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What Do You Wear Under a Wetsuit? (Costume vs Commando)

what do you wear under a wetsuit

What do you wear under your wetsuit? It’s a common question I’ve heard countless of my students ask me over the years.

There are many reasons people decide to where something under their wetsuits as apposed to going full on nude underneath there.

The most common thing to wear underneath your wetsuit for casual beach goers is a swimming costume, so speedo or boardshorts for men and bikini for the ladies. Divers in colder waters sometimes wear a thermal rash guard underneath their wetsuits to help insulate themselves even further.

However, from experience, a few of these things are quite uncomfortable (to say the least) to wear under a wetsuit, especially if you wetsuit is tight fitting to begin with. .

This article aims to breakdown exactly what to wear underneath your wetsuit and why going full on commando may just be the best option for you.

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Are you supposed to wear anything under a wetsuit

If you happen to ask this question in the first place, chances are you are not too familiar with wearing a wetsuit.

Don’t worry, it’s a completely normal question to ask, I mean most of us wear something underneath normal clothes all the time, so to wonder whether it’s the same for a wetsuit is completely expected.

Look, if it’s summer time and you just plan on heading out to the beach for some casual fun, it’s totally up to you whether you wear something underneath your wetsuit or not (in fact it’s always up to you).

To help you decide, there are three main reasons people decide to wear something underneath their wetsuit:

Hygiene

If you own your own wetsuit, then you can skip this point and move right on. For many years, I worked as an instructor in various watersports. Sometimes I would teach groups of 5 people three times a day (and so would all the other instructors).

Ultimately, students ended up sharing their wetsuits. Many of them opted to wear swimwear underneath their wetsuits for hygiene purposes.

Basically, if you plan on renting wetsuits it’s probably best to wear something underneath. Most professional wetsuit rentals will always wash their wetsuits frequently, but the reality is you just never know if they do.

Comfort

Another reason people wear something underneath their wetsuits is to avoid chaffing. Chaffing is caused by a combination of friction, moisture.

The constant movement within the neoprene fabric can cause a uncomfortable rash (especially in salt water). The most common places to get a wetsuit rash are the nipples, groin area, between your thighs and behind your knees.

Chaffing only occurs when you spend extended periods of time in your wetsuit, and usually only happens to bodies less used to the neoprene fabric.

I used to teach 10.5 hour days 4 times a week, and would spend every minute of that time in a wetsuit. It was very rare that I ever experienced chaffing. In fact I only recall chaffing back when I started instructing and I got it behind the knees and groin area.

Warmth

People who spend extended periods of time submerged in the water, such as divers, sometimes opt to wear a rash guard underneath their wetsuits to help insulate themselves even further.

This second layer works exactly the same as layering up with clothes would work. Less heat escapes when you have more insulation.

A reason divers do this is to avoid buying a thicker wetsuit, thicker wetsuits are more expensive and less comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and they’re tough to get on!


Can you wear leggings under a wetsuit?

Yes you could wear legging under your wetsuit but if they are made out of cotton, good luck!

It’s likely legging made out of cotton will ride up completely when pulling on your wetsuit.

However, leggings made out of a tight neoprene fabric would be a much better bet and would definitely help to insulate your body when submerged under water.

Two leggings I can recommend are the following (click the images to see the price):

For Men

For Women


What is the best thing to wear under a wetsuit?

General Watersports

Most people doing surfing, kitesurfing or kayaking generally opt to wear swim suits or alternatively nothing under their wetsuits.

Men

Powerflex Eco Speedo

This speedos are amazing, they are 100% recycled and easy, convenient, and flexible to wear. They will help prevent any chaffing and make it easier to change out of your wetsuit in public.

Women

One Piece Speedo

One piece swim suits are more comfortable to wear underneath a wetsuit than separate piece bikinis. They feel more secure and don’t slide down when you pull on your wetsuit. Sometimes separate piece bikinis have decorations on them, like small metal pieces, this is very uncomfortable to wear under a wetsuit.


Triathlon

Most competitive triathletes wear bike shorts, or a one-piece tri suit under their wetsuits to smooth the transition when switching from swimming to biking.

Men

Padded triathlon tri suit

Women

Sundried triathlon tri suit


Scuba Diving

As already mentioned, many people (namely divers) who aim to be submerged under water for long periods at a time may opt to wear thermal rash guards under their wetsuits to keep themselves warmer for longer periods of time.

Men

Full body rash guard

Women

Full body rash guard


Do I need to get a wet suite 1 size larger if I put on a fleece base layer?

This is another common question I get, so I am happy to answer it here. If you rash guard is 1.5mm and thinner, then getting a wetsuit 1 size larger is not necessary.

However, if your full piece rash guard happens to be 3mm or more (this is basically wetsuit thickness) then perhaps it would be smart for you to get a slightly bigger wetsuit.

Just remember, that wetsuits generally accommodate height as well as weight, so get a bigger wetsuit may mean get one that has longer limbs. This might be counter intuitive and I’d recommend rather opting for a thicker material wetsuit and sticking to your original size.


Can I wear nothing under my wetsuit?

You most certainly can, and this is usually what I opt for. I personally feel the most free and flexible wearing nothing under my wetsuit.

The only issue I run into here is not being able to simply change out of my wetsuit in public. However, I am sure most surfers can attest, they just quickly change out of their wetsuit when nobody is looking.

But, if you are located in a busy location, it may be inappropriate to simply change out of your wetsuit naked in public. The easiest way to avoid raised eyebrows is to use a towel or even better, a poncho!


Conclusion

Knowing what to wear under a wetsuit can be hygienic, keep you warmer and prevent you from chaffing. After reading this article I hope you have a better understanding of what situation requires what.

I personally never wear anything under my wetsuit no matter what the occasion, whether that be kitesurfing, surfing, SUPing, kayaking or free diving (usually I don’t even wear a wetsuit here).

As always, please feel free to reach out with your questions in the comments section below, or ask me privately via the contact page.

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