How should your wetsuit fit and how tight should it be?
The tightness of your clothes is a personal preference—some people like running baggy pants and a loose-fitting shirt, while others go for tapered skinny jeans and a form-fitting top. That’s all fine and good for kicking it around town, but when choosing the fit of a wetsuit there is only one option: tight.
Why is tightness so crucial for a wetsuit to function properly?
Because wetsuits only work if they’re tight enough to trap a thin layer of water between your body and the suit. This layer of water is warmed by your body, which prevents you from losing too much heat while in the water.
For a wetsuit to work properly, any water that seeps in has to stay inside and stay warm. If a wetsuit is too loose at the neck, wrist, or ankles, that critical warm-water layer your body has heated will be constantly flushed by cold water, thereby eliminating the benefits of the wetsuit (translation: you’ll freeze your ass off in a loose wetsuit that’s constantly flushing).
All neoprene is the same, right?
WRONG. Although that discount wetsuit at Costco might be tempting, know that cheap, petroleum-based neoprene is extremely poor performing and horribly bad for the environment. That’s why we only use the absolute best for our Ride Engine wetsuits: limestone-based Neospan S-Foam Neoprene, which is soft, durable, flexible, fast drying, and manufactured with no toxic hydrophobic chemicals.
So, what’s the right amount of tight?
A properly fitting wetsuit should be very snug against your entire body with no bagginess or gaps. The wetsuit should feel like a second skin with little to no wrinkles across the major areas of the suit (torso, length of arms, thighs) and little to no gathers in the underarms or crotch areas. Any pockets of air or water sloshing around will eliminate the heat-trapping insulation properties of the wetsuit.
Is there such a thing as a wetsuit being too tight?
Absolutely! If you size your wetsuit too tight, not only will it be a total battle to get in and out of, but it’ll also restrict circulation, making you fatigue faster and lose coordination. You need blood flowing into your arms and legs in order to keep them warm. However, when trying on wetsuits at your authorized Ride Engine dealer, keep in mind that once the wetsuit is wet it’ll feel a little less restrictive, so stay committed to getting that just-right tight fit—if the wetsuit is loose in the store, it’ll only get looser in the water and a loose-fitting wetsuit is worthless! With a properly sized wetsuit, however, you’ll be able to get on the water more often, stay out longer, and maintain that crucial warmth to match your stoke. Yasssss!