Speargun Basics – What You Need To Know
If you are just getting into spearfishing you may have a few questions about spearguns and how they work. Fortunately, they are no overly complicated tools. There will be variations in different manufacturers designs, but the basic construction is pretty similar. We will cover some speargun basics and go over some of the common questions we get from people just getting into spearfishing.
What is a Speargun?
A speargun is any tube shaped item that holds a spear shaft which is propelled by stored energy that is released with some type of trigger mechanism for use underwater. That stored energy can be from pulling back bands that connect to the spear shaft through notches bin the spear shaft. The energy can also be stored through pushing a spear shaft through a pneumatic tube into a trigger mechanism. They work by storing this energy safely and by being able to release the spear shaft to be shot at a fish at the right time.
Are Spearguns Illegal?
Every country has their own laws. Within some countries different regions may have even more specific restrictions. The short answer is that you need to check in your area to find out if spearguns are legal. Most states in the United States are open to spearfishing. The Bahamas and Bermuda have outlawed them, but allow pole spears and Hawaiian slings.
Is a Speargun a Firearm?
No! Spearguns are powered by latex rubber bands or pressurized air. Firearms are powered by an explosion of a propellent that causes large amounts of pressure in a restricted space facing a small projectile through a narrow space. Don’t go through your local airport shouting that you have a speargun. The general public is not overly aware of the differences. So while traveling it may be best to refer to your gear as “fishing equipment”, unless you feel like filling out a lot of paperwork and getting some interesting questions from security and the airline. Many people ask about a spear rifle. This is a confused term. Rifles are firearms with a rifled barrel designed to spin the bullet as it passes through a barrel to increase accuracy at range. The short ranges of spearguns makes rifling is unnecessary.
Can You Use One Out Of The Water?
No! Can you physically load a speargun and fire it out of the water? You can if you are an idiot. Spearguns are designed to be used in an environment with water resistance. That water resistance helps with recoil and reduces the range of the spear shaft. That water resistance also helps by increasing the spear shaft’s accuracy. DO NOT FIRE SPEARGUNS OUT OF THE WATER. For more information on speargun safety please read this blog post.
What is The Best All Around Length?
There is no perfect length for all diving everything. It is a continuous effort that many builders have been trying to create from the beginning. There are good general lengths that cover most diving. As you get further into spearfishing you will find that the right tool for the job makes a big difference. You will end up collecting quite a few as time goes by. For more information on picking the right gun length for your diving check out this post as a speargun length guide.
What is The Difference Between a Speargun and a Harpoon Gun?
We already went over what a speargun is earlier. You mount Harpoon Guns to the deck of a boat. It fires a harpoon in order to retrieve large fish, like Tunas and Billfish. Some of the biggest differences are that harpoon guns are used from out of the water shoot into the water. You shoot spearguns in the water at fish that are also in the water.
There are a wide range of prices on the market. You get what you pay for with spearguns. There are plenty of inexpensive ones on the market, but make sure you you are getting a quality gun for the price. A cheap speargun may end up costing you more long term that the right purchase from the start. The cost of regular repair and maintenance can quickly get you ‘cheap’ speargun over the price of a quality Rob Allen or Amero very quickly. Most spearguns will cost between $260 up to well over $1000 depending on the type and quality you are looking for. There are even some spearguns on the market for well over $3000.
What is a Speargun’s Range?
Band stretch distance determines range. Most will shoot between two to three times the distance from the back of the band slot to the notch where the bands connect to the spear shaft. Roller guns are the exception to this rule, because the starting point of the bands is different. For more information check out this post on how roller spearguns work. Range is important for some spearfishing, but it shouldn’t b e the only thing you look for in your speargun. That means you need enough power to send the spear shaft through the fish. You also have to make sure you don’t overpower your speargun. Overpowering the speargun will c use major inaccuracy in your shots.
Riffe Speargun Series – A Look at Riffe Speargun Models
Riffe has been on the forefront of spearfishing since the 1970s. With decades of consistently creating quality spearfishing equipment it only makes sense that their spearguns are held in high regard. We will be taking a look at some of their more popular models of today.
The Riffe Euro Speargun is easily one of the best freediving wooden spearguns on the market. The Euro is streamline and easy to track through the water. This speargun is powered by two 5/8” (16mm) power bands that can be easily taken on or off the speargun. This wooden speargun has the power to make accurate shots at a great range. Riffe has set the trigger for this speargun near the back of the speargun to allow for maximum power for the length of the speargun. The rear handle design ensures easy point and shoot capability. Overall, this wooden speargun is hard to beat, with many models coming in both open and enclosed track options.
