Many people have spent this past summer doing a number of fun and carefree things for enjoyment. Having a picnic, heading to the beach, and going scuba diving are some of the many activities people love in the summer.
If you’ve never gone scuba diving, you might not have had the chance to try on the dreaded, but necessary scuba wetsuits. These suits help keep divers warm as they go deep into the cold and dark depths of the ocean but just because they work well and feel fine underwater, it doesn’t mean they feel good when you’re trying to put it on and take it off. So, do wetsuits stretch?
How Does a Wetsuit Work?
Before we get into whether scuba diving suits stretch or not, we need to understand how they work and what their uses are. Think about how you get warm on a cold day in winter. Most likely, you get into thickly knit clothing and add on layers until you feel warm. Essentially, you’re trapping the warm air close to your body by creating walls of clothing that act as insulation for you; the more layers you have, the warmer you get.
That’s a bit how a scuba wetsuit works. The scuba wetsuit was designed to keep the diver warm underwater through layers and insulation. The material with which the scuba wetsuit is made is what allows this to happen.
The material your wetsuit is largely made of is neoprene, a synthetic rubber. Think of it as a very thin insulator. This rubber is made up of its own layers that help trap the heat of your body and keep you warm, even if the water around you is freezing.
So, how does your wetsuit keep you dry? It actually doesn’t even do that as you still get pretty wet in a wetsuit. The reality is that a wetsuit isn’t really supposed to keep you dry; it’s just supposed to keep you warm.
Even if water gets inside your suit, the wetsuit makes it stay warm and doesn’t take away any heat from your body. That’s why having a well-fitted wetsuit is essential to keeping you cozy many feet under the water’s surface.
Why Does Fit Matter?
When you’re underwater, you can only expect to be as warm as your wetsuit’s fit on you. If you have a wetsuit that’s too tight or too loose, it won’t do its job, leading you to feel like an icicle after being in the water for just a short amount of time. Having a scuba wetsuit that has a good fit and feels firm but comfortable on your skin, is what allows the insulation trick to work.
A wetsuit that’s too small creates large wrinkles or space in certain parts of the suit that allow air and water flow in and out of the suit. When you add flushing water to your wetsuit, the material doesn’t stay close to your skin, so that layer of insulation is missing.
Similarly, if you have a wetsuit that’s too big, it also creates those pockets of air and water that make for poor insulation underwater. Poor insulation means no warmth and leads to you scrambling out of the water in just a few minutes.
Do Wetsuits Stretch?
Many people get confused about their wetsuit fitting because they don’t know if it’s supposed to stretch or not. It all boils down to how and why it’s stretching.
All wetsuits made from neoprene have some stretch in them. This neoprene is how your wetsuit is able to stretch and is what allows you to move so freely underwater without having to worry about any tears or rips in the fabric and seams. High-quality wetsuits actually stretch more than the ones that aren’t so well-made.
So, yes, your wetsuit should be a little stretchy when you try it on. That just means it’s doing its job!
That being said, it shouldn’t be so stretchy that you have loose parts of the cloth not sticking to your body when you put it on. Your wetsuit should also not be stretching to fit your body.
If it’s too stretched out covering one part of your body, that means a different region isn’t getting the coverage it needs for proper insulation. It’s a bit like wearing yoga pants.
Sure, you can wear yoga pants that are three sizes too small for you because they can stretch, but as soon as you bend over, it’s easy to see through the transparency. Technically, it still covers the area, but under pressure, you can see how little it’s actually doing to shield your skin. So, a little stretch in your wetsuit outside of the water is fine, as long as it’s not compromising the fit on other areas.
How to Tell if It Fits Well?
The main thing you should remember about your scuba wetsuit is that it needs to fit well. This leads us to the question of just how you can tell if your wetsuit is perfect for your body.
A wetsuit fits well if you have good movement in it outside of the water. Remember, it should be a little snug, but not too much that you can’t even lift your arm. Once you get your suit on, you can test the fit by doing small exercises like lunges and jumping jacks to see if your movement is restricted. If you can’t do those motions comfortably, you should probably go a size up to something that fits a bit better and allows more movement.
The Right Fit and Stretch Matters
As you search for a scuba wetsuit that fits well, it’s important to remember the main things about a wetsuit. You’re looking for a wetsuit that fits your body in a comfortable, but firm way.
It should be just a little stretchy, but not so much that it’s overstretched in some areas. It may take time to find your fit, but once you do, you can enjoy the last few days of summer exploring the depths of the ocean without freezing.