What to wear under a wetsuit is a common question for those who are new to wearing one.
What you should wear under your wetsuit (if anything!) depends on a few key factors.
The activity you’re doing, where you’re doing it, the temperature of the water, your gender and just straight up personal preference can all play a role!
In this article we’ll cover all of the above so that by the end you have an idea of what wetsuit undergarments will best suit you and why.
Check it out!
Why Wear Additional Layers Underneath Your Wetsuit
Your wetsuit is designed to do several things, all without having additional layers underneath it.
But despite this there are many reasons why you would want, or even need to where additional layers underneath your wetsuit anyway.
Probably the most obvious reason as to why you would want to wear additional items under your wetsuit, is for even more additional protection against the cold.
And it’s not just the colder temperatures below the water that divers need to consider.
The temp above the water when you’re between dives must also be considered. Those extra thermal layers can make a big difference between being comfortable and warm all day, or miserable and cold!
A consideration when layering up under your wetsuit is that adding additional layers can restrict your arm movement.
This isn’t as much as an issue for scuba divers who don’t require much arm movement to begin with, so you could quite happily choose a sleeveless, short sleeve or a long sleeve option for diving.
But surfers who choose to layer up under an already thick wetsuit could suffer from too much restriction. For them a sleeveless rash guard might be best.
As well as thermal protection, additional layers also provide added protection against stings and scrapes, such as against coral or rocks.
(Lavacore and Sharkskin are two really popular brands that provide excellent quality thermal protection for underneath your wetsuit).
It’s also an unfortunate occurrence that can happen when wearing a wetsuit, especially when wearing one for long periods of time.
You can wear undergarments underneath your wetsuit such as a bikini, shorts, a rash guard or leggings to alleviate chaffing of common areas (like the armpits, neck, crotch/between the thighs).
Something you need to keep in mind is what kind of changing facilities (if any!) will be available to you before and after your dive.
Putting on and taking off a wetsuit can be a bit of a struggle at the best of times. The last thing you want to worry about is flashing someone as you attempt to covertly remove your wetsuit!
Plus, what if you’re between dives and you get too hot but you have nothing underneath it? What if you want to go to the bathroom? You’re going to feel a little stuck (and uncomfortable) in situations like these.
For practical reasons and sheer convenience alone, it really does just make sense to wear something underneath a wetsuit. Even if that something is just a bikini/one piece or a speedo.
But if your personal preference is to go commando, then just make sure you’ve thought it through about where you’re going to be changing in order to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation!
When it comes to divers pee’ing in their wetsuit there’s a saying;
There are divers who pee in their wetsuit, and divers who lie about it!
As well as that the thought of wearing something which others have worn (possibly even commando), and that same wetsuit now touching your special areas isn’t the nicest thought really is it?
So with that in mind, if ever you are renting a wetsuit – you need to wear something underneath it!
Basic swimwear will do, just as long as you have on at least something. (Frankly it’s just pretty gross and unhygienic not to!).
Donning & Doffing Your Wetsuit
It is considerably easier to put a wetsuit on when you wear something underneath it.
Your wetsuit slides on sooo much easier when you have an additional layer under it.
What To Wear Under A Wetsuit For:
Wearing a wetsuit in some dive spots will be an absolute necessity.
Even when the temperature above the water, or at its surface may be ok, as you descend and then spend more time under water – added warmth and protection to keep you warm in the cold water becomes more important.
Divers wear undergarments like rash guards, leggings, diving shorts, swimwear or full body jumpsuits under their wetsuit to keep them comfortable in those deep cold waters.
When shore diving, it’s a convenient option to have something on underneath so you can change out of your wetsuit easily.
It’s also much more convenient when boat diving as well, to be able to roll your wetsuit down so you don’t get too hot.
Snorkeling isn’t just an activity reserved for warm waters.
There are some amazing snorkel destinations where the water temperature can get a little chilly, and so a wetsuit would be appropriate.
A rash guard and leggings (or shorts), or just some swimwear would be a good choice so that you can go from snorkeling in your wetsuit to chilling on the beach quickly and easily.
Do you wear anything under a wetsuit when surfing? If the water is cold enough then yes!
But surfers need to be able to have free movement around their arms. So you may prefer to wear something that doesn’t restrict your shoulders and arms such as a sleeveless vest paired with some diving shorts.
So What Do You Wear Under A Wetsuit?
Rash guards are a really popular wetsuit undergarment when scuba diving
They help to keep you warm and they make a really convenient option to have on under your wetsuit between dives if you want or need to remove your wetsuit.
Rash guards also provide UV protection from the sun so you don’t have to keep constantly applying lots of sunscreen which is damaging to reefs, and they also make it much easier to get your wetsuit on!
A rash guard collection is normally a part of every divers wardrobe as they’re the perfect option for diving in really warm waters instead of a wetsuit and they’re great for snorkeling too.
For the exact same reasons as to why you might want to wear a rash guard, is why you would also want to wear a pair of rash leggings.
Rash leggings also have the benefit over a full body jumpsuit (discussed more below), as they are far more convenient to pull down and go to the bathroom when you’re wearing separate tops and bottoms!
Full Body Jumpsuit
Another option you could wear under your wetsuit is a full body jumpsuit which is essentially another much thinner wetsuit.
This will give you full body coverage for extra warmth and protection, and they are also great to use on their own when you’re scuba diving or snorkeling in warmer waters.
Swimwear [Bikini / One Piece / Swim Shorts]
Keep it minimal under your wetsuit with a bikini, one piece, sports bra and swim shorts.
These options are great for when you don’t need additional layers for protection against the cold, but want to wear something underneath so that you can protect your modesty when changing out of your wetsuit.
Or if you’re renting your wetsuit, then these options will provide you with protection against the previous wearers 😉
Basically choosing what to wear under a wetsuit is a combination of personal preference, plus the factors that we’ve described like modesty, hygiene and water temperature.
So if modesty is your only concern, then you could simply go with something small like a bikini or speedo.
But if additional thermal protection is a factor, then you could choose something more substantial like a rash guard and leggings to provide that extra warmth and protection.
Simply take these factors into consideration in order to make the appropriate choice, and happy diving!