There are so many kinds of freediving wetsuit out there, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference or pick the right one for yourself. What is right for the beginner and what’s right for the advanced freedivers? Should I go for a smooth skin freediving wetsuit or a nylon one? Which brand is the best? How thick of a freediving suit should I buy? These are some frequently asked questions we had these years.
When our editor first started freediving back in 2017, all of the freediving gears were borrowed from the diving shop, she was not so used to the plastic freediving fins, and the freediving wetsuit didn’t fit her well. There wasn’t too much freediving information in Taiwan for her to check with a few years ago so she thought that it was her own problem not being used to those gears, not knowing those gears were just not right for her.
Before entering our topic, we should take a look at the Australia freediving champion Adam Stern’s freediving wetsuit video-
Here are some factors that were seen important by Adam, which influence how our editor picks a freediving wetsuit a lot:
So now get back to the topic, how to pick a right freediving wetsuit?
For the beginners we usually would not recommend a smooth skin wetsuit because its surface is not that durable, it gets damaged accidentally very easily.
What we recommend would be a nylon freediving wetsuit- nylon both sides (outside and inside). It’s the most durable kind of freediving wetsuit and most of the time the most economical type so it’s pretty great for a freediving beginner.
Cons: Not that stretchy、not that fit
Here is our recommendation:
Super stretchy and durable from the outside and opencell from the inside. Yamamoto neoprene is used, offering extraordinary flexibility and it’s durable at the same time as long as you don’t get in/ get out of the wetsuit with your fingernails. (opencell side is fragile)
Pros: Vey stretchy Yamamoto neoprene、durable、very warm、fit cutting
Cons: Soapy water is needed before putting on the wetsuit、cannot wear it with fingernails
Now you know freediving wetsuit pretty well, you know what’s right for you.
A lot of internet celebrities are wearing colorful smooth skin wetsuits, which has a hydrodynamic coating that improves diving speeds by reducing drag, allowing the suit to glide through the water more efficiently. However, it’s well known that smooth skin wetsuit is quite fragile, not as durable as the nylon one.
If you don’t mind the durability, and instead, you prefer a smooth skin appearance, then you may think about choosing a smooth skin with stretchy nylon inside type of freediving wetsuit.
Or maybe a smooth skin wetsuit from a famous brand is a good option as well.
In some cases, freediving contestants wear smooth skin wetsuit with opencell from the inside. This type of wetsuit offers the best flexibility and keeps the divers extremely warm. But since it has no nylon support the surface, it becomes the most fragile type of freediving wetsuit. Hence the smooth skin with opencell wetsuit is only recommended for a very experienced freediver.
Below we will be having a more detailed discussion about the freediving wetsuit. Continue reading if you have interest.
Smooth Skin Freediving Wetsuit
Pros: Many colors to choose from, hydrodynamic, fast drying
Cons: Fragile surface, may crack after a certain time, more pricey
Nylon Freediving Wetsuit
Pros: Durable, more affordable
Cons: Not fast drying, not many colors to choose from
If you see the durability as a priority, then maybe you should pick the nylon wetsuit.
Or if you prefer more colors to choose from, then maybe go for a smooth skin wetsuit is a good option.
Does smooth skin wetsuit really improve diving speeds? We’ve asked some freediving instructors, the answer is definitely a yes, but for most amateur freedivers, the feeling of diving speed increased is not obvious; instead, professional freediving contestants might feel a slight difference.
Besides, if you do a lot of shore diving, you probably have noticed that reef rocks around you might hurt you and your wetsuit. In such cases, you should better avoid wearing smooth skin wetsuit.
However, if you do pool dive or boat dive more often then there wouldn’t be such a problem. Pool dive and boat dive are relatively wetsuit-friendly.
In conclusion, it all depends on the user’s needs. Do you prefer a smooth skin or nylon appearance? Do you prefer a more durable wetsuit? What type of diving sites do you visit more often?
As you can see, a lot of smooth skin wetsuits in the market claim that they keep divers warmer and even let divers dive deeper. Here are some photos to explain.
Nylon absorbs water well; instead, smooth skin with coating or with no coating won't absorb water at all. Water becomes water drops on the surface.
