Wetsuits are supposed to be tight and work as a protective outer skin that helps swimmers and surfers to keep warm in cold water. The fit of a wetsuit is very important for a few reasons.
First and foremost, a poor or loose fit will result in water simply finding its way into gaps in the sleeve, ankle, and neck – essentially wherever there is an opening for your limbs.
This totally negates the core focus of a wetsuit, to prevent cold seawater from finding its way to your naked skin which can cause cold shock, numbness, and pain.
However, it’s also important to make sure a wetsuit isn’t too tight as this will result in a different sort of discomfort, where chafing, blisters and restricted movement can cause a lot of problems, particularly around the neck and joints.
Taking the time to find a wetsuit that fits correctly will pay huge dividends, rewarding your diligence with protection from the elements and the harshest cold of the sea while also supporting your movement and keeping you comfortable.
The size of the wetsuit you need will vary according to a number of factors, including:
- the type of wetsuit
- the brand you’re looking for
- your own body size.
In this article, we’re going to look at all of these factors and also give you some top tips to determine just how well your chosen suit actually fits you.
Generally, you can use your clothes size and height as some starting indications of what size wetsuit you’ll need to try on, but it can also be helpful to make a note of your measurements to make the process a little easier.
Most brands will have specific measurements and specifications which make it difficult to be too precise without misleading you, however, women should use their dress size and height as indicators of where to start, while men should focus on their height, chest, and waist measurements to ensure they are as warm and comfortable as possible.
How Should a Wetsuit Fit?
The neck fit of a wetsuit is really important, as mentioned above. If it’s not right it can let water in directly to your chest which can cause you to have a very bad shock and will cause you to get cold much faster as frigid water is in direct contact with your core and heart.
However, if the seal is too tight it will be uncomfortable, restricting head movement and causing blistering if you are wanting to swim in your wetsuit.
To ensure a good fit, make sure the suit doesn’t restrict or pull on the shoulders and clavicle and make sure that the neck is high enough to create a good seal without reaching the top of your throat.
Check the Back
A great way to determine how well your suit fits is to check how the neoprene looks at the base of your back. There should be very little loose neoprene or excess, which gives an indication of a good fit.
The suit needs to cling to your body like a second skin, especially around the kidneys and your core where blood flow is most concentrated.
The length of the suit is a key thing to check too, and a good seal at the wrists and angles is very important to maintaining the integrity of the suit.
Check that it’s tight around these areas as there is a lot more movement here than around the neck area, and make sure they are long enough to reach the joints without passing over them as this means the suit is too long, meaning the movement of the joint will allow water into the suit.
It’s also a good idea to check for excess around the joints and along the arms and legs to ensure the length is appropriate and the suit is being worn correctly, as a suit that is worn wrong will give unreliable measurements and could then be very poorly fitting when you actually come to use it in the water.
While not all brands offer half sizes, it’s important to check this if you’re not comfortable with one of the standard sizes. This can really make a difference to your comfort and performance, so don’t hesitate to ask about this and choose a brand that offers a good selection of half-size options.
Not all brands will have measurements which perfectly align. If you tried a medium Rip Curl and it fitted well, that doesn’t mean a medium O’Neill suit is guaranteed to fit you as well so always perform the same checks and measurements whenever you swap to a new brand of wetsuit.
Does Wetsuit Thickness Change the Size?
Generally, no, the thickness of a wetsuit shouldn’t have an impact on the sizing advice and measurements a provider gives, but as always it’s best to try before you buy to make absolutely sure.