Putting on a wetsuit
Why struggle to put on a wetsuit?
Putting on a wetsuit can be a struggle, especially if you don’t know some of the tips and tricks. Even the tightest wetsuit can be put on with ease after you have honed the skills. It takes a bit of practice, and cheating is allowed where needed. We are lucky as surfers, as surf suits are much easier to get in and out of compared to open-cell diving wetsuits. Some of these suits even require vaseline to get them on! These are our tips and tricks on how to put on a wetsuit.
Backzip, chestzip or zipless?
If you struggle to get into a wetsuit, the quickest solution might be to choose one with a longer zip. Backzip wetsuits with a long zip are easier to get into than chest zip or zipless wetsuits. However, be aware, a long zip will take away a lot of stretch out of a wetsuit. So the shorter the zip, the harder to get into the suit, but it will gain flexibility, performance, and mobility. High-end wetsuits often have a short chest zip or no zip at all in some cases. Zipfree wetsuits are much harder to get into than wetsuits with zips. They are extremely flexible but require a bit of effort and skill to get into. They also have a bigger shoulder-opening compared to a chestzip wetsuit. This makes it easier for water to enter your suit.
How to put on a chest zip wetsuit
The most common high-end wetsuits have a chest zip, so we will focus on these when explaining how to put it on and take it off. Note that you can follow most steps for backzip and zipless wetsuits. If you struggle to get into a wetsuit, or it’s your first time putting one on, keep your socks on, or wrap your feet in a plastic bag. This makes it much easier for your feet to slide through the leg cuffs. Important notice: Never use fingernails to pull on your wetsuit, you will damage the neoprene instantly.
Open the zip fully, stick your hands inside the wetsuit and grab it on the inside by the waist. Fold the top half of the wetsuit inside out at the waistline. This will allow you to see the leg openings to stick your feet into.
Stick one of your feet into the legs and pull your heel through the leg cuff. Make sure the wetsuit is facing the right way around. Check the position of the knee pads, they should be on your knees, not at the back. Pull up your first leg over your calf and make sure the bottom of the wetsuit is at the bottom of your ankles. Don’t pull it all the way up to the knees just yet.
Repeat the last step with your other foot. Stick your foot in the leg sleeve and pull it through the leg cuff completely.
Pull up both legs bit by bit until both knees panels are in the correct position on top of your knees. Then continue pulling up your legs until your waist is where it should be. Note that the top of your wetsuit should still be inside out (except the arms).
Stick your right hand into your arm sleeve and make sure you get your hand through the cuff completely. Pull up the arm sleeve to the correct position all the way to the elbow and bicep. Then pull it over your right shoulder.
Repeat step 5, but now with your left arm. Next, pull the shoulders all the way up on both arms.
Make sure the wetsuit is pulled all the way up at the waist and crotch area. Next up is pulling the collar over your head. You can do this by grabbing the zip that is now located behind your neck.
Close the zip. Stretch your arms and legs to make sure the neoprene settles in the right place. Now get out there and surf.
If you struggle to put your wetsuit on by yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve all been there :-).
How to take off a chestzip wetsuit
Reverse the above 8 steps by opening the zip first. Pull your head through the collar opening. Slowly wiggle your shoulders, and start getting your left arm out. Once the left arm is completely out, do the same with the right arm. Your wetsuit should be completely inside out when you’re done. Make sure you rinse it with fresh water and hang it up to dry, It’s much easier to get into a dry wetsuit than a wet smelly one. Read all about how to take care of your wetsuit here.