Are Wetsuits Hard to Put on?

Are Wetsuits Hard to Put on?

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Have you ever been on the beach and seen people taking a swim in these tightly-fitting wetsuits? If you have, this may have got you asking yourself, are wetsuits hard to put on?

Manufacturers design wetsuits to keep swimmers warm and buoyant. They do so by insulating the swimmer’s skin from the water. The neoprene that wetsuits are made from is quite stretchy, offering a tight fit that makes these suits a bit difficult to slip on.

Read on to learn more about how tight a wetsuit should be and how you can put it on. We’ve also included some tips and tricks to make your life easier when trying to slip into a wetsuit.

Should a Wetsuit Be Hard to Put on?

The whole point of a wetsuit is to keep you warm and help with buoyancy when you’re swimming in the ocean. It does so by stopping the water from coming into contact with your skin.

This purpose is why wetsuits need to be tight. In fact, they may be the tightest-fitting article of clothing you’ll ever come across. For a wetsuit to serve its function properly, it needs to conform to every nook and cranny of your body without any creases or pockets of air.

These suits are made from neoprene, a material that makes them incredibly water-resistant but can also make them a nuisance to slip on. That being said, you should keep in mind that there’s such a thing as your wetsuit being too tight.

To make matters worse, most wetsuits have the zipper in the back. This requires you to be incredibly flexible while also doing something you can’t see!

Check out this video explaining the easiest way to put on a wetsuit.


How Tight Is Too Tight?

There are several ways to tell if that wetsuit you bought is too small for you.

Sure, a wetsuit should fit snugly on your body. However, if it’s tight to the point that you’re having difficulty breathing, you should get a bigger size. The same is true if you’re experiencing numbness due to a lack of blood flow to your extremities.

Additionally, feeling like you have a noose around your neck when you have your wetsuit zipped up is also a red flag.

The signs that a wetsuit is too tight aren’t limited to health and safety factors either. When a wetsuit is excessively tight, it can fail to serve its function properly.

That’s because when the fabric is stretched too tightly over your body, it’s overly thin in certain areas. Therefore, this inhibits the wetsuit’s ability to insulate your skin from the chilly water. The same is true when a wetsuit is stretched so tight that it’s no longer conforming to your body.

A great way to test if a wetsuit is excessively tight is to do some stretches while wearing it. That’ll help you gauge the range of motion it’ll allow you to have.

How to Make it Easier to Put on Your Wetsuit

Don’t worry, it’s not all bad news. There are many nifty tricks that you can use to make your life easier when slipping on your wetsuit.

Here are some of them:

1. Turning the Wetsuit Inside Out

Turning your wetsuit inside out is a nifty way to make putting it on a smoother task.

Start by slipping your foot through the inside-out suit and roll it up your leg. Once it’s rolled all the way up, do the same for the other leg and proceed with the arms and midsection.

2. Wearing a Dive Skin

A dive skin is another highly useful tool to use with your wetsuit. This base layer is made of Lycra that you can wear underneath your wetsuit.

Not only do dive skins make putting on a wetsuit significantly less of a hassle, but they also shelter your body from jellyfish stings.

Chances are that you’ll find good quality dive skins in the same place you’re buying your wetsuit from.

3. Using a Plastic Bag

Don’t throw away those plastic bags your groceries came in just yet. They’ll come in handy when slipping on your wetsuit.

Grab one of these bags and wrap it around your foot. You’ll find that the suit slides much easier over the plastic than it would over your bare skin. Repeat this step for your other foot. Then, do the same for your hands.

4. Using a Water-Based Lubricant

You can also use a water-based lubricant to help you put on that tight, sticky wetsuit. This is a trick that many professional scuba divers utilize to make their life easier.

Some suitable lubricants to use include baby oil and silicone gel.

5. Blowing into the Wetsuit

All the tips mentioned above are ones that you can execute on your own. However, you’ll need the assistance of a friend to execute this last one.

