Has this ever happened to you?
It's a warm day, the sun is shining, the surf is pumping, you can see the barrels from the car park, you race to get amongst it, but your bloody wetsuit is a nightmare to get on! So you fumble around, fall over, put a hole in the leg, before finally getting it on ten minutes later, only to find it's on backwards?!
Thankfully Nathan from Ocean and Earth has some simple tips to help you get your wetsuit on first time, every time.
See also: How to surf 101
How to put on a wetsuit
Step #1: Lay it out
Start by laying out your wetsuit on the ground. Before you start putting it on, give it a quick look over for any holes, tears, or other damage.
This is also a good time to figure out the back from the front. The last thing you want to do is put your wetsuit on backwards and have to start all over again!
See also: Tips on choosing the right wetsuit
Step #2: The legs
Once you have deciphered the front from the back it's time to roll the wetsuit halfway down and start getting into it. One foot at a time, put both your legs through and lift the wetsuit to your hips.
Step #3: The first assessment
Right about now is a good time to do your first check to make sure everything is going to plan. If you leave it until the end, it will be too hard to fix up any errors.
Make sure both legs are all the way in and there is no bunching or creases to be seen. There should not be any loose section at this point, and the wetsuit should be a snug fit all the way up your legs and around your hips.
Also check that the knee pads are at the front!
See also: What board is right for you?
Step #4: The torso
The next step is to roll the wetsuit over your stomach and have it sitting just below the armpit, ready for your arms to go in. To ensure the wetsuit is a good fit around the stomach you can lean forward and slowly roll the wetsuit up, smoothing out any loose bits as you go.
Step #5: The arms
The arms are the next to go in, and this process follows the same technique as the legs. Pull the wetsuit up and over the arms so it rests on your shoulders.
Step #6: The second assessment
At this stage you need to check that all the seams are in the correct position and there are no creases or bunching. This step is the most crucial, as you will need to be able to paddle in order to catch a wave, so movement through your shoulders is important.
Step #7: Do up the zip
The final step is to do up the zip. Depending on the type of wetsuit you have this could be at the back or along the chest. Make sure the wetsuit is snug around the neck otherwise water will flush in and out and you will loose the benefits of having a wetsuit.
See also: Salty Folk Working for a Clean Coast
Some additional handy tips to make putting on a wetsuit easier
Leave your socks on
It might seem a bit daggy, but leaving you socks on when putting on a wetsuit will save you time and effort. The wetsuit will slide over your socks without getting caught on toes, heels or sticking to sweaty feet.
Another option is Scuba socks. Scuba socks are specificly designed to prevent chaffing and rubbing when wearing fins or booties, but they also make it much easier to slide the wetsuit over your feet.
Use a plastic bag
The plastic bag technique works the same as wearing socks or scuba socks. The plastic bag will make the wetsuit easier to get over your feet and ankles, and once you have done one leg, you can simply pull the plastic bag out of that leg and swap it over to the other.
If you are having serious troubles getting your wetsuit on then try some lubricant. Ensure that the lubricant is water based.
Do not use oil-based products, soap or detergents, these will only damage the wetsuit.
Don't be in a hurry to get into your wetsuit. Do it properly from the start using this methodical approach to avoid making mistakes or tearing your wetsuit.
Don't pull your wetsuit legs and arms on via the hip or shoulder area. If you are pulling on the wetsuit do it in small areas, reducing the risk of tears and making a comfortable fit much easier to achieve.