Why Do Freedivers Need Wetsuits

Andreas Yiafas

Andreas Yiafas
AIDA Certified Instructor


Why it is advisable for freedivers to wear wetsuits ? What thickness of wetsuit is recommended ?

It is advisable for freedivers to wear a wetsuit because obviously it protects the diver from the cold but it also helps the diver with buoyancy.

  • Comfortable temperature

A freediver needs to be able to concentrate and he/she cannot do so if cold. Maintaining a comfortable body temperature frees the diver to give full concentration to what they are doing. It makes sense, the colder the water, the thicker the wetsuit should be.

  • Buoyancy

While a scuba diver can easily adjust buoyancy using a BCD (buoyancy compensator), a freediver must decide in advance the depth he wishes to dive.

A thick wetsuit will prove extremely buoyant at the surface but not so at depth. The compression and the weights used to descend will render it negative.

On the other hand, a thin wetsuit will is not so buoyant during the dive but it also means that it is difficult for the diver to find the "freefall" point. This is the point where the diver becomes negative and does not need to descend.

In general dynamic divers and deep divers tend to prefer the thinner wetsuit. This type of wetsuit makes the beginning of the dive and beginning of the ascent far easier than a heavier wetsuit. The thin suit is much better for "hydrodynamics" because they are so much lighter.

Choosing a Wetsuit for Freediving

If possible, a freediver should have their wetsuit made especially for them to ensure a perfect fit. If this is not an option, it is highly advisable for the diver to take time to try on wetsuits in order to find the best fit. For this reason it is important to visit a high quality dive shop as opposed to buying a suit online.

The freediver's wetsuit should have an integrated hood so that there is no possibility of cold water seeping inside the suit and trickling down their backs.

Usually a freediving wetsuit is made in two pieces, the high trousers and a separate jacket. In this way the diver has two layers on his chest and a snug fit, with no need of a zipper.

Wetsuits made from open cell neoprene are preferable as they allow for more flexibility so that the diver can swim more freely.

How to put on your wetsuit

A freediving wetsuit is even more difficult to get into than any other kind.

Handle with Care

Open cell neoprene is very fragile and care must be taken when putting on the wetsuit to avoid tearing with your fingernail. It is highly comfortable and flexible but in order for it to last longer, care must be taken not to pull on the seams of the suit. Be gentle with it.

Methods of Getting into your Wetsuit

  • Water can aid a free diver to get into their suit. Either put the suit on in the water or put it on in the shower.
  • Soap or shampoo mixed with water in a bottle can be rubbed into the suit and on to your skin to facilitate getting into the suit. You do not need much soap/shampoo and you can use warm water if you prefer.

Alternatives to wearing a Freediving Wetsuit

A free diving wetsuit is not compulsory, you can:

  • Wear no Suit - If it is not too cold, a free diver can be naked or just wear a swimsuit. You will feel a much greater sense of freedom but buoyancy will be affected, especially in fresh water dives, where you will become negative very quickly.
  • Surfing Wetsuits – These are flexible and comfortable for movement. In general the neoprene will not last as long as in freediving suits as they are not made to withstand changes of pressure. While they are cheaper in cost, you may be better off in the long run, paying a bit extra for a wetsuit that will last longer.
  • Scuba Diving Wetsuits – These are easier to put on than freediving suits and cheaper as well. They are satisfactory for free diving but just not as flexible.

To Sum Up – The freediver should remember that comfort and fitting are the most important considerations when choosing a suit. You have various options to choose from, whether you wear a suit or not, the main thing is to remain stress free, warm enough to concentrate, relax and enjoy. Whatever is best for you is the best option for freediving.