You’re not alone in wondering what to wear under wetsuits! Online forums are filled with people asking the same question repeatedly, and everyone has something different to add as it will entirely depend on where you’re diving or surfing, who you’re with, and what will make you feel comfortable.
Luckily for you, we’ve pulled together pieces of information you will need to make a choice that’s right for you, so read on to find out what you should be wearing under that super tight wetsuit.
First up we’re going to look at the things you should consider before choosing, and then we’ll have a look at the options available so that you can be sure you’re choosing the right clothing for you. Some of the gear you can buy is unisex, but there will also be male and female varieties for each option provided.
Things to Consider
1. Modesty or Decency
This one is quite simple really. Some people love to go naked under their wetsuit but that’s not an option if you’re at a dive school, on a dive boat, or have to change on a busy beach, as it’s just not possible to get in and out of a wetsuit elegantly under a towel.
The reason people like to go naked or wear as little as possible is for better freedom of movement and comfort, and they don’t want anything bunching up in their wetsuit that will prove to be an annoying distraction from all the mind-blowing things they’re about to see under the water.
However, you may not feel comfortable standing around in your bikini or speedos while eating lunch, so you may want to choose something that covers you up a bit more. Some people hate to wear board shorts under their suit, so opt for speedos and boardies and then just slip out a pair of shorts at the very last minute and then immediately don them again once their back out of the water. Now that’s a compromise!
2. Quick Dry
Even though you’re going to be in and out of the water all day, it’s still nice to dry off (even just a bit), in between. That’s why it’s sensible to choose undergarments that are made specifically for swimming or diving so that they are made of quick-drying material. They are also very handy if you’re heading out somewhere straight from the dive, as no one likes feeling soggy all day.
You want to be comfortable when you’re out of the water but also when in the water, so while some people like to wear as little as possible under their suit, some choose specially made wetsuit skins to minimize chafing around the armpits, knees, groin, and other places where the wetsuit can rub against the skin. Not everyone experiences chafing, so it’s up to you if you want to find out or if you prefer to cover up just in case.
Another reason to wear more rather than less under your wetsuit is for warmth. More layers always equate to more warmth.
That said, think about where you will be diving and what temperature is it going to be in the water and out of the water. If you’re diving somewhere cold, then an extra layer will be a must-have.
Some prefer to wear a slightly thinner wetsuit with an extra layer underneath rather than a thick wetsuit. This will give you better flexibility in the water as thicker wetsuits restrict movement more than the extra layer will.
Another reason why it is good to have two layers rather than one is that you can also use that same wetsuit to dive in warmer regions by just not wearing the skin layer. If you want thermal protection, then go for options made of neoprene.
If you’re on a budget or in a massive rush and forgot your swimmers, then underwear would do. You may be the only one and you will have wet (and possibly see-through!) underwear on all day but it would be better than nothing.
If you are embarking on an open water course, then almost certainly everyone on the boat apart from the instructors and dive masters will be in swimwear. A slight advantage to women’s standard swimwear is that they are tight fitting. Ladies beware though, bikini straps that tie up at the back and sides may be uncomfortable under your suit as will any decorative, sticky-outy parts such as beading so, the more basic it is, the better.
For males, board shorts will get all bunched up and wrinkly under your wetsuit when you pull it up. While this is annoying, you certainly won’t be the only one with lumps and bumps around your thighs from your board shorts, but comfort-wise, speedos are better.
3. Dive or Swim Shorts
Also known as jammers, these shorts are skintight which make the wetsuit easier to get on and off and they are also super quick drying for when you’re out of the water. There is a lot to choose from including options of whether you want the material to be made of neoprene, which is recommended for diving as it will add extra warmth and buoyancy. Some people have also substituted jammers with bicycle shorts or cross training shorts, which aren’t as good but will stop the wetsuit from rubbing (if that’s a problem) and are slightly cheaper.
4. Rash-Guard and Compression Shirts
What the rash-guard vest or shirt will do for your torso and arms is the same as what the dive shorts do for your legs. They stop the wetsuit from rubbing and they add an extra layer for warmth.
You should also wear compression shirts which reportedly improve blood flow to your heart and of course neoprene shirts for better thermal protection. All options come in short or long sleeve versions.
5. Diveskins or Full-Body Jumpsuits
Onesies for underneath your onesie wettie! These jumpsuits are tight-fitting, all-in-one body coverage which is great for extra warmth. They can also be worn for snorkeling to protect you from the sun and come in short or long versions.
So, what to wear under wetsuits really depends on a few factors. The temperature of your dive spot or your sensitivity to the cold are the most important, but your environment and how comfortable you are with your body will also come into play. The majority of wearers prefer as tight and as little as possible, but if you have sensitive skin or are diving somewhere cold, then you will certainly be grateful of the extra protection and warmth that these additional layers provide.