Monday, April 19, 2021

Review: Fourth Element RF1 Freediving Wetsuit

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After getting the chance to review the Fourth Element Surface wetsuit, the versatile wetsuit designed for freediving, snorkeling, and surface water sports, I started to keep an eye out for Fourth Element products. It was then that I heard that the RF1 3/2mm wetsuit, created specifically for recreational freediving, was soon to be released.

Since I am a freediving instructor and spend most of my days during the summer season in the water, I was thrilled at the opportunity to review Fourth Element’s RF1 wetsuit and see how it performs at Taiwan’s 21m (69ft) deep pool, Divecube Hotel!

First Impressions

Fourth Element's RF1 Freediving wetsuit
Fourth Element’s RF1 Freediving wetsuit.

I am quite the plain dresser when it comes to freediving wetsuits (although I never say no to a pair of bright bi-fins), so I really admired the RF1 wetsuit from the moment I laid eyes on it. The wetsuit is all black and the design is sleek and minimal with alternating smoothskin and lined neoprene. 3/2mm means that the wetsuit has thicker thickness where more comfort and warmth is needed, and 2mm where more flexibility and less warmth are needed.

The RF1 Freediving wetsuit's smoothskin seals on the inside of the wrist and ankle cuffs
The RF1 wetsuit’s smoothskin seals on the inside of the wrist and ankle cuffs.

Smoothskin panels line the shoulders, part of the arms, and part of the legs, which give the suit more of a stretchy and snug fit, and is advertised to improve hydrodynamics. Even the knees are subtly reinforced, which is a welcome addition, especially for teaching freediving. Additionally, smoothskin seals at the wrist and ankles are close-fitting and sturdy, yet the material is soft and comfortable. The entire wetsuit feels very nice on my body; both the smoothskin and the nylon are super soft and feels very satisfying to wear.

Premade ear holes on the Fourth Element freediving RF Vest 3mm
Premade ear holes on the Fourth Element RF Vest 3mm.

I also tried Women’s RF Vest 3mm. The vest has an attached hood and is designed to be worn on top of the RF1 wetsuit for cold waters, longer sessions, or when you are in need of a hood. The entire hood is smoothskin and has premade holes located at the ears to remove the need to constantly fill your hood with water before a dive. I find this addition very helpful as it can be frustrating to have to own two separate wetsuits for seasonal changes.

While the wetsuit feels very snug and comfortable against my legs and midsection, the arms and the underarm area are a bit loose on me. Regardless, I think that the seals are excellent and will keep water from flowing in and out of the wetsuit.

Freediving Performance

Preparing for a dive in the Fourth Element RF1 Freediving wetsuit
Preparing for a dive in the Fourth Element RF1 Freediving wetsuit. Photo by Pinky Wu.

I was thoroughly impressed with the RF1 wetsuit in the water. Putting on the wetsuit was quite straightforward and easy, with a zipper down the back. The seals were amazingly effective at keeping water out of the wetsuit; I was mostly dry when I took it off! I also love having varying thicknesses of neoprene to keep the important parts of my body warm.

The neck seal is quite tight but it did not impede performance, and the wetsuit felt just as good on my body in the water as it did out of the water. I had full range-of-motion for both constant weight and free immersion dives and could straighten my arms up and behind my head with no problem, as the smoothskin panels on the shoulders allow for a lot of flexibility.

Ascending from depth in the Fourth Element RF1 Freediving Wetsuit
Ascending from depth in the Fourth Element RF1 Freediving wetsuit. Photo by Pinky Wu.

The vest and hood are an excellent add-on; when it is warmer, or if I am just fun diving, I can dive without the hood. The vest and hood are designed to be worn over the suit, and I really appreciate the premade holes in the ears because now I do not have to keep opening my hood before a dive to fill it with water. The face hole is quite small, so it covers a large portion of the face, which I prefer since I want to protect as much of my face as possible in cold water temperatures.

Final Thoughts

Posing in the Fourth Element RF1 Freediving wetsuit
Posing in the Fourth Element RF1 Freediving wetsuit. Photo by Pinky Wu.

I really love the RF1 wetsuit and I think that it will be my go-to wetsuit for instructor work this upcoming freediving season. It is easy to put on and take off, has impressive seals at the neck, wrists, and ankles, and is very comfortable both in and out of the water. I love the option of adding a matching hood and vest for colder water and looks really great both in and out of the water.

My only concern was that the arms are a bit loose, but this did not affect my dives in the end since the wetsuit seals kept water from flowing in and out. For a one-piece recreational freediving and fun diving wetsuit, I highly recommend Fourth Element’s RF1 Freediving wetsuit and RF Vest!

Key Features

  • Created for recreational freediving
  • Streamline cut for optimum glide and fit
  • 3/2mm considered thickness for comfort and warmth
  • Designed for simple donning and doffing
  • Smoothskin seals on cuffs and ankles
  • Glued and blindstitched throughout
  • Shaped low profile back neck closure
  • Smoothskin shoulders and side panels

Price

  • RF1 Freediving Wetsuit – $489 USD / €419 EUR / £349.95 GBP
  • RF Vest 3mm – $139 USD / €119 EUR / £99.95 GBP

More Info

Fourth Element RF1 Freediving Wetsuit Fourth Element RF1 Freediving Wetsuit
$489 USD / €419 EUR / £349.95 GBP

Designed for recreational freediving, the RF collection uses a optimum combination of Glideskin, Smoothskin and lined neoprene, designed to maximise your freedom in the water, allowing you to focus on your breath, visualise and reach your limit.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Performance
Comfort
Looks
Value for Money

SUMMARY

The RF1 Freediving wetsuit from Fourth Element is easy to slip into, keeps water out, and looks great on you, in and out of the water. Pair it with the RF Vest 3mm for added warmth. A great one-piece wetsuit from a trusted underwater equipment brand!
Review: Fourth Element RF1 Freediving Wetsuit 3
Kristina Zvaritchhttp://www.kristinazvaritch.com
Kristina, an AIDA, PADI, and Molchanovs W2 Freediving Instructor, discovered her love for the sea as a PADI Divemaster in Dahab, Egypt, where she shared the Blue Hole with freedivers and developed a serious passion for the single-breath sport. Nowadays, when she isn’t nose-deep in a novel on the beach, Kristina likes to train depth, and often pretends to be a mermaid when her buddy isn't looking.

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