Slide your hands through your wetsuit’s sleeves, and then have your friend pull up the wrist and blow under it. This prevents the suit from sticking to your skin and makes it much easier to pull the sleeves up your arms.

Things to Avoid When Putting on a Wetsuit

When you’re searching for answers on how to have an easier time putting on your wetsuit, you’ll find some solutions that we highly advise against.

They include:

Using Soap or Conditioner as a Lubricant

Although using these substances as lubricants may work, it’s not without its risks.

Wetsuits don’t come cheap, and consistently exposing the neoprene in them to soap or conditioner will significantly damage it over time.

Additionally, most soaps and conditioners on the market are non-biodegradable. This means that you’ll essentially be poisoning the very water you’re swimming in as well as the marine life that calls it home.

Using Oil-Based Lubricants

Oil-based lubricants such as vaseline will make slipping on your wetsuit a piece of cake for sure. However, it’ll also wreak havoc on the neoprene in your suit.

Over time, you’ll notice that the stretchiness of your suit will diminish, leaving it more prone to cracks and tears.

Step-By-Step Guide to Putting on Your Wetsuit

Here’s a detailed guide on the steps you’ll need to take to put on your wetsuit:

1. Put on Your Dive Skin

The first thing you’ll need to do is to put on your dive skin. This base layer will make it easier to slip on your suit afterward. It’ll also reduce the risk of you developing a rash from prolonged, direct exposure to neoprene.

2. Unzip Your Wetsuit

Next, ensure that your wetsuit is unzipped all the way down. You’ll find the zipper on the back of your suit. Make sure that the zipper doesn’t have any kinks or bumps obstructing its path.

3. Slip Your Feet In

Now it’s time to start putting on your wetsuit. Your feet are the first parts of your body you should slip into the suit. Ensure that your suit’s stitching is properly aligned. Then, use the plastic bag trick we mentioned above to slide your foot in.

Once your feet are all the way through, start pulling the leg sleeves further up your leg, smoothing out any kinks or creases along the way.

4. Pull the Wetsuit Up Over Your Midsection

The next step is to get your wetsuit over your midsection. Grab the inside of your wetsuit and pull it up to your hips as high as you can.

Pull the suit up over your rear end. Remember to carry out this step slowly and carefully to avoid the bunching of fabric around your torso.

5. Slide Your Arms In

When your suit is properly secured around your legs and midsection, it’s time to turn your attention to getting your arms in.

You should do so one arm at a time. Get your hand through the sleeve and raise your arm to allow the wetsuit to fall onto your shoulder. Make sure to do this gently so that the suit is properly aligned and doesn’t inhibit your range of motion.

Repeat this step with the other arm.

6. Stretch Out

Now that your entire body is in the suit, you’re probably expecting the next step to be zipping it up. However, we’re not there quite yet. There’s one more thing you need to do first.

Do some stretching motions such as squats and extending your arms in several directions. This will do away with any lingering folds in your suit.

7. Zip Up Your Wetsuit

The final step is to zip your wetsuit up. Most manufacturers include a long cord attached to the wetsuit’s zipper to make zipping it up more convenient. All you need to do is grab this cord and pull it up to the fullest extent.

Once the zipper is all the way up, use the velcro straps on the back of your wetsuit’s neck to secure the zipper in place.


Are wetsuits hard to put on? The answer is that they absolutely can be.

Wetsuits are designed to have a highly tight fit to serve their function properly.

However, there are many ways to help yourself slip into a wetsuit more easily. These methods include using water-based lubricants, wearing a dive skin underneath, and using a plastic bag to help slide your hand and feet in.

Use these nifty tricks to make putting on your wetsuit a breeze and save your energy for your exhilarating swim!

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, a scuba diving enthusiast from San Diego, has spent over a decade exploring the underwater world across the globe. Sharing his passion through captivating stories and informative articles, Jack aims to inspire others to embark on their own scuba diving adventures and uncover the ocean's hidden treasures. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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