The Riffe Competitor Speargun series is a classic. This particular design has been around, in some form, for around 20 years. The reason it has been around so long is simple: it works! With a narrow design it is easy to see and track your fish as you are looking down the speargun. This speargun is easily hip loaded, as the trigger is located further forward on the stock. With a traditional band slot it is easy to install pre-made power bands on this mahogany wooden speargun.
The Riffe Marauder Speargun is a great design for some bluewater spearfishing. The laminated mahogany stock helps prevent warping. The cuttlefish body design adds mass, while still allowing the speargun to track easily through the water. The added mass reduces recoil, allowing for more power on the speargun. The added power translates to more penetration through fish from further away. This makes the Riffe Marauder a tempting option. Available in three lengths, there are plenty of options for success.
Blister Prevention on Multi-Day Dive Trips
Blisters while freediving are often not a consideration for most divers, until they become a big problem. It makes sense that putting large amounts of force from kicking on our feet can cause blisters. The long fins that Freedivers use can compound this problem. There are a couple important ways to ensure blister prevention while freediving, and we will be going over some of those strategies in this post.
Booties – Blister Prevention while Freediving
Dive booties help prevent blisters and fill in your freedive fin foot pocket. They can also help on long walks to and from your dive site. Booties prevent blisters by adding an extra padded, protective layer, between your foot and the sometimes abrasive rubber of a foot pocket. A good neoprene bootie will help keep your feet safe from the environment around you. That can be anything from an underwater rock, to shells walking along the beach. Booties are the single biggest piece of equipment that can prevent blisters from diving. Make sure to always have a spare pair of dive booties in your dive bag to prevent skipping a day of diving, or ruining your week or month. If you have particularly sensitive feet you should consider wearing a thicker neoprene bootie.
Properly Fitting Foot Pockets
After dive booties, properly fitting foot pockets are critical to blister prevention. Foot pockets for freedive fins should be like an extension of your foot. They should be snug, but not tight. If you foot can easily move back and forward in the foot pocket they are too loose and can likely cause blisters. Make sure to get a comfortable pair of foot pockets that fit your foot well. If you are having a hard time finding a good pair of foot pockets that fit you, another good option is to use a pair of Fin Keepers to hold the foot pocket to your foot better.
Know When to Get Out of The Water
It is amazing how quickly your feet can go from completely normal to looking like ground beef. If you are on a multi day trip it ic critical to make sure you are taking care of yourself. That means staying hydrated, cleaning your wetsuit, and taking care of your feet! One of the toughest calls you can make on a trip is to know when to get out of the water. If you forgot your booties up in your room, just stay out of the water for a day. It is brutal to miss a day, but it beats missing the rest of the trip and having to heal up for over a month with major foot injuries. We speak from experience when we say it is not fun to spend more time than necessary in 3rd world clinics trying to pick up antibiotics for blood poisoning.
How Frequently You Should Replace a Wetsuit
There are several factors that can dictate how frequently you should replace a wetsuit. We will go over several of those considerations, as well as ways to extend the life of your suit. The biggest factor is the amount of use the it sees. After that the age is a big consideration. One of the biggest impacts on how long a wetsuit lasts is how it is cared for.
Frequency of Wetsuit Use
Easily the biggest impact of how well a wetsuit works is how frequently the suit is used. Neoprene is a rubber that has small air pockets within it to help insulate a diver. The more frequently a wetsuit is used the more these bubbles get compressed and destroyed. These bubbles are what helps insulate the diver, more so than the rubber. If you are diving multiple times a week all year long your suit will compress, and be less effective sooner than if you only were diving once or twice a month. You can see how the amount you dive can dramatically impact how long your suit will last and how frequently you will need a new one. If you are diving multiple times a week you will likely need to replace your suit every year or two.
The Age of the Suit
Even if you don’t use your wetsuit very frequently it still breaks down over time. The neoprene is a rubber, and it stiffens with age. Every once in a while you may have to buy a suit for a trip to somewhere cold. That suit may only get used every year or two, but it will still start to become less effective after a few years. Other than the neoprene getting stiffer, another factor in this is that these suits are held together by glue and stitching. That glue has a shelf life and will break down before the rest of the wetsuit. Even with effective stitching you will get water intrusion that makes the suit feel colder. Even if you take perfect care of your suit, they tend to loose effectiveness within about five years from when they were manufactured.
