There are not many sporting or active pursuits where, as well as training how to do the activity itself, you also need to learn how to put on the kit or gear as well. I’m sure soccer players don’t have a training routine on how to put their cleats on, nor do you ever hear of golfers being schooled in the art of wearing their golfing glove.
However, for activities such as surfing, snorkeling, canoeing, scuba diving, water rafting, jet skiing and other water sports, knowing how to put on a wetsuit correctly will make these activities more enjoyable. Being able to wear your wetsuit properly also ensures that its more important safety functions such as proving buoyancy, protection, and warmth are not compromised in any way.
Make Sure It Fits You
The first thing to you need to get right before you even think about putting your wetsuit on, is that it is the right size for you. The most common mistake people make in this respect, is to try to get into a wetsuit that is too small, and therefore it is going to fit too tightly. While you want your wetsuit to be snug, if you take that too far, you’re going to have problems.
If your wetsuit is too small for you, it is obviously going to be uncomfortable, especially around your neck area. An overtight wetsuit will also restrict your blood flow, and your breathing, neither of which are desirable when taking part in water sports. You will also stretch the suit’s material which causes problems such as reducing the heat insulation and possibly allowing water to get inside the suit.
Why Do People Struggle To get Into Wetsuits?
The question is often posed as to why a wetsuit should be any more difficult to get into than any other sports gear or everyday clothing for that matter. The answer to this is found by understanding the differences in how normal clothes are worn on the body compared to how a wetsuit is worn.
If we look at our top half first, shirts, blouses, t-shirts, and sports tops normally hang from our shoulder and neck area, and although they are in contact with our body, there is air in between. With pants, shorts, and skirts, they hang from our waists, and again there’s sufficient air between the fabric and our skin so they are not clinging to us.
With a wetsuit, one of the principal features is there is as little a gap as possible between it, and our skin, which helps to prevent excess water from entering. This results in the wetsuit clinging to you as you try to put on, making it more of a task than when putting on your everyday clothes.
What Not to Do
You may have had loads of advice on ways you can make putting on a wetsuit easier, and there are plenty of good ones out there. However, there are some we’ve heard which we do not recommend. This generally involves using detergents, lotions, soaps, and lubricants, all of which, do neither the person wearing the suit, nor the wetsuit, any good.
These can often leave the wearer’s skin dry and itchy, and as for the suit, it can be damaged to the point where the neoprene material becomes very stiff and may even crack.
Another issue is that many of these liquids are not biodegradable and if they escape or leak from the wetsuit into the water, and cause damage to the wildlife and plantation in there.
5 Quick Tips for Getting Your Wetsuit On
Get Wet First
Either jump in the water or splash your body. Water makes a great lubricant and is much safer for you and your wetsuit than some of the liquids we mentioned previously.
Wear Something Underneath
You could try wearing a lycra suit or go as far as purchasing a commercially available dive skin. These are made from smooth materials and as such will help you to pull on your wetsuit, especially when you are pushing your feet through the legs of the suit.
An alternative is to put a plastic bag on your foot before trying to push it through the leg of the wetsuit. You can then repeat this with the other foot, and each hand, if the arms of the suit are proving difficult to get on.
Make It a Two-Person Job
This may seem blindingly obvious, but then, the best ideas often are! Simply get a buddy to help pull up your wetsuit from behind, while you pull up the front part.
Turn Your Wetsuit Inside Out
Start by placing one foot through the bottom of the leg and then roll that leg up, but not too quickly. It should come up without a hitch, but if it does stick, roll it back and try again. Do this with the other leg, the body section, and then both arms.
Customize Your Wetsuit
If all else fails you can add zippers to the legs or arms of the wetsuit, or both, if necessary. If you decide to do this, make sure you use a professional to fit them for you, rather than trying to do it yourself. Adding zippers will slightly reduce its thermal protection, so to minimize this you want them fitted properly.
Step-By-Step Guide to Putting on a Wetsuit
- Put on any garment you plan to wear under the wetsuit such as a dive skin.
- Make sure all zippers are fully open, especially the main one which is likely to be on the back of the wetsuit.
- Push your foot through one leg of the wetsuit, and gradually pull the wetsuit up past your ankle, and then your knee, until it is covering your thigh. Then do the same for your other leg.
- The next step is to use both hands to grip the wetsuit from the front and pull it up past your stomach so that it is up as far as your chest. This is where many people find jumping up and down helps, so if it works for you, go for it.
- Next it is time to push your hands through the arms of the wetsuit, one at a time. As you are pushing one hand through, use the other to grip the shoulder area of that arm for leverage.
- Your wetsuit should be on, so all you have to do now is close the zipper, or ask a friend to do it, if it is on the back on the back and you can’t reach. You should also close any Velcro fastenings which will most likely be around the neck area.
- If you are happy that your wetsuit is on correctly and you are comfortable this last step is definitely the most important one… Go and enjoy yourself!