What do You Wear Underneath a Wetsuit?


Jason is an adventure travel writer with a passion for exploring the world's most beautiful and remote destinations.

Board shorts or a speedo? A swimsuit or nothing at all? If you’re new to surfing or scuba diving, you’re probably asking yourself, what do you wear underneath a wetsuit?

Wetsuits serve a specific purpose, so you don’t want to hamper their ability to keep you warm. But you also don’t want to be caught naked when there isn’t a changing room at the beach. 

If you’re feeling confused, this post will show you what you can wear under a wetsuit and why it’s important to wear one in the open water. 

Looking to get your scuba diving certification? Here’s how much it will cost you.

Why should you wear something underneath your wetsuit?

The main reason why most divers wear something under surfing wetsuits is to prevent chafing. 

If your skin is sensitive or you’re new to diving, you might suffer from rashes due to the neoprene material. Particularly vulnerable areas include the neck, under the arms, behind the knees, and the inner thighs. 

If you’re on a surfboard or paddle board, the wetsuit chafing can be much worse in the beginning. 

There’s also the factor of hygiene. If you’re renting a neoprene wetsuit, you might be uncomfortable going commando in it – even though rental places will rinse wetsuits between uses.

The final thing to consider is how you’ll get changed. If there is nowhere private to remove your wetsuit, you might end up getting naked in public. With something on underneath, it’s easier to change after your dive or swim.

Deciding Whether You Should Wear Something or Not

woman in a wetsuit looking at the sea

This ultimately comes down to personal preference. There is no rule saying you have to wear something under a wetsuit, and many divers prefer to wear nothing underneath. Others decide to go with a bikini, leggings, diving shorts, or a speedo.

Wetsuits aren’t waterproof, but they’re designed to keep your body warm while in the water. Some scuba divers suggest that wearing nothing underneath a suit allows it to work optimally, so you might find it warmer to be naked underneath. 

They are also designed to be comfortable with nothing underneath, but you might find yourself prone to rashes. It all comes down to personal choice and what feels most comfortable for you.

What Can You Wear Under a Wetsuit?

a man in a wetsuit surfing

If you’ve decided to wear something underneath your wetsuit, there are a few options. 

Rash guards

For the upper body, a rash guard (or rash vest) is a popular choice to avoid wetsuit rash. These are made from thin lycra and prevent wetsuits from chafing. They also provide protection from the sun when you’re not wearing the wetsuit since they block UV rays. 

If you are particularly sensitive to the cold, you can also get thermal rash vests made from neoprene. These can help boost protection against the cold but don’t really protect against chafing. 

The downside of a rash vest is it can become a nuisance when it bunches up around the top. It’s hard to adjust once you’re wearing a wetsuit and can feel annoying when it inevitably rides up, especially when surfing, body boarding, or paddle boarding. 

What Men Wear Under A Wetsuit

There aren’t really differences between what men and women wear under a wetsuit, and it’s really up to you!

Whatever you usually wear for open water swimming will work fine under a wetsuit, whether that’s board shorts, a speedo, or nothing at all. 

There’s no need to buy specialist swimwear, though; everyday swimwear works fine under a wetsuit when you’re in open water.

What Women Wear Under A Wetsuit

The same goes for women. You could go for a bikini, bathing suit, or swim shorts and a t-shirt.

If you’re planning on going surfing at Pipeline, Hawaii, or taking part in general watersports, stick with your everyday swimwear.

If you’re planning on scuba diving in Tulum in Mexico, you might be more comfortable in a full-body rash guard or poly fleece base to give you extra warmth.

How To Store a Wetsuit

a man carrying a surfboard

To keep your wetsuit in the best shape possible, give it a freshwater rinse and hang it to dry after every use. You can get specific wetsuit hangers, but padded dress hangers also work great. 

It’s important to fresh water rinse your wetsuit to remove all the salt water that could erode the material over time. 

Once it’s dry, store it in a cool, dry place that’s out of sunlight. Wetsuits left out in the sun will wear down faster and become bleached. 

Wetsuit maintenance

If you use your wetsuit on a regular basis, it will require a little more care and attention to stay in good shape. 

You can get wetsuit shampoos and conditioners that protect the fabric from the harshness of both salt water and chlorine. 

You only need about a cap full in a five-gallon bucket of cold water (or a container larger enough to submerge your wetsuit). Let it soak for 15 minutes, and then rinse. Repeat with conditioner, let it hang dry, and your wetsuit will look brand new!

Don’t put your wetsuit in the washing machine – it’s too harsh for the fabric and can lead to tears and damage. 

New to Scuba Diving?

If you’re getting a wetsuit to try out scuba diving for the first time, you’ve picked a great hobby! There is nothing like the feeling of being in a different world, submerged in the ocean.

But it can feel a little daunting if you’ve never tried it before, especially if you’re not a confident swimmer. 

Head to our next post, where we talk about how to become a scuba diver if you’re not a swimmer – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be.

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