1. WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED? CAN I RENT?
Freediving equipment is different from standard scuba equipment in a lot of different ways. Mostly all the equipment is much more streamlined. On one breath of air, you want to make sure that you are moving as efficiently as possible. That said, you are more than welcome to use a scuba mask, snorkel, weight belt and weights, if you have them. Scuba fins work only if they are full footpocket – no heel straps please!
If you want to purchase gear visit a local shop and do not buy online. Fit and comfort are the no.1 priority in freediving and you simply cannot achieve that by buying online. It may seem that you will save money but from our years of experience we can tell you that you very likely will need to buy new items after the course, and it will end up costing more. Go to one of the local shops and try on gear, or rent gear for the course. You will have a much better understanding of what works for you after the course.
In the greater Vancouver area:
Sales and Rentals. Freediving and Spearfishing masks, snorkels, weight belts, suits, and fins and freediving accessories
Sales and Rentals – Freediving wetsuits, masks, snorkels, weight belts and weights, and fins
The one item we recommend you rent for your course, and NOT purchase, are fins. Until you have learned how the kicking techniques differ from swimming and scuba diving, and what fins would work best for your body, you run the risk of purchasing equipment that may not be appropriate for the kind of freediving you want to do, or for your personal technique. For example, we often have students show up on Day 1 with long, stiff, plastic freediving fins. In most situations, these fins don’t work and put undue stress on the ankles, calves and feet.
I’d much rather see a new freediver show up with shorter, softer fins and learn the technique correctly, and then we can recommend what style of fin would work for that freediver as an individual. We are experts in finning technique, equipment and streamline.
Let us help you!
What do I need?
You will need a full freediving wetsuit with hood, gloves and socks (not boots). Make sure your fins fit over the socks comfortably.
Why do freedivers use ”lube?”
Freediving wetsuits are made with unlined neoprene on the inside (often called open cell), unlined neoprene does not slide over skin. Without a lubricant, you will not be able to put the wetsuit on without damaging it significantly. Look for a hair conditioner without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, dyes, etc.
To mix your own lubricant mix ⅓ hair conditioner with ⅔ HOT water. You will need at least 750ml of lubricant to put your suit on the first time. The more lubricant, the easier the suit is to get on and the more comfortable it will be to wear. Over time you will adjust the mixture and the amount to suit your needs.
Can I use my scuba/surf/tri suit?
In the summer, this may work, but they generally drastically reduce the time you can spend in the water, and therefore, your time in the class. They simply are not warm enough. You may stay warm for a long time in the water surfing or swimming but remember, you are moving. In freediving we stay very still for long periods of time. Even the most experienced cold water surfers and swimmers get cold. You will need a freediving suit. You can rent Oceaner freediving suits from Ocean Quest Dive Centre for your course.
Which is the best freediving suit for me? Where can I buy?
Buying your first freediving suit can be overwhelming. There are a lot of options out there and the cost can vary widely.
These are the main points you should consider when planning to purchase a freediving suit:
The type of freediving you plan to pursue – competition, recreational, spearfishing, photography or a combination of 2 or more (exterior lining and strength, knee and chest pads) Do you plan to freedive locally? (Tropical vs. regular suit) Do you want to freedive year round or mostly in the summer and how cold do you get? (4mm or 6mm)
Fit – Fit is the most important part of a freediving suit, we think it is more important than the quality of the neoprene! So many people buy off the shelf or standard sized suits with the thought that a brand name or quality neoprene will keep them warmer. But if the fit isn’t there, and water can flow into areas, then no quality of neoprene will keep you warm. Constant water flow means constant flushing of cold water inside the suit.
The cost of a custom fitted suit is more expensive but in the long run, it is without a doubt worth it. In the end, warmth and comfort, especially in our local waters, matters most and is a safety concern. A suit that fits you properly keeps you warm for hours.
The quality of the Neoprene – A lot of people think neoprene is neoprene. Not so!
The quality of neoprene in suits varies greatly. The higher the quality, the denser the neoprene and the stretchier and warmer it is.
Research the suit that you think will work best for you.
Oceaner suits that we sell:
The REC45 suit – Highest quality Yamamoto 45 neoprene and manufacturing. It features a super durable, extra stretchy lycra exterior with an open cell interior. Available in 1.5mm (Green Camo, Grey Camo, Black), 3mm, 4.5mm, 6mm
Freedive Sport Suits – These suits are Yamamoto and very warm and durable. They do not have the high-end features of the Rec45 so they are a cheaper, but still excellent quality. FDS available in 3mm, 4.5mm, 6.5mm. SPT-OC available in 2mm, 3mm, 4.5mm, 6.5mm. SPT-SK available in 2mm, 3mm, 4.5mm.
