How to Put on a Drysuit January 21 2014

The first time you put a drysuit can be a little tricky, so this video goes through the process step by step. You'll learn how to enter this unusual, one-piece garment, how to avoid damaging the delicate watertight gaskets and socks, and how to purge the excess air from the suit after it's on. If you prefer text over video, the script appears below.

Script (nonverbatim):

You should be wearing some kind of insulating clothing. I've got on thermal leggings and a fleece sweater. I'm also wearing warm synthetic socks that I've pulled up over the leggings. Everything should be either synthetic, wool, or silk. Never wear cotton under a drysuit.

Many suits have built-in waterproof socks. If your suit has rubber ankle gaskets, you'll put them on the same way that we put our hands through the wrist gaskets, which we'll get to soon.

You'll almost always be outdoors when you put on your drysuit, and you should stand on something flat and clean, like a plastic sheet or a camping pad, to protect the soles of the built-in socks from punctures. Never walk around outside without some kind of footgear over the socks.

With the entry zipper open, step into the suit and get your feet all the way down into the socks. Pull the suit up around your waist and tighten the waist belt.

Get both hands into the sleeves, and shrug the suit over your shoulders. Some people find it easier to do one hand and then the other, and that's fine. Whichever is more convenient for you.

Bring your hands down the to the end of the sleeves, but do not push them through the gaskets. Use one hand to stretch the opposite gasket open and ease it around the other hand. Do the same with the other, then manipulate the gaskets so that they lay completely smooth around your wrists like this.

Bring the suit up over your head, and use both hands to stretch the neck gasket over your head. Smooth out the neck gasket  so that it's flat like the wrist gaskets.

The entry zipper is a special piece of equipment and you can't just pull it closed like a regular zipper. You need to use both hands, to keep it straight and keep both halves in alignment as you pull it steady and firmly. Make sure the slider is butted up firmly against the rubber stop at the bottom, then fold the cover down and secure it with the Velcro tapes.

The suit's on, but there's quite a bit of air trapped inside it and we have to get it out. This is called purging the suit. Take both hands and pull the neck gasket open a little bit. Hold your arms tight against your chest, and squat down. When you don't feel any more air escaping around your neck, release the neck gasket and stand up. See how the outside air pressure is now holding the suit tight against my legs?

Removing a drysuit is pretty much the opposite of putting it on. Open the zipper. Stretch the neck gasket over your head. Remove your hands from the wrist gaskets – one at a time. Loosen the waist belt, and off you go.

Do this a couple times and it'll become second nature.

Remember that when you're engaged in watersports, dress for the water temperature, not the air. When the water's cold, that means wear a drysuit.

More information on how to use and care for your drysuit lives here: How to Love Your Drysuit.

Download this article as a PDF.

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