What Do Surfers Wear Under A Wetsuit?

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There are some pretty strict rules to follow when it comes to choosing and wearing a wetsuit. You want a wetsuit that is comfortable and protective, one that isn’t too big or small, and one that suits the weather conditions.

When it comes to what you wear under the wetsuit when you surf, you have 3 options: wear compression shirts, board shorts, or nothing at all.

Let’s take a look at our options for next time you need to wear a wetsuit.

What to Wear Under a Wetsuit

What you wear underneath your wetsuit is entirely up to you.

A good wetsuit is designed to keep you warm even when you’re not wearing anything underneath. But if you want extra warmth and comfort, you can choose to wear additional clothing and protection.

It all comes down to preference, but the reason for wearing a wetsuit in the first place may help you to decide:

Surfing and Other Watersports

Surfers tend to wear board shorts, bathing suit, compression shorts or nothing at all. Board shorts can be a little loose and with a very thick wetsuit, they might start bunching and make you uncomfortable. If so, you should switch to neoprene compression shorts / board short liners.

Women can also wear neoprene shorts for lower body coverage and there are sleeveless tops for upper body coverage.

You can also go commando and wear nothing at all under your wetsuit. You may be more comfortable and the water may circulate easier throughout your wetsuit.

SCUBA Diving

Many cold-water SCUBA divers prefer to wear a full body rash guard or other protective layers. It makes it easier to slide into a SCUBA suit and the extra layer will also help to keep them comfortable and warm.


Many open-water swimmers opt for a simple bathing suit or tri-suit. It makes it easier to move from the water to a bike.

Wearing Nothing Under a Wetsuit

Whether you’re surfing, swimming, or SCUBA diving, having an extra layer under your wetsuit can be uncomfortable. The clothing underneath tends to bunch and pull. You can avoid this issue by wearing nothing at all.

It’s a perfectly acceptable practice, and as long as you’re not changing in front of a beach full of tourists, no one will question it. However, you’ll need to be aware of wetsuit chafing and your options will be limited when it comes to changing.

You can use anti-chafing gel to counteract the constant rubbing, but you may find that it’s easier and more comfortable just to wear some clothing.

Summary: What to Wear Under a Wetsuit

What you wear underneath your wetsuit will ultimately come down to what makes you comfortable and whether or not it’s convenient.

If you do decide to wear some extra layers under your suit, make sure you account for the additional protection.Choose a thinner wetsuit if you’re wearing additional layers underneath and a thicker wetsuit if you’re going commando.