Choosing a new wetsuit… Not easy. Quite a lot of cash, difficult to size (especially if buying online), lots of choice…. mmmmm tricky.
A good wetsuit will fit closely to the body, be flexible, durable, warm and shouldnt impede your progress at all. Finding the right suit for you can be a fairly laborious task. There are lots of great companies which produce brilliant wetsuits designed specifically for freediving / spearfishing, so picking the best one for you can be in some cases, less than simple.
Oh… and they have to look cool too! Do you go for the James Bond look, the Camo hunter look or the super slick dolphin man style?
This review will cover one of the most readily available and in my opinion one of the best value suits on the market, the Cressi Competition 2.
Made in 2 pieces in the the classic (and lets face it, outdated) spearfishing/freediving suit style, the Competition 2 has a long john lower and a beaver tail, hooded top.
The neoprene used is a soft and flexible ultrastretch single lined fabric. I believe the neoprene is made at the same factory as O’Neil suits, so we know its of a good calibre. Its unlined on the inside to provide a very close contact with the body (to minimise flushing), and also adds some additional flexibility. For the uninitiated, single lined neoprene basically has a smooth rubbery finish on the inside. Awkward to get in to and very delicate, but very warm.
The outside of each piece is coated in a durable nylon jersey which has re-enforced elbows and knee patches for extra strength. The chest has a loading panel for spearguns.
Seams are sealed with a blind stitch and glue, so that they are water tight.
Overall its a very flexible suit and feels very comfortable to wear. It comes in a few different thicknesses. Personally I would recommend going as thick as you can for the UK. Lets face it, its not that warm in this glorious isle of ours and id rather be a bit hot than too cold. You can get away with the 5mm in the summer, but no thinner.
This suit is honestly very tough. I have had mine for about 2 years, and despite a fair few fingernail marks on the inside it’s not showing any damage…. oh, except a hole on the back of the thigh, but that’s my fault for sitting on a muscle bed in a swell.
As with all freediving suits (and wetsuits in general) you do need to be very careful when taking it on and off to avoid damaging the rubber.
Seams are very strong, although after a couple of years i do have some water ingress through some of them, but that’s to be expected. If they liquid taped the seams this would be fixed.
The Competition 2 is likely to be your ‘go to’ suit for lots of diving applications. It’s great for spearing just as its great for freediving, it can even be used as a scuba diving wetsuit. It’s not 100% performance focused, but it will do all that most of us require. In order to increase the performance aspect you would have to consider adding 100 % unlined sections and slick skin outer panels, but this would significantly reduce the durability of the suit.
Fit and sizing…
This is where Cressi drops the ball a bit in my opinion (as do a lot of freediving suit manufacturers). The size options are very limited considering what is available in say, the surf wetsuit market.
The size options are 1-7. This equates to X-S to XXXL.
Now i normally take an MT in other wetsuits (a medium tall), as I am 6ft3″ and have a 32″ waist. In Cressi I fall between the size 3 for waist and chest, and the size 4 for height. Typical…..
Personally I have actually altered my size 3 competition 2 to add a bit of height in the neck and the end of the legs and arms.
Some people will fit the standard sizes perfectly, but it does assume that if you are tall, you are also a bit chubby and if you are short, you are thin.
It’s a great suit. Durable, looks snazzy and reasonably priced ranging from £150 – £200 depending on where you shop.
I have dived deep in it, I have fished in it, I have taught in it, I have taken it abroad, I have dived in fresh and salt water, I have lent it to friends and students, and it’s still going strong and keeping me warm.