Nov 13

Lube: The freediving suit’s best friend

A conversation between Kirk, Mandy and myself in a dive shop a few years ago:

Me: Oh no, I forgot my lube!

Mandy: *Looking in her bag* Oh no, me too.

Kirk: No problem, I’ve got enough lube for the three of us.

Dive shop guy: WHAT?!

Ha, but all innuendo aside, lube really is a key tool in a freediver’s tool box. As soon as you switch to a freediving-styled suit (open cell neoprene, two-piece design, attached hood, etc.) you’ll have to start loading up with this slippery stuff.

If you want your new wetsuit to treat you right, you gotta do the same for it. That means making a properly mixed lube, using it very liberally inside your suit and using the power of dollar-store conditioner to slide that thing on. I mean, look how happy we all are in our suits!!



Erin’s super special, extremely complicated recipe for the perfect wetsuit lube

1 bottle cheap conditioner (any scent you like but coconut…)
1 water bottle (or thermos…you’ll see why I like this option in a bit)

Pour conditioner into water bottle
Fill water bottle about 1/4 of the way with conditioner
Fill most of the way with water (not to the top)
With room for movement, shake the mix like crazy
Top off water bottle and shake again

Voila! Perfect lube. That wasn’t so hard, was it? I’m realizing I’ve been reading too many cookbooks lately though…

Donning your suit 

Now here comes the trickier part. It’ll eventually become habit, but when you put on an open cell freediving suit for the first time, be sure to take it slow. Here are a few steps to help guide you on this new gear adventure.

The bottoms:

  • With wetsuit bottoms right side out, roll waist over on itself a couple of inches.
  • While holding the ankles of the suit closed with one hand, pour a liberal amount of lube into the waist opening.
  • Once lube is in suit, hold waist opening closed too and swish lube around inside suit, making sure to coat the inside of both legs.
  • Once lube seems evenly distributed, let excess drain from suit.
  • Don pants, being very careful not to use your finger tips as this can cause tears, especially in competitive-style suits. Do not grab and pull on suit. Let the suit slide on, assisting this with the palms of your hands flat on the outside of the suit, sliding it up your body.
  • Once pants are all the way up, unroll waist so that the pants are flat against your stomach/torso. If you’re using a farmer john, put arms through arm holes.

The top:

  • With the top right side out, roll waist up, over itself a couple inches, like you did with the pants.
  • Hold wetsuit ankles and hood closed with one hand and pour a liberal amount of lube into the waist opening.
  • Hold the waist closed as well and swish lube around inside the suit, making sure to coat the inside of both arms and inside of hood.
  • Once lube seems evenly distributed, let excess drain from suit.
  • Don top arms first, then hood (like a T-shirt), slowly sliding it on as you did with the pants.
  • Once arms and hood are in and the top is down around your waist/hips, grab the beaver tail connection from between your legs and attach at the front of the suit.

I know its a lot of bullet points, but I swear, it’s very easy once you’re used to it.

A few last wetsuit-donning tips for you as you go out into the freediving world:

  1. If you are wearing neoprene socks, put them under your pant legs
  2. If you’re diving in a cold weather location, make lube ahead of time with hot water and keep it in a thermos. AMAZING!
  3. Pick a conditioner scent wisely. I try to go for non-fruit smells these days. Try to consider what it’s going to smell like mixed with the funk of your wetsuit after a few days of wear. I can’t handle coconut conditioner anymore. And I LOVE coconut!
  4. If you do rip your suit, don’t cry! They are fixable w/ a little bit of glue and some patience.
  5. Women- try to wear a two-piece under the wetsuit and avoid any suits with beats, ties…things that will be uncomfortable under the suit.
  6. Learn what you like and customize the lube to your own preference!

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