Spearfishing is an exhilarating activity that requires planning ahead of time to ensure that you have all the necessary gear. One of the critical pieces of equipment you need to consider is a wetsuit.
The water temperature and the range of spearfishing wetsuits available in the market can influence your decision. In this blog post, we'll explore the different types of wetsuits, their benefits, and how to choose the right one for your next spearfishing adventure.
Styles of Spearfishing Suits
The 2 most common styles for spearfishing wetsuits are a two-piece neoprene or a one-piece and they can be fitted with or without hoods.
One Piece Steamer
Let’s first look at the one-piece suit also called a steamer, this option is usually a full-length suit with long arms and legs and is normally fitted with a rear zip and seals. Some suits can be made zipless and will generally be made of a thinner stretch neoprene with double flaps over the head to help seal and close the suit.
Piece wetsuits, also known as two-piece suits, are another option for spearfishing. These suits consist of a separate top and bottom and are often favored by scuba divers. They can be made up of a long john bottom or a pair of high waisted pants with a jacket fitted with a bever tail to cover the groin and keep the suit together.
The jacket generally has a hood attached giving more flexibility and is easier to put on and take off, however they can also allow water to seep through the seams if not fitted correctly. Some of the other benefits is a two-piece wetsuit allows layering in colder environment over critical areas of your body like your chest, groin and kidneys. Having a 7mm Long John and 7mm Hooded Jacket will give you a total of 14mm of cover over those critical areas.
Many divers will also choose to simply wear the long john bottoms with a rashie or the hooded jacket with lightweight pants when traveling and diving in warmer waters.
Open & Closed Cell Neoprene
Open cell neoprene is the warmest option and is the most traditional material used for spearfishing wetsuits. This is due to the fact that it will keep you warmer with less rubber thickness as you have the naked neoprene directly against the skin. This provides a perfect seal preventing any water loss from the suit. The disadvantage is it is more difficult to put on and will require lubrication to pull the rubber up and over your skin. You also need to be careful when fitting the suit as sharp nails or surfaces can damage the rubber.
Closed cell neoprene has a lining that is generally smooth and slippery to touch, this allows the diver to simply pull the suit on and the inner layer helps prevent the rubber from being damaged. The disadvantage is the inner lining will allow more water movement inside the suit between your skin and the rubber resulting in heat loss if the water leaks from the suit.
Glued and Blind Stitched or Overlocked
If you're planning on buying a good quality suit, always check its construction as a good quality wetsuit should be glued and blind stitched. When the suit is put together the edges of the neoprene are glued or welded together and then blind stitched without the needle fully penetrating the neoprene leaving the join watertight.
Having a suit glued and blind stitched reduces heat loss from water seepage and increases the strength of the suit. Other quicker methods of stitching wetsuit suits leave seams that will allow water seepage and will also weaken the material where the needle has fully penetrated the rubber without it being glued together. This is a cheaper form of construction and common in lighter weight suits where warmth is not a primary concern.
Warm Water Spearfishing
If you're planning on spearfishing in warm water, then a full-body wetsuit may not be necessary. However, it is important to consider all of the environmental considerations.
A good example of this is if you are going to be spearfishing in North Queensland you also need to consider your exposure to stingers like the Irukandji and spending long periods exposed to the sun. You could opt for a rash guard or other lighter weight garments made from a mixture of fleece, neoprene or other synthetic fiber material that have been specially made for the marine environment.
Lightweight neoprene suits are generally considered the best option for spearfishing and freediving as they still offer full body cover whilst providing a very streamline fit. Neoprene one-piece steamers or 2-piece wetsuits will provide better protection, flexibility and camouflage than a basic rash guard.
Cold Water Spearfishing
In cold water, you will need a thicker wetsuit to keep your core warm. A 5mm to 7mm neoprene suit is ideal, and it should fit snugly to prevent water from seeping out. They may also be made of open cell neoprene or have open cell neoprene wrist, neck, leg and zip seals, all to help reduce the flow of water in and out of the suit.
This has great benefits as the whole theory behind wetsuits insulation is to keep a thin layer of water between your body and the inner neoprene of the suit, thus allowing your body to keep this water warm and reducing the flow of cold water contacting your body.
Before buying a wetsuit, you need to check the temperature of the water you'll be diving in and then choose a wetsuit accordingly. You can use a size chart to determine the correct size for you. A well-fitting wetsuit is essential for keeping you warm and allowing you to move freely.
Camouflage wetsuits are an excellent choice for spearfishing because they help you blend into the environment and avoid spooking fish. Some wetsuits come with a camo design that mimics the colour of the ocean, while others come with patterns that match the reef or rocks.
Protect Your Hands, Head and Feet
When spearfishing, you'll also need to protect your hands, head and feet from cold water, sharp objects & sun exposure. You can wear gloves and socks made of neoprene or a similar material, they should be snug-fitting and have a texture or coating to give extra grip.
Your gloves should provide good dexterity so you can handle your gear easily. Your spearfishing wetsuit may be fitted with a hood, or you can purchase a hood separately, a hood also needs to fit snugly and can be made from neoprene or lighter synthetic materials if diving in the tropics.
Features to look out for
Spearfishing wetsuit often has other great features like a chest loading pad, this provides extra comfort, grip and protection when chest loading your speargun. Heavy-duty knee and wear pads to give you that extra durability when kneeling on the bottom or reaching for your catch. Beaver tail clips are a must to help secure your two-piece wetsuit firmly together and keep it water-tight. Some suits may also have features like a built-in knife sheath or pocket.
In conclusion, a wetsuit is an essential piece of equipment for spearfishing, and you need to choose the right one based on the water temperature and environment. Neoprene is the most common material used for wetsuits, and you can choose between open-cell or closed-cell neoprene.
Planning ahead of time and doing research can help you choose the right wetsuit for your next spearfishing adventure. Brands like Rob Allen, Seac and Neptune offer a wide range of wetsuits to choose from. Don't forget to protect your hands, and with the right wetsuit, you can stay warm and comfortable throughout your dive.