What to Wear Under a Wetsuit in Cold Water


Snorkeling and scuba diving are among the most enjoyable water sports activities. You can snorkel or go scuba diving just to chill on a weekend or during your vacation.

However, before getting into the water, you should wear a wetsuit. You also need to know what to wear under a wetsuit to have an enjoyable experience. You can choose what to wear depending on your preferences.

someone wearing a wetsuit

Before we continue, let’s find out why you need to wear more layers of clothing under your wetsuit.

Why You Should Wear Layers Under Your Wetsuit

Is it really necessary to wear layers under a wetsuit? Well, the answer is “Yes” for the following reasons:

Protection and Insulation

Undergarments help to keep the body warm when you are snorkeling in areas with cold temperatures.

You can always wear a thick wetsuit to keep warm. However, the heavy garment will restrict your movements and make you tire quickly. Wearing thin fabric layers under the wetsuit helps to insulate the body against the cold without draining your energy.

When snorkeling, you will encounter different temperatures. Before choosing what to wear under a wet suit in cold water, consider how cold the water is, the air temperature, and the wind above the water.

You should also know the right type of clothing (one-piece, full-body or two-piece) to wear. Ensure that the garments are made from materials that will keep you warm throughout your stay on the water.

There are also wet suits that can protect you against UV rays. Wearing these garments will protect you against scrapes, stings, bites, and cuts. The wetsuits serve as thin layers between your skin and the elements.


Snorkelers often change into their swimming wear in open places like a beach. However, wearing and removing wetsuits is not easy. This is not something that can be done quickly while covering yourself with a towel. Moreover, you may feel uncomfortable standing around in your speedos or bikini while having lunch.

Therefore, you need something that will cover you up. You can cover yourself by wearing a thin rash guard, bathing suit, or any other type of clothing underneath the wetsuit. This way, you can change the wetsuit without feeling embarrassed. 


Renting a wetsuit may not be an option if you don’t want your skin rubbing where other people have rubbed on before. It’s not hygienic to wear a wetsuit that was worn by someone else who may not have worn anything under it.

It is also advisable to wear some undergarments since some people pee in their wetsuits. You can wear some trunks or swimsuit for hygiene. 


Most snorkelers prefer going nude under their wetsuits. However, this can be uncomfortable as the skin rubs constantly against the inside of the wetsuit. For some snorkelers, the skin starts to feel sore and chafe after wearing a wetsuit for a long period of time.

The areas that suffer from wetsuit chafing include the crotch, neck, behind the knees, and armpits. To avoid this problem, apply anti-chafing cream or gel. However, wearing lycra or spandex underneath is the best solution. 

What to Wear Under a Wetsuit (for Men & Women)

What women should wear under their wetsuit isn’t the same as what men should. Here is an overview of the garments to be worn:

What Men Should Wear Under a Wetsuit

Rash Guard

It’s important to keep warm when snorkeling or scuba diving. There are various wetsuit undershirts that you can go for. However, a compression shirt or rash guard makes for the perfect layer in cold water. You can wear the shirt or rash guard to keep your arms and torso warm, and diving shorts to keep the legs warm.

Like is the case with diving shorts, compression shirts help to keep you warm and prevent the wetsuit from rubbing against your skin. The rash guard short sleeve shirt also improves blood flow to your heart.

You can also go for a long-sleeved shirt, if you are snorkeling in very cold water.

Mares Shorts

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The Mares Shorts Sleeve Trilastic Rash Guard fits well and can be worn when snorkeling or scuba diving. The rash guard features lightweight material comprising of 15% spandex and 85% polyester. These sleek materials make it slide on easily under a wetsuit.

The Mares rash guard provides 50+ UV protection, adds extra thermal protection, and reduces friction with wetsuits. The rash guard suit has flat-lock stitched seams that don’t leave your skin with marks. You can wear the shirt to protect yourself from stinging and biting creatures, as well as UV rays.

The Mares rash guard flat seam construction provides maximum comfort making the short sleeve shirt one of the snorkeling essential clothing to have.

Full-Body Jumpsuit

Full-Body Jumpsuit

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If you want your body fully covered to be warm, get a full-body jumpsuit. The NeoSport Men’s 1mm Full Suit is an excellent choice. This jumpsuit is constructed from ultra-thin neoprene material that provides comfort and natural insulation without being bulky. The qualities of neoprene also make it an excellent choice for thinner skin garments.

This jumpsuit’s design enhances the male physique and has a pull tab leash with a heavy-duty back zipper closure.

At only 1mm, this jumpsuit offers snorkelers the comfort and stretch of quality neoprene. The NeoSport suit is also suitable for layering under thicker wetsuits. All seams are spot tapped at intersecting seams for durability and flat-lock stitched for maximum comfort.

The suit has thermal bonded kneepads and Lycra trimmed ankle as well as wrist seals. Other features include an internal key pocket and an anatomical cut pattern for a snug fit.

Diving Shorts

Diving Shorts

Diving shorts are useful when worn under a suit. Apart from serving as an extra layer for snorkeling in slightly colder temperatures, they also make it easy to wear and remove your wetsuit. For the best snorkeling experience, get a pair of diving shorts made of neoprene. This material is light and buoyant, but thick enough to keep you warm.

