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How To Fold a Wetsuit

   April 19th, 2024   Posted In: How-To  

If you’re a surfer, diver, or any type of water enthusiast you know your wetsuit is your trusty companion. It keeps you warm in chilly waters and allows you to extend the fun you have in the waves or depths. But just like any other piece of gear, proper care is essential to ensure its longevity and performance. One crucial aspect of wetsuit care that often gets overlooked is how to fold a wetsuit.

how to fold a wetsuit

Fold a Wetsuit Like a Pro

Learning how to fold a wetsuit might seem like a mindless task. However, doing it incorrectly can do major damage leading to permanent creases and a compromised overall wetsuit performance.

Creases in the neoprene, the insulating material in your wetsuit, can cause it to lose its ability to trap heat, making those chilly waters less enjoyable.

This guide will show you how to fold a wetsuit properly. So, whether you’re packing it away for storage or traveling to your next aquatic adventure, you’ll know just how to fold!

Why Proper Folding Matters: Understanding Your Wetsuit

Neoprene is the core material used in wetsuits. It is a fantastic material for keeping you warm, which is why it is the perfect solution for chilly water. It’s a synthetic type of rubber with a closed-cell structure that traps tiny air bubbles. These air bubbles act as insulation, keeping you warm in cold water. 

However, neoprene can also get damaged. Sharp creases and folds can permanently compress the air bubbles within the neoprene, reducing its insulating ability. Over time, this can lead to cold spots and decreased warmth in your wetsuit. 

You might be thinking that hanging your wetsuit is the answer but hanging your wetsuit when you’re not using it can lead to stretching which can cause weak spots that could also lead to poorer performance.

Here’s why understanding how to fold a wetsuit is important:

  • Prevents Creases: Sharp folds in the neoprene can weaken the material and create permanent indentations. These creases can also start trapping water, leading to mold growth and further deterioration.
  • Maintains Insulation: Creases disrupt the tiny air bubbles within the neoprene that provide insulation. A properly folded wetsuit retains its shape and keeps you warmer in the water.
  • Extends Lifespan: Proper care, including knowing how to fold a wetsuit, helps your wetsuit last longer, saving you money in the long run.

When to Fold vs. Hang: Choosing the Right Wetsuit Storage Method

While folding can be a space-saving option, it’s not always the best method for wetsuit storage. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

  • Folding: Ideal for short-term storage or travel when space is limited.
  • Hanging: The preferred method for long-term storage. Hanging helps the wetsuit retain its shape and prevents creases. But beware, you do not want to hang your wetsuit by the shoulder with a conventional clothing hanger.

How to Fold a Wetsuit: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you understand the importance of proper folding, let’s dive into the steps on how to fold a wetsuit for travel or storage:

  1. Rinse and Dry: Before folding, always rinse your wetsuit with clean, fresh water to remove salt, sand, dirt, and any other debris. Let it air dry completely, inside and out. Never fold or store a wet wetsuit. It will lead to mildew and very unpleasant odors.
  2. Prep for the Roll: Fully zip your dry wetsuit flat on the ground with the back facing up.
  3. The Arm Fold: Fold each arm inward, placing them along the center back of the suit. Overlap the arms to avoid creating bulk.
  4. The Leg Roll: Carefully roll the legs starting at the ankles until they reach the waist. Don’t roll them up too tight. It’s best to shoot for a loose but snug roll so you don’t compress the neoprene too tightly.
  5. The Final Roll: Once the legs are rolled up to the waist, begin rolling the entire wetsuit from the waist up towards the neck. Maintain a loose but secure roll so that everything stays bundled together. If your wetsuit has a velcro collar and a fleece lining, you can use the velcro to secure the roll by applying it to the lining.
  6. Store Your Wetsuit: A loose-fitting mesh bag is ideal for storage because it allows your suit to ventilate, which prevents moisture build-up and helps it smell fresh. If you don’t have one, use a loose-fitting storage bag to hold the rolled wetsuit. Keep your wetsuit in a cool, dry space away from sunlight and heat sources, which can damage the neoprene. Also, avoid placing heavy objects on top of it, which creates unwanted creases. If you are traveling with your wetsuit, try to avoid putting it in suitcases that are stuffed to the max. 
  7. Refold Occasionally: Even after folding and rolling your suit correctly, creases can develop over time. If you’re storing your wetsuit for long periods, it is best to refold it every few weeks to help prevent permanent creases and damage.

Folding Your Wetsuit: Conclusion

By following these simple guidelines regarding how to fold a wetsuit, you can ensure your valuable piece of gear stays in tip-top shape for countless adventures in the water. A little extra care goes a long way in protecting your wetsuit’s insulating properties and keeping you warm in the water for years to come. So the next time you’re done with a session, take the extra time to revisit this guide so you remember how to fold your wetsuit correctly. Your wetsuit will thank you!

Wes Severson is a fitness enthusiast and bodyboarder from San Francisco, CA who is always at Ocean Beach hitting the waves. He is also an Emmy Award-winning broadcast news writer and producer and a recording artist who goes by the name Wes Magic.

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