Extending the Life Of your Wetsuit Through Proper Care
Taking proper care of a wetsuit can dramatically increase the life of it. One of the reasons wetsuits can loose their ability to keep a diver warm is from not being washed. We mentioned before that neoprene keeps a diver warm by having air pockets encased in rubber. Those air bubbles can become clogged with your skin cells, sweat, urine, and debris. As these air pockets get saturated with all of this they loose effectiveness to insulate you. Using wetsuit shampoo and cleaner and properly washing and drying your wetsuit cleans out these air pockets and extends the life of the wetsuit. DO NOT USE DISH DETERGENT. Any type of de-greasing soap will harm your wetsuit. Wetsuits are made of rubber, which is a petroleum product. If you use de-greasing detergent on your wetsuit it will start to fall apart.
Changing Rigging and Tackle in Spearfishing
One of the key elements to landing big fish is to make sure your equipment is in pristine condition and that means changing rigging and hardware. That does not mean you need to change every piece of gear you own for every single dive trip. It does mean you should keep track of the condition of your dive gear and replace it well before it breaks. It is not the two pound snapper that is going to test your dive gear, but the big fish that are what we all hope we will see out there that will put your dive gear to the test.
Changing Rigging and Hardware
There are pieces of equipment that need to be replaced periodically. Any metal that is exposed to salt water should be given careful consideration, especially before big trips. The idea of spending thousands of dollars to travel to a foreign country, in addition to thousands of dollars on spearguns, shafts, slip tips, floats, floatlines, and bungees, and then having a trip ruined because you didn’t want to spend the money to replace a rusty tuna clip, shackle, or swivel. It is worth the 10 minutes and a few dollars to change rigging and hardware out on your float, floatline, or to replace your floatline adaptor.
Shooting line can be a very sore subject for many divers. If you dive a lot in your home town, your shooting line probably looks terrible. All divers have a tendency to become complacent with their shooting line, but it is one of the most important elements to landing your catch. Old shooting line is often freed, which reduces its strength. If you use monofilament, the crimps corrode over time once exposed to water. This also reduces the strength of the line’s ability to hold tension. Stainless steel cable rusts. If you are diving several times a week this is a gradual reduction that you don’t notice. The problem comes in when a big, strong fish, tests your equipment. That is when the shooting line breaks.Save yourself the trouble and change rigging and hardware, like your shooting line and crimps.
Most experienced divers share the opinion that it is important to tune your flopper shafts. It is true that a properly tuned flopper shaft helps land fish. If you are unfamiliar with what the term ‘tuning a flopper shaft’ means, we mean tightening the flopped on the spear. This is done to the point that once the flopper if forced open it remains open until forced down manually. Tuning a flopper is somewhat delicate and precise. If you over tighten the flopper it will not deploy on the other side of the fish. If the flopper is too loose the fish can struggle and the flopper can close and pull out of the fish. The best way to do this is to use a small ball peen hammer. Put the shaft and flopper on a hard surface and to make small adjustments until it is just right.
Essential Spearfishing Gear – What is in Our Dive Bag
Every new diver has some important questions about essential spearfishing gear. What are the pieces of gear that you need in order to spearfish? This blog will go over the basics of what you need to start spearfishing. We also go over what you may want as you get more into the sport of freediving and spearfishing. This is what you will find in a Neptonics Staff dive bag for a normal day of diving.
Masks, Fins, Snorkels, Booties
These are some of the most important pieces of basic equipment. Getting a quality mask and is one of the keys to having a good dive day. Fins make a huge difference in a divers ability to dive efficiently. Snorkels are under appreciated for being essential spearfishing equipment. Booties protect your feet and make multiple days of diving safer.
Getting the right mask is critical for enjoying your dive trips. If you can you should try on the mask to make sure it is comfortable. If you are freediving or spearfishing it comes in handy to get a low volume mask. Low volume refers to the amount of air space in the mask. The lower the volume of the mask the less air you have to use from your lungs to equalize the mask. Comfort is the most important element of a mask. When you try on the mask make sure to push the mask against your face to see where the frame of the mask would come in contact with your face under pressure. If there are any uncomfortable points of contact with the mask on your face you should consider a different mask. A mask that fits well is essential spearfishing equipment.
