How does one put on a wetsuit? It might seem like a silly question if you’ve never tried. In reality putting on a wetsuit falls somewhere in between deciphering the Da Vinci code and astrophysics. I would hazard to guess that 100% of surfers have had a traumatizing wetsuit experience(TME) like falling over while entering/exiting or putting one on backwards.
Here are some tips to prevent TMEs to help beginners get in (and out) of their first wetsuit. Old dogs might learn a trick too.
Buying a wetsuit
“Tight is right,” suits loosen up a smidgen when wet. Don’t go too big or the suit will just fill with cold water like a torturous water balloon.
Go to a reputable surf shop and have a pro help you with sizing, ask what thickness of suits are normal to wear in your area. Shop around to get a feel for prices and advices before you buy. Remember that if the surf is pumping and the weather is freezing you’re going to want to stay out for a long time. Personally I’m willing to sacrifice some flexibility for warmth.
TIP #1 most surfers don’t wear anything under their suits. that doesn’t mean you should try wetsuits on this way. Wait until you own the thing.
Getting Into a Wetsuit
Newer, more flexible wetsuits have made getting in and out a-lot easier. Unfortunately top of the line wetsuits will cost top dollar, leaving most of us with less user friendly models. Be patient and practice at home if you don’t want to waste time exposed to the cold.
Try not to pull on weak parts of the suit; this might rip the neoprene. Getting in one foot at a time will save you grief, as will getting one arm in at a time!
Tip # 2 My cousin always leaves his socks on when he’s changing. For a while I thought he was just forgetful, but then I realized this was a calculated move. The socks make it easy for your feet to slide into the suit, you won’t have to hop around the parking lot half-naked trying to get your feet through the legs. Some people use plastic bags in place of socks for this technique, just be sure to take off the bags (or socks) before you head to the water.
Consider buying or making a changing mat! wetsuits are expensive! If you use a changing matt it will extend the life of your investment. A good mat will keep you from dragging your suit though the gravel, sand and dirt that you will usually be changing in. This will save you time rinsing your suit too.
Tip #4 WET WETSUITS WILL NEVER EVER BE FUN TO PUT ON, but it’s always worth it. (ok maybe not but give me credit for trying to inspire you)
Tip #5 Changing when you’re numb: Be pro-active when it is cold, pack a jug of hot water wrapped in a blanket to rinse with after your session. -OR- Take a leap of faith and sneak into the nearest hotel hot tub*…
*Nice Rack does not condone trespassing into hotel pools or hot-tubs…
Got any wetsuit tips or tricks? Have you ever filled a wetsuit up with a hose to become a human water balloon? Let us know on Facebook!