What to Wear Under a Wetsuit for Males and Females

what to wear under a wetsuit males and females

There are various choices for both men and women to wear under their wetsuit. There is some overlap, for instance rash guards are suitable for either sex. There are also some exclusive options, mostly for women, but times are changing and perhaps adventurous men can wear them too. Furthermore, many people choose to wear nothing at all under their wetsuit.

To some degree, women have it easier since they can just wear a one-piece swimsuit which covers up a large portion of their torso. Men’s choices tend to only cover a portion of their lower body, and so they must also consider what to wear for their torso.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various options males and females have for undergarments to wear under their wetsuit.

What to wear under a wetsuit for males

Nothing (commando)

Despite the title of our article, there’s no rule saying you must wear any undergarments. In fact, some people prefer to bare it all. Plenty of surfers like to do it.

Many male surfers in particular prefer not to wear anything under their wetsuit (known as going commando). This is because the tight fit of the wetsuit can sometimes make it uncomfortable to wear anything underneath. Plus, a tight wetsuit already exposes their body shape, so perhaps they feel there is nothing left to feel ashamed about and choose to wear nothing.

Going commando does not cause any problems except perhaps hygiene issues if the wetsuit is not thoroughly cleaned afterwards. A wetsuit covers up all of the private areas so that no unsightly bits are visible. Many men find it very liberating, similar to the joys of sleeping in the nude.

The only real issue with wearing nothing under your wetsuit is that it’s very easy to expose yourself when trying to don and doff the wetsuit. It’s hard holding a towel to cover your X-rated bits, and you risk flashing people in the parking lot who might not be ready for your glorious physique.

Swimwear briefs

Speedo Men's Swimsuit Square Leg Endurance+ Solid
  • Tight compressive fit. Check measurements, may need to size up
  • LONG-LASTING: Endurance+ fabric lasts 20x longer than ordinary swimwear so you can purchase confidently
  • QUICK-DRYING: QUICK-DRYINGing fabric with low-moisture absorbing fabric

If you just want to cover up your private parts, then you can wear swimwear briefs or Speedos underneath your wetsuit. They are a solid option for protecting your sensitive parts and don’t want to risk your clothing bunching up or getting in the way of your movement underneath the wetsuit.

Having a pair of swim trunks or briefs on makes donning and doffing your wetsuit easier since you don’t have to worry about others seeing you naked when changing. Also, there won’t be any clothing that’s rolled up or twisted when donning and doffing the suit.

Rash guard

O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard, Lunar, Large
  • 6oz. Polyester/Spandex Rashguard Crew - Quick Dry, 4-way stretch
  • 50+ UV Protection Factor
  • Strategic Seamless Paddle Zones

Rash guards are a fantastic option available to both sexes to wear as a base layer underneath the wetsuit, and its name gives a clear reason as to why. When you are wearing nothing or briefs, then large portions of your skin can rub uncomfortably against your wetsuit. Rash guards are typically made from nylon, spandex, polyester, and even fleece, and they can prevent chafing and rubbing.

Thanks to these materials rash guards are breathable, offer some warmth, and will not restrict your movement. Rashes commonly occur around the neck, crotch, and sometimes armpits if you are not protected by a rash guard.

Rashies can also protect against cuts, scratches, and the sun’s harmful UV rays. Though rash guards are not quite as good as wetsuits at keeping you warm, if worn in water temperatures that are at the higher end of the range for your wetsuit, then it can cause you to heat up.

In order for a rash guard to fit under a wetsuit, you will have to get the tight-fitting version. Rash guards can also have a loose fit, but since it is being used as an undergarment in this case, having extra material will just be uncomfortable.

What to wear under a wetsuit for females

Bathing suit

Speedo Women's Standard Swimsuit One Piece Prolt Super Pro Solid Adult, Black, 38
  • Review Competitive Fit size chart before purchase; Swimmers wishing to achieve a looser fit are encouraged to choose a larger size
  • Soft, subtle finish moves nicely with the body
  • Our highest leg cut prominently in our Performance swimsuits

A one-piece bathing suit is a simple and modest way to cover up a large portion of your upper body. It doesn’t provide much in the way of warmth and protection, but like Speedos for men, they can cover up your private bits and keep the suit from chafing against it.


Century Star Women Swimsuit Halter Push Up Top Boyshort Bikini Set Two Piece Bathing Suit Swimwear B...
  • Material: Nylon & Spandex. Lightweight, moderate elasticity, quick drying and breathable fabric provides comfortable and perfect water activities.
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Women also can wear a bikini, and the choice between a bathing suit or a bikini comes down to personal preference and comfort. However, if you choose the bikini, then make sure not to wear one with a knot in it.

When a wetsuit is worn over the knot, it will press the knot into your skin. It might not seem so bad at first, but after a short period of time it starts to feel very uncomfortable and distracting.

One advantage of wearing a bikini is that you can get specific bikinis designed to be worn under wetsuits from surf companies like Roxy, and this may prove to be more comfortable than a standard bikini for everyday beachwear.

Diving or bicycle shorts

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Diving or bicycle shorts are made of neoprene which is the same material as the wetsuit. They will provide the same benefits as your wetsuit such as extra warmth and physical protection. Neoprene is buoyant, so it will make you float more easily as well.