Fins are the only piece of equipment that can instantly improve a divers ability to dive deeper or more efficiently. Currently there are three types of fins available on the market. These types are differentiated by the type of material the fin blade is constructed of. Those types are plastic fins, composite fiberglass, and carbon fiber. If you are just starting out in the sport you may want to consider the plastic fins as a starting point. They are durable. Plastic fins are more efficient than your standard snorkeling fins or scuba fins, but there is room for improvement on efficiency. That is where composite fiberglass and carbon fiber fins come into the conversation. For a break down of kick cycle tests check out this other blog post. Do your research, and if you can test out a few pairs of fins if you can.
Freediving snorkels are generally pretty simple. You can get a snorkel that is more expensive, but there are some features you should be aware of. A purge valve has its benefits on a snorkel, but is is a moving part that wears out over time. Many manufacturers offer replacement parts for these types of purge valves, so it is not a huge hassle to replace them, but it may be worth keeping a spare in your dive bag if that is a feature you prefer. Many Freedivers prefer a simple j-snorkel that does not have a purge valve. The way you clear that type of snorkel is to just use more force from your lungs to force the water out of the snorkel. These a simple and inexpensive.
A good pair of booties can save your feet from terrible blisters. Booties can also help fill in an ill fitting pair of footpockets on your freediving fins. Ideally, your fin blades are an extension of your foot. A proper fit with booties can make that happen. Booties prevent blisters by keeping a soft padding between your feet and the abrasive rubber of a foot pocket. When you are swimming you are putting a great amount of force on your feet and any give in the foot pocket and your foot can cause chafing and blistering. This is compounded by your skin getting soft while submerged for an extended period of time. If you want to keep your feet in good condition booties are without a doubt essential spearfishing gear.
Wetsuits and Weight Belts – Why They Are Essential Spearfishing Gear
Spearfishing wetsuits do a lot more than just keep a free diver or spearfisher warm. They also keep us protected from abrasion in the water. Divers spend a surprising amount of time on the bottom of the ocean. There are rocks, corals, and countless other things that can scrape up a diver. If you are spearfishing there is also the consideration that fish themselves tend to be pointy. Most fish have spines that can be very painful on a divers, which fish have a way of wriggling while being handled that always seems to guarantee getting stabbed by the fish with its spines. A thick neoprene wetsuit helps prevent that. Wetsuits also help to ensure buoyancy. Proper buoyancy is critical to diving safely. A diver should be positively buoyant at the surface, and a wetsuit can help accomplish that. All of these reasons make wetsuits essential spearfishing gear.
Weight belts are the other side of wearing a wetsuit. Divers should be negatively buoyant at the bottom of their dive, and neutrally buoyant at about 30 feet (10 meters). This desired buoyancy is based on shallow water blackout statistics. You need to ballast your self with lead weight to dive effectively and efficiently, especially with thicker wetsuits. New 5mm and 7mm wetsuits are so buoyant that it is almost impossible to dive underwater without ballasting from a weight belt and lead.
Spearguns and Pole Spears -Essential Spearfishing Gear
Obviously you need some type of device to actually harvest your fish underwater. That is where spearguns, pole spears and Hawaiian slings come into the conversation. Nowadays there are so many different options that one blog post simply cannot cover everything. This will be a simple overview referencing some other articles you can check if you want more information on specific types of spearguns.
There are countless options for spearguns available. Broadly speaking they can be grouped into a few categories. There are Euro Style Spearguns, which are streamlined, but tend to lack power. There are American Style spearguns, which tend to be bulkier, but are more accurate and have more power because they can be powered with more bands. Then there are roller spearguns. Rollers are new to the game, but are increasing in popularity because they increase a spearguns range while keeping the speargun shorter in length. Spearguns are popular all over the world. Overall, spearguns are essential spearfishing gear for most of the world. There are a few places where spearguns are illegal to use. Because of that, and an interest in increasing the challenge of hunting, other options have become popular.
Pole Spears and Hawaiian Slings
Over the past several years there has been a dramatic increase in the use of pole spears and Hawaiian slings. There are several reasons this may havre come about, but undoubtedly some of these reasons include the creation of a separate category for world records take with pole spears and Hawaiian slings. That shift is only of the leading factors in improved pole spear technology. Now there are pole spears on the market with the range of a 45” (105cm) speargun, and more power than that same speargun. There is little doubt that we are currently living in the golden age of pole spears and Hawaiian slings. In places like the Bahamas, where these tools are the only legal options, pole spears and Hawaiian slings are essential spearfishing gear for sure.
