Tips for changing in & out of chest entry wetsuits

Chest entry wetsuits are great - less zip means less chance of water sneaking its way into your cozy wetsuit. And you don't get that annoying wetsuit 'crumple' at the base of your neck. But...we know it's not easy the first time you put your front entry wettie on - and even more tricky is the first time you have to take it off. Especially in mid winter when your hands are like human claws and you're alone in a deserted car park...panic can start to set in just a little bit! So here are just a few little tips we've picked up along the way...

Quick tips for getting INTO your front entry wetsuit

  • to start with, make sure the elastic on the side of the chest flap (the red elastic in the C-Skins wetsuit shown above) is as open as possible or it will be difficult to go over your head
  • don't pull your wetsuit hard, feed it up your legs and arms to stop damage to the seams
  • plastic bags over your feet can help your suit go on easier (& make you feel like a certified odd ball)
  • only start trying to put your arms in once the wetsuit is properly on your legs and torso - get all those wrinkles out!
  • put in the arm that is closest to the base of the zip first (your right arm on C-Skins suits)
  • once the zip is closed, tighten the elastic on the side of the zip using the toggle, to stop flushing.

Tips for getting OUT of your chest zip suit:

  • Again, make sure that elastic on the side of the chest flap is open ALL the way and your neck and head will be grateful!
  • If you are wearing a hooded suit, your hood will need to be ON your head properly before you can get out of your suit. So if your hood is pushed back on your head around your neck only, you need to put it back on before you start!
  • Get out ONE arm all the way first. Don't do both arms at once - you will stretch the neck. We find the opposite arm that you put in first - ie where there is no zip closure. (on C-Skins wetsuits this will be your left arm)
  • Using your right hand pull the left sleeve of wetsuit down, as if you want the elbow part of your wetsuit to reach where your wrist is. Then grab the neck opening and pull it down so it gets past your elbow. Bend your elbow to 'hook' the shoulder part and stop it popping back up to your shoulder - once you've got that elbow out, it's plain sailing! Bit by bit pull out the rest of your first arm. 
  •  Put your other arm straight alongside your body & using your left hand pull the wetsuit from the neck all the way down your torso and right arm. Then pull out your right arm and hey presto - you're almost there.
  • In winter, this would be when to take off your booties. No need to take them off at the beginning & make your feet freeze.
  • Gently pull the wettie down the rest of your body bit by bit and don't pull harshly in one go - your wetsuit will start to leak at the seams pretty soon if you pull too much
  • Get a cup of coffee & remember to rinse your wetsuit when you get home. Don't use harsh detergents - if you don't have designated wetsuit soap then shampoo is an ok substitute. 
  • Remember don't leave your wetsuit sitting out in the sun (or ice!) for days - this damages the glue on the seams. 


Photo credit: Maura Tilbury


If it's your first time putting on a chest entry wetsuit - here is a more detailed, step by step guide to how to do it.


Putting on your front zip wetsuit - the full speil:

  1. On the side of the chest zip section there is a plastic toggle - open this to untighten the elastic as much as possible. This will make it easier to go over your head later & stop the elastic snapping. 
  2. Make sure the chest zip is open all the way, then find yourself somewhere to sit - a car seat, a cat bonnet, a rock...anything will do!
  3. Lay the wetsuit facing front side up on your lap, checking zip etc is open.
  4. Lower it down and put your first foot all the way through (making sure it's the right leg of course!) - at this step some people put a plastic bag over their foot to make it glide more smoothly through the neoprene. Do the same with the other leg until both your feet are poking through the wetsuit and the ankle seams are in the right place (remove  the bags after!).
  5. Then gently pull the wetsuit up - firstly hold it by the neoprene pads for your knee and pull until the knees are in the correct place. Then pull up to the thighs and so on - don't try to pull hard and do it one go, it's bad for the seams of your wetsuit & means it won't last as long. Keep doing this until you have the wetsuit up almost until your armpits.
  6. For the first arm, we find it's easier to put in the arm that is closest to the begining of the chest zip (ie where your zipper will be sitting when it's open) -- in C-Skins this is ususally on your right side. 
  7. Bend your arm so the elbow faces up to the sky, then feed your hand through the sleeve. Once your hand is all the way through, pull the wetsuit so the shoulder and seams are in the right place.
  8. Then do the same for the right sleeve.
  9. Make sure any inner layers of neoprene (aka C-Skins 'clam shell' opening) are lying nice and flat inside your wetsuit
  10. Time for your noggin! Pull the chest flap up above your head and slightly twist your head so it starts to go through the neck hole. Pull the chest flap down - not the nicest of experiences, especially if you have long hair, but it's over soon enough!
  11. Close the zip and make sure to secure it with the little button. 
  12. Last but defninitely not least - don't forget to tighten the elastic that you loosened in step 1. If you dont tighten it (&secure with the toggle) your wettie will flush when you duckdive / get mashed. 
  13. When putting boots and gloves, its best if they go under the wetsuis so fold up the ankle (for boots) and wrist (for gloves) part of the wetsuit up, put on boots/gloves and then fold wetsuit over the top. This reduces the amount of water that gets in to your boots and gloves. 
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