How to Put on a Wetsuit

Two Parts:Putting a Wetsuit OnTaking a Wetsuit Off

Getting a wetsuit on and off can be a huge pain. While the tight, form-fitting suits can be a lifesaver in cold water and are necessary for a lot of diving and scuba activities, they are far from easy to get in or out of. The task becomes even more difficult if either the suit or the person trying to put it on is already wet.

Part 1
Putting a Wetsuit On

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    Put protective gear on. If desired, put on your protective gear now. This often includes a rashguard or rash suit usually made of Lycra.[1] Of course, some people prefer to only wear their bathing suits, or even nothing at all.
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    Unzip the wetsuit.. You'll want to make sure that the suit is fully unzipped. With most wetsuits, the zipper will go in the back. [2] If there are any hitches or kinks in the zipper, work them out now.
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    Start with your feet and legs. Once you have the wetsuit lined up, pull your wetsuit over your foot and ankle, gradually working it up over the knee one leg at a time.[3] Make sure that any wetsuit padding is properly aligned.[4] There shouldn't be any large wrinkles or folds.[5] Once the wetsuit is up around mid thigh, switch to the other leg.
    • If either you or the wetsuit is wet and you have difficulty pulling it on, consider using plastic bags or socks on your feet. This can make it easier.[6]
    • You can also use conditioner or vegetable oil as a lubricant.
    • Work out rolls and ripples in the wetsuit as you move up your legs.
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    Pull over your hips and torso next. Once the suit is past mid thigh on both legs, gently pull the suit past your hips until the seam is nestled snugly in your crotch.[7]Now pull the suit up over your torso and onto your shoulders. Your crotch shouldn't be pinched, but you shouldn't have any loose fabric or pockets either. It should feel like a firm second skin.
    • You can jump up and down to make sure that the fit is right.[8]
    • Loose pockets will circulate cold water, ruining the purpose of the wetsuit. [9]
    • The wetsuit shouldn't overly constrict movement either. If it feels too tight or like you can't move, take it off and get a bigger size before you waste more time.
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    Insert one arm at a time. Use the same method that you did with your legs. Be careful with fingernails on the fabric.[10] Gently pull the suit up your arms and then lift it onto your chest. Just like it was with your crotch, you'll want the wetsuit to be snug and tight without constricting movement.[11]
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    Seal the deal. If you have a rear-zip wetsuit, have a friend help you zip up.[12] Reaching and trying to zip it yourself can put strain on both the zipper and suit.
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    Lock it up. Your suit should have Velcro fastenings over the zipper and at the neck area. Close these fastenings to prevent the zipper from unzipping and make your suit more watertight.[13]
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    Check the fit. Walk around, raise your knees, rotate your shoulders, bend your arms, and maybe do a few jumps or squats.[14] While you should be able to feel the snugness of the wetsuit, your movement shouldn't be overly constricted. You shouldn't have any big pockets or loose areas either.[15]
    • If your movement is constricted, take the suit off and get a bigger one.
    • If you have large pockets or loose areas, take the suit off and get a smaller one.
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    Finish up. Now that the suit is on and you have confirmed that it is properly sized, you can put your hood on if you are going to be using one. Congrats. Enjoy the water!

Part 2
Taking a Wetsuit Off

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    Unzip. If you were wearing a hood, remove it. Leave it inside out. Have a friend or partner unzip your wetsuit fully if it is a rear-zip wetsuit.
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    Remove the wetsuit from your neck and shoulders. Peel the wetsuit off of your neck and down your shoulders.[16] To get it off of your shoulders it helps to slide a thumb between your shoulder and the wetsuit.[17]
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    Slide out your arms. One at a time, remove your arms from the wetsuit. Be sure to use your fingertips rather than fingernails. [18] Pull each arm fully out of its sleeve, leaving the arms inside out.
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    Pull it down your torso and hips. Peel the suit down your torso like a banana.[19] Then you'll want to pull it past your hips in a single motion.[20] Wiggle if you need to in order to get the wetsuit past your buttocks and out of your crotch.
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    Remove your legs. Roll the wetsuit down your legs.[21] When you get to your ankles, put a hand inside of the wetsuit at the ankle and use it to hold the wetsuit leg open while you slide your foot out.[22] Repeat with the other foot when you are done. Fortunately, taking off a wet wetsuit is far easier than putting one on!
    • Leave the wetsuit inside out so that it can get some fresh air.
    • Leaving the wetsuit inside out is necessary for proper cleaning... especially since a fair amount of the time, you might end up peeing inside your wetsuit.[23]
    • Peeing inside your wetsuit is fairly normal. Not only are you stuck in it for a long time, but the pee can make the wetsuit a lot warmer.
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    Clean the wetsuit. Be sure to rinse the wetsuit down with cold, fresh water. Let the wetsuit hang dry. Never use heat or an automatic dryer to dry it. [24] Heat can cause the rubber of the wetsuit to become brittle.
    • Be sure to clean the wetsuit thoroughly, especially on the inside!


  • The suit should be a little tight, but not cutting off blood flow.
  • To allow the suit to slide on better, you can wear a dive skin or other skin tight clothes.
  • You can put hair conditioner or cooking oil in the suit to lubricate it, which may help to get it on.
  • You can wear a rash vest to stop the wetsuit from rubbing. Just be sure to put it on first.[25]
  • Be careful of long or sharp nails. Don't damage the wetsuit![26]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Swimming and Diving