Do Wetsuits Get Bigger When Wet?

Do Wetsuits Get Bigger When Wet?

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Wetsuits do get bigger when wet.

As a rule of thumb, wetsuits should be a tight fit because they get bigger when wet, which causes them to loosen. However, a wetsuit that’s too tight may cut off circulation and limit your movement. On the other hand, a loose wetsuit may cause too much drag when it fills with water.

In this article, we will be discussing how a wetsuit gets bigger when wet, the features to look for when choosing the right wetsuit, and how to ensure you’re purchasing a proper-fitting wetsuit.

Do Wetsuits Get Bigger When Wet?

Wetsuits are most commonly made from a material called neoprene, which is a type of synthetic rubber. It provides excellent insulation and flexibility, making it ideal for diving and other water sports.

Once a wetsuit gets wet, the material absorbs water, which causes the wetsuit to expand slightly and become bigger. However, the stretch is usually not significant enough to cause the wetsuit to be too loose.

What Is Neoprene?

Neoprene is a durable and flexible material that is used in a wide variety of products. It’s known for its excellent resistance to oils, chemicals, and weathering.

Aside from wetsuits, neoprene is also used to make dive boots and gloves to provide thermal protection and flexibility for the diver.

How Should a Wetsuit Fit?

A properly-fitting wetsuit should feel like a second skin. Wetsuit sizing is different from normal clothing, and finding the right wetsuit can be challenging. Here are some things to look out for when shopping for one:


When trying it on, make sure that the wetsuit fits snugly against your body, especially near the crotch and butt areas. While wearing it, you should be able to move your limbs and bend forward comfortably. If you can’t, then it’s not the right fit.


Your wetsuit size may depend on your body type. It is best to refer to the manufacturer’s sizing charts for both height and weight. If you are on the broader side, you may need to go one size up. On the other hand, if you are slim, a size smaller might fit you better.

Tight Openings

The collar area, arm, and leg cuffs should fit tightly, but not too tight to cut off circulation. Note that a wetsuit is designed to keep you warm. If any of the openings are too loose, your wetsuit might fill with too much water.

Key Factors to Keep in Mind When Buying Your Wetsuit

Knowing that wetsuits stretch a bit when wet, you need to take care of a couple of factors when buying them. Otherwise, you may end up with a bad fitting wetsuit or a non-durable one.

Here are the essential factors to consider to help you choose the best wetsuit:

The Water Temperature

Wetsuits vary in thickness depending on the intended use and water temperature. A wetsuit for warmer water (above 70°F/21°C) usually ranges from 2mm to 3mm thick, and it’s mostly bought by divers in tropical areas.

Wetsuits more suitable for colder water (below 50°F/10°C) are typically 5-7mm thick to provide some warmth and trap the body heat inside.

It is worth noting that manufacturers may use different measurements, but these are the averages. So, before buying, make sure you know how warm or cold the water will be.

Your Body Shape

Wetsuits come in different sizes and styles. Choosing one that fits your body shape is essential to make sure you’re comfortable. A tight wetsuit may restrict body movements, while a loose one can let in water and reduce insulation.

The stretchiness of your wetsuit should allow for a full range of motion when swimming or participating in water sports. It is always better to try on a wetsuit before you buy it, to ensure that it fits properly and feels comfortable.

The Type of Fabric

Look for wetsuits that are made of high-quality neoprene and have durable seams. Wetsuits with thicker neoprene panels are less stretchy, while those with thinner panels will be more stretchy. Consider the type of neoprene that will give you the best fit and comfort.

How to Take Care of Your Wetsuit’s Material

Taking care of your wetsuit is important to ensure that it’s always in top condition. Here are some pointers for taking care of your wetsuit:

1.   Rinse It Thoroughly

After each use, rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with fresh water to remove any salt, sand, or chlorine remaining on the fabric.

2.   Clean It with Shampoo

Use mild soap to gently clean your wetsuit. Alternatively, you can use a specialized wetsuit shampoo to remove salt, chlorine, and other foreign matters that can damage neoprene.

3.   Avoid the Use of Harsh Chemicals

Avoid using bleach or laundry detergents to wash your wetsuit. These are not suitable cleaning materials as they can break down the neoprene and reduce its effectiveness.

4.   Dry It Properly

To avoid shrinkage and damage to the neoprene, always hang your wetsuit to dry in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight. It is also best to avoid exposing it to high temperatures or dryers.

5.   Store It Properly

Once your wetsuit is completely clean and dry, make sure to store it in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing it in a damp or humid area to prevent mildew growth and discoloration.

6.   Take Care of the Zippers

Make sure to keep the zippers of your wetsuit lubricated and functioning properly to avoid any damage.

7.   Repair Any Damage Immediately

If you notice any damage to your wetsuit, such as tears or holes, have them repaired immediately to prevent further damage and water infiltration.

Wrap Up

Commonly made from neoprene, wetsuits stretch when they’re wet, which causes them to feel a bit loose around your body. However, they shouldn’t be too loose, or else the fit may be bad.

Choosing the right wetsuit and taking care of it will ensure that it lasts for a long time. Make sure to double-check the fit before you buy it to ensure it’s the right one.

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, a scuba diving enthusiast from San Diego, has spent over a decade exploring the underwater world across the globe. Sharing his passion through captivating stories and informative articles, Jack aims to inspire others to embark on their own scuba diving adventures and uncover the ocean's hidden treasures. Follow Jack on Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Facebook or email him at

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