What to Wear Under a Wetsuit for Open Water Swimming

The water temperature outdoors can be very chilly, even with a wetsuit on. Furthermore, some people may simply feel uncomfortable going commando under their wetsuit. So what are some good swimming-appropriate options to wear under a wetsuit?

What to Wear Under a Wetsuit for Open Water Swimming

Whether you need to wear anything under your wetsuit largely depends on your personal comfort and the specific circumstances of your swim. Some people prefer to wear a swimsuit under their wetsuit for added comfort, modesty, or warmth. For example, women often wear a one-piece or two-piece swimsuit, while men might wear swim briefs or jammers.

In this article, we will discuss the rationale behind wearing something under a wetsuit, what the best options are, and how to avoid the downsides of wearing something under a wetsuit.

What are the benefits of wearing something under a wetsuit?

There are a few potential benefits to wearing something under a wetsuit. One is additional warmth. While wetsuits are designed to keep you warm by trapping a layer of warm water between your skin and the suit, an additional layer can provide extra insulation in colder water.

Another potential benefit is comfort. Some people find that wearing a layer under their wetsuit reduces chafing and makes the suit more comfortable to wear, especially during long swimming sessions or races.

Modesty can also be a reason, as it can be more convenient to remove the wetsuit after swimming if you have a swimsuit underneath.

Will wearing something under my wetsuit affect its performance?

Wearing something under your wetsuit can potentially affect its performance, but the impact is typically minimal.

A wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water between the suit and your skin, which your body then warms up to keep you warm. If you wear something under your wetsuit, it can potentially interfere with this process.

However, as long as the clothing you wear is close-fitting and made of a suitable material (like a swimsuit), the impact on the wetsuit’s performance should be minimal.

Can I wear regular clothing under my wetsuit?

No, do not wear regular clothing under your wetsuit. Regular clothes are not designed to be worn in the water and can become heavy and uncomfortable when wet. They may also interfere with the wetsuit’s ability to keep you warm by trapping a layer of water between your skin and the suit.

If you prefer to wear something under your wetsuit, it’s usually best to stick with swimwear or specially designed wetsuit undergarments. Even sportswear, which seems like it would be a viable substitute for swimwear, are risky options.

How do I prevent chafing when wearing a wetsuit?

Chafing is a common issue with wetsuits, especially during long swimming sessions, and doubly so if you’re wearing something underneath your wetsuit. Here are some tips to prevent it:

  1. Proper fit: Make sure your wetsuit fits correctly. It should be snug but not so tight that it restricts movement or circulation. A wetsuit that’s too loose can rub and cause chafing.
  2. Lubricate: Apply a wetsuit-friendly lubricant to areas prone to chafing. These areas typically include the neck, underarms, and inner thighs. Be sure to use a lubricant that won’t damage the wetsuit material, as petroleum-based products can degrade the neoprene.
  3. Rinse well: After each use, rinse your wetsuit thoroughly in fresh water to remove salt, sand, and other debris that can cause chafing.
  4. Wear something underneath: As previously mentioned, wearing a swimsuit or other appropriate undergarments can help reduce chafing by providing an additional layer of protection between your skin and the wetsuit. Ironically, the undergarment can cause chafing, so make sure it’s snug-fitting and apply some anti-chafing balm just in case.
  5. Use anti-chafe balm or tape: There are products specifically designed to prevent chafing that can be applied to the skin before putting on the wetsuit. These products can be particularly helpful for long-distance swimmers or those prone to chafing.

Please note that if you continue to experience chafing despite taking these steps, it could be a sign that your wetsuit doesn’t fit correctly or that it’s time for a new one.

Key Takeaways

You don’t have to wear anything under your wetsuit for open water swimming, but if you really want to, then you can just wear your regular swimwear underneath.

That means things like:

  • One or two-piece swimsuits, even a bikini
  • Jammers, briefs, square leg suits
  • A trisuit
  • A rash guard

All of the above are acceptable options. Just make sure to keep some anti-chafing balm on hand in case your undergarments end up chafing. Either that or get a thicker wetsuit for better insulation.