Freediving Wetsuits are very different from scuba diving wetsuits or surf suits. Scuba suits normally are one piece with a zipper up the back with no attached hood. Freediving suits are typically two pieces with an attached hood and there are no zippers.
The two pieces consist of a high-waisted pant, also called a farmer john, and a top that slides over your head, which has a beaver tail on the bottom to hold the top up. The attached hood keeps you streamlined and warmer. You typically get more cold during freediving than scuba diving because you try to lower your heart rate down so that you are more efficient with your oxygen consumption. Usually a lower heart rate means lower body temperature.
You need to look for a very high quality neoprene when searching for your perfect freediving suit. Erin likes Yamamoto neoprene that comes out of Japan. She feels that this is one of the best neoprenes out there. It is extremely flexible and extremely warm.
There are a few different kinds of freediving wetsuits. There are competitive suits and recreational suits. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Competitive suits are smooth on the outside with open cell neoprene on the inside. There are also recreational suits that have nylon on the outside and they offer more protection from the environment in case you are near rocks or rough terrain.
There is no nylon on a competitive suit so that means there is more flexibility so that you can take your full maximum lung volume. If Erin takes her full maximum lung volume in a t-shirt, it is approximately 6.25 Liters. If she takes her maximum lung volume in the most flexible competitive suit out on the market, she loses an entire Liter off of her volume. Now imagine what her lung volume in a recreational nylon suit would be that restricts her volume even more. Your lung volume can also change wearing a 7mm thick suit versus a 3mm. This is something you want to consider when choosing your freediving suit.
Erin’s favorite wetsuit is made by Oceaner and they use the Yamamoto neoprene. It also has a seal around the hood, wrist and ankles. These seals reduce flushing. With a scuba suit, you also get flushing at the zipper. So with out having a zipper in your freediving suit, you are already reducing some flushing. Then you add seals and open cell neoprene on the inside of the suit and flushing is reduced even more. When Erin jumps into the water, she stays dry for a few minutes because the seals are so good on the suit.
Open cell neoprene on the inside of the suit means that it is a bit sticky. Some sort of lubricant is needed so that you can put the suit on with ease. You can use a conditioner and water mix. So, in a large bottle you can use two fingers of conditioner and fill the rest with water and mix well. This can then be used to slide into your suit.
When you have a freediving suit on, the hood covers up your ears with can affect your equilibrium. What needs to be done is to poke a hole with a hot paper clip into the hood right in front of where your ear is located. Mark the proper placement when wearing the hood then take it off and make your hole. You can see how Erin made her holes in her hood in the video. This hole allows a little bit of water in so that you can equalize properly.
Other good brands are Dessault, Beauchat, Omer and Riffe. Make sure the suit fits you well. If it is a little too big, it can let too much water in and it will not warm properly and sit around your body. If it is too tight, you will be uncomfortable and it can restrict your breathing.
There are very few companies that make women’s stock size wetsuits. Oceaner and Dessault both make stock sizes for women. Those are the only two that Erin knows of. Otherwise, you have to have a custom made wetsuit. Men have many more sizing options available.