without the line you are at risk of getting lost or swept away. Another great benefit of the buoy is that you can store things like a first aid kid or torch on it so you have instant access in case you need it. A full buoy and line set will cost around $150.
When you are looking for a buoy and line, you want one that is sturdy and stable with a large surface area. Ample gripping area is also important so you can hoist yourself onto it when needed.
Gloves for freediving are not necessarily only used in cold water. They are also used for hand protection no matter what the temperature might be. A high quality pair of gloves should cushion and insulate your hands while not restricting movement. They should be easy to put on and take off, and also fit comfortably.
There are three different types of freediving glove styles. Open finger gloves are a style that offer less insulation and protection but make up for it with great grip and range of motion. This style would be best to use if you have camera equipment. Full finger gloves offer protection and insulation, but might reduce your grip. Then there are dive mittens which are intended for extremely cold climates. These gloves will group your fingers together to retain body heat, making them great for winter time freediving. A pair of freediving gloves will cost anywhere between $10 and $50 depending on the quality.
If you are a beginner freediver and not yet completely comfortable in the water, then a knife is not necessary for you to use. However, once you are a freediving veteran, it is definitely a good idea to carry a knife with you. A knife can save your friend if they get tangled in fishing line or seawide. It also makes it easy to cut yourself off from the buoy or line if there is ever an emergency. You can also use the knife to help protect the ocean and marine life. If you see a fish trapped in a net or something similar, you can use the knife to free the animal. You want to buy a knife that has a compact size and is durable. It also needs to be made of rust-free titanium, and possess a secure and easy to open holder. Having a knife is far more important that a lot of free divers think, as it can really make a difference when facing an emergency situation.
A freediving mask will cover your face and prevent water from getting into your eyes or nose. Volume of the mask refers to the amount of air space that is inside the mask. A high volume mask will give you better peripheral vision, but a low volume mask will sit closer to your face and clear out water much faster. The lens of a mask is either a single or double pane and both types offer great results. While there is no specific difference between single or double, you should always make sure that you get a tempered glass lense that is scratch and shatter resistant. You also want to make sure the mask is durable. While a high quality mask may cost a bit more at first, it will not have to be replaced yearly. The price of a mask is around $90.
Monofins are simply a single fin where both foot-pockets are attached to a single blade. High quality ones are pretty expensive as they will cost you around $200, sometimes more. Monofin blades are often fiberglass but can sometimes be carbon and plastic. When wearing a monofin, both feet are enclosed and they will not be able to separate when you kick. Your legs and thighs will stay together the entire time so you will be using a dolphin kicking technique. A monofin will give you faster speeds with less effort. You can find yourself going an extra 15% to 40% more in distance. This will also give you an increased amount of stamina.
Some freedivers prefer nose clips rather than traditional masks. It might not be common in the beginning of your freediver career, but can bring many benefits as you progress. The clip is designed to wear directly on the nose. Most models consist of a wire with a rubber cover. They hold the nostrils closed, allow air to escape, and prevent water entry to the nose. A nose clip will leave you with more oxygen and will allow hand free equalization. It will also help strengthen your dive reflex, allowing you to stay underwater for extended periods of time. A nose clip will cost you around $30 to $60, depending on the quality.
A lanyard is essential if you are diving with bad visibility or a strong current. Four about $50, a lanyard can assist in pulling up a diver and keeping them close to the line rather than drifting away. You are going to want a quick release system on your lanyard, and also a cord that sheathed in plastic. The lanyard should be made out of aluminum, stainless steel, or carbon fiber that is big enough to move freely on the rope and can be opened. Lanyards are an extremely important safety tool for freedivers of all levels, and should be one of the first purchases you make when starting a freediving career.
A freediving smart watch will keep you safe by taking the guessing out of diving while also helping you improve performance. Dive watches will track your dive time as well surface intervals, helping you avoid illnesses associated with diving. The basic model will track your times and depths in the water. A more advanced version also includes compass navigation, wireless air integration, and other features to help track your dive. Most watches can go as deep as 350 feet, and will cost you around $200.
A snorkel is what you will breathe in and out of when you are at the surface of a water. It is a simple yet essential piece of equipment. Freedive snorkels rarely come set with masks, so you need to take a bit of time to choose a freedive mask and snorkel separately. When purchasing a snorkel, flexibility is really important. A small soft silicone mouthpiece is also recommended for the snorkel. It also has to be an ideal tube diameter. If it is too small, you will not get enough air. If the diameter is too big, it will be difficult to clear water out of the snorkel. Simple surface snorkeling is extremely different from freediving, so it is really important that you don't buy any cheap plastic snorkel. Buying an individual snorkel will cost around $30.
Wearing a weight belt will offer buoyancy on the surface. It is recommended that freedivers invest in a rubber weight belt, as it will stretch your diaphragm as you inhale allowing for deeper, longer dives. They typically will only cost you roughly $30. The other option of a weight belt is for it to be made out of nylon material. While a nylon weight belt is cheap and durable, it does not stretch so it can impede your technique. A rubber belt will help you maximize your pre dive breathe-up, and is also far more comfortable than nylon. These belts will also make you more agile in the water, as you will have the breath to go for a long and deep dive.
Wetsuits that are designed for freediving normally come in two pieces including a hood. They traditionally do not come with a zipper; this provides less opportunity for water to trickle in. They are also more flexible than the average wetsuit, allowing more room to move and breathe.
A double-lining wetsuit is made of neoprene with nylon covering the inside and outside of the wetsuit. They are durable and easy to put on and off, and cost around $130. A single lining wetsuit offers nylon lining on the inside of the suit. This style is more popular for recreational free-divers, costing around $300. Professional freedivers use a no-lining wetsuit that has an open cell inside and smooth skin on the outside, and cost over $400.
There are not many pieces of equipment utilized in freediving, since it is such a minimalistic sport. Freedivers can choose the pieces of equipment that they want to use during their dives and some competitions will specify the equipment needed. For example, in one of the most common competition forms known as "constant weight," the diver must utilize a freediving monofin to dive as deep as possible and then return to the surface without adjusting weight. Freediving equipment is specific to the competition, or to your personal preference!
Freediving can be done without any equipment at all or with all of the equipment in the listed below. No other sport is like freediving, which focuses so much on freedom and personal preference. While the sport may be similar to scuba diving, its lack of necessary equipment is what makes it so unique.
The most important and useful pieces of equipment for freediving are fins and freediving masks. Whether you use a monofin (one fin covering both feet together) or a bi-fin (one fin covering each foot separately), the fin will help you dive deeper and propel you forward more quickly than your bare feet would. A mask will allow you to see clearly underwater, giving you beautiful views of the water you are in and allowing any diving buddies to see your eyes in case of an emergency.
Freediving equipment cost varies greatly depending on the quality of the product. For example, freediving monofins can cost you anywhere from $50 to $500. A freediving mask could cost you $20 or $80, while a freediving weight belt could cost you $15 or $100. A good rule is to buy depending on your skill level; if you are just beginning to freedive, buy cheaper equipment to make sure you enjoy the sport and want to continue.