Can A Woman Wear A Men’s Wetsuit?
Can A Woman Wear A Men’s Wetsuit?
Wetsuits made for women today are not your grandma’s wetsuits. With new technology, quality materials and detailed attention to fit, female surfers have endless options today designed specifically for their bodies and needs. But, when push comes to shove and limited options are available, you may need to grab whatever is available. So, can a woman wear a men’s wetsuit? In short, yes, but there are things to consider and several benefits to gender-specific gear.
How Does a Wetsuit Work?
Before we dive into the specifics of fit, it’s important to understand the mechanics of a wetsuit, especially if you’re a beginner. A wetsuit is your layer of defense that shields your skin from the sun and regulates your body temperature to avoid getting too hot or too cold in the water. They’re most often made from neoprene — a type of rubber — which is the most optimal material since it provides excellent thermal protection and stays durable in saltwater.
Once you get into the water for the first time, the suit will need a moment to adjust to the water. The suit will feel tight at first and will then begin to relax in the water as you move. A small amount of water will fill the space between your body and the suit and begin to heat up, which keeps you warm as you surf and swim.
How Should a Wetsuit Fit?
The fit is incredibly important to temperature regulation, which is the main purpose of a wetsuit. The wetsuit has to of course allow movement in order to surf and swim, but it must be snug. The snug fit traps the water against your skin heat and avoid circulation of cool water to move between the suit, cooling you down. If the suit is too loose, you’ll get cold.
When trying on a wetsuit, there shouldn’t be any excess room in the middle, crotch, shoulders, or knees. You should, however, have a full range of motion, especially in the shoulders for swimming. If you are too restricted when you lift your arms over your head, then it is too small. You should also be able to bend your knees and squat in your wetsuit with resistance, but not too much restriction. The wetsuit should be snug without any excessive bunching or drooping areas.
A Quick Refresher on Wetsuit Thickness
Aside from fit and material, the thickness of your wetsuit is also an incredibly important feature, especially if you’re planning to surf in particularly cold temperatures. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer the suit will be. If you’re considering an epic surf trip to Iceland, you’ll want a much warmer suit in hand. Thickness is measured in millimeters (mm) with two or three numbers that indicate the thickness in the torso, legs, and arms. Two numbers shown will indicate the torso and legs, and three numbers the torso, legs, and arms, respectively.
So, Can a Woman Wear a Man’s Wetsuit?
Yes. A woman can, in theory, wear a man’s wetsuit. The material is the same, but the major difference comes in the shape. Male and female body shapes, although both may be athletic, still have relatively big differences. Males may have larger upper bodies and slimmer hips and legs, while females tend to have wider hips and larger thigh areas. Women also tend to have narrower shoulders and backs, but they may also need more room in the chest. While these can seem like small variances, they make a big difference considering how snug the wetsuit should fit your body. With a men’s wetsuit, there may not be enough room in the chest but there may be too much room in the shoulders, leading to over-compression in one area while allowing too much water circulation in others.
That being said, some women have body types that are more similar to their male counterparts. In that case, a male wetsuit might do the trick in a pinch. But, if you’re serious about surf and looking to get out on the water more often, it’s worth it to invest in a women’s wetsuit that may be better designed for your shape. Whether originally designed for men or women, you’ll always need to try on the wetsuit to know for sure. Be sure to pay attention to the fit using the same guidelines you would any other suit, and you’ll enter the water confidently, protected, and, above all, warm.