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Packing for spearfishing (your lungs - not your bags!)

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Sep 4, 2002
Being a beginner to diving - I have been reading a lot of info on packing and was wondering if there is a usefulness here while spearfishing.
I have read - and understand that there are certain risks involved. However, I'm looking for ways to increase my overall bottom time and this sounds like it is worth investigating.
The one thing that I am confused about is - If it takes several seconds to "pack" (20-30 sec???), are you able to gain all of that valuable time back from the extra O2 you are packing?
Are the spearos using this packing technique regularly or is it mainly for the freedive competitors?

Thanks - any feedback would be helpful.
hey RI,

nice striper, by the way. ;)

in my opinion, always look at what factors are affecting your air volume. first off, it's always the mask that could make a noticeable difference. not sure what you have, but always try to find one that gives you the greatest field of view w/ the lowest possible volume.

next, determine whether or not your weight belt is too high. often, spearos will hinder their ability to get a good belly breath because they have the belt to high.

then, take a look at how tight your wetsuit is around your chest. sometimes they're too tight and tend to hinder a good "full breath". kinda expensive to alleviat this prob. :(

one trick i do is to arch my back while i'm taking in my last breath. this relieves some of the hydrostatic pressure due to the shallower depth of your lungs and lets you get in quite a bit more.

my thoughts on packing for spearos is that it shouldn't be done unless you're trying to hit the bottom at 40m for a quick shot and return to the surface. i think better bottom times will come w/ your ability to relax in the water and facilitate your body's dive reflex.

good luck,
Is there a way u can download ur apnea skill to me.....:D :D In the computer age wouldn't it be great if we can just download everything...so no need years of training....ha ha ha ha.
"The one thing that I am confused about is - If it takes several seconds to "pack" (20-30 sec???), are you able to gain all of that valuable time back from the extra O2 you are packing?

That bothered me too. In my case, packing gets me about 1/2 L or 7%. If I'm working hard, that's enough O2 for about 7 more seconds. If I'm fully relaxed it'll last me 25 seconds. The packing takes 10-15 seconds at some level in the middle. When you look at it that way, the only time to pack is for a dive where you'll push into squeeze depths and you can clear once more before grabbing your nose or get another few clears below 150 feet.
In practice however, it becomes more interesting. I can grab 4-5 packs with less effort than inhaling the last 1/4 L and I do that for static, dynamic (I'm out of the water) and any dive less than 120 feet. One step further and the pressure of a good pack seems to trigger the dive reflex faster.
You've already heard the advice of start small, increase slowly and be careful. Everyone hurts themselves in the learning process. For spearfishing, snorkel packing is a must learn.

When you are immersed, even horizontally, you will not be able to fill your lungs to their normal capacity. When you wear a suit, even yamamoto rubber, you will not be able to inhale to normal capacity. As Bill said, it's easier to do 5 quick packs than to try and suck up that extra air up into the tops of your lungs, so it really wouldn't hurt to learn how to do 5 to 10 good quick packs.
The time it takes will be outweighed by the bottom time if you do it properly. Practice lots, and it will become second nature. Besides depth and bottom time, I also use packing to help me be neutral at deeper depths than my weight belt allows with a normal breath. Conversely, I will take a smaller "fill" than normal to be neutral at a shallower depth.
Anderson is right though: mastering relaxation is Numero Uno, and all the other stuff is icing on the cake ;)
Good diving,
Erik Y.
ps Iya...mungkin kita bisa lihat Laut masa depan, ya? Saya telopon anda minggu depan :) Not bad, eh?
Erik....he he he.
Sudah bisa bahasa Indonesia sedikit yah ? ......impressive.

I might want to do Indian Ocean again in the next two weeks. I'll speak to my friend if I can squeeze u in, if u want 2 go or can go.
I was there Thursday, Friday and home on Sat, u know last Friday was a holiday. On that side of the Indian Ocean, the wind was blowing consistently for days at 15 knots, so that favourite rock was quite demanding too scuba dive. For u with no scuba and long fins....u will do OK, I trust ur skill. Viz was not so good by my favourite rock standard but for me this year....... it is like a lottery. It is common to have 100' viz over there but the fishes on that trip are the best in my entire diving days on that rock.:D :D

I am never confident even in freediving ( when at surface ) by a rock that get slammed by big waves.......very scared to find myself suddenly dry and among the bird shit...tons of bird shit on those sharp rock top..:D :D Believe it or not I had a scuba friend who did just that and he survived after hanging dry for a few seconds, the location was different and was much calmer....:D :D

Call me soon .

