- Freediving is a form of underwater diving where the diver holds their breath instead of using underwater breathing apparatus like scuba gear.
- Freediving can be practiced recreationally or done as part of other activities such as spearfishing, deep sea exploration, or photography.
- Freediving masks are an important part of the overall freediving experience. They provide a wide field of view, allowing divers to take in their entire underwater environment, and they also help protect the eyes from pressure changes that can occur during dives.
- When purchasing a freediving mask, look for a comfortable fit, low-volume design, and no leakage. A good seal around the face is important to keep water out when diving at depth.
Whether you’ve already dipped your toes into freediving or are just looking to get started, you will want a mask that works for you. While you’ll undoubtedly be able to rent a mask at your location of choice, these often don’t fit well and can leak. Therefore, choosing a good freediving mask is essential for safety and comfort.
When looking for the right mask, you’ll want to consider several factors, including seal, fit, lens shape, and field of vision. Equally, you’ll also want something that fits your style and budget. Here at Agulhas, we aim to hit each of those marks, designing comfortable and sustainable gear for your every diving need!
In this article, we’ll dive deeply into what freediving is, the many different types of freediving, and the benefits for your body and mind. Then, we’ll look at the importance of your mask and the many factors you’ll wish to consider when choosing yours. Finally, we’ll look at some top options and introduce you to Agulhas: freediving equipment made by freedivers, for freedivers!
Let’s dive in!
What Is Freediving?
Freediving is the practice of swimming underwater with a single breath. It’s an ancient activity that dates back to early civilisations, and it’s enjoying a surge in popularity as more people become aware of its benefits.
In history, freediving was used for hunting and gathering food. Today, people freedive for various reasons, including sports competitions, underwater photography, scientific research, or simply for fun.
How Is Freediving Different to Scuba Diving?
Unlike scuba diving, freediving doesn’t require any bulky equipment such as an oxygen tank or heavy wetsuit. This means it is more accessible to many people and can be done in various locations worldwide, even when scuba diving isn’t available.
Freedivers are limited by the length of their breath hold, meaning they can only explore underwater for a certain amount before resurfacing. Meanwhile, the longer dive times available with scuba diving allow people to explore deeper and further than they can do with freediving.
Although some of the same locations can be explored by both types of diving, more detailed exploration is possible when using a scuba tank. However, if you’re looking to experience underwater life, then freediving is likely the better option. The lack of bubble noises and other equipment often ensures that wildlife is less frightened of your presence and more likely to approach.
However, freediving has many advantages over scuba diving regarding the body and mind.
The Benefits of Freediving
There are numerous benefits to freediving, both physical and mental. Physically, it can help improve your cardio fitness, as it requires that you make the most of your breath hold to explore underwater for longer periods. Equally, freediving will increase muscle strength and improve joint health.
Mentally, freediving is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and find peace in the serenity of the deep blue. Without an abundance of equipment, freediving helps create a sense of stillness and serenity that many find incredibly therapeutic and calming. Exploring the underwater world can also be incredibly liberating, promoting positive feelings that can improve your overall outlook.
Finally, freediving can give you a greater connection with the aquatic environment. You can learn much about underwater ecosystems by observing marine animals in their natural environment. It allows you to appreciate the beauty of life underwater and understand the dangers that our planet’s oceans face.
Types of Freediving
Free diver ascending along the rope in the depth
- Constant Weight Freediving
In this type of freediving, you descend and ascend to a set depth with or without fins. Since the diver only uses their own weight, many see constant weight freediving as a pure form of the discipline.
- Variable Weight Freediving
In comparison, variable weight freediving sees extra weight added to the diver to enable a deeper dive.
- No-Limits Freediving
This type of freediving requires the diver to ascend with the help of a lift bag filled with air. It’s not one for beginners and should only be practised by experienced divers. No-limits freediving is possibly the most dangerous type of freediving on this list.
- Dynamic Apnea
Also known as dynamic freediving, this type sees the diver swim underwater rather than descend and ascend. It’s a more technical freediving type often used to measure distance underwater rather than time and depth. Dynamic apnea is usually carried out in a pool and used extensively in training.
- Static Apnea
Likewise, static apnea is freediving focused on holding your breath for as long as possible rather than diving to a particular depth. This is done by lying still in the water and is also usually practised in a pool setting.
- Free Immersion Freediving
In this type of freediving, the diver uses a rope to descend and ascend. This rope serves as an aid for the diver, providing stability and security in uncharted waters. By using a rope, divers don’t have to use their legs, meaning they don’t use as much oxygen.
Spearfishing is another type of freediving. During this activity, divers use a speargun to search for fish underwater. This type of freediving requires great skill, as divers have to be able to spot fish, approach them carefully and shoot the speargun accurately. Spearfishing is one of the most historical forms of freediving and is still popular today.
Getting Started With Freediving Gear
As mentioned, the entire ethos of freediving is based on freedom from restriction. As such, the gear you’ll need is minimal. However, depending on your intention, you may wish to consider fins. Freediving fins are different to scuba diving fins, being longer and more flexible. As they have a larger surface area, they displace more water and give the diver more power.
Other than that, it’s worth considering investing in a quality dive computer and a good wetsuit to keep you warm in the water.
However, the only equipment that’s truly essential is a quality freediving mask.
What Are Freediving Masks?
Freediving masks are typically more low-profile than regular scuba masks and have wider fields of view. They also help to equalise the pressure within, making it easier for divers to avoid common issues such as mask squeeze. As they are specifically designed with freediving in mind, they can also provide comfort and reduce drag underwater. Freediving masks provide the best underwater visibility and come in various styles – from those designed with a single lens to those with double lenses.
