Wetsuit Sizes Explained – How to Choose between S, MS, M, MT, L, XXL and others

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XS, S, MS, M, MT, MLS, ML, MLT, LS, LT, XLS, XLT, XXL, XXXL

Sizes explainedAre there really thirteen different wetsuit sizes? Well yes and no, some of sizes you can see in the list above are pretty rare. But if you come across any of them – here you can find explanations what these letters mean.

Unlike regular clothes, a wetsuit is typically going to be sold in either a small, medium, large, or extra large (S, M, L, XL). There are two reasons for this:

  • they can stretch quite a bit so one size will fit different people and
  • they are meant to fit very snugly.

As more and more advancements have been made with the materials used in wetsuits they have been able to stretch even more than in past. What I am trying to say is that you don’t normally have regular clothes sizes with wetsuits. But as always things are not that simple. In addition to those standard sizes there are other sizes that are used by many brands so if you come across them it’s important to know what they mean. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a standardized size chart used across the industry. Each company may have slight differences in what each size is, but the information below should help you choose your next wetsuit so it fits properly.

Before we go to the explanation a few more tips on wetsuit sizing that may come in handy if you are a beginner:

  • Wetsuit should feel snug, even a bit tight. But it should not force you to bend over.
  • After you put it on thy crouching, bending over, jumping and moving your arms. See if there is an abvious restriction of movements or if the sleeves are to short.
  • Also – if it is difficult for you to breathe then YES, wetsuit is too small:).
  • First sign of wetsuit being too big is a gap between wetsuit and your body on your back just above your backside. Because of the curve of your back this is the first place where you can see if the wetsuit is to big. But a little room is ok, it is hard to find a perfect fit.

Extra Small (XS)

These usually come in kids sizes but sometimes you can get a “grown up” XS wetsuit which is meant for kinny and small people.

Small (S)

This is a pretty popular option in wetsuits. It is for people who aren’t very tall and are not at all overweight.

Medium Short (MS)

MS is intended for people who are shorter than average, but have a larger body shape. Whether you have a few extra pounds to lose or you work out and have larger than average muscles, Medium Short is likely the right size for you.

Medium (M)

The standard for people who are of average height and weight. You can see I am not giving any height and weight numbers since M size from one brand can be different from M size of another brand but since medium is somewhere in the middle it’s a nice orientation point. So generally M is for people from 5’9″-5’11” (175cm-180cm) and from 150-160lbs (65-72kg) with average body shape.

Medium Tall (MT)

For those who are tall and skinny the medium tall is the right option. This means the same weight as medium but with longer arms and legs.

Medium Large Short (MLS)

There are not too many wetsuit manufacturers who carry this uncommon option. It is perfect for people who are quite heavy, but shorter than average in height.

Medium Large (ML)

If you’re average height but built a bit heavier or stronger than normal, this is the one for you. Essentially this is the opposite of the medium tall option.

Medium Large Tall (MLT)

There is not a significant difference between this size and a standard large wetsuit. It is good for taller people who are also built a little bigger than normal. This is not a very common size and not used by most manufacturers.

MT size in action

Large Short (LS)

If you’ve got a larger body shape and average height, this might be the right wetsuit size for you. It is quite similar to the standard large except for a little shorter.

Large (L)

This is the typical large sized wetsuit for people who are taller and bigger than average.

Large Tall (LT)

For those who are quite a bit taller than average and have a skinny body, the large tall is the right choice for you.

Extra Large Short (XLS)

The extra large short size is for anyone that is smaller than the extra large size but still has a large or strong body shape.

Extra Large (XL)

For those who are both tall and large, this is the standard.

Extra Large Tall (XLT)

When you’re very tall and too skinny for a XXL wetsuit, this one might fit perfectly.

Extra Extra Large (XXL)

For those who are very tall and have a very big body type.

Extra Extra Extra Large (XXXL)

XXXL is the largest size you can find without a custom order in most cases. It is for those with extremely tall and large body types. This is not a very common size and is only made by a few companies.

10 Comments

  • Yasir Habib says:

    My Height is 6′ feet and weight is around 66kgs my waist is 31″ and my chest size is 36 what is the best size for me also please confirm that I live in Karachi where we find all four seasons so what is the best type of wetsuit I should get top enjoy all seasons scuba diving and other sports.

    • K says:

      It depends on the brand. For instance for a Rip Curl wetsuit I would suggest MT or M, for Xcel ST etc…usually with the new stretchy neoprene the size charts wetsuit companies give are good enough to choose the right size. Check also this article that has size charts.

      What’s the water temp in Karachi?

  • Ignasi says:

    Hello, I found this article very useful!. My height is 6” (183cm), chest 41″ (103cm) and waist 34’5” (87/88cm) and my weight 75kg, so I’m skinny but with a big chest…. I’m interested in buying a ripcurl wetsuit 4/3, and I don’t know if is better MT or L. What do you think??

    Thank you!!

  • Nick Vincent says:

    Hello, I’m looking at a thicker wetsuit for winter. My summer wetsuit which I recently got is a M I’m 177cm tall (5’8) and it fits perfectly. So should I get a M for my winter wetsuit? thankyou

    • K says:

      Yes, sure. If you are getting your winter wetsuit from the same manufacturer then it’s a no brainer – get an M. If it’s from another brand then check and compare both size charts. M should be fine, but just to be safe…

  • Mike C. says:

    Hello,

    It’s been years since I’ve had a wetsuit on. I’m thinking I’m a Large/Short as I’m 5’9″, weigh 215, 47″ on the chest and approx 38 in the waist. Thing is… I want to use my suit for dredging under the water. Lots of sharp rocks, fallen timbers, etc. Is there a particular kind of suit I should choose for this activity or do I just need to be more careful and not get the rips and tears? I have the Kevlar gloves and boots already. Time to take the next step as the warmer waters aren’t waiting. (I dredge in SouthEast USA) Do you have any inside tips I’d need to know about before I take the “plunge”? :) If you get this soon and would like to reply, thanks in advance.

    Regards,

    Mike

    • K says:

      Hi Mike,
      LS or XLS sound about right, but these are not very common sizes, not every wetsuit brand has them. When it comes to abrasion resistance – in general a wetsuit that is lined with nylon on the outside is a bit less flexible but a bit more scratch resistant and durable so try to get one with external lining (usually the chest and back area will still be smooth and single lined). Reinforced knees are also a bonus. Stay away from swimming wetsuits – these are the most “sensitive”. In any case, a really tough wetsuit would be also very inflexible and therefore impractical. So you will have to be careful when it comes to sharp objects. As for brand suggestions, I think NSR makes wetsuits for kayaking, rafting and these should be a bit tougher but you might have problems getting the right size. Also check out this shop, they have a huge selection of wetsuits and you should be able to get your size.

  • Dino says:

    I’m interested in Rip Curl wetsuits. I’m almost 6′ tall, 170 lbs, and with a 40 inch chest. Would a MT work?

    Do they fit similar to Xcel? I previously had an Xcel MT which seemed to fit OK. It was the only wetsuit I ever had so I don’t know any better.

    Thanks!

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