Cheers - IYA
and no being late for class!

Originally posted by Bill
[B For spearfishing, snorkel packing is a must learn.

Bill [/B]

Hey Bill and Erik, seeing as how there are more than a couple of newbies here, and undoubtedly some more experienced that are just going without, how about a snorkel packing primer, ya know, packing 101?

With a caveat of course that you clowns out there that try this do so with a buddy in attendance and the IQ to know when to quit. Like the Billiam said, everyone that learns how will ache a little, but the bennies are huge. Enormous. Large beyond. Throbbing.

Packing is a must for me on the deep dives. 100- plus dives. It gives me the volume to clear and not feel the squeeze as mutch at those depths. The problem with packing is the increase in intrathoracic pressure. This puts lots of strain on the heart. Think of someone sitting on your chest squeezing the heart between the sternum and the backbone. Instead of this the lungs are pushing against the heart. It tends to make the heart beat slower(good!Right?). I have not read any studies on this but can tell you that by the end of the day of deep dives I need someone to put my back in place by walking on me or driving over me with a small car. Packing puts lots of strain on my vertebra; it displaces all of the thoracics. Packing is good if not abused.

my 2 cents

another q


Since all you top spearos are here I have another question related to this topic. I have been interested in trying some deeper spearfishing and have been reading about how Alberto March spearfishes at depths in excess of 150ft. He says that he stops kicking I don't know when and glides down the rest of the way, he also dosen't use his hands to equalise. I have been interested in trying to become a 100ft spearo for the right reasons to try deeper wrecks and reef patches. Is this normal for you guys to start gliding at a certain depth. My spearfishing has always been just take one breath and keep kicking all the way to the bottom bang shoot and swim all the way to the top. I don't use any breathe up for spearfishing. Next time I go out I will try packing, do you guys who spear 100ft do a breathe up. And how much weight should you have. Im 70kg using a 3mm, with 6lbs of weight.


the wannabe a 100ft spearo
although im no spearfisherman....

packing -for me- is more about not having as much squeeze at depth then extra bottom time, sure if i get more bottom time from packing thats great, but i would much prefer not hassel with it im not going deep

as for the higher intrathoracic pressure (thats a big word....copy and paste from aquiles post...:D ) wouldnt that be eliminated as soon as you go down a few feet (im sure that at 10ft. it would no longer be an issue) therefore that would only effect the heartrate for the first 20sec. or so

on another note... what about only packing to half of you maximum packing + what is needed to compensate for wetsuit/water pressure

ie. for me, on dry land i can do 17 full packs and feel the pressure of the packs
to compensate for wetsuit and water squeeze, i need to do 5 packs(to bring me up to "full" lungs)
so, i do 5 packs to bring me to full lungs and then 9 more to bring me to a comfortable "intrathoracic pressure"(i like saying long words like that:D )
so, i do 14 packs (5+9) and i have enough air not to feel a "squeeze" but not to much to have excess "intrathoracic pressure"(somebody stop me:eek: :D )

btw, i am only estimating for the 5 packs, it might be 6 or 4, oh well

just my - non-spearo - 2 cents

The intrathoracic pressure stops as soon as you go down about 10 to 15 feet. The problem is when you come up and forget to exhale at the surfac. Try holding your breath for 2:30 and then have someone push on your chest. Remember to start your exhale 10 feet from the surface to avoid SWB.........This is when the ITP is detrimental......(I believe)Hell I used to do this sort of stupid stuff when I was a kid...thats another story altogether:confused: :head too much time and too little brains. I was destined to be a dentist.

As far as gliding to the depths. You kick down to the point that you are negatively bouyant and then you will feel your body begin to glide. Try not to add too much weight to get to the bottom or you may stay there. I recommend either reading books to teach you breathe ups and hunting tech or at least take a course with someone that does the 100 foot 2:30min spearfishing trips. There is no room for error at that depth.

