A Guide On What To Wear When It Comes To Jet Skiing

When hitting the water on a personal watercraft (PWC), the right attire is more than just a fashion statement—it’s a crucial element of safety, comfort, and performance!!!

From protecting against the elements to ensuring freedom of movement, the proper dress code for PWC riders plays a vital role in enhancing the overall experience on the water. In this post, we’ll delve into the essential components of a proper dress code for PWC enthusiasts, covering everything from protective gear to suitable clothing choices, to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride every time.

Dress Code:

Jet skis are just a small boat that you ride during warm weather, so swim gear is all you need, right?

Yes, but NO.

You can wear a simple jet skiing outfit, such as a bathing suit, swim trunks, or wetsuit bottoms. And, of course, you will need a life jacket. But there is more to it, with PWCs, there are more things you’re exposed to that require extra clothing and gear to keep you safe and having fun! And yes, there are a few things that may get a chuckle from a few, but it’s a real thing (Neoprene shorts) that you need to have on no matter your gender. It’s so bad that many rental places require shorts, or they won’t let you ride!

Only Bring Things You’re willing To Loose

Jet skis have gotten better over the years about having good storage that is dry, but to this day, I don’t overly pack for a ride. I’ve lost too many wallets, jewelry, watches and more; it’s not worth it! Leave that expensive Rolex at home, no one cares you have it on. I do bring my wallet, but only enough cash I don’t mind losing.

About the only thing that is a must to bring is your phone. You can do a lot on your phone, from buying things, GPS, or calling for help. If your PWCs doesn’t have a phone holder, then I suggest you get a dry box to put your phone in.

1. A Life Jacket That Fits!

The most important thing you need to wear is a life jacket. It doesn’t matter if you’re a good swimmer – If riding a jet ski, you need a life jacket! And yes, they come in many sizes and different shape options. You can get universal fitting one, and ones made for the ladies. Learn what life jacket you need and why they’re so important here.

2. Neoprene Shorts To Stop Water Ingestion, It’s A thing

Please don’t confuse swimsuits and bikinis for “neoprene shorts“, they’re NOT the same!!! Neoprene shorts go over your swimsuit bottoms, or can be used alone, and meant to protect your lower body from water intrusion. (Please don’t make explain it anymore deeply than that) Yes, it’s a real thing, and yes, there are tons of warning stickers all over every PWC that tell you about how important neoprene bottoms are!

You can buy neoprene shorts here (Amazon Link Ad), and everyone who rides the jet ski needs to be wearing their own. And yes, many rental companies will require them before you ride due for insurance purposes. So, I suggest you buy your own if you’re renting, or at least have your own swimsuit bottoms under them. Why such a big deal about these shorts? I suggest you read this article.

3. Swimwear

Wear clothes designed for the beach, like wetsuit bottoms, board shorts, bathers, rash guards and basically, beach clothing. Swim trunks, bikinis, and other swim clothing you consider comfortable is the thing most people put on.

Just make sure to have your neoprene swimsuit shorts on, and I don’t suggest anything too loose, baggy, or even too tight.

4. Have Water Shoes And Not Sandals

water shoes I use all the time on PWC

Going barefoot is the most common “shoes” for many jet ski riders, but is it the best option?

NO – I suggest actual water shoes.

I have a whole post on the best PWC shoes, but here are some major points on why you need to have some type of water shoe.

  1. Protects your feet from splinters. Many docks and areas are wooden and splinters are horrible on the bottom of your feet.
  2. Protects your feet from rocks, there are rocks in the water, and they can be sharp along anything else stuck in the rocks like fishing hooks.
  3. Some sun covering on your feet.
  4. Better grip around the wet areas of boat ramps, docks, and wet asphalt.
  5. Everything is hot, the dock, the footwells, the walk to and from your car, the sun is baking everything and the bottom of your feet will burn if you’re not wearing something.
  6. I have cut my foot on Sea-Doo, it had a loose rivet that was holding the foot pads down. I’ve also done it from a broken plastic piece off the hood, yes it’s possible, and now I never ride a watercraft without water shoes.

5. Riding Gloves Are A Must!

my riding gloves

I know riding gloves are an odd thing to have on the list, but I suggest them from personal experiences! Riding a PWC, people tend to have a “death grip” on the handlebars, and this quickly leads to fatigue and blisters. Your hands will become sore after 15 minutes of riding, especially if you don’t ride one often and you’re renting one. I have a whole post about PWCs riding gloves and which ones you should get here. It’s one of those things you don’t get until you learn the hard way.

6. Sunglasses Or Goggles Are Nice

Since PWCs can’t be driven at night, you need to have a good pair of sunglasses. I suggest floating polarized sunglasses as it block the glare from the water and will float if you drop them. Sunglasses not only protect you from the sun and glare, but also the splashing you get from riding. While PWCs are large these days, you will still get wet and getting water in your eye can be dangerous as it causes you to lose sight.


Sunglasses are nice, but goggles are even better if you do a lot of hard riding! If you have a helmet on while you ride, then goggles are easier to use. Goggles offer better protection for your eyes, and stay on way better too.

7. A Dry Bag For Your Stuff

dry bag in water floating
Showing my dry bag in water floating

A dry bag is not something you put on – but it’s so vital that I had to include it! A dry bag is used to keep all your items, clothing and gear in that you don’t want to get wet. Many jet skis have dry storage, but it’s not perfect and often not soft or as protective as a dry bag. Plus, the storage on a jet ski can be large, and I don’t like my phone bouncing around and getting damaged.

Things to keep in your dry bag:

  1. Change of clothes.
  2. Towel.
  3. Sunscreen.
  4. Your phone.
  5. Map or use your phone.
  6. Chapstick.
  7. Hat.
  8. Riding gloves.
  9. Spare cash.
  10. Registration.
  11. Boater-ed ID.

You can buy dry bags here (Amazon Link Ad).

8. Sunscreen, It’s A Good Idea!

You’ll be out in the Sun, right? So Sunscreen is a must!

You’ll be surrounded by water and those reflections from the sunlight burn you in all kinds of way, even in spots you never thought the sun could reach. So go crazy with the sunscreen and apply it often, especially getting totally wet. If you’re like me and hate sunscreen, you can get a rash guard, hat, neoprene bottoms and water shoes to help protect you from the sun! Rash guards are nice as it helps block some of the sun, but also help with the life jacket rubbing against your skin. They also dry quickly and so much nicer to put on than a regular cotton shirt.

You can buy rash guards here (Amazon Link Ad).

Renting A Watercraft

If you plan to rent a jet ski, you may be wondering if they require you to wear certain clothing? They all require a life jacket and most require you to wear neoprene shorts.

Other than that, it’s up to you to protect yourself. You’ll need your own sunscreen and sunglasses if you require it. You need to keep in mind that most places require a boating license to operate the PWC. Having one boating license in one state doesn’t carry over to the other ones. You will find some states do have a temporary license if you’re vacationing, but you still need to take a test online and pass it before you legally drive a watercraft.

Storing Your Gear

With all the stuff you should put on, you’ll need a place to keep it all. Maybe space in your home is at a premium, but you have a dock or keep your machine outside on the trailer. You can get a dock box to keep on the dock to store your life vest and similar items within reach of your ride.

If you keep the watercraft on the trailer outside, you can use a dry box for the trailer or for your home. Most of these boxes come with a way to lock them down, and I suggest you do that. It’s not always about someone stealing your stuff, but sabotaging it is a concern, especially if you’re a high-profile person.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

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