Your Complete Guide on How to Choose the Right Size Wetsuit
- Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm and toasty while performing various water activities. They’re worn to prevent hypothermia by stopping excess body heat from escaping while the wearer is in cold environments.
- In the early 50s the idea of using neoprene in a wetsuit was popularized. Surfers realized it was the perfect material for surfing even in cold waters as it was buoyant and flexible. Plus, it was effective in trapping heat as it creates a thermal effect all around the body when worn.
- Although neoprene wetsuits were also used back in the day, they only had thin layers of foam and did not have any supporting inner layer. As a result, those who wore the suit had to use talcum powder to slip into it more easily.
- Modern manufactured wetsuits still use neoprene as a base material. The difference is that it is now combined with other popular materials such as Lycra, nylon, thermoplastics, and even titanium. Together, these form a wetsuit with superior flexibility and better performance capacity.
How to Choose the Right Size Wetsuit
The ideal size wetsuit should fit snugly on your body and feel like a second skin. At the same time, it should still allow for movement of the limbs. This ensures it will not hamper your performance for the activities you will be using it for. Obviously a wetsuit should fit tight. The only question is tight, or tiiiiiggght?
Quick answer? If you are between two wetsuit sizes on the size chart below, decide if warmth or ease-of-entry is more important to you.
For warmth go with the smaller size.
To make it easy to get into, go with the larger size.
Makers offer a range of wetsuit sizes. These are displayed on their wetsuit size chart. A good wetsuit size chart ensures the suit is as close to your body size and shape as possible, so it fits snugly on your torso, legs, back, and arms.
Most brands use the same letters (XXS to XXL) in their range, although the actual sizing can vary from one brand to another. One brand’s XL size might have different specifications to another brand’s XL size.
The easiest way to choose the right size suit is to take your body measurements using a tape measure and compare them to the brand’s wetsuit size charts. For example, the Buell size chart takes into consideration the height and weight of the surfer. Getting the correct weight is especially important. If you are male, 5’9” tall, and 160 pounds in weight, you’ll fit an M or
Medium size. You can refer to the Buell wetsuit size chart below.
What Wetsuit Size Is Good for Men and Women?
There are two important points to think about when choosing a wetsuit size for an adult — the height and the weight of the surfer. Other brands sometimes also provide the chest circumference, the waist, and the torso length on their sizing charts. These can serve as additional sizing references for you.
A good size suit for men and women sits flush against the lower back and bum for excellent performance. To test for fit, you can do a pinch test and see if you can gather any material from the back area. If there is no excess material, it means you have a secure fit. Also check for the fit on the torso, shoulders, and legs. Having excess material is not advisable since the water will gather between your skin and the suit, cooling you down faster instead of retaining heat.
How Do You Size a Swimsuit for a Wetsuit?
To size a swimsuit for your wetsuit, consider the thickness of the swimsuit layer you will be using. If the swimsuit is 1mm thick, sizing up is not necessary. But if you intend to wear a thicker undergarment, you need to size up to accommodate for that extra layer. Wearing a swimsuit underneath can keep your body warmer especially when exposed to icier temperatures.
As for the type of swimsuit, there are plenty of choices including board shorts, diving shorts, rash guards, briefs, a bikini, or a one-piece swimsuit. All these materials are made with different thicknesses, which can affect the fit and performance of a suit when they’re worn underneath.
Should You Size Down for a Wetsuit?
It depends. Buell offers sizes based on the height and weight of the user, so it is not necessary to size up or size down based on the height. However, if you are in between sizes and you want to feel extra warm because you know you will be in colder waters, then you might want to consider sizing down. When you size down, it means the suit will be tighter against your skin, creating more warmth.
Now that you know how to choose the right wetsuit size for you, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Not all wetsuits are made the same. Even if you chose the correct size based on the sizing chart, you might find the fit is just not right for you. As mentioned, brands will have a different fit and feel. You can tell if a suit does not fit right by watching out for these three important signs:
- Rolling or bunching in the lower back or knees. A wetsuit with a good fit sits flush against your lower back and features no loose material. When the suit fits right, it keeps the kidneys warm, which promotes better blood circulation all around the body.
- Neckline is too loose. The neckline of a wetsuit should be positioned high up against the neck. It shouldn’t be floppy as it is designed to create a seal that stops water flushing. Experiencing a water flush is unpleasant, and it can be critical when in cold temperature environments since rushing cold water could bring down your temperature drastically. If you know you’ll be working in frigid water temperatures, you can also consider a hooded suit or use accessories, like gloves, to keep you warm.
- Strong resistance when flexing or moving around. Great-fitting wetsuits offer a snug fit all around the body. However, it should still allow for movement of your limbs. This includes being able to raise your arms up or squat down on your legs. A wetsuit is often used for sports activities such as surfing, kayaking, or diving, where movement is vital.
Choosing the right size wetsuit can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you know your body measurements, just compare them to your chosen brand’s wetsuit size chart. Before long, you’ll find the perfect wetsuit to offer absolute comfort and quality as you go on your grand adventure.
Choosing the Right Size Wetsuit for Kids:
Little Kids Wetsuit Sizes - 3-7-Year-Olds
Little kids don’t feel the cold. Buy the bigger size. After you just spent 20 minutes looking for a parking spot, the last thing you want to do is struggle with getting their wetsuit on. They’ll be stoked on the looser suit while they charge around the shore break and dig in the sand. You really just want to keep the sun off of them and have a bit of padding for when they eat it on their skim board.
Junior Wetsuit Sizes - 8-14-Year-Olds
Once your kids are bigger and are ripping properly, give their old suit to their younger sibling and get them into a suit that fits tight and right.