I remember dropping to 95 feet and not finding the big bad momma snapper that I wanted opted for shooting a smaller version:hmm I hit the poor bugger dead center and started for the surface. First mistake.:duh I was using a gun with a reel:naughty Second mistake....................THe reel jammed:head Needless to say I had to drag the little bugger up from 95 feet cause I did not want to loose the gun:confused: My wife would have killed me. (Another story to be told at the keys Kraze) Just an example before you hunt the depths. As for screw ups I have more and have learned the hard way what to do and not do when hunting deep water.

Please be careful


P.S. (Daily tip!) Conserve Water,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.................Shower with a freind!:cool:
Last edited:
From Sven:
how about a snorkel packing primer, ya know, packing 101?

This is where I found my info so far and what I have been starting to practice (mostly the part regarding 'snorkel packing'):

Let me know if there are better methods or other sources of instruction.
I see now why it would be advantageous (one less letter than intrathoracic, thin_air;)) to pack in order to prevent the squeeze on the lungs at greater depths but again - getting back to my original question: If it takes 20 secs. to "pack," are you able to gain all of that valuable time back from the extra O2 you are packing? Thanks

From Aquiles:
too much time and too little brains. I was destined to be a dentist.

I guess I was destined to be a dentist too. . . because I am one :blackeye
Hey, I can understand why you call Anderson your wife, but why's he call you his bitch?rofl

I better get outta here...:blackeye

hi guys

Are you guys saying that if you don't exhale you can blackout, Im not sure if I exhale before the surface. Aquiles how long would it take you to do 100ft and back with speargun, floatline etc, without any bottom time, just a touch and return. I have had one very near miss with life. I will tell you my max depth before this day had been 40ft with a speargun, so I went out to the outer reef vis was 90ft, the bottom on the edge of this bommie read 80ft on the sounder. I had no wetsuit and no weight belt and only my old body boarding fins. I must add that when I dive I dive until im totally empty then return quickly to the surface. So I hadn't done any warm up dives I took a big breath no packing and started kicking for the bottom at 80ft twice my pb of 40ft. I kept kicking all the way to the bottom when I got there I was totally empty as if I had fully exhaled, I grabbed a rock to show dad that I made it to the bottom. when I turned around was when I got a fright I looked at the surface which was 80ft away. I was not aware that normally from 40ft I could race to the surface. this time I started kicking the Body boarding fins were hardly moving me, i was kicking flat out of course. I had never been so scared in my life I made it to the surface but didn't samba my legs were totally numb. I got in the boat for the rest of the day my dad was yelling at me for being so stupid. Since that day I have never tried diving deep again.

Now im properly prepared with freedive fins, low volume mask and a weight belt, but definetly a near death experience. Aquliies I wish i was luck enough to be able to do a freedive course. Have you heard of the word REMOTE cos thats were i live in a VERY REMOTE area. Im lucky to have some spearin buddies let alone a freedive course.

Vincent i think your right if I pack to half max should be adequate to cover all of the problems mentioned.

Hi Ivan , get any decent jobbies recently ?
Freefalling is the way to go , saves a lot of O2 for hunting . Bouncing down and up shure wont land you any jobfish ...:D
What depth you want to be neutral at will depend on your preference and the bottom depth . I normally hunt in 25 to 40 m. water and like to be neutral at around 12 / 15 m. I also drift back up the last 10 m. or so .
BTW , prefer not to look up while ascending , puts strain on neck .However did bump into a whaleshark overhead once ; nearly swallowed my snorkel ...:eek:
I have never tried any packing when spearing , prefer to take a couple of slow deep breaths , then fill the tanks and go . When I see a pelagic cruising by underneath there is barely time for a gulp before chasing .
Don't give up because of one bad experience ,
Sounds like good thinking to me. I've been using a similar technique. For a few months now there's been a little glitch in my calculations. I finally solved it this week. You can measure the amount of air in your lungs many ways. The easiest way is by measuring the depth at which you become neutral. On the first dive I'd fill my lungs, no pack, kick down, attach the rope to the buoy, continue to the neutral depth and do a 30 second static. One dive, three results, sort of. The glitch was, on the next dive, after 10-15 packs, my neutral depth was less. Today I realized that I can inhale deeper face down, no packs, than I can on my back with 10 packs. Even more now with the 'back arch' I just learned from andrsn.
Sven I hesitate to say what I have tried. I remember mentioning my experiments with water clearing and someone accused me of snorting beer out my nose. If I try to put water up the sinuses, it ends up in my stomach unless I'm upside down. It is difficult to learn something while standing on your head in the shower (so as not to make a mess). More so if you have a room mate with a perverted sense of humor that turns on the cold water. She didn't but, just the threat was enough to destroy my concentration.
Once you learn how to move air from Eric's lessons and you learn to pack, you then learn to pack with your mouth open. The tongue is placed to start the word 'tea' and used as a piston the same as clearing the ears with air in the mouth except for opening the lungs. It's easier to hold your nose until you get some practice in. I have to do 4 or 5 of snorkel packs to equal one mouth pack. If I start with empty lungs and do 100, my lungs aren't quarter full. Still working on technique, including plugging the snorkel with the tip of my tongue.
RI, Ivan,