The NeoSport Wetsuits XSPAN Shorts is an excellent choice. The garment is designed with comfortable XSPAN and ultra-soft material that doesn’t wrinkle when you wear your wetsuit. The garment features 100% XSPAN and stretch foam neoprene, which make it a great pair of diving shorts. When you wear the shorts under a wetsuit, your body will retain heat as the garments add an extra layer of thermal barrier.

You can wear the XSPAN shorts to protect yourself from the sun or when you need thermal protection. The flat-lock stitched seams make the interior and exterior smooth for maximum comfort and durability when worn under a suit. The XSPAN shorts come equipped with an off centered barrel cinch shock cord waistband that secures them properly.

Things to Consider

  • When the temperatures are cold, put on a thermal lycra garment or a thicker wetsuit to get some extra insulation and stay warm
  • Board shorts that are bulky and big will be uncomfortable under a wetsuit
  • Wear compression or spandex shorts if you don’t like speedos 

What Women Should Wear Under a Wetsuit

Here are some garments that can be worn under a wetsuit by women:

Sleeveless Vest

Compression shirts can be worn in cold water. However, most women prefer sleeveless vests, which make it easy to move the arms and shoulders while under the water. The sleeveless vests are made from lightweight, quick-dry, and thin fabrics recommended for layering under wetsuits.

Sleeveless Vest

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If you’re looking for a sleeveless top to wear under a wet suit in cold water, get the Lavacore Women’s Polytherm Vest. This garment is made of an advanced fabric (fleece, stretchy polyurethane, and water-resistant lycra) that insulates and stretches like a neoprene wetsuit.

The Lavacore vest has antibacterial and SPF 50+ sun protection properties. The vest is comfortable and wearing it on its own or under a wetsuit will ensure your body maintains the correct temperature.

Lavacore’s unique design allows flexibility and extreme movement, eliminates constriction, and regulates your body temperature. The vests are built with an exclusive Polytherm Tri-Laminate, which is used as a supplemental undergarment in cold water.

A breathable middle layer draws moisture away from the body on the surface while the windproof middle layer has anti-wing chill properties, which ensures you stay warm in cold water. The vests are extremely soft yet durable, and have anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking properties that minimizes odor while keeping you warm above and beneath the water.

The Lavacore vest is DWR (Durable Water Repellent) and has a flat seam construction throughout for comfort and stretch. During flat-lock sewing, all seams are overlapped to ensure maximum strength. If you have the best bras for 36C, you can confidently wear them with this garment.

Full-Body Jumpsuit

You can wear a lightweight and buoyant jumpsuit under your wetsuit for full-body protection and warmth. The jumpsuits are available in different fabrics and thickness. Go for jumpsuits made of naturally insulating materials rather than going for thickness.

Full-Body Jumpsuit

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NeoSport has various skin-style options for ladies. We recommend the NeoSport Women’s 1mm Full Suit, which helps to maintain your body temperature while offering the stretch and comfort that snorkelers need.

The jumpsuit has lycra trimmed ankle and wrist seals as well as thermal bonded knee pads. It is also easy to put on the suit and is suitable for layering under thicker wetsuits. The NeoSport 1mm suit has a pull tab leash and a heavy-duty YKK back-zipper closure.

All seams are spot taped at intersecting seams for durability and flat-lock stitched for comfort. The jumpsuit features an internal key pocket and an anatomical cut pattern for a tight fit. The NeoSport jumpsuit dries quickly and is very comfortable. 

Diving Shorts

Diving Shorts

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Women’s diving shorts are also a common choice for undergarments, especially when you want to feel warm. The Brix XS Scuba Diving Shorts are unisex and can be worn with wetsuits. The shorts have a form-fitting and elastic Polyolefin fleece material that’s absorbent and insulating. The material prevents them from sliding into your suit or bunching up when you make some movements.

It’s easy to wear the scuba diving shorts since the wetsuit slips over the smooth heavy 280 GSM 4-way stretch polyolefin fleece material without much effort, even when the wetsuit is wet.

Polyolefin is a polypropylene with a fleece material. The absorbent Polyolefin fleece material and the extra layering insulate and minimize water exchange to keep your body warm for long in case you get cold.

The snugly-fitting material has elastic reinforcement that prevents the uncomfortable feeling of a traditional swim trunk along the waist and thighs. The seams of the scuba diving shorts are flat-lock stitched for durability and additional strength.

Things to Consider

  • Wear a sports bikini as it fits tightly compared to a normal bikini
  • Wear a sports bra under your suit and combine it with compression or spandex shorts. This applies even if you have the best sports bra for pregnancy.
  • Avoid wearing jumpsuit with large buckles or knots as this can dig into your skin. Instead, use streamline suits and flat clasps.


Wetsuits usually maintain your body temperature when worn with an undergarment. The materials used to make them are designed to retain warmth by preventing loss of body temperature. Adding layers under your wetsuit is recommended when snorkeling in colder temperatures.

If you are wondering what to wear under a wet suit in cold water, you have a variety to consider. If you have a wetsuit that you use when the water is warm, you can wear a rash guard or a jumpsuit with it. Thus, the best clothes to wear under a wet suit will depend on the temperature and environment you intend to snorkel as well as your body’s sensitivity to cold water.


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