Before we take a deeper look into how to choose a mask for freediving, we should briefly mention freediving goggles. Freediving goggles help to provide you with an even better field of view by giving you a wide-angle image and will also protect your eyes from the sun, saltwater, and any particles in the water. Freediving goggles are smoother and lighter than a mask, and whether you choose to wear them is entirely up to you.
How To Choose a Mask For Freediving
You should consider several criteria when choosing a mask for freediving, the most important being comfort and fit.
It’s important to consider the mask’s durability. Look for robust materials and construction that can withstand the pressure of diving at depth. Consider getting a mask with tempered glass lenses, as they are less likely to break and are more scratch-resistant.
Freediving masks come in various styles and colours, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs. If the style is important to you, choose a mask that has a unique design or is available in multiple colours. Again, trying out different masks will help.
Comfort and Fit
A good fit is essential; it must be able to keep water out while providing an optimal field of vision. Choose a lightweight mask that fits your face to ensure maximum comfort. It’s also important to pay attention to the mask’s skirt; the best masks feature a double-sealing silicone skirt for added comfort and security.
Make sure you try on as many different masks as possible at your local freediving gear store. Don’t be afraid to take your time and ensure the fit is perfect.
Field of Vision
As we mentioned, it’s important to consider the field of vision when choosing a mask for freediving. Some masks are designed with large lenses, providing divers with an even wider view underwater. On the other hand, some masks come with a slightly smaller field of view, so check the specs before buying.
Last but not least, you should consider the price of the mask. Freediving masks usually range from around £40-£150 depending on the features; however, it is worth noting that higher-end models are usually more comfortable and provide superior protection. While cost shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing your freediving mask, it’s still worth considering and setting a budget beforehand.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Material
The two main types of material used for freediving masks are silicone and polymer. Silicone is the more popular material due to its flexibility and comfort, but cheaper masks may use a less expensive polymer material. However, polymer masks are also effective in preventing leaks.
Which of the two is best depends on your budget, preferences, and needs. Try both out to get a feel for how each one works for you before making a final decision. In either case, both mask types can provide excellent underwater visibility; however, make sure you read reviews from other freedivers who have used the mask before making your purchase.
What To Do After You Buy Your Freediving Mask
Once you’ve selected, bought, and taken your mask home, you still need to do several things before it’s ready to wear.
Firstly, you should read the instructions carefully and inspect your mask for any signs of damage. Once done, you can remove the protective film placed over the lenses. This film is designed to protect the lenses from damage during transportation.
Next, you should rinse your mask thoroughly in clean water and apply a small amount of anti-fog solution to the inside of the lens. This will help prevent fogging during your dives. You may also need to adjust the straps for a secure fit, as this will ensure water doesn’t leak into your mask and the pressure remains comfortable.
Finally, ensure you store your mask safely from direct sunlight when not in use. This will help to prolong its lifespan. By following these tips and taking your time to find the right freediving mask, you’ll be able to enjoy a safer and more comfortable diving experience.
If you’re looking for high-performance freediving gear, Agulhas may be your answer. We supply everything from masks, snorkels, and fins to our branded lifestyle range of bags, accessories and swimwear. Our products are purpose-built by freedivers, for freedivers, being designed by champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo, World Champion swimmer Peter Marshall and acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor.
Each product has been carefully designed, using the most sustainable material available to afford the performance necessary, placing sustainability at the centre of everything we do. As such, these products have been designed as modular items.
Agulhas is revolutionising the way freedivers look at masks with our modular masks being the first of their kind. Unlike any other freediving masks available in the market, pieces of Agulhas’ modular masks can be replaced if they are damaged or break. This means that instead of having to purchase a brand new mask each time, you can simply replace the broken parts for a fraction of the cost
At Agulhas, we want your ocean exploration gear to be comfortable, beautiful, or sustainable and combine the best in ocean-friendly design. We want to allow every ocean lover the opportunity to explore below the surface – without damaging the very ocean you love.
Please explore the rest of our website to learn more about Agulhas and see our catalogue.
Ultimately, the best way to choose a mask for freediving is to try out different models at your local dive shop and find one that fits you and your needs. Be sure to consider comfort, the field of vision, durability, style, and price when making your decision and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. A quality freediving mask will not only provide you with increased safety and performance underwater, but it’ll also help enhance your overall experience. Good luck!
Never go freediving alone! You should always dive with a buddy, preferably one who is more experienced than you. The reasons for this are a combination of safety and practicality – if something goes wrong, you’ll have someone there to help. Remember, freediving can be a dangerous pastime, and it’s important not to take unnecessary risks.
No! There are so many cost-effective ways to start freediving. For example, renting gear from a local dive shop or purchasing secondhand gear online is easily done. Equally, you can find an experienced freediver willing to give tips and advice on diving safely.
Numerous freediving courses are available that provide professional instruction and safety guidance. These courses range from entry-level to full certification courses, so you can find one that fits your budget and skill level.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a mask for freediving is comfort. A good-fitting, comfortable mask will ensure that you can focus on the dive and enjoy it without worrying about having an ill-fitting piece of equipment that may cause irritation or injury. Additionally, look for masks with anti-fog properties since moisture can build up quickly when freediving, making it difficult to see. Lastly, ensure that the mask is durable and made of high-quality materials to withstand repetitive use in different water conditions. Having a reliable mask with all these features will give you the confidence and peace of mind to enjoy your dives safely and hassle-free.