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Freedive Suit: Lined or Unlined?

Amphibiographer

New Member
Jan 22, 2024
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Are there any freedive suits with fabric lining inside, or is bare rubber still the best for warmth and keeping water out?
 
If you do an online search, you will find plenty of freediving suits that are either unlined, or lined on the outside, or lined on the inside, or lined on both sides. The availability of these options suggests that there must be some demand for all four types.
 
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I had a Seac Royal and I have a Cressi Fisterra both are lined and both were used for spearfishing in Ireland. If it's just for freediving in cooler water where you spend a lot of time still unlined is probably better.
 
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I dive/spear from shore. Both of my suits have un-lined, open-cell inners for tight, warm fit. But tough nylon outers to protect the neoprene against sharp rocks.

I need to lubricate them (soapy water) to get them on without damaging them (or me). It can be a bit of a struggle to get them on and off, but it gets easier as you get used to it. But I recall that much loved former forum member OMD (the late Old Man Dave) switched to a lined wetsuit, I think as it was easier and quicker to get on and off as he got older. I think he used to SCUBA dive previously, so probably had experience of various suits.
 
I dive/spear from shore. Both of my suits have un-lined, open-cell inners for tight, warm fit. But tough nylon outers to protect the neoprene against sharp rocks.

I need to lubricate them (soapy water) to get them on without damaging them (or me). It can be a bit of a struggle to get them on and off, but it gets easier as you get used to it. But I recall that much loved former forum member OMD (the late Old Man Dave) switched to a lined wetsuit, I think as it was easier and quicker to get on and off as he got older. I think he used to SCUBA dive previously, so probably had experience of various suits.
I can relate to OMD. At 85 it's not getting any easier to get in and out of my unlined suit. But all my diving is from a boat and that makes it easier and I can get help from a buddy if necessary.
 
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My own experience (probably relatively limited compared to other here - except that I feel the cold a lot...) leads me to suspect the most important thing for warmth is the fit - i.e. wearing something that (as you also mentioned) doesn't let in the water through its edges - as well as not allowing water through seams(/gaps/holes), of course.

When I did my first freedive course I was using the school's own suits (6mm). Also similar for a couple of other freedive trips I did afterwards. In all of those cases I was cold after being in the water for an hour or so - even shivering and sometimes fingers going white (despite the gloves). What I started to notice during these dives was that when I moved around, I could regularly feel the cold water trickling in a bit through various places (especially head, neck & back - despite attached hood).
By the time I did the L2 course I had my own fitted Polosub 5.5mm, with open-cell inner & outer lining, and that made such a huge difference (even though the water was actually a touch cooler than for the L1 course).

Also, I was freediving a little while back using my cheapo 2mm wetsuit (typical surfing type thing), which I thought would be fine for the Med in late Sept. But I feel the cold pretty quickly, and it wasn't enough...
However, I also had my long-sleeve 2mm zone3 top with me, which has lined inner & smoothskin outer (with glued & taped seams - did that myself). It's a little on the tight side, TBH, which is why I'd chosen to use the wetsuit instead. Wearing that top under the wetsuit made a huge difference, of course, but I did also try without the wetsuit over it (i.e. just that top, plus cheap 1.5mm dive&sail bottom) and I was still fine with that - much warmer than the wetsuit.

In conclusion, then, my custom fitted Polosub has open-cell inner & lined outer, while my (tight-fitting) long-sleeve top has lined inner & smoothskin outer (and glued+taped seams). I find either of those to be way (way) better when compared to something of apparently similar (or greater) thickness that doesn't fit quite so well.

Hope that helps!
 
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