Wetsuits are not one-size-fits-all, and if you look at product reviews, one of the biggest complaints is that they don’t fit as well as hoped or expected.
A wetsuit make for surfing should fit snuggly but not strangle you or cut off circulation. Identifying the right size and knowing how it should fit out of the water will help ensure a good fit when you are surfing.
Before you add a brand-new wetsuit to your shopping cart, make sure it’s the right size for your height, weight, and frame, as shown in this wetsuit size chart below.
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Understanding Wetsuit Sizes
The problem with wetsuit sizing is that the measurements differ depending on the manufacturer.
They all tend to use the same sizes, but the actual height, weight, and chest measurements can vary.
Generally, you will find the following sizes for men’s wetsuits:
- XXS = Extra Extra Small
- XS = Extra Small
- S = Small
- M = Medium
- L = Large
- T = Tall
These can be combined depending on your body measurements.
For instance, LT would be large and tall, making it ideal for users carrying a few extra pounds and standing a few extra inches taller.
If we use O’Neil Wetsuits as an example, the range looks something like this:
- XXS = 5’6″ to 5’8″ Height + 115 to 130 lbs. Weight + 32.5″ to 34.5″ Chest + 27″ to 29″ Waist.
- M = 5’9″ to 5’11” Height + 150 to 170 lbs. Weight + 38.5″ to 40.5″ Chest + 30.5″ to 32.5″ Waist.
- LT = 6’2″ to 6’4″ Height + 180 to 200 lbs. Weight + 40.5″ to 42.5″ Chest + 32.5″ to 34.5″ Waist.
- XXL = 6’0″ to 6’2″ Height + 210 to 230 lbs. Weight + 44.5″ to 46.5″ Chest + 36.5″ to 38.5″ Waist.
There are many sizes in-between, but this should give you a general idea of what to expect.
Women’s sizes are a little different as they go from 2 (the smallest) to 16 (the biggest), and there are tall options as well.
These numbers are also used for children’s O’Neil wetsuits.
Should I size up or down for a wetsuit?
Most likely you will want to size down to get the better fitting wetsuit for surfing.
Most wetsuits today have a lot a stretch to them.
Sizing down will help get you that snug fit we are looking for to keep your warm.
Also, remember, your wetsuit will loosen up some once you get into the water and as it ages.
How snug should a wetsuit fit?
How do you know if a wetsuit is too big, too small or just right?
Use the below guidance to test a dry wetsuit before you buy it to see if your wetsuit has the right amount of snug, is too big, or is too tight.
This applies to full wetsuits of any thickness used for surfing, including spring wetsuits.
Touch Your Toes
Put the wetsuit on and zip it so that you are prepared to jump in the water.
Now, bend over to touch your toes. If your reach is not restricted by the wetsuit (and not by your tight hamstrings or back) you have a good fitting suit.
Don’t Get Strangled
You should also note if the neck of the wetsuit starts to get too tight when you try to touch your toes.
If it does, you may want another brand of wetsuit.
It should feel snug around your neck.
You should not feel like you are getting strangled by the wetsuit.
Move Your Arms & Legs
Rotate your arms around like you are paddling.
It will feel tighter, but you shouldn’t fell like you are fighting the wetsuit.
The same applies to squatting while wearing the dry wetsuit.
Is a loose wetsuit bad?
Yes, a loose wetsuit is bad.
At best, a poorly fitting wetsuit will not keep you warm.
At worst, a poorly fitting wetsuit will fill with too much water and can weigh you down
Check the Reviews
The first thing you should do is check the manufacturer’s wetsuit sizing guide.
You will need to know your approximate weight, waist size, chest measurements, and height, and this will give you an accurate and properly fitting wetsuit.
It might be tempting to go for one that is a few sizes too big, just to make sure it fits and you have plenty of room, but wetsuits are not baggy jeans or sweaters.
Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm and insulated and need to fit snuggly.
Go With a Good Brand
When choosing a wetsuit for surfing be sure to go with a reputable brand. In no particular order, here a handful of top rated surfing wetsuit brands.
- Rip Curl