Have you ever seen a surfer dude casually sliding into their wetsuit like a pro, with no effort involved?
Unfortunately, for most of us, putting on a wetsuit is a stressful, unsophisticated, and somewhat comical event. Yes, the workout begins before you even get in the water!
Whether you’re a diver, a surfer, a swimmer, or a kayak king, you need to know how to put on a wetsuit. And hold on to your dignity…
Read this guide and you’ll be a wetsuit ninja before you know it.
How to Put on a Wetsuit—Step by Step
When figuring out how to put on a wetsuit, you need to know how it all works.
A wetsuit’s made of a rubber called neoprene. When you wear the suit, it traps a thin layer of water between the rubber and your skin. Your body heat warms the trapped layer of water and keeps your body warm.
This means the wetsuit must be tight. And that’s the issue. A tight wetsuit can be tough to put on, so how can you do it without making a fool of yourself?
Step 1—Find the Perfect Fit
Many people have issues with wetsuits because they’ve not found the right fit. Your wetsuit should feel snug. But it shouldn’t feel overly tight.
But how do you know if a wetsuit is too tight?
- It restricts breathing or blood flow
- It’s stretched so tight there are hollow spaces (such as in the small of your back)
- It squeezes the neck uncomfortably
- It’s stretched thin in some places
Yes, your wetsuit should feel like a second skin. But if it’s overstretched or too baggy, it won’t to the job it’s supposed to do!
Step 2—Under Your Suit
It’s up to you what you decide to wear under your suit. Most wear a bathing suit. But board shorts can bunch up inside and feel uncomfortable.
If you prefer, you can put on protective gear under your suit. For example, a rashguard or dive skin made of lycra. Some divers even use pantyhose to help slide on their wetsuits.
And others, just do it in their birthday suit!
Step 3—Happy Feet
Make sure the wetsuit is fully unzipped and it’s not back to front.
Point your toes and put one leg through the leg of the suit. Hold the top of the leg and pull your foot through. If your foot isn’t through fully, roll back the ankle cuff and slowly pull the suit over your heel.
Repeat with your other foot.
Step 4—Up and Away
Once your feet are through the foot holes, grab the suit near the top of each leg and gradually work each leg over your knees. Make sure the knee pads are both on your knees before going any further.
Keep moving the wetsuit up, one leg at a time. When the wetsuit reaches mid-thigh on one leg, swap to the other leg. Do this until it is around your waist.
Pull the suit up to your chest. The suit should fit snugly around your crotch, and shouldn’t feel pinched.
Step 5—Get Handy
Similar to the legs, try one arm at a time. It doesn’t matter if you go right to left or left to right. But for sake of argument, let’s go from right to left.
Take your left hand and open up the bottom of the armhole. Slide your right arm in and use your left hand to pull the suit over your arm and shoulder. Repeat with your other hand making sure the fabric isn’t twisting as you push your arms through.
Pull up the wetsuit zip and secure the Velcro fastening to complete the watertight fit around your neck.
Step 6—Movement Check
Phew, the hardest part is over! Now, double-check the fit by:
- Raising your knees
- Rotating your shoulders
- Squatting and jumping
You should feel snug, but your movement shouldn’t feel restricted. If it’s too tight or there are loose areas, you need to try a different size.
Click the link for a video and more tips on how to put on a wetsuit.
Wetsuit Tips and Tricks
If you’re still struggling when putting on a wetsuit, these wetsuit tips and tricks will solve your problem.
Be a Wetsuit Master
Try wearing plastic grocery bags or socks over your hands and feet. This will help them to slide into the wetsuit easily. After your suit is on, you can remove the bags, of course!
If it’s convenient, try putting on the wetsuit while you’re in the water. It should slide on easier. If it sticks to your skin, pull it away from your body to allow water to break the seal between your suit and body.
If you’re really struggling, try the “inside-out” trick. Turn the entire thing inside out and do it in reverse. Stick in your feet, and roll up the suit slowly until you’re in.
Keep Your Suit Safe
If possible, try to put on your wetsuit while standing on a clean surface. Rough surfaces, such as rocks and sand, may damage your wetsuit. Whether you’re on the beach or in a parking lot, try standing on your board bag while putting it on.
When you’re pulling your wetsuit on, use your fingertips, not your fingernails. Don’t yank the material, use controlled motions. Try to be careful with watches and jewelry too, as they may tear the material.
Slide On By
Use a water-based lubricant to help you put on a wetsuit easily. Use the lubricant on your wrists and ankles to help them slide through the tightest parts of the suit.
But to lubricate your way into a wetsuit, don’t use soap, detergents or other non-biodegradable solutions. This is because the liquid may leak into the water and harm the environment. It may also irritate your skin and, in time, damage the wetsuits neoprene.
Similarly, don’t use oil-based lubricants to aid sliding into a wetsuit. For example, petroleum jelly, grease or other oil-based compounds.
Find a Buddy
And finally, ask a friend to help!
If you have a buddy to zip and unzip your wetsuit zipper for you, you’ll feel under less stress. You’ll also reduce the risk of snagging the neoprene of your wetsuit.
The Only Good Suit Is a Wetsuit
Now you know how to put on a wetsuit, what’s next? Get out there and start surfing, diving or whatever you want to do. You’ll not only look great, but a good bit of exercise will make you feel great too.
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