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Choosing the Right Wetsuit for Freediving - Closed vs Open

Choosing the Right Wetsuit for Freediving - Closed vs Open

Choosing the Right Wetsuit for Freediving - Closed Cell vs Open Cell 


Open Cell Wetsuit Benefits 

Open cell suits are the preferred wetsuit for freediving. They are warmer and more insulated than the same thickness closed cell wetsuits. The slick interior lining almost adheres to the skin of the diver. This keeps a thinner layer of insulated water against your skin. This allows thinner suits to be used in colder water temperatures, which becomes really important as suits get thick enough to impede mobility. Most open cell wetsuits have an integrated hood, which helps keep the diver that much warmer. The hood also helps protect the diver from the underwater environment.  

It should be noted that there are different qualities of neoprene.  Neoprene's two three main quality that make it good for a wetsuit are insulation, elasticity, and durability. The more durable the neoprene, the less elastic it tends to be. Elasticity is what helps a wetsuit stay warm. The air bubbles along with the thickness of the neoprene are what help insulate and give elasticity to the suit. 

 

Open Cell Drawbacks

Open cell wetsuits are challenging because the interior of the suits are sticky when they are dry. When the suit is wet, they are easy to slide on. Divers need to wet or lubricate the interior of the suit before putting the wetsuit on. Most divers carry a bottle of warm water with conditioner or baby shampoo to put on the interior of the suit, or to wet their forearms and hair before donning it. If you don’t lubricate before attempting to put it on, you can damage or tear the suit and result in significant discomfort to the diver.

Open cell wetsuits can deteriorate more rapidly when used for scuba diving. By compressing the suit for extended periods of time at depth, scuba diving permanently compresses the air bubbles in the rubber. They still make great scuba suits, they just wear out faster than closed cell wetsuits might. 

 

Closed Cell Wetsuit Benefits

Closed Cell wetsuits are easier to put on. The sad truth is that no wetsuit is truly easy to put on. Closed cell suits usually have a fabric coating on the interior to allow them to be put on easier than closed cell suits. Many closed cell suits do not have an integrated hood, which some divers prefer. An exception to this is the Neptonics Quantum Stealth 1mm, which is designed just like all the other Quantum Stealth suits, but constructed of closed cell neoprene foam. This suit's primary purpose is less for keeping warm, but more for protection from the surrounding environment. Closed cell wetsuits tend to be slightly more durable than your average open cell wetsuit because they are made of a denser neoprene.

 

Closed Cell Drawbacks

The draw backs to closed cell wetsuits are that they are not as warm and not as flexible as open cell wetsuits. This is because the neoprene is denser than most open cell wetsuits. The fewer air bubbles stored in the rubber, the less it is able to insulate the diver. Flexibility is very important to freediving efficiently, but may be less critical when scuba diving. 

 

Thickness Considerations

There are no hard and fast rules on how thick your suit should be. Every diver has their own tolerance for the cold, their own body fat levels that protect them from the cold, and their own conditions that they're diving in. In order to dive in a location year round, you may need to have a couple suit thicknesses to be ready whenever the opportunity presents itself to dive. Different seasons mean different wetsuits. In warmer conditions, you may only want to use a Rash Guard to prevent abrasions form aquatic life. In colder conditions, you may need a 3mm, 5mm, 7mm, or in extreme conditions even a 9mm wetsuit. A good rule of thumb for the average man is a 10 degree farenheit temperature scale for wetsuit thickness. This scale is based on water temperature:
    • Rash Guard or 1mm (90F-80F) (32C-26C)

    • 3mm (80F-70F) (26C-21C)

    • 5mm (70F-60F) (21C- 15C)

  • 7mm (60F-50F) (15C-10C)

Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. Every diver will handle cold or heat differently and may want a different thickness suit for a given temperature.
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