The Dive Bag Itself
Dive bags are an often overlooked piece of essential spearfishing equipment. Having the right bag keeps you organized and efficient from the start of the day to the end of the day. The Neptonics Speargun Bag is the ultimate solution to traveling with all of your dive equipment in a protective bag. The bag is designed to take up to three spearguns, all of the shafts, wetsuits, fins, and all of your other dive gear anywhere in the world. It is even meant to be taken on the boat to keep all of your equipment organized. These have been tested all over the world from Belize to Tanzania and everywhere in between. They are used on Pangas to mega yachts. Keep your essential spearfishing gear safe in the essential travel bag. Paired with the Tri-Fold Rigging Bag there is no better way to keep all of your equipment organized.
A Break Down Of Modern Pole Spears
Over the past decade there has been a greater use of pole spears. There are several reasons we can attribute the rise of these devices. The creation of a separate division of world records by the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA) certainly created an appeal for using pole spears. Increased traveling to the Bahamas probably made some appeal as well. The challenge which forces you to be a better hinter and focus on fundamentals may have increased the use of pole spears.
History of Pole Spear Use
Pole spears have been around for ages. Odds are they were the true origin of spearfishing in pre-history. Shaping a sharp stick to skewer fish sin the most complicated of tasks, although modern ones are a bit more advanced. In the 20th century if you wanted a pole spear you were mostly looking a a short, fiberglass, pole with a three prog tip. It was a good way to start out as a kid shooting small fish in shallow water, but it was difficult to land anything of size. Later in the 20th century and early in the 21st century a few metal ones started showing. These were not much longer than the fiberglass spears, but could usually break down for easier travel. They also had more force and durability that the small fiberglass spears. It was the start of a new age.
IUSA World Records
It is hard to narrow down one factor that influenced the modern surge in popularity of pole spears. If there is one factor that pushed the advancement of these tools it has to have been the IUSA creating a separate division for them. Up until this separation all spearfishing world records were grouped together, regardless of how the fish was taken. Pole spears were starting to improve around the same time as this transition, so it is hard to say which situation caused the other. Riffe was early on the creation of quality ones. After the creation of the separate categories there was a notable shift in the quality of pole spears being introduced to the world of spearfishing, for the better.
The Transition to Modern Pole Spears
There are several qualities of modern pole spears that differentiate them from the past. Probably the biggest difference has to be the the length of modern spears. A Pole spear’s range is pretty much the length of the spear itself. You may be able to reach out slightly further with smaller fish, but if you want to penetrate the fish you have to be pretty close to the target. That is why modern, high quality, pole spears are as long as they are. Most of them are eight or nine feet long. They also tend to be made out of either aluminum, composite, or Carbon Fiber. These three materials have their benefits and problems. With the improved technology, the cost of these tools has gone up. All break down pole spears are perfect travel pole spears.
Aluminum is one of the first materials to make quality pole spears. They were some of the first improvements from the cheap fiberglass spears. They are denser and heavier than fiberglass. That extra weight makes them move a little slower once you release them, but it means they have more force when you hit the fish. The only issue you have with aluminum pole spears is that aluminum can corrode if you don’t take good care of it. You need to make sure you give everything a good fresh water rinse after every dive trip to keep it is good working condition. There are several manufacturers of aluminum pole spears including Riffe and Neritic. Because these break down for easy travel, you can easily adjust the length of the spear. You can use the three foot sections to make a 6 foot spear, or add another two or three foot section to make an eight or nine foot pole spear.
Composite pole spears are several levels above the classic fiberglass spears. Headhunter has revolutionized this type of pole spear. With improved durability, and solid construction they have made these spears capable of landing some truly gigantic fish. There have been Tunas landed that are well over 200 pounds with the Headhunter Nomad. These are fast and still manage to hit hard. The composite construction is extremely durable. This essential when you are targeting large fish. Because these break down for easy travel, you can easily adjust the length of the spear. You can use the three foot sections to make a 6 footer , or add another two or three foot section to make an eight or nine foot spear.
