Several years ago I was teaching a freediving class in Florida and realized I’d lost my snorkel keeper. It seems like a small thing, but going sans snorkel keeper is a quick was to lose that $35 piece of equipment you breathe through all day. So I dug around my bag and looked for anything that would work, settling on something I had in abundance- hair ties. Satisfied with my MacGuyver-ing, I headed into the water and found that they actually worked great!
Years later, I still use hair ties to keep my snorkel attached to my mask, as do 90% of my students! They’re cheaper than buying snorkel keepers, they work better and are even adjustable.
Being able to repurpose non-freediving gear into usable equipment is a key skill for all avid freedivers. Not only can it save your diving day, but it will save you money…money that you can save for your next REAL equipment purchase! And I know you’ve got a list…
So here is a list of a few of my most commonly repurposed items:
Yes, you already heard something about this, but a stash of hair ties can be used for all sorts of things! I’ve made them into lanyards for cameras, wrist straps for other equipment, and more. It’s a great idea to keep a handful in your car for emergencies, but be sure to tell your lady you’re doing it ahead of time to avoid the inevitable, “And just whose hair ties are these?!?”
Diving around the Sonoma County area has its many perks, like a massive availability of local post-dive drinks. But another little benefit is that you can find wine corks anywhere. In addition to keeping your wine airtight, these are also useful for covering the tip of your speargun. We often abalone dive with a small speargun tucked into one of our floats and it’s important to leave some kind of cap on the sharp tip to avoid any accidental wetsuit tears, tube punctures or buddy injuries.
Duct tape is good…for everything. My first car was 40% duct tape. I’ve used it as an emergency fix on busted fins, as a temporary bond for a wetsuit tear, as a weight belt crotch strap…the list goes on. Having a roll of duct tape in your dive bag will eventually save yours or your buddy’s dive day.
This is really only true for warm water, but when you need protection or grip, but not warmth, gardening gloves are a great go-to. Lots of competitive divers use them for free immersion diving (when you pull on a line to descend and ascend) to help their grip.
Bicycle inner tubes
I often use a neck weight to supplement my weight belt, but you definitely won’t find neck weights at your local dive shop. I’ve made them by hand for competitions, etc. using simple bike inner tubes as a casing.*
Inflatable airline neck pillows
This is another tool we use in competitive freediving. In order to maximize streamlining, many competitive freedivers don’t use snorkels** and breathe-up on their backs. The inflated neck pillow helps float their head while they prepare for their deep dive.
This is probably the most repurposed product in freediving, because we all use it to make lube, so we can get into our wetsuits. In fact, this is so frequently used, I can’t even think of a brand name suit lube…if one exists.
So there you have it- the most commonly repurposed items used in freediving…at least that I can think of. I do know that a lot of freedivers are more creative than I am, so I’d welcome more ideas! Frankly, I like my customized gear better than anything I could buy at the store!
*Neck weights are advanced freediving equipment and should be used with caution. They have no quick release, so you should never put more than 50% of your overall ballast into a neck weight. This figure is also based on a properly weighted diver, neutral around 33 feet. Most divers dangerously overweight themselves, especially freedivers who have not engaged any formal training.
**All recreational divers should use snorkels. Competitive freedivers who are diving for fun use snorkels. The ONLY time they’re not used is for a specific competitive dive and even that’s at the discretion of the athlete.