CO45 Spearfishing suit – Yamamoto 45 with knee and chest pads. Available in 1.5mm (Green Camo, Grey Camo, Black), 3mm, 4.5mm, 6mm.
There are also options for Competition suits, Dynamic suits, Tropical suits, Springs suits etc. but for most local freediving, one of the three above suits are the best choice.
All of the above suits purchased through Oceanoid come in Standard or Custom sizing (Tropical Flatlock, FDS/SPT 3mm & 2mm are not available in custom tailoring). If you order custom, we do the measurements for you so that we get the fit right, the first time. There are colours and styles to choose from. The suits are manufactured in Burnaby, BC by people who have been making wetsuits for decades and they are delivered to you ready to go. No shipping, customs or currency exchange costs to calculate. And when you buy through us, you will get the best customer service and follow up. We’ll show you how to put the suit on and care for it safely including the annual end of season “check up”.
Neoprene Thickness – In our local waters, if you purchase a high quality Rec 45 suit, we recommend a 4mm suit as it is the most versatile option. It is more than enough for most Spring and Summer diving, will take you well into Fall, and you can simply put a vest overtop for winter diving.
The 6mm is appropriate for people who plan to spend hours and hours in the ocean, particularly in the winter. Of course you know your body best, if you are always cold, you may opt for a 6mm off the top.
3. MASKS & SNORKELS
Freediving Masks are low volume, have a soft, silicone skirt, and very important: clear lenses. No mirrored or tinted lenses please.
The most important considerations when buying a mask are fit and comfort.. Make sure you do not order online but rather, go into a shop and try one on. The mask should fit comfortably on your face, should not touch the forehead, and the nose pocket should allow room for air to exit the nostrils. Make sure you are looking at Freediving rather than Scuba masks – this is very important. To ensure the fit, look up at the ceiling and place the mask on your face. Do not inhale through the nose to pull the mask onto your face! Rather, have someone look for any spaces between the mask skirt and your face. A mask that works should fit well with the contours of your face and should not need to be inhaled to fit.
Some masks are tempered glass, some plastic. Both work well for freediving. If your mask is tempered glass make sure you talk to the shop about removing the surface layer that can fog up in the water.
Keep in mind that facial hair can cause leaks, as can laugh or smile grooves. If you have facial hair we recommend you shave it for the course.
Snorkels should be as simple as possible, a comfortable mouthpiece that is the correct size for your mouth, and a simple bore – no accordion or purge valves please. Look at the thickness and length of the bore and make sure it works for you. Snorkels can be clipped to the mask with a snorkel keeper or held in place by slipping them under the mask strap.
If you have your own scuba mask and snorkel, they are perfectly fine to use for the course (as long as the lenses are not tinted or mirrored).
The idea behind long fins is that they move more water and therefore increase the speed with which you move through the water. But if the fins are made of a rigid material, they may be too difficult to push through the water for your body size, leg strength, calf flexibility, or ankle strength. If that is the case your body will compensate by breaking technique, and this means the entire advantage of long fins is negated and then those long blades become a hindrance, will slow you down, and cause you pain or injury.
There are so many options in freediving fins – from materials, foot pockets, and along with that, cost. You will learn about these options in the course. We highly recommend you start with a pair of rental fins so we can see how you move. Our expertise is in technique and we can give you an idea of what kind of fins you should purchase after the course.
For a cheap, starter option, we often recommend a scuba tropical fin that isn’t too long but has full foot pockets.
Please do not take the course with open heel scuba fins. They will make it much more difficult to succeed. A full foot pocket is absolutely mandatory.
5. WEIGHT BELTS
This is the one item we suggest you purchase before taking a course. Scuba belts are nylon and tend to slide up and down the body when we invert, and this can be very annoying. We ALWAYS recommend a freediving weight belt (rubber or silicone) with either a standard or a Marseille buckle.
For weights, start with about 5% of your body weight in lead (based on a 5mm freedive wetsuit). We’ll adjust your weighting during the course and after that you should know exactly how much you’ll need. When purchasing lead we recommend you buy 1 lb weights and distribute them evenly around your belt.