How To Put On a Freediving Wetsuit (the easy way)

Freediving instructor coaching another freediver underwater in light blue water.

Freediving instructor coaching another freediver underwater in light blue water.

Putting on an open cell wetsuit can be a bit intimidating the first few times. However, with practice, you can easily put on the suit in just a few easy steps:

Here’s how you can put on a freediving wetsuit in 6 easy steps:

1. Create a wetsuit lubricant.
2. Apply the soapy solution to your wetsuit pants.
3. Put on the wetsuit pants.
4. Lubricate your wetsuit top.
5. Put on the wetsuit shirt.
6. Double check fit of the wetsuit.

As you can see, it’s relatively simple to put on a freediving wetsuit, but it takes a bit of practice. The rest of this article will explain the above steps in detail, along with some tips to help you put on a freediving wetsuit like a pro. First, let’s look at the differences between an open cell and a closed cell wetsuit.

Which To Use? – Open Cell vs. Closed Cell Wetsuit

An open-celled wetsuit is designed for freediving, goes directly on the skin, and doesn’t include any inner lining. The lack of an inner lining means that the rubbery neoprene comes into direct contact with the skin, making the wetsuit stick to the body.

A closed-cell wetsuit includes an inner liner that is made from nylon, polyester, and other fabrics. The lining isn’t as porous and won’t have skin-to-neoprene suction. Unlike the open-celled wetsuit, water will flow into the wetsuit. A closed-cell wetsuit is generally not strong enough for freediving and shouldn’t be used.

So, how do you put on your wetsuit?

1. Create a Wetsuit Lubricant

An open-celled wetsuit is perfect for freediving but does have its difficulties because of the porous fabric. Due to this, the suit will be dry on the inside and extremely hard to put on. The key to slipping into any wetsuit is to lubricate it well before putting it on.

Luckily, you can either purchase a wetsuit lubricant or create your own with only a few materials. However, you need to find a bottle that can hold 1-1.5 L (33.8-50.7 oz) of liquid. One-liter soda bottles or milk cartons tend to work well for this.

Fill the bottle up with water and then put in a few squirts of dishwashing soap or shampoo. Baby shampoo is best because it’s light on the skin and won’t irritate your eyes. So, after adding a few squirts, shake up the bottle until the water and shampoo are well mixed.

Wetsuit Lubricant Alternatives

Wetsuit lubricant is essential for any type of closed celled wetsuit and should not be skipped. However, there may be a bit of confusion as to what type of lubricant you can use. There are two significant types of wetsuit lubricants – store-bought or DIY.

Below, you’ll find a quick breakdown of various wetsuit lubricants and when they are most suitable:

  • Water + ConditionerMix a 12 oz bottle (0.35 L) of water with one good glug of hair conditioner. This mixture is suitable for light lubrication and it is portable. If you need more suds, you can add another glug.
  • Water + Baby Shampoo – This mixture is a popular option because it won’t burn your eyes. It uses 1 liter of water mixed with a few pumps of baby shampoo. This is perfect for any occasion.
  • Water + Dish Soap – Mix a 12 oz bottle (0.35 L) with a few tiny drops of dish soap. This makes a bubbly mixture that should help you slide in if you’re having difficulty.
  • Wetsuit Lube – You can buy wetsuit lube at your local dive store or online.

2. Apply the Soapy Solution to Your Wetsuit Pants

With the soap solution ready, start the application from the bottom of your wetsuit. Be sure to pinch off at the ankles to prevent the solution from running down the legs and outside. Remember to hold your pants by the top and point the pant legs towards the ground as if you were standing in them, as it’s the most effective way to apply the soap.

After that, take the soapy solution and apply a bit to the inside of your pants. Pour around half the bottle inside the pants and then pinch the top of the pants shut. Shake the wetsuit pants around to ensure that the soapy solution gets all over.

3. Put On the Wetsuit Pants

Now, remove your underwear and slip on the pants using your hands as a guide. You don’t want to pull on the wetsuit, as this will be more hassle. If you are struggling to slide the wetsuit on, it’s not lubricated enough. Adding more soapy solutions can help alleviate this problem.

Remember to slide your legs in one at a time. If you try to put both on, you will end up getting stuck. So, slowly pull one leg up until it reaches your back end and then pull up around the hips.

4. Lubricate Your Wetsuit Top

The next step is to repeat the process of lubricating the rest of your suit. To lubricate the top half of your wetsuit, repeat the pinching process. Pinch and seal off the bottom of the shirt and pour in almost all of the remaining solution.

From there, pinch the neck and armholes and the bottom of the shirt and shake the solution around. Use your hand to guide the soapy solution around the inside to ensure that it’s fully lubricated. Just remember to save a bit of soapy solution in the bottle in case you need it later.

5. Put On the Wetsuit Shirt

To put the wetsuit shirt on, start by moving your hands and arms through the sleeves. Pull the wetsuit up to your shoulders and make sure that it’s snug against your body. After that, raise the suit with your arms above your head.

From there, slide your head through the head hole and get your shoulders in. Stand with your back straight and bring your shoulders down once your head slides into the hood. Keep pulling the wetsuit top over your body until it’s on your entire body.

6. Double Check Fit of the Wetsuit

A wetsuit should fit the curvature of your body, and there should be no lumps. If you notice any wrinkles or feel unusual, then it’s best to take the wetsuit off and try again. Don’t worry if you don’t get it on ideally the first time. Putting on a wetsuit takes practice.

Tips & Tricks

Below are some essential tips and tricks that can make putting on a freediving wetsuit smooth:

  • Always use lubricant and don’t try and put your wetsuit on without any.
  • The best lubricants are either a shampoo and water mixture or a name-brand wetsuit lubricant.
  • If you have fingernails, trim them and don’t pull on the fabric of your wetsuit with nails. Always use your palm and fingers to slide it over your body.
  • Lubrication is necessary when putting on a wetsuit and when taking a one-off.
  • After each use, make sure to thoroughly wash your wetsuit in freshwater as it prevents odors.
  • Always allow your wetsuit to hang dry after rinsing but avoid placing it in direct sunlight.

Freediver on water surface inhaling while wearing black mask and wetsuit.

Final Thoughts

Putting on a freediving wetsuit is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. As long as you’re consistent with using lubrication and allow it to fully dry between uses, it’ll be no more difficult than putting on regular clothes.

About the Author Gerrie van Niekerk - Apnealogy

Gerrie is a passionate Freediver, Spearfisher, Digital Marketer, and author for the Apnealogy website. Gerrie is an SSI Level 1 certified Freediver who loves geeking out about freediving and spearfishing gear and lives for his family and adventure.

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