Posted Nov 01, 2016
Question: How tight should a wetsuit be?
There is a world of difference when you put on a wetsuit that is just the right amount of tightness. Whether you are a triathlete, surfer, or scuba diver a wetsuit should not fit so tight that it is restricting movement.
Modern technology has enabled wetsuit manufacturers to produce stretchy and high-performance wetsuits. Now that materials stretch so well, manufacturers did not predict that consumers would downsize their wetsuits. Many consumers were looking for a fitted feeling by sizing down.
Since modern materials are stretchy, many people solve issues of fit by sizing down. Sizing down brings down the insulating properties of a wetsuit and shortens the life of the wetsuit. This myth of downsizing is not the correct way of wearing a wetsuit and in fact it lowers your overall performance.
To understand how tight a wetsuit should really be, look for these three things:
The feeling and sensation of correct wetsuit tightness
Signs and symptoms of wetsuits that are too tight
Benefits of having the correct tightness in a wetsuit
1. The Right Tight Sensation
When you're putting on the wetsuit, does it feel challenging to get your arms through the arm holes and wrists?
If you're struggling to put your limbs through, it's a clear indication that your wetsuit is too tight for you.
"A wetsuit when put on dry should feel borderline uncomfortable. It is designed to perform in the water. Especially it being the first time, it will feel foreign. Swim in it. Practice in it. Get used to swimming with a wetsuit."
The above quote is from a misinformed user response taken from a triathlete forum. This response to a question about wetsuit tightness is incorrect and although it is referring to the uncomfortable feeling of swimming in a wetsuit, swimming in a wetsuit is actually supposed to be comfortable because they are designed for comfort while swimming.
The neoprene gives you more buoyancy and the layer of neoprene acts as a protective barrier from other swimmers. A wetsuit should never feel uncomfortable and a person should not get used to being uncomfortable. If you are wearing a wetsuit that feels uncomfortable it's not the right wetsuit for you no matter what activity you are doing in a wetsuit.
2. The Right Level of Tightness: Signs and Symptoms
Try on your wetsuit and observe the area right above your buttocks where your tail bone is. If the wetsuit lifts off your lower back and forms a little trampoline like area, it means the length of the torso is too short. This causes the material to stretch and lift off your body, instead of resting on your skin. The wetsuit should be flush against your skin for maximum contact. This also applies to your entire body, so make sure there aren't any areas of your body that are causing the wetsuit to lift off your body.
Zip up your wetsuit and move your arms in a slow paddling motion. A wetsuit that fits correctly should have the tiniest bit of restriction, but your arm movement should not be hindered. A tight chest, shoulders, and arms can attribute to this. Sometimes your breathing can also be altered if the wetsuit is too tight. Make sure you're not having trouble breathing and if it is we highly advise you not to use it as it could become dangerous.
The lower half of the wetsuit is an area that is often overlooked. When you have your wetsuit on, lift your knee up. If you feel a pulling sensation around your hips and thighs, the circumference around your thighs and hips is too tight. Each time you move your leg in the water, that added tension is slowly drawing more energy from you. Each movement will add up and your performance will drop.
3. So why not go tighter if it doesn't restrict my movement?
With modern technology, manufacturers have created new neoprene that stretches very well. We previously said that many surfers and triathletes will downsize their wetsuits. The problem with this is as you stretch neoprene it becomes thinner. A 3mm wetsuit can become 2mm if the materials are stretched enough. If you're purchasing a 3mm wetsuit and getting 2mm warmth out of it why downsize?. Each stroke and kick you take in a tighter wetsuit will draw more energy from you while you try to fight the wetsuit. The point of having a wetsuit is to maximize your time and performance in the water. So keep in mind this - a snug fit is good but not so snug that it's restricting your movement. Have fun out there in the water and enjoy all the possibilities our ocean brings us.
Why fit is so important to us
Every wetsuit is built differently and companies have their own unique size charts and fit models. The traditional way of ordering wetsuits is to go into a wetsuit retailer and try on as many sizes and brands as possible to find the one that fits correctly. We do things differently at 7TILL8 Custom Wetsuits. We work directly with each customer to learn what issues they have to correct them. Every wetsuit we build is custom made to their specific owners. We don't have size charts because all of our wetsuits are custom made to your measurements.