Wetsuits can range from $50 to more than a whopping $600, so not putting proper thought into buying a wetsuit is simply absurd. For first time shoppers, knowing how a suit is supposed to fit can be a challenge. It’s not as simple as buying a new pair of jeans.
Getting your wetsuit size right is extremely important. A good fit ensures that the gear conforms to your body like a second skin – tight enough to move fast with you and not restrictive. Wetsuits are supposed to support speed, buoyancy, thermal insulation and abrasion resistance. And the wrong fit can easily destroy any or all of these advantages.
As its name suggests, a wetsuit is supposed to be very tight – offering a thin layer of second skin between your body and the water. In the world of triathlon and ironman races, no other gear is meant to fit as snugly. Because they are designed to be figure-hugging, it will feel tight at first but will loosen up considerably once you’re in the water.
Having it too loose will leave you with uncomfortable neoprene folds or large pockets of air in the suit. Time and time again, we’ve seen people having a hard time getting into wetsuits. Sometimes, the problem is not having the right fit but something else.
Especially if you haven’t worn one before, you might think that it fits wrong. But the thing is, you might not be sure about your wetsuit fit. So to help you out in the fitting process, here are some pointers on selecting the correct size for a new wetsuit.
Correct Wetsuit Fitting
Did you know that there actually is a proper way to put a wetsuit on? A common mistake for many is getting ahead of themselves, trying to put their arms into the suit before it has been fully pulled up. This results to the feeling that it is too small. The right way is to go slowly but surely.
First comes first, and make sure to check some body points along the way. Make sure that the knee pads are situated right over your knees. Pull it up – the groin should be pulled up as far as possible so it sits snugly between the legs. Then work on the torso, smoothing everything up until the suit is pulled up near the armpits. At this stage, you’re now ready for the arms. Then assess leg and arm length, as well as shoulder comfort.
Don’t Put Your Wetsuit on Backwards!
When laid flat, it can be tough to tell if it’s the back or front you’re looking at. The answer is in the zips. A horizontal zipper is called a chest zip, which obviously goes in the front. If the zipper is vertical and longer with a pulling tab on it, then this side goes to the back.
Wetsuits are Designed to Fit Tight
A new wetsuit might just be one of the tightest things you can ever try to put on. It is designed to be body-hugging to provide the warmth and buoyancy boost you need in the race. It would be smart to try it several times before the actual race to get used to it.
Made of the same neoprene used in the construction of orthopedic braces, it’s no wonder that wearing one can be quite restrictive. However, it should not be too tight to the point of feeling pain or worse, cutting off circulation. If you are into other sports and have tried any compression gear, this is how a good fit should be. It will be snug and you will feel some pressure, but it should not slow you down in any way.
Know Your Body Type
Be reminded that neoprene stretches when wet, as well as with overtime use. So if in doubt about the correct size, it will be safest to order the snugger suit size. Though most manufacturers already offer a detailed sizing chart ideal for certain heights and weight, somebody types may not fit into the selection.
For barrel-chested or broad-shouldered athletes, consider going up a size. Reading through wetsuit reviews would also help as not all manufacturers and brands construct gear that is true-to-size. You can also get an idea from these reviews about how models and brands may fit differently.
The Right Length
Because not all bodies are the same, many wetsuit manufacturers already offer extra-long arms and legs that can be custom-trimmed accordingly. It is important to have the right lengths to protect your joints from the cold and the rest of the elements. A wetsuit with arms and legs that are a tad bit short exposes your wrists and ankles.
On the other hand, if the lengths are too long, the wetsuit might not create a proper seal along the joints. Water may flush up through the leg opening or sleeves and this may result to inefficient insulation.
Collar and the Back
A constricting collar can be dangerous. In triathlons and ironman races, we’ve all seen swimmers come out of the water not because they are out of shape but due to constricting collars that have affected their movement and breathing.
If you have a larger neck diameter, it would be best to choose wetsuits with low cut collars. Another notorious area when it comes to wetsuit fitting is the area around the small of the back. While wearing the suit, you can try pinching in this section. Too much extra space will cause the suit to fill with water while you are swimming. But again, make sure that the arms and shoulders can still move freely.
Buying wetsuits can be tough, especially for first-time buyers. But before doing any browsing for your upcoming race event, the first and probably best tip that you should take is – only buy wetsuits made for triathlon. Don’t try to pinch dollars the wrong way or you’ll ruin the much anticipated triathlon experience.
These races are meant to be challenging, so gear up to get a head on in the race! If you are budget-conscious, there are a wider selection now of good quality entry-level wetsuits to suit your needs and budget.