What to Wear Under a Wetsuit

So, the guide books told you all that you need to know about diving: where to practice, what rebreather to use, how to stay safe underwater. But one thing that you probably haven’t been taught is what you should wear underneath your wetsuit!

Since you don’t want to show up on dive day without a plan, here are a few tips of the trade to answer this seemingly simple question:

Consider the Temperature

If you’re going to be exploring warm waters, you’ll probably be fine with very few undergarments and maybe even a shorty wetsuit. If even that’s too much, your best bet might be a rash guard and a pair of diving shorts.

But, if you’re facing colder temps, you’re going to want to be a little more strategic. You’ve got a couple of options, here. You can wear a thick, lined wetsuit or a thin one that you’ll layer over base pieces. Sometimes divers who know they will be using a wetsuit in multiple locations and climates will choose the latter option so that they don’t need a second suit.

Options for Men

As a guy, you’ve probably got your standard board shorts for every beach and boat outing. They’re comfortable and they look great. Unfortunately, they don’t hold up well under a suit, usually getting bunched up and caught because of the loose material. Instead, your best bet is to go with one of these alternatives:

Bicycle or diving shorts

Sure, they’ll feel uncomfortably tight at first, but fitted shorts will give you some extra warmth and allow you to get in and out of your suit easily. The best ones for diving come in neoprene, which is buoyant and warmer than other materials.

Mares Mens Rash Guard Shorts

Rash guards and compression shirts

In cold water, it’s going to be vital to keep your torso nice and cozy, so finding a good undershirt is key. Luckily, there are plenty of options, ranging in thickness and heat-retaining material.

Sanabul Essentials Short Sleeve Compression Base Layer Rash Guard

Full body jumpsuit

These tightly-fitted long-sleeved onesies are usually available in neoprene or another similar material, and are great for colder waters.

Men’s briefs or the nude

That’s right. If you want to wear your standard men’s briefs or slip into your wetsuit without a baselayer, you’re welcome to do so. Just keep in mind, you might get some strange looks on the boat if you decide to change on the deck. Better idea: if this is your preferred attire, show up to the dive spot dressed for the dive, and remember not to disrobe after you’ve climbed back on board.

Options for Women

The ladies have something of an advantage in this area. Women’s swimsuits are already fitted and don’t usually pose too many problems when putting on a wetsuit.

As long as you make sure your swimsuit doesn’t have decorations that will pinch or dig into your skin under the pressure of the wetsuit, you’re perfectly fine without buying additional pieces. Also be aware that suits that close by tying a knot or with a bulky clasp may also be uncomfortable.

O'Neill Wetsuits UV Sun Protection Womens Basic Skins Short Sleeve Crew Sun Shirt Rash Guard

And, of course, women are able to wear any of the options listed for men, as well. Diving shorts, rash guards and/or compression shirts, full body jumpsuits and more are available in women’s sizes, and are perfect for colder temperatures.

Let’s talk about rentals

Renting a wetsuit is a great alternative to buying one if you’re not someone who will be using the suit over and over again. However, renting does limit your options a bit when thinking about what to wear underneath. After all, wetsuits are form-fitting, and you want to limit your exposure as much as possible, at least in the areas that count.

So, regardless of temperature, if you’re renting a wetsuit, you’re going to want to invest in a pair or diving shorts, as well as a rash guard shirt. This will cover up the areas that are most vulnerable so that you can dive comfortably and stress-free.

You’re ready to start shopping!

Now that you’ve learned everything about diving attire that the books didn’t teach you, you’re ready to get shopping and then get diving!

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