How To Find The Right Size Wetsuit

Always look at the manufacturer recommendations when selecting the best wetsuit size.  Use the size charts to select your best size.  Your dive professional at Colorado Diver Training can help you find just the right suit!

Your wetsuit should fit like a second skin. Gaps in your arm pits, spaces between your legs, behind your knees or in the curvature of your spine will let water in and pump it around the inside of your suit, drastically reducing your ability to keep warm.  Suits that are too tight are hard to get on and make it difficult to maneuver.

Everybody has a unique shape, and every manufacturer's definition of small, medium and large seems to be different.  To get a snug-fitting suit you're going to have to work with your instructor who will help make sure you are getting the right fit and follow these rules.

Try them on until you find the perfect fit. Remember, wearing a snug-fitting suit with no gaps or spaces, you’ll burn less energy and stay warm longer.

If you just can't find a suit that will do the job, many manufacturers are willing to custom cut a suit to match your unique measurements.


Other than fit, thickness may be the most important consideration in selecting a wetsuit. In the wetsuit world, thickness is always given in millimeters, with a possible range of about 1-10 mm. Generally speaking, wetsuit thickness should be based on the water temperature. The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer the wetsuit.

Wetsuit thicknesses are specifically designed for waters from about 45° to 85°F. Any colder than 45º, and you'll need to wear a drysuit. If a wetsuit style offers two thicknesses, such as "3/2 mm," the "3" refers to the thickness around the torso and the "2" refers to the thickness around the limbs. These wetsuits are often referred to by their numbers only, so that a wetsuit with 5 mm torso and 3 mm limbs might conversationally be a called a "5/3."

A warmer wetsuit isn't always a better wetsuit. Thicker wetsuits are very hot to wear outside of the water (or when worn in very warm water). Also, thicker wetsuits greatly restrict mobility, weigh more and are more buoyant, which can be a concern for scuba divers. You don't want too much protection, but rather just the right level of protection for the activity at hand.

The type of activity will also help you determine your best wetsuit. In the same body of water, constant submersion demands a thicker wetsuit, while lots of surface time means you won't require as thick a wetsuit. Also, the more activity involved with your pursuit, the less wetsuit you'll need since you'll be generating more body heat.

Scuba divers need to keep in the mind the effects of high water pressure at depth when deciding on the best wetsuit thickness. Since the increased pressure during dives compresses wetsuits, they will not perform as well at depth. Scuba divers should therefore wear a thicker wetsuit than would be expected for the water temperature if they plan to be down deep for extended periods of time.

Quick Tip: As a general rule, wetsuits lose about half their insulative power at a depth of 60 feet, and even more as you descend deeper.

                                                          Wetsuit Thickness by Water Temperature


As wetsuits get older, they will naturally stiffen, crack and compress due to the effects of sunlight, salt water, overstretching, etc. In order to slow down this process and get the most out of your wetsuit, follow these simple care, storage and cleaning guidelines:

  • Rinse your wetsuit well with fresh, warm water after every use, especially after use in salt water.
  • When not being used, always hang your wetsuit on a thick hanger and keep out of direct sunlight since UV radiation and heat will damage the suit.
  • Never put a wetsuit in the dryer or near any other heat source.
  • Don't overstretch your suit, as this can lead to cracking. This can be prevented by not buying a wetsuit that is too small.
  • Fix wetsuit leaks and holes with neoprene glue as soon as they appear to prevent further damage to your wetsuit.