Rash guard

Kanu Surf Women's Standard Keri Long-Sleeve UPF 50+ Rashguard, Black, Medium
  • Long raglan seam-sleeve rashguard featuring banded crew neckline and contrast logo screenprint
  • UPF 50+ rating to block sun's harmful rays
  • Machine Wash

If you want more coverage than a bikini or bathing suit can provide, try wearing a rash guard instead.

Thermal wear

Depending on the temperature of the water you will be heading into, you may want to wear a thermal layer beneath the wetsuit to keep warm. Thermals can vary in design and thickness, so you’ll want to get one that is adequate for the activity you will be doing.

Determine the temperature of the water and on land for the day you will head out. Then see if the product you are purchasing provides a temperature range for what it is designed for. Furthermore, the thickness affects not just how warm it is, but how much mobility you’ll have when wearing it. Keep in mind you’re going to be wearing this under your wetsuit, so you’ll need to factor how much space is available underneath and how much mobility you’ll have with both the wetsuit and thermal wear on.

You can get thermal tops and bottoms. These usually are rash guards with added polypropylene for better insulation. This adds a fluffy and soft feeling to the inside of a wetsuit which is warm and comfortable. You may want to wear a short-sleeved rash guard and thermal rash shorts so that your arms and legs have more mobility and your torso is kept warm.

Can I just wear my underwear?

Yes, you can just wear your normal underwear under your wetsuit. You do not need special swimwear undergarments though they do confer some advantages. Regular underwear will soak up water and leave you feeling a little heavy. It might also feel gross when you move because you will feel and hear a constant sloshing sound as your underwear gets compressed by your body movements.

Benefits of wearing something under a wetsuit

When you’re not wearing an additional layer of clothing under your wetsuit, then your skin will be in direct contact with the wetsuit and this can sometimes cause problems. Below are some of the reasons why it’s a good idea to wear something under a wetsuit. 

Prevents rubbing and chafing

Without a base layer of clothing, sometimes your skin can rub and chafe against the inside of the wetsuit. The most common areas that can get chafed are your armpits, crotch, and knees. Sometimes it can occur around the neck as well. Furthermore, if you’re a hairy individual, sometimes you can feel your hair being tugged or yanked out. This can be extremely irritating and even painful.

If you will be wearing a wetsuit for a long period of time, you will wish you had an additional layer underneath, such as a rash guard. You can use anti-chafing cream or gel on areas that are not covered up by some kind of undergarment to reduce the friction and move more freely.

More insulation

If you want to stay warm, layer up. This concept is as true on land as it is in cold water. You could be waiting around on a boat or on land before a dive, and having an extra layer can keep you warm when the weather is cold.

While there’s always the option of getting a thicker wetsuit, the downside is that thicker wetsuits will restrict your mobility. For some people, a lack of mobility is a dealbreaker. They may even find it difficult to walk around on land.

Wearing a base layer under your wetsuit can keep you warm while keeping your mobility high. You do not want to have your energy drained by cold winds before you even enter the water. When you’re in the water, you don’t want to find it hard to perform your usual movements. Even just a thin rash guard can make a substantial difference in how warm you feel and how mobile you are.

What you wear beneath your wetsuit should be in line with the surrounding conditions. For instance, in warm waters, you may only need to wear swim briefs. In temperate or cold waters, consider wearing a full-length rash guard underneath. Also consider the time you’ll spend on deck and if you’re suitably dressed for that.

If you’re going to be in warm waters, you might even prefer wearing nothing underneath.

Extra protection

Though wetsuits are already quite thick and protective, having an additional layer doesn’t hurt. You never know when you might suffer a cut or a sting so deep that it makes it through your wetsuit. Even if you stay far away from aquatic life that can potentially hurt you, there are other situations where you may scrape or cut up your wetsuit.

Furthermore, wearing something like a rash guard with a UPF rating can protect your skin from sunburns when you’re on deck or on land. Since wetsuits are so warm, you’re probably going to partially doff the wetsuit, exposing your torso to the sun’s UV rays. During this time, if you do not have some kind of sun protection clothing on, or are not applying reef-safe sunscreen, then you are at risk of getting badly sunburnt.

As you can see, in addition to keeping you warm, rash guards are very versatile and can be useful in many scenarios.


This is not so much of an issue if you wear your own wetsuit and thoroughly clean it after each dive. However, people who rent a wetsuit have no idea who wore the suit before and if it was adequately cleaned before it is loaned out to you. Even if it appears clean, sometimes the thought that someone else wore this before you is enough to make you feel grossed out.

Some people get hung up on the thought that the intimate areas of their body are rubbing against where somebody else’s intimate part was. Or they can’t get over the fact that there is a high likelihood that the previous wearer peed inside it. Yes, this is a common thing.

For hygienic reasons, it is a good idea to wear a layer of your own clothing so that your skin is not directly touching these potentially spoiled areas. Even just wearing a bathing suit can give some peace of mind that at least your private areas are kept from touching the inside of the wetsuit.


There isn’t always a clear and private area for you to don and doff your wetsuit. More than likely, you’ll have to do it in public where many wandering eyes will see you. Whether it’s on the deck of the boat or at a parking lot in a public beach, you might want to cover your private parts when you change. In that case, just about any swimwear underneath will suffice compared to being naked and awkwardly holding a towel to cover yourself.

The most coverage you can get is by wearing a full-length rash guard underneath your wetsuit. Then you can always be certain that your skin is covered up and you won’t suddenly expose yourself to an innocent, unsuspecting child who just happened to walk by. You also don’t want to give perverts the satisfaction of looking at your uncovered body when changing.

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API