Ordering Wetsuits Online: Buying Without Trying?

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I always say that fit is one of the most important things when buying a wetsuit. If it’s too big you will get flushed and especially if we are talking about winter cold water wetsuits a wrong size is a waste of money. So…should you order your next wetsuit online or no? Here are a few things you should consider:

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you are buying your third consecutive O’Neill Psycho (or insert your favorite wettie) then you don’t need to read this. You’re safe.

Sticking To The Same Brand

If you are buying a new wetsuit from the same brand that you already owned you are also good. A M size Billabong is a M size Billabong, no matter the model.

Hopping Brands

If you are buying a new wetsuit from a brand that you’ve never owned then you are ok most of the time. Sizes do differ a bit from brand to brand and so do the models by which the wetsuits are tailored.  But these deviations are rarely so big that you would fall into another size…so size is not really an issue. But tailoring can be, some brands just sit better since we are all built a bit differently. If you have a chance – try it before buying.

Oh No, Newbie?

You are buying your first wetsuit ever. Hm…now we can have a problem. Every wetsuit user kind of knows what wetsuit size he needs. If you are a first timer there is no previous wetsuit that would give you an idea what size do you need. So you are left with the official size guides. You measure your height, weight, chest and waist and try to pick the right size (also read this sizing article).

How wrong can you go? This works if your body size and especially shape is around average.

To give you some confidence:

  • todays flexible neoprene wetsuits adapt better to your body shape than they used to. Thank you stretchy neoprene!
  • In the end, you must know that whatever you do, it is sometimes hard to get a wetsuit that will fit you “100% as if you were born with it perfectly”  – trying it in a shop or not. And a wetsuit will still “work” even if it is not a 100% perfect fit.

And finally – always buy from a shop that allows you to return it if the size is wrong.


  • Warren says:

    What are “skins”? I’m looking for clothing that I can wear to reduce discomfort in the swimming pool when the temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees F. While shopping online I see the terms, Skins, scuba, rash guards, wetsuit, vest, jacket water shirts, etc. I’ve learned that most of them are the same thing, but what about “skins”? Are skins just another name for wetsuits?

    • K says:

      Hey Warren, skins are similar to wetsuits but not the same. They are very swimming specific. A skin is smaller, thinner and non-buoyant replacement for a wetsuit used usually when water is too warm for a wetsuit. It’s designed to be very snug, it enhances speed through the water by compressing the body and creating minimal friction with the passing water. For your water temperature a skin might not be warm enough.

  • Rick says:

    I have the same issue … so what are the recommended suits for swimming pools in cold temps?

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