If you’ve just decided that you want to try diving and are looking for some diving equipment, something worth knowing is that not all diving equipment is designed the same. So before you open your wallet, there’s something simple, yet significant to consider – are you going to scuba dive or freedive? What separates these two is the breathing. Scuba divers are taught to never hold their breath underwater, so they use a snorkel or a tank, while freedivers on the other hand, hold their breath the entire time.
The reason why the type of diving you do is important when looking to purchase equipment is that even the simplest piece, such as the women or mens wetsuit is designed differently depending on the type of diving you’ll do. For instance, the density of the wetsuit, the zippers and whether its design is smoothskin vs lining matters a lot.
For a more insulating effect of the suit, foam rubber with thin walls around the large bubbles means more nitrogen gas and less neoprene rubber. These suits are known as low density and provide a warm and soft feel while also stretch more, making them very comfortable. These wetsuits are ideal for freediving, surfing and snorkeling, as most of the time is spent around the surface of the water. On the other hand, a high density suit is made of neoprene because it doesn’t compress as you go deeper and the pressure increases. This makes the suit remain warm even under great depths, thanks to the insulating properties of the high density of the neoprene. A high density mens wetsuit is ideal for scuba diving.
Lined vs Smoothskin
Applying lycra/nylon fabric to the surface of the suit on top of the neoprene is another factor in the wetsuit design. Neoprene is fairly soft, so attaching lycra/nylon makes it much more durable. If you see a suit that’s labeled as nylon lined, lined or jersey lined, then this refers to its lining. On the other hand, if the suit is coated with a bare, smooth rubber surface then it’s referred to as smoothskin. Smoothskin wetsuits are the better option for freedivers, while scuba divers usually opt for lined ones.
Zippers are usually present in the design of freediving suits, while not so much in scuba diving suits. They reduce flexibility and more importantly, they reduce the swimming efficiency which is something you don’t want to compromise if you’re free diving. Plus, they’re not leak proof, so they can reduce the much needed warmth.