Whether you’re surfing, diving, or swimming, wearing a wetsuit is essential to keeping your body warm and protected from the elements.
As a PADI Divemaster working in the scuba diving industry, a question I get asked a lot is:
What should I wear under my wetsuit?
The answer is, you should wear whatever is most comfortable for you. The most common garments worn under wetsuits include:
- Rash Guards
- Compression Boxers
- Dive Sleeve
- Diving Shorts
If you’d like to learn more about the best options of what to wear under a wetsuit, as well as the when and why, then keep reading!
Table of Contents
Why Wear Something Under a Wetsuit
The main reasons why someone would want to wear a wetsuit undergarment are for hygiene purposes, extra comfort, and warmth.
Below, we’ll go more in-depth on the main reasons why someone should wear something under a wetsuit.
The first reason why you’d want to wear something under a wetsuit is for hygiene and cleanliness purposes.
Wetsuits trap sweat, bacteria, and other unpleasant odors easily. I can’t speak for other water activities, but it’s very common for scuba divers to pee in their wetsuits.
By having something underneath your wetsuit, it can help prevent the buildup of these substances and keep your wetsuit smelling fresh.
The next reason why you’d want to wear something under your wetsuit is that wetsuits can often be tight and uncomfortable, especially if they are not the right size.
Wearing an extra layer underneath your wetsuit can provide extra cushioning, and eliminate chaffing, making your wetsuit more comfortable to wear.
Another reason you might want to wear something underneath your wetsuit is to stay warmer than you would with just a wetsuit.
Wetsuits come in several thicknesses (1mm, 3mm, 5mm, 7mm etc) in order to protect against different levels of cold exposure, but sometimes you may want even more protection.
You really should wear the right wetsuit for the job, but there might be cases where you only own one length wetsuit, and travel to somewhere colder than you dive otherwise.
In this scenario, wearing an extra layer would be the next best option to getting a thicker wetsuit.
Types of Wetsuits Undergarments
Now that you have an idea of why you’d want to potentially wear something under a wetsuit, it’s time to go over the different options you have for wetsuit undergarments.
Rash guards are a popular choice for those who want an extra layer of protection from the sun and chafing.
They are made of a stretchy, quick-drying material that is designed to fit snugly against the skin.
Rash guards come in long and short sleeve options, and some even have built-in hoods for additional warmth.
They are a great option for warmer water temperatures and can be worn alone or under a wetsuit.
Wetsuit Shorts or Pants
Wetsuit shorts or pants are designed to be worn under a wetsuit to provide additional insulation and protection.
They are typically made of neoprene and come in a variety of thicknesses to suit different water temperatures. Wetsuit shorts are great for warmer water temperatures, while wetsuit pants are better suited for colder water.
They are also a good option for those who prefer not to wear a full wetsuit.
Neoprene Tops or Vests
Neoprene tops or vests are another option for those who want extra insulation under their wetsuit.
They are typically made of the same material as wetsuits and come in a variety of thicknesses.
Neoprene tops are great for warmer water temperatures, while neoprene vests are better suited for colder water.
They are also a good option for those who want to add additional warmth to their core without wearing a full wetsuit.
Dive skins are thin, stretchy suits that are designed to be worn under a wetsuit.
They are made of a lightweight, quick-drying material that provides additional insulation and protection.
Dive skins are a great option for warmer water temperatures and can be worn alone or under a wetsuit.
They are also a good option for those who want an extra layer of protection from jellyfish stings and other marine life.
Ultimately, the choice of wetsuit under garments all comes down to personal preference.
Some people prefer thicker undergarments for added warmth, while others prefer thinner undergarments for more flexibility and mobility.
Assuming you’re wearing a wetsuit that fits you correctly, and is the right thickness for the environment, there isn’t much need to wear anything more than a bathing suit under your wetsuit.
Some divers and watersport lovers elect to go completely nude under there.
If chafing is a concern, or you’re worried about sun exposure during the time your wetsuit isn’t completely on, rash guards can be worn.