How To: Putting on and taking off your open-cell wetsuit

By far one of the most exciting moments in a freediver’s life is when that shiny new custom wetsuit has arrived and it’s time to go for your first freedive session in it.

How you tackle that first five minutes before entering the water will determine whether the first freedive (and your life) is filled with joy or abject failure. Please read on…

There are two different types of open-cell freediving wetsuits we’ll cover here, both are two-piece with jacket and pants:

  1. open-cell/lined
  2. open-cell/smoothskin
  • In both cases, you MUST use a lubricating liquid, fluid or layer to put the suit on.
  • For the smoothskin, you MUST also use a lubricating liquid on the outside!

1. OPEN-CELL / LINED WETSUIT

WaterMaarq StingRay 5mm Freediving Wetsuit Blue Jacket_Hem1An open-cell/lined wetsuit means that the inside of the wetsuit is open-cell neoprene, think of a rubbery and tacky surface that likes to stick to whatever surface it’s against.

The outer layer is lined with a fabric weaved material which protects the fragile neoprene layer from external damage, imagine something like lycra on the outside of your wetsuit.

These suits are more resistant on the outside compared to the smooth skin, but require a healthy dose of soapy water to put them on.

Here’s a choice YouTube clip from the guys at Wettie Spearfishing TV in New Zealand, showing how to put on an open-cell/lined wetsuit. They even took the pleasure in speeding up the video for all viewers.

How to put on an open-cell/lined wetsuit:

 


 

2. OPEN-CELL / SMOOTHSKIN WETSUIT

**WARNING**

Be careful and patient.

WaterMaarq FiddlerRay 4_3_2mm Freediving One Piece Wetsuit Black_Rear Left CalfOpen-Cell / Smoothskin wetsuits are the best choice for comfort, elasticity and warmth, however this comes at the price of being fragile, delicate and easily damaged. 

Open-cell/Smoothskin wetsuits (such as with Yamamoto material) must be used correctly to prevent damage like tears, cuts and abrasions.

Like the open-cell/lined wetsuit, the open-cell/smoothskin has the same internal structure, sticky and tacky rubber.

For the Smoothskin, the key difference is that you must use plenty of soap, BOTH on the inside and outside layers of the suit.

Here’s a demonstration from YouTube from the guys at XT diving pro workshop. They do it right!

How to put on an open-cell/smoothskin wetsuit:

 

WETSUIT CARE AND MAINTENANCE TIPS

Below are a few important tips for how to get the best out of your high-end wetsuit:

  • Always use lots of soapy water or wetsuit lubrication to dress in your wetsuit. Use water mixed with plenty of soap / conditioner or a brand name wetsuit lubricant
  • Never user your fingernails to pull on the material, always use an open palm to slide the wetsuit over your body. Use plenty of soapy lubrication, more than you think you need
  • Never apply a single pressure to a part of the wetsuit
  • Use plenty of water when taking off your wetsuit. Use additional lubrication if necessary. OR take it off in the water before you get out
  • Never hang or rest your wetsuit in direct sunlight, the harsh rays can damage the wetsuit materials
  • Always rinse your wetsuit in fresh water after use. From time to time use a recommended wetsuit cleaning product, particularly if your wetsuit is developing odours
  • ONLY ever use the correct method of putting the wetsuit on and taking it off, don’t take any shortcuts!

OPTIONS FOR SOAP / LUBRICANT / WATER

Looking for alternatives to soapy water mixed from hair conditioner?

  1. Put the wetsuit on IN the water. Jump in the water with your wetsuit OFF and then proceed to put it on, filling the wetsuit with water whilst you remain in the water. Remember to drain the wetsuit of excess water before continuing.
  2. When the wetsuit and you are completely dry only: Apply talcum powder to the inside of the suit and to your body, the suit must be dry to utilize this donning technique. ONLY for Open-cell/Lined wetsuits.
  3. Soapy Water? Stick with biodegradable fluids, most usually hair conditioner, with warm / cold water. Apply liberally to your body and the suit. If your skin is sensitive, choose brands that suggest they are for sensitive skin.