Carbon Fiber is an amazing tool that is getting used more and more in spearfishing. It is a very strong material. The down side to carbon fiber is that it is more brittle than aluminum and composite material. It is very fast, but is not a dense as composite or aluminum. Because of this, they can have a little less power when it comes to penetrating fish. Riffe makes a great carbon fiber spear at a fair price. Because these break down for easy travel, you can easily adjust the length of it. You can use the three foot sections to make a 6 foot pole spear, or add another two or three foot section to make an eight or nine foot pole spear.
Roller Pole Spears
Most manufacturers now offer roller pole spears to complete their traditional models. Rollers have the benefit of increasing the band pull distance to aid in acceleration. With that being said, the rollers accelerate slower than a traditional models initially but accelerate faster towards the end. One of the benefits is they transport more easily because the band doesn’t act like a giant loop on the back end of the spear. Whether you believe in them or not they have landed quite a few big fish. When it comes down to it, if you believe it helps you then in a way it does.
Getting Into Freediving For Cheap
Freediving can be a very expensive hobby. With that being said, there are plenty of high quality, low budget options to get you started. Here are some easy ways to stay within you budget for a new hobby. Additionally, we have some recommendations for gear and training you shouldn’t compromise on. This is a simple guide on getting into freediving for cheap while staying safe.
Mask and Snorkel
Masks are an important piece of equipment you should prioritize. That does not mean it has to be super expensive. Your mask needs to fit well and be comfortable. Comfort should be your number one priority. There are few feelings that will make you want to call your dive day early than your mask pushing in on your forehead in an uncomfortable way. Make sure to try out your mask in a shop. Try to push it into your face and see where it will put pressure on your face as you go deeper underwater. Snorkels, on the other hand, can be on the cheeper side. There are nicer snorkels on the market, and they can be worth the money, but overall a simple snorkel works well.
Fins are the only piece of freedive gear the you can spend more money on that increases performance. Plastic fins are the least expensive fins on the market. They are the lowest performing fins, but they are the most durable. If you are just starting out plastic fins are a great option for getting into the sport. If you find that freediving is your favorite hobby you will eventually upgrade to carbon fiber fins. You can re-use some foot pockets with other blades.
Weight Belt and Lead
The difference between high quality and a cheeper weight belts comes down to the stretchiness of the rubber or silicone. Stretchiness doesn’t sound that important until you start diving deeper. A higher quality belt will conform to your body as you dive deeper and your lungs compress. Nylon weight belts will stay the same size and can fall up around your ribcage as you dive down.
Wetsuits can be a big investment when you are first getting into freediving. There are some great, top of the line wetsuits on the market. With that comes a bigger price tag. There are other, less expensive wetsuits available as well. These suits tend to be of a lower quality, but still do the job. If you buy a high quality wetsuit you are buying a suit that will keep you warmer for longer. They also tend to be stretchier and have better durability.
The biggest factor on buying a wetsuit should probably be the amount of time you spend diving. If you are in the water a few times a week you may want to spring for the better wetsuit. If you are only diving a few times a year you can probably deal with less comfort for the time you are in the water and buy a less expensive wetsuit.
It is easily one of the biggest expenses in getting into freediving. Training is also one of the most important investments you can make. An introductory freediving class will certainly help you learn the basics of freediving, but the real benefit comes form the safety techniques and strategies you learn in the class. There has been a massive increase in freedive instructors over the past few years as the sport has grown. There are good instructors and bad instructors. Do your research, make sure they are working through and accredited and insured training agency. Part of that increases the cost of your instruction, but it also insures they are teaching to a standard.
Getting Into Freediving For Cheap – A Review
Some of the big takeaways from this post are that you should find a comfortable mask rather than a cheap or expensive mask. You can keep your snorkel simple rather than expensive. Fins can improve your performance, but starting out plastic fins work fine. A freediving weight belt is important, but you don’t need to break the bank on a weight belt starting out. Wetsuits can be expensive, but can be worth it depending on how much time you are spending in the water. And last, but certainly not least, freedive training is very important and you should invest your time and money in quality instruction through a certifying agency.
Stay safe out there and have fun!
Picking The Right Mask For Freediving
The most important aspect of picking the right mask how comfortable it feels on your face. Everyone is different, so it makes sense that not every works for every diver. Modern dive masks have the benefit of being made with high grade silicone skirts. The quality skirts help provide a great seal on almost every diver. The mask frame is what can make a mask uncomfortable for a diver. Every mask model can fit differently on different faces. The best way to find out if a mask works for you is to try it on.