Here are some smooth skin wetsuit features:
Hydrodynamic- yes it is but usually competitive divers have more obvious feelings about this.
Fast-drying- the smooth skin surface won't absorb water so it dries fast accordingly.
Warmer when not in the water- when you're out of the water since the surface dries fast, you won't feel cold easily.
Warmer in the water- for me I don't feel relatively warm in the smooth skin/nylon suit while in the water. A wetsuit's cutting/shape, glue, thickness, material from the inside decide if the wetsuit is warm or not.
(This is the editor's personal experience)
Opencell wetsuit is made of the neoprene with no nylon attached in the inside, neoprene has direct contact with human skin. Compared to nylon in the inside, opencell side sticks to human skin more easily, it slows down the seawater flowing inside of the wetsuit and keeps the diver warmer.
One of the key strengths of opencell side is that it is extremely warm and stretchy, but here also comes the disadvantages, it needs soapy water to get in the wetsuit, some people would see it a bit of a hassle. Besides, it's more fragile than the nylon side, opencell gets cuttings by fingernails more easily. In case it does happen, there is no need to worry about it. You can easily fix it by using wetsuit glue. Nylon side in the inside is more durable and can wear it dry, soapy water is not needed, but it's not as warm as the opencell wetsuit. You just can't have all the features at the same time.
So what do you see the most important? Warmth or durability?
Durability comparison for the freediving wetsuit on the market:
Both inside/ surface nylon ★★★★
Nylon surface/ opencell inside ★★★ - might get cutting by fingernails
Smooth skin surface/ nylon inside ★★ - might get cutting by fingernails and reef rock
Smooth skin surface/ opencell inside ★- might get cutting by fingernails and reef rock, more likely to get ripped. Having no nylon's support, it's the most fragile type of wetsuit.
We have full confidence that OneBreath's wetsuit is very durable with the correct way of putting on and taking off, OneBreath's freediving wetsuit has been tested by factory workers, freediving instructors and even the boss herself.
Neoprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene made from different manufacturers offers different levels of flexibility.
One of the most well-known manufacturers is Yamamoto. It's known for offering the best and most stretchy neoprene. Its commonly used type of neoprene is #39 and #45.
Yamamoto #45 - extremely stretchy, more pricey than #39
Yamamoto #39 - very stretchy, more affordable than #45
We consider that amateur freedivers can go with #39, its flexibility is already above average. For our editor's experience, she has not had any neoprene from other brands that is as stretchy as #39, let alone #45.
So we strongly recommend Yamamoto's neoprene if you need a stretchy, light, comfy and fit freediving wetsuit.
We had tried freediving suit that was made of neoprene from the brand we've never heard of, it's pretty stiff, not comfy wearing it, and hard to get in and out.
Even though Yamamoto wetsuit is very flexible, different types of wetsuit still have slightly different levels of flexibility. We will talk about this more in the following paragraphs.
How the neoprene is processed will affect its flexibility as well. What's the neoprene's process? You can see the wetsuit as a sandwich, the middle filling would be the neoprene itself, it will be attached with different fabric, just like the sandwich's toast, according to the needs.
Why do you need a stretchy wetsuit? A stretchy wetsuit gives divers comfy diving experience, with no restricted movement in the water. Besides, a stretchy wetsuit helps divers get in and out of the wetsuit much faster. The editor had a very stiff wetsuit before, it took forever to get in and out of the wetsuit, a total nightmare!
The rating below is based on the editor's experience.
1. Nylon surface/ nylon inside- Flexibility- ★
Wetsuit with both sides nylon: if the nylon is not stretchy enough then it will make the wetsuit a not that stretchy and flexible wetsuit. This is why many brands claim that they are using super stretchy fabric/material, so as not to restrict the neoprene's flexibility.
As of now, wetsuits with both sides nylon, the editor has not found a really stretchy one that amazes her.
Con: Not that stretchy, not that warm
2. Smooth skin surface/ Nylon inside -
2 types that we've tried:
- Flexibility ★★★
This type of smooth skin is formed naturally on top of the neoprene, with no extra fabric/material attached means no restriction. So if the nylon attached inside is stretchy nylon then this wetsuit can be a pretty stretchy wetsuit. But this type of wetsuit is very fragile as there is no coating protecting the smooth skin, it gets damaged by sharp objects easily.
