Whether you’re surfing, scuba diving, kitesurfing, or enthusiastic about any other type of water sports, you are likely familiar with the critical and difficult task of getting a wetsuit to fit comfortably.
Having a wetsuit that fits properly is essential to keeping yourself well-insulated and warm, especially in colder water. However, a common question we get is whether men can wear women’s wetsuits and vice versa.
In short. Yes, there are unisex wetsuits available on the market.
However, the topic is more nuanced than that so this post will answer that question and discuss the importance of a well-fitted wetsuit and what things to look for in the wetsuit fit.
So let’s jump into this.
Can a Woman Wear a Men’s Wetsuit?
Yes, in a pinch, a woman could throw on a men’s wetsuit to get in the water. However, a men’s suit will be cut to fit the standard male anatomy.
Men’s wetsuits will be broader in the shoulders and upper body, flatter in the chest, narrower in the hips, and longer in the arms and legs. There will probably be more room in the groin area as well.
A woman wearing a men’s wetsuit might also find that the suit to be too loose in the areas for the:
- Ankle and wrist cuffs
When your wetsuit is too loose, it allows water to flow in and out of the suit—something which is known as flushing.
Now, of course, it’s true that due to some women’s shape and build, they may find that a men’s wetsuit actually fits better in most regions than a women’s wetsuit.
The most important thing is to wear a wetsuit that fits you well. A well-fitting wetsuit will allow you to stay warm by keeping your body adequately insulated while in the water.
If you are a woman who has found a men’s wetsuit that fits her body well, you can use any wetsuit that fits you. However, check critical areas like the neck, wrists, ankles, core, and groin for excess fabric or gaps.
If you are unsure about the fit, do not take any risks. A properly fitting wetsuit is essential.
Can a Man Wear a Women’s Wetsuit?
Women’s wetsuits will typically be smaller overall than men’s suits. They will also be designed with extra space around the chest and have wider hips and thighs while being narrower through the waist and small of the back. The shoulders and neck area will also typically be smaller.
These cuts are not likely to fit most men comfortably. The risk men face with wearing women’s suits is too snug of a fit, leading to pinching, chafing, poor circulation, and restriction in the joints. If the chest area has too much room, they risk having poor core insulation.
Not only is a comfortable fit important for general comfort and mobility while engaged in your sport, but it’s also essential for good blood circulation. Good blood circulation will keep you alert, limber, and warm. Poor blood circulation could cause:
- Coldness in extremities
- Difficulty concentrating
Many men find a women’s wetsuit will fit their body better based on their body shape.
If this is the case for you, be sure that you are not experiencing excessive gaping in the chest and make sure that no areas are too tight or cutting off circulation.
Are Unisex Wetsuits Available?
You can find unisex wetsuits from wetsuit manufacturers, although they’re rare. Unisex wetsuits are more commonly found for children.
Wetsuits are meant to feel tight against the body. For this reason, companies will tailor a wetsuit to fit specific body types for men and women. As a result, unisex wetsuits may not fit as comfortably but are possible to find.
Why Is Fit so Important?
A wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water between your body and the neoprene material. This water will sit between your skin and the wetsuit and absorb heat from your body.
If your fit is too loose, water will flow freely in and out of your suit, known as flushing. Flushing will cause you to lose heat quickly. Therefore, finding the correct size wetsuit or hemming your wetsuit to fit your body is critical to staying warm and safe in the water.
Pay close attention to these areas:
If you have a good, close fit, that initial small amount of water will stay in place and help to keep you warm. However, when you’re wet or immersed in water, your body will lose heat 25 times more quickly than when you are dry and out of the water, so being adequately insulated is very important.
The most important part of your body to keep warm is your core. Once your core temperature drops to around 35oC (95oF), you face the risk of hypothermia.
Now, you will want to avoid wearing a wetsuit that is too tight, as well. You need to maintain full mobility in your joints to prevent aches and pains. In addition, a wetsuit that is too tight can cause wetsuit chafing and general discomfort.
So then, to wrap up, are wetsuits unisex? They can be but are not typically the best fitting.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but considering the typical design aspects of gender-specific wetsuits, wearing any wetsuit as unisex may not provide you with the best fit.
If possible, find a wetsuit designed for your sex to ensure the best fit. For example, women should typically wear a female wetsuit and vice versa.
If this proves difficult, we encourage you to explore your options. Above all, a snug, close-to-the-skin fit with full mobility is ideal. No matter how you find your wetsuit, getting the best fit will ensure your time in the water is extended so you can enjoy more of your favourite water sports.