Putting on an outdoor swimming wetsuit

How to put on a swimming wetsuit

By Hati Whiteley

Putting on a swimming wetsuit is an art. Find out how to wear it, ensure a proper fit, and change outdoors with these handy tips for a smooth swim experience.

Swim longer. Swim in colder waters. Swim faster. What do you need? The right wetsuit. Our wetsuit range is designed by swimmers for keeping warm, comfortable and buoyant. This all means you’ll have a more natural swimming style. But how do you put a wetsuit on?

Our Wetsuit Tips

  1. How do I put my wetsuit on?
  2. Do you wet a wetsuit before putting it on?
  3. How do I know my wetsuit fits?
  4. Do neoprene gloves go under or over your wetsuit?
  5. How do I get changed outdoors?
  6. How do I take my wetsuit off?

How do I put my wetsuit on?

If you are putting your wetsuit on for the first time we recommend you try it at home with your favourite swimsuit underneath. Stay cool and calm. Sweaty, stressed bodies make it much harder! And make sure your fingernails are trimmed to avoid damaging the neoprene. Use the palms of your hands, or put plastic bags or socks over your hands and feet.

  • Push your feet through the legs and, grasping the inside of the suit, feed the wetsuit as high up your legs as possible. The ankle cuffs should be a couple of inches up your leg.
  • Get the suit as high into your crotch as possible (oo-er) by feeding the suit with your palms (remember: never use your fingertips on the GlideSkin as you may spoil the streamlining). Pulling the wetsuit over your hips can be a mission. But stick with it!
  • Pull the wetsuit up over your torso and slide in your arms. Pull the wrist cuffs up a couple of inches from the wrist bone and then work the neoprene up into your armpits as much as possible.
  • Flex your shoulders backwards as you pull the zip up. If necessary, bend forwards and gently pull the neoprene up from your stomach. Remember to use the pads of your fingers!

Do you wet a wetsuit before putting it on?

Nope! It’s best if you’re dry and your wetsuit is dry. Second best is having you both wet. The problem comes when one is wet and one is dry – it makes sliding in to your wetsuit a nightmare!

How do I know my wetsuit fits?

Our wetsuits are sized for a snug fit so they are more comfortable and allow free movement in the water. They’re close-fitting to keep you warm, provide buoyancy and prevent drag when you swim.

Don’t fit it too tight. It shouldn't feel painful and it definitely shouldn’t cut off your circulation. If you are just getting into outdoor swimming or prefer a comfort fit, we would suggest going a size up.

The wetsuit should feel 'comfortably compressing' when dry and may feel tight around the collar. Unless you're into 70s glam-rock, a wetsuit will probably be the most close-fitting item you’ll ever wear. It should feel snug, with some pressure, but without restricting your range of motion. (If you’re a runner, think compression tights.)

  • Is it tight around the crotch? Your wetsuit should be pulled up so that it’s snug around the legs - there should be no room around the crotch.
  • The arm and leg length aren’t key considerations: if they're too short, it won’t affect your swimming. And if they're a little too long, you may be able to trim them down.
  • How does the collar fit? The neck is an area prone to chafing so it shouldn’t feel constrictive (wetsuits with lower cut collars are usually more generously sized and less constricting).
  • It shouldn’t be baggy around the small of your back, as it will then billow out and fill with water as you swim.
  • Tightness at the chest/shoulders? Try pulling your wetsuit further up your body and more into your armpits.
  • Fold of neoprene at joints and on limbs? Your wetsuit is too big.
  • Pulling down at the shoulder or up at the crotch? Your wetsuit is too small.
  • Too tight at the front of the neck? Try pulling the wetsuit up at the back to sit square on your shoulders. Put your hands either side of your head and slide your thumbs inside the wetsuit at the back (either side of the zip). Pull up with your fingers and thumbs and wiggle your body. Remember: don’t use your nails!

Do neoprene gloves go over or under a wetsuit?

Neoprene gloves and socks should be worn under the wetsuit. That stops them from filling up with water and keeps you nice and toasty. Neoprene accessories – like a hat, gloves and socks keep your extremities toasty in chilly waters.

How do I get changed outdoors?

If you're putting your wetsuit on at the water's edge, make sure you put a mat down on the ground to protect the wetsuit. A swimming costume under your wetsuit is optional but may protect your modesty if you fail to execute these steps cleanly. To protect your modesty, a changing robe like the Haven , is taking off in outdoor swimming circles. They’re warm, weatherproof oversized coats designed for changing under and staying warm post outdoor swim.

How do I get my wetsuit off?

Getting a wetsuit off is much easier when it is wet.

  • Pull the velcro zip flap open, find the zip lanyard and unzip all the way down.
  • Pull the wetsuit from your shoulder (using your thumb on the inside), one at a time to free your back and chest.
  • Firmly but gently, pull the suit down each arm one at a time (the sleeves will end up inside out).
  • Now peel the suit as far down as possible from the waist (just below the knees). If possible, sit down to peel it down over your legs (one at a time).
  • Your wetsuit should now be inside out.

Outdoor Swimming Swimwear and Wetsuits

Natural swimming position with thinner more flexible neoprene
Natural swimming position with thinner more flexible neoprene
Our best all-round wetsuit for outdoor swimming in open water
Our best all-round wetsuit for outdoor swimming in open water
Fleece-lined wetsuit for long swims and braving icy waters
Fleece lined cold water swimming wetsuit
Front zip wetsuit jacket. Keep warm your way and easy to put on.
Front zip wetsuit vest. Keep warm your way and easy to put on.
Wetsuit pants. Keep warm your way and easy to put on.
Wetsuit shorts. Keep warm your way and easy to put on.
Wetsuit shorts. Keep warm your way and easy to put on.
Front zip wetsuit jacket. Keep warm your way and easy to put on.

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