Got Lube? Martin Stepanek

by Martin Stepanek - September 26th

Got Lube?

I have always believed the most important piece of a freediver's equipment is the wetsuit. I'm sure those of you who use proper freediving wetsuits can testify to this belief and will never go back to anything else. Those of you who don't have one, or are in the possession of one of those "Wanna be freediving suits" ... you just have no idea what you're missing out on, and how much this changes your freediving experience and performance.

I'm sure you all know from your freediving course how identify the most important features of your wetsuit and get the most bang for your buck. As cool as a 3D Camo might be, having an open cell lining on the inside is far more important. There have been many articles written on the thermal advantages, increased pliability of the suit and other benefits of this key attribute. However, when it comes down to this single element, without which this otherwise beneficial feature turns into a nightmarish hassle, the majority of sources go pretty quiet. So, let's talk about lube!

A healthy mix of hair conditioner and water (1:6 ratio is my favorite) is not just for making suit entry easier. Shampoo, soap or even baby powder would do just fine. The advantage of a thick hair conditioner mix is that it stays there for the entire dive period. The lubes primary purpose is to create a layer of lubricant between the freediver's body and freediving wetsuit, thus minimizing the friction between the open cell neoprene and the skin throughout the duration of the freediving session. This seemingly strange ritual significantly cuts down on breathing resistance and increases the volume of air during the freediver's peak inhalation. The lube barrier also dramatically decreases the likeliness of pressure related discomfort and tracheal squeeze, while decreasing oxygen consumption and aiding in equalization. If you are lucky enough to have your suit made of Yamamoto 45 then this layer of lube will truly make you appreciate your investment, the extreme pliability of this material, with no friction on freediver's body, gives the sensation of diving with no wetsuit at all.

Sound too good to be true? Try it for yourself! The cheapest conditioner goes for about 99 cents a bottle. I'd say it's a pretty much risk free experiment. Just don't be skimpy! If you think you have put too much conditioner in your suit ... add a little more.

Note: Stay clear of coconut scented conditioners as these do not combine well with urine. Organic, all-natural conditioners are obviously a favored choice, however, finding an affordable solution that stays put for the duration of the session proves challenging.

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