What Do You Wear Under a Wetsuit?

Last Updated: February 17, 2023

As a hobby, diving allows you to keep learning and give a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, it also provides you with a ton of unforgettable experiences.

And it does not take a scuba expert to tell you that a wetsuit is indispensable when it comes to diving. But a lot of people are confused about what to wear under a wetsuit when they go diving.

I’m are here to help you out with that.

What is a Wetsuit?

what to wear under wetsuit

Wetsuits are a kind of special suit worn by people who spend a considerable amount of time underwater. This is especially true for divers, swimmers, or surfers whose professional life borders on being inside cold water a lot.

A wetsuit functions by providing insulation to divers by helping them to retain their body heat while underwater. Subsequently, this allows them to avoid hypothermia, which is a condition of body temperatures dropping to dangerously low levels.

It becomes possible due to the presence of neoprene, which is a kind of rubber. This helps the suit trap thin layers of water in between the skin and the neoprene. Therefore, the one who is wearing the wetsuit is always wet.

So now you know why it is called a wetsuit in the first place.

It must also be tight at all times. Otherwise, the water layer between the skin and the neoprene layer will become too wide to keep the body warm.

Do You Wear Anything Under a Wetsuit?

A lot of people and especially first-time divers, ask what they have to wear under their wetsuits. It is a matter of personal preference. Depending on your needs and comfort, it can be a bikini or board shorts.

Most tend to wear particular gear underneath that is sport-specific. But it mostly depends on the kind of activity that they intend to participate in.

Here is a rundown of what can be worn under a wetsuit if it is a sport-specific event.

Gear For Sport Specific Events

In most cases, wetsuits are designed in a way that can keep you warm. It doesn’t necessarily have to be accompanied by something worn underneath, but many people choose to go with specific gear.

General Water Sports And Surfing

Most people in this category choose to wear board shorts or swimsuits underneath. A great alternative to board shorts can be rash undershorts or even Speedo style suits.


Those who are into open water swimming wear Speedo-style swimsuits beneath their wetsuits. But on the other hand, those who are into competitive triathlons tend to wear one-piece tri suits or bike shorts. These help triathletes to make a smooth transition to biking.

Scuba Diving

A vast majority of scuba divers choose to wear swimsuits underneath. So that is an obvious choice. But those who tend to dive in colder waters usually go for a poly fleece base layer or a full bodyguard.

The latter makes it a lot easier to put on the scuba diving suit, and the former helps keep you warm by maintaining moisture levels.

What About a Rash Guard?

Rash guard is an additional top layer, although a very thin one, that may go underneath the wetsuit. Because of the combination of sand, salt, and water, wetsuits can be irritating to the skin. Many divers would wear a rash guard as protection, even though the water is very warm and they do not need the extra insulation. It can provide protection against stingers in the water as well as UV rays on the surface. Sometimes, even wearing something under the rash guard is an option.

You Can Also Wear Nothing

It is not mandatory or a necessity to wear anything under a wetsuit. Like I have mentioned before, it depends on individual preferences. Some people find it more convenient to wear something underneath, while others do not.

There are instances where a wetsuit tends to scrunch up. Then it becomes troublesome to be able to get out of it. However, these instances are not quite common, but real nonetheless.

It is, however, advisable to wear something under your wetsuit for the following reasons:

  • If you wear it for a bit too long, it might start chafing. Once that happens, it becomes too uncomfortable to keep wearing it. So you can try to wear a swimsuit under it when it does become scratchy.
  • Sometimes, your destination can heavily influence whether not wearing anything underneath can turn out to be a problem. For instance, it might cause issues while changing in and out of wetsuits, even for experienced users at times.
  • While it might not be an option for women, men can easily roll their wetsuits down if they feel hot. During this time, it would be beneficial to be wearing something underneath.

What to Wear Under a Wetsuit to Keep Warm

Diving and surfing are two kinds of water sports that can be both entertaining and relaxing. Water sports are popular among people who want to unwind.

It is evident that a wetsuit is required for such activities, but the question remains as to what you should wear underneath in cold water to keep yourself warm? Here are a few options which serve other functions in addition to keeping you warm.

  • Surf shorts – these are standard equipment.
  • Sleeveless vests – perfect for drying up quickly, so quite a favorite for water sports.
  • Bike shorts – pretty tight and tend to cover a lot more skin than regular tights.
  • Men’s briefs – these are tight panties for men and are also recommended by instructors.
  • Neoprene vests – perfect for those who love diving but cannot withstand the cold.
  • Neoprene shorts – designed to adapt to your body contour perfectly, and it comes with added heat protection.
  • Underwear – underwear is not recommended for underwater diving, but cotton or spandex underwear can be a source of comfort.

What Do Women Wear Under a Wetsuit?

woman wearing something under wetsuit

If you are a female who is into diving, your options may be a little limited compared to men when it comes to wearing something under the wetsuit. But the few choices that do happen to be available serve their purpose efficiently.

Diving shorts

Diving shorts can be the best choice for women to wear when they go scuba diving. This is because it also provides you with extra warmth apart from being comfortable on wet skin.

These shorts are typically elastic and form-fitting. Not to mention, they are insulating and absorbent at the same time. They are usually also made of polyolefin fleece material.

On the whole, they are just long enough to keep your thighs warm but don’t bunch up when you move or slide into your suit either.

Sleeveless Vests

Women who are into diving tend to prefer sleeveless tops because those give them more freedom around the shoulders and arms. Some brands refer to these sleeveless tops as vests.

They are produced from the same lightweight and quick-drying fabrics recommended for swimming and layering under wetsuits is preferred when diving.

These vests keep you comfortable and help maintain your core temperature. So whether you are hanging out by the beach, swimming with or without an outer layer, you are in good hands.

Full Body Jump Suit

Ladies can also choose to wear a buoyant and lightweight jumpsuit for added full-body warmth and protection. They are available in various thicknesses and fabrics, but it is always recommended to learn which materials are naturally insulating instead of solely relying on consistency.

One Piece Swimsuit

The one-piece swimsuit is ideal for women who love diving but prefer the least amount of coverage and the most amount of freedom.

But, just like any other recommended undergarment, it can’t be any old swimsuit. There are swimsuits designed explicitly for under wetsuit wearing, so do make sure to check those out.

Summing Up

Now that you are aware of your options, it is time to get specific and ask yourself what do I wear under a wetsuit? Am I going to wear anything underneath at all?

If you are in warmer waters, minimal coverage underneath can serve you well. But if conditions are colder, wearing something to keep you warm is the wiser way to go.

So the answer to the question is ultimately influenced by the temperature and environmental factors, in addition to your body’s cold sensitivity.

Before purchasing any garment to wear under a wetsuit, make sure to take into account all factors. Happy diving!

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