Con: Fragile surface
- Flexibility ★★
In most cases, there will be a lot of colors to choose from like gold, silver, red, green, blue...etc. Smooth skin with coating is a bit more durable than the one with no coating(note: just a little improvement on the durability, however, it's still not as durable as the nylon type).
If the coating material is not a stretchy one, then it will still decrease the neoprene's flexibility!
Pro: Stretchy, many colors
Con: Fragile surface
3. Nylon surface/ opencell inside - Flexibility ★★★
The editor is now using this type of wetsuit, made of Yamamoto. It offers outstanding flexibility, with stretchy nylon surface, no fabric attached inside, its flexibility only gets restricted by the nylon surface. So if the surface is with very stretchy nylon then this wetsuit can be a very flexible wetsuit. Ｏtherwise, if the surface is with not that stretchy nylon then, of course, we can guess that the wetsuit might not be that flexible.
Con: Needs soapy water to get in and out
4. Smooth skin surface/ opencell inside- Flexibility ★★★★
This type of wetsuit has the least restriction, no nylon attached on the surface or inside of the wetsuit, neoprene's flexibility can be fully utilized. But this type of wetsuit is the most fragile one as there is no nylon supporting either side of the wetsuit, it's possible that divers might rip the wetsuit. It's only recommended for competitive or very experienced freedivers.
Pro: Extremely stretchy
Con: Very fragile. Needs soapy water to get in.
In conclusion: Neoprene with more processing work like nylon attachment, the flexibility will get affected. Even the wetsuit made of Yamamoto does not mean it's the most stretchy one, because we still have to take the nylon's flexibility and coating into consideration. A lot of factors determine the neoprene's flexibility.
Whether a wetsuit fit or not is related to its cutting and shape. A fit 3mm freediving suit can be warmer than a 5mm freediving wetsuit that does not fit. So it's critical to choose a wetsuit that fits you well.
Usually, the public cutting wetsuit fits most of the people unless you have specific requests like too short or too tall then you might have to customize your own wetsuit; otherwise, a public cutting wetsuit can just fit you well. A customized wetsuit can meet all of your requests no matter the cutting, shape, or color. The only 2 disadvantages we can think of would be the price and lead time. It's pretty pricy and takes a lot of time to finish a customized wetsuit.
Here is the editor and some of our friends' experience:
Water temperature: wetsuit thickness
The thicker the wetsuit, the less flexible it gets, and more buoyant.
Divers can check the water temperature and evaluate if you get cold easily before choosing the wetsuit thickness.
A good wetsuit should last from 1 to many years, depends on how you take care of the wetsuit and how frequently you wear it. A bad habit(long time exposure to sunlight, no cleaning after diving...etc) and frequent wearing(like wearing it every day) can shorten the lifetime of a wetsuit. Wetsuit can be deteriorated by the time goes by, it will eventually become less stretchy or even get cracks. So don't believe that a good wetsuit can last forever.
1. Cleaning: Soak the wetsuit in cold freshwater for at least 20 minutes. After soaking, hose off the wetsuit with fresh water thoroughly. Do not soak the wetsuit in hot water as neoprene loses flexibility in hot water. Using a washing machine, dryer and spin dryer is not acceptable.
2. Drying: Dry your wetsuit in shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
3. Storage: It’s best to store your wetsuit laying flat. If that is not possible, you can hang your suit on a hanger. Store in a cool and dry place. Do not stack.
4. Repair: Small cuts or tears can be easily repaired with wetsuit glue.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to choosing the freediving wetsuit. There is no need to follow others' choices, you have to figure out what your need is first.
If you just started freediving and are not sure if you are really into this activity or not, then we recommend that you choose the type with both side nylon as it'd be more affordable and durable.
If you're into freediving, care about the suit's durability and warmth then it's suggested that you pick Yamamoto wetsuit with inside open cell.
Should there be any questions you'd love to discuss with us, you're welcome to send us messages via Facebook messenger or email.