How to put on and take off a wetsuit

Why struggle to put on a wetsuit?

Putting on a wetsuit can be a struggle, especially if you don’t know the best techniques yet. 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, surf suits are much easier to get in and out of compared to open-cell diving wetsuits for example that require vaseline to slide into. We will guide you through the process on how to put on and take off a wetsuit

Surfer fitting SRFACE wetsuit

Backzip, chestzip or zipless?

If you really struggle to get into a wetsuit or if you are just a big guy, the best way might be to choose a wetsuit with a longer zip, especially backzip suits with a long zip are easier to get into than chest zip or zipless suits. 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 wetsuit, nevertheless 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 a wrestle to get into. They also have a bigger shoulder-opening compared to a chestzip suit, this makes it easier for water to flush into your wetsuit.

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 most instructions are the same for both backzip and zipless suits also. 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.

Step 1

Open the zip fully, stick your hands inside the suit and grab it on the inside by the waist. Fold the top half of the wetsuit inside out at the waistline, (except your arms). This will allow you to see the leg openings to stick your feet into.

Step 2

Stick one of your feet into the legs and pull your heel through the leg cuff. Make sure the suit 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 one 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 knee yet.

Step 3

Do the same with your other foot, stick your foot in the leg sleeve and pull it through the leg cuff completely.

Step 4

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 suit should still be inside out except the arms.

Step 5

Stick your right hand into your arm sleeve and make sure you put 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 one shoulder.

Step 6

Repeat step 5, but now with your left arm. Next, pull the shoulders all the way up on both arms.

Step 7

Make sure the suit is pulled all the way up at the waist and crotch area and your knees are still both on the knee panels. Next up is pulling the collar over your head. You can do this by grabbing the zip that is now located behind your neck.

SRFACE wetsuit YKK zip detail

Step 8

Close the zip. Stretch your arms and legs to make sure the neoprene settles in the right place. Now go get barreled.

If you struggle to put on your wetsuit on by yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially to get your wetsuit over both shoulders to sit right, or to close your zip if you have a backzip wetsuit.

Surfer storing his wetsuit in the SRFACE wetsuit bag

How to take off a chestzip wetsuit?

Reverse the above 8 steps by starting to open the zip, pull your head through the collar opening and wrap the suit of you from top to bottom so it is completely inside out when you are done. Don’t try to pull on your arm or leg cuffs trying to pull through your hands or feet, it’s much easier to take off the wetsuit inside out. 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.