A basic guide to freediving equipment. Everything you’ll need as a beginner.
Although freediving equipment is not extensive as scuba equipment, you could start in the pool with nothing but a buddy to watch you. There is however a few things that will make you look like a real freediver.
The volume of air in a specialised freediving mask is generally smaller than other types of masks. This makes it easier to equalise. The deeper a freediver goes the more the water pressure increases. This will cause the mask to compress, so the flexible the better. For safety reasons, the mask should always have a transparent lense. Your dive buddy needs to be able to see your eyes clearly. This helps him check to see if your ok during your dive. A perfect mask for beginners is the Aqualung Micromask.
Snorkels are used for breathing on the surface. It’s easier to watch your buddy (or sharks). A simple rigid J shaped snorkel is best. Some divers prefer to have a purge valve, but it isn’t too important. Attach something to it so it floats and remember to take it out of your mouth before you dive.
A Pair of Fins
Freediving fins are made from a variety of different materials. Plastic fins are the best choice for beginners until you get you technique down right. They should have a full foot pocket, not straps. Less power will be lost with full foot fins. Freediving fins should also be longer than scuba or snorkelling fins. This makes them much more effective. Popular plastic fins are Omer Stingrays. They have a detachable foot pocket so you can upgrade the material to carbon or fibreglass when you’re more advanced.
A wetsuit is used for protection against the cold. In warmer waters a thin wetsuit may be worn to protect against sunburn and jellyfish. It should be close fitting with no zips. Most freedivers use a combination of high trousers with a separate jacket. The jacket should have an integrated hood for added protection. Open cell neoprene is often used. It gives greater mobility but is extremely fragile. Elios Sub produce made to measure wetsuits at reasonable prices.
A Weight Belt
Weights are used to counteract the buoyancy from the wetsuit. They need to be stretched tight so rubber is the ideal choice. It should stay put on the hips rather than the waist. This helps with deep breathing which you’ll learn about in a freediving course. Smaller weights should be used as they are more hydrodynamic. A quick release buckle is the most important feature. Safety is always a priority. The belt needs to be unbuckled quickly in case of an emergency.
A buoy is used for resting on the surface. The buoy should a handles to hold onto and high buoyancy.A line with bottom weight can be attached which is great for safety and comfort. The line will also help you descend in a straight line. Surface visibility to passing boats is greatly improved when using a buoy. All freediving clubs will have some sort of buoy used for training.
Lanyards are used for attaching you to a descent line so you don’t get lost or swept away in a current. In an emergency the line can be used to bring you to the surface. A quick release is another important safety feature that will prevent the lanyard getting snagged. This is an essential part of safety freediving equipment.
The first and most important rule of freediving is Never, Ever Dive Alone!
Of course a basic freediving course is recommended to get started. All of this freediving equipment is provided for you during any course or training session.