i guess another reason why i don't pack is because i'm about 180lbs, 6'1" w/ a 6.8L lung volume(not including residual, and no packing). not that that's great or anything, but it definitely helps at depth.

as for the no hands on the nose during the descent (i believe it's called the delonka technique :confused: ), well i've been able to do it, but my rate of descent is much much slower. what happens to me on a good sinus day is that when my reflex kicks in and i've had quite a few relaxing dives to about 60ft, i find that i don't have to clear as often going down anymore. my sinuses and eustachian tubes are relaxed and tend to equalize a bit for me. i'm still doing the freznel (a definite must if you want to totally relax going down) but it seems like i'm kinda mixing the delonka w/ it. pretty cool. just have to remember that anxiety is not a muscle relaxer. ;)

bill, :D, glad to see that my fractional amount of years in the water has led to a tip you can use. :eek: how about trying your last breath w/ your hands comfortably behind your back(like on your butt, palms up). when i use to do physical therapy, i'd have patients do this to help aid in stretching the scapula away from the thorax. alleviates some pressure on the lungs, if you think about it. aloha, senor. :cool:

just a quick note to everyone, packing doesn't necessarily mean that you've acquired and "extra" so many seconds of bottom time. the anxiety of doing it for the first time might null the net effects. give it time and take it slow. if you want to hit that 30m mark w/ a gun, try hitting 15m w/ 2/3rds the amount of breath first. you know, why try to hit your driver when you still don't know how to hit your 7 iron? :confused: :D

hey Andrsn

Mabye thats why I can't dive deep my lungs are small about average or less, im around 65to70kgs.

Abri havent got any jobbies for a while mainly because i have been to the outer reef once in 6months. My mate got a 26lb coral trout on the weekend in 75ft of water. Just trying to work on my depth at the moment.


Remember that depth is not everything! ? Try getting that one past the ladies. Truthfully,, You don't have to make dives to 100 feet all the time. It is not safe or practical. I know you are also doing this with a partner, right!

As far as packing it does not give me as much time as it does comfort. I dont have the air tanks that Anderson does . Hell I look like a skinny lizzard. Im 148 pounds soaking wet. Its all about technique and what works for you. Remember, Take things slow and dont try and better your deepest dive or pb by more than 5 feet. Also if you are not fishing or dont have to carry a gun the less crap on you the better off you are. Especially if you are trying to better your pb. My deepest dive is 125 feet and I have no intentions of breaking that anytime soon. The reason that I took the course was to get more comfortable. Remember to not always push yourself to the limit. We actually like to keep hearing from you if you know what I mean. :D Be safe and don't worry deeper diving comes with comfort.....


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hi Aquiles

I hear you, but im not trying to dive deep to say that I can dive deep. Im trying this because if you ask any line fisherman in our area they will tell you that the best fish are caught between 90 to 110ft. I know this from my line fishing experience as well. I have only ever hunted the same species at shallow depths and im looking for something new and more challenging species. Fish such as cobia, Red emperor, Small and large mouth nanygai are all caught at these depths, especially on the wrecks. Not sure if you recognize these species. Please dont think of me as some idiot trying to prove how deep he can go. If I wanted to be a deep diver I would quit spearin and train seriously for competitive freediving. I just want to try some new species at different depths and terrain.

Anyways what sort of guns are you using, i hope some sort of railgun (kidding), I haven't been spearin for a couple of weeks dying to test out my omer abyss tinted.

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