Testing For The Right Mask
To try on a mask pull the mask strap in front of the mask so just the skirt and the suction on your face holds the mask in place. Push the mask into your face to see where the mask frame may come into contact with your face as the air in your mask loses volume and presses into your face during a dive. If the frame pushes into your forehead or the bridge of your nose in an uncomfortable way you should consider a different mask.
Mask volume has a lot to do with picking the right mask for you. Generally, a low volume mask is the best option for most diving. Low volume masks have several benefits for divers. The biggest benefit is that we have to equalize the mask with less air from our lungs. If you do not equalize your mask as you dive deeper you will experience mask squeeze. Mask squeeze is when the reduced airspace in your mask sucks on your face. Mild cases just result in temporary mid discomfort. In extreme cases you can have burst blood vessels in your eyes that will terrify your friends and family. Low volume masks reduce the amount of air you need to supply to your mask to prevent this issue form occurring.
Another benefit to low volume masks is greater peripheral vision. Many diver believe that having a higher volume mask results in a greater range of vision. This is not true. The further away the lenses of your mask the more of a tunnel effect you have from your point of view. Low volume mask bring the lenses closer to your eyes to reduce volume. This does provide a greater peripheral vision compared to larger volume masks.
Types of Lenses
Masks can be made out of several different material that can influence what is the right mask for you. Lens material is a big factor in picking the right mask. There has also been an increased popularity in reflective lenses compared to non-reflective lenses over the past several year.
One of the biggest factors is the lens material. Most mask lenses are made with tempered glass. The tempered glass is less likely to scratch and is generally very durable. Tempered glass is also easier to defog and break in compared to other lenses on some masks. Some masks use plastic lenses to help reduce their volume. This is accomplished by having a curved lens rather than a flat face. The curved lenses distort a divers vision. The challenge with plastic lenses is that they are harder to defog and are easily scratched up. The biggest benefit to a mask with a plastic lens is they tend to cost much less than masks with tempered glass lenses. A tempered glass lens should be a big consideration for the right mask for you.
Reflective and Non-Reflective Masks
Many masks have become available with reflective lenses. There are several reasons these masks have become popular over the past several years. Many divers believe this helps when hunting reef species that are weary of diver. The reflective lenses theoretically prevent those fish from see a divers eyes, which spook the fish. There is something to be said about eye movement spooking weary fish species for sure. Other divers prefer non-reflective lenses. In dirty water there is something to be said about wanting as much light to get to your eyes as possible underwater. Every diver has their preferences in this regard.
GoPro Mask Options
If you like having a GoPro attached to your mask the Hammerhead GoPro mask is the best on the market. It is a low volume mask, with tempered glass lenses available in both clear lens or reflective lens options. It also have a great built in attachment point for a GoPro and GoPro housing.
Where to Put Your Dive Knife
Every diver needs to carry a dive knife for safety purposes. The challenge is where to put the knife to keep it from becoming a hazard itself. We go over some of the best knives and where they are best placed on a diver for the best access, while keeping streamline on a diver.
Most freedivers like to wear their dive knife on their weight belts. Because freediving tends to be minimalistic in the amount of equipment a diver can carry most gear ends up on the weight belt. Many knives, like the Salvimar Atlantis Knife, have sheaths that allow a diver to keep their knife securely on the weight belt. Keeping your knife on your weight belt has the benefit of being accessible in an emergency. The challenge of having your dive knife on your weight belt is that it is an entanglement hazard itself. Knowing your equipment and being prepared for issues reduces these risks, but it still remains a risk.
Some divers prefer the classic style of keeping their knife on their forearm or on the calves of their leg. The benefits of doing this really just come down to muscle memory. If this is how you have always carried your knife, and it works for you keep doing it. There are some big disadvantages to keeping your knife on your arm or calves. The problem with keeping your knife on your arm is you can only reach it with one hand. This is a big issue if your other hand is the hand that is tangled up and can’t move. The problem with keeping your dive knife on your calves is that it always falls down onto your ankle, unless you have super well defined calves.
Dive Knife Pocket
The best place to keep your knife is in a designated pocket on your wetsuit. The Neptonics Quantum Stealth Wetsuit is a perfect example. The benefits to this is you keep your dive knife in an accessible location, while keeping the knife from becoming an entanglement hazard. The biggest challenge is remembering to clean it after your dive trip.