Surf's Up Magazine

What do you Wear Under a Wetsuit?

  • Date: February 9, 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Wetsuits are required to keep you warm in cooler seas. They might, however, be perplexing if you haven’t worn one before. Wetsuits for surfers are tight-fitting and must be properly sized to ensure that they function and keep surfers warm.

However, they may be unpleasant to the touch and cause some people to question what to wear beneath their wetsuit. In summary, here’s what you can wear under a wetsuit:

  • Men: rash guard, trunks or nothing
  • Women: rash guard or swimsuit
  • For warmth: thermal top and bottom

Let’s take a closer look at each of these in more depth below.

what do you wear under a wetsuit

What to Wear Under a Wetsuit for Men?

Men have four distinct options for what to wear beneath a wetsuit. Each depends on personal comfort and the water temperature you are surfing in.


Wetsuits for males are not often worn beneath. This is due to the close fit of a surf wetsuit, which causes it not to matter if anything is underneath.

It’s not difficult to go ‘commando,’ and it doesn’t cause any difficulties. Going without anything under a wetsuit for men is not an issue because the suit covers everything.

The only difficulty is that getting changed after a surf may be a little difficult. Because you have nothing on beneath, you’ll need to be cautious with your towel to avoid exposing yourself in the parking lot after a swim!

Swim Trunks

If you’re a little apprehensive about wearing nothing, consider slipping on a pair of swim trunks or Speedos beneath your wetsuit. These are an excellent choice because they’re thin and protect the most sensitive regions without getting in the way or wrapping up when putting your wetsuit on.

If you’re wearing a wetsuit and prefer to keep it on when swimming, consider putting on a pair of swim trunks under it.

You don’t have to worry as much if you don’t have anything on underneath because you have a pair of swim trunks on.

black speedo

Rash Guard

A rash guard is a wonderful alternative for specific wetsuits, owing to its name. Rash guards are thin tops made of spandex and nylon or polyester that may be long or short-sleeved. They create a protective barrier over your skin from chafing while you swim.

Since rash guards were created, surf wetsuits have advanced tremendously. These protections emerged from a need since prior wetsuits often caused a severe rash around the neck and sometimes the armpits.

Fortunately, rash guards are no longer necessary for wetsuit protection. They do still provide a pleasant layer beneath your surf wetsuit if you have one that is uncomfortable.

Standard rash guards aren’t made for warmth. However, if you wear them in water temperatures that are at the higher end of the surf wetsuit temperature range, they can make you feel a little warmer.

What Should Women Wear Under a Wetsuit?

Typically women tend to either wear a swimsuit or bikini under their wetsuit or a rash guard.

Swimsuit or Bikini

For the most women, a swimsuit works well beneath a wetsuit. It’s clearly a modest choice and doesn’t offer much warmth. Nevertheless, it can still provide a decent protective layer if your wetsuit is unpleasant to wear due to sensitivity or tightness.

Make sure to get a bikini with no knots. Because the knot compresses against your skin when worn beneath a wetsuit, it can be uncomfortable to surf in.

One nice bonus about wearing bikinis beneath wetsuits for female surfers is that you can obtain special surf bikinis. Surf brands like Roxy offer bikinis that are softer and more conducive to wearing under a wetsuit.

womans swimsuit


Like with men, a rashguard is another viable alternative for women to wear under a wetsuit. Women’s rashguard’s come in a variety of cool colors and designs.

What do you Wear Under a Wetsuit to Stay Warm?

Because of the colder temperatures, this part covers choices for both males and females, because all riders require essentially the same equipment.

Thermals for Warmth

On the other hand, if you are swimming in a warm pool or on a hot summer day, then you may want to remove your wetsuit and let it dry. You will definitely want to wear thermal layers underneath your wetsuit to keep warm in the colder months of the year.

The thing to remember is that it’s all about balance. There’s a balance between warmth and flexibility, so think about how cold you think you’ll be before purchasing one.

Thermal Top

A thermal layer is a rash guard with polypropelene added for warmth. This adds a silky and fluffy feel to the interior of a wetsuit, making it both pleasant and warm.

You may also utilize a long-sleeved thermal rash guard to take it one step farther. Despite the minor difference, adding this in can provide considerably more warmth.

However, thermal rash guards with sleeves provide an additional, thicker layer beneath the suit. Because it can make your suit quite tight around the shoulders, this can make paddling more difficult.

Alternatively, you may go for a thermal rash guard vest. These do give the same amount of warmth as a long sleeve thermal rash guard while also providing more freedom to your paddling.

A thermal rash guard with a neoprene wetsuit hood in one is another good solution if you’re going for more severe temperatures. This is an excellent choice since the rash guard and hood are connected, preventing cold-water flushing down your suit’s back.

Thermal Bottoms

Thermal rash pants may be worn to keep your midsection and thighs warm. These don’t get in the way of your movements, but they do provide a really nice little boost of warmth around your middle!

Look for a decent polypropylene set of thermal trunks, such as thermal bikinis from O’Neill. We say that because we’ve tried using cheaper swimwear makers’ options and they didn’t fit as well beneath a wetsuit.

The surf apparel thermal bottoms are smaller and don’t roll up when you’re putting on your wetsuit.


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