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Do Wetsuits Stretch?

   December 13th, 2017   Posted In: Articles  

So, Do Wetsuits Stretch? Find Out!

Want to know if wetsuits stretch? It’s a common question people have when they buy a wetsuit for the first time. The answer depends on why you’re asking.

The Material the Wetsuit Is Made From

Wetsuits are made from a neoprene material. To some degree, all neoprene stretches to fit your body and contour to your shape. You wouldn’t want to wear a loose-fitting wetsuit as it would be difficult to move in and not keep you as comfortable in the water.

Although all neoprene stretches a little, the higher the grade the neoprene, the more it will stretch. Inexpensive, standard neoprene will stretch a bit. “Superstretch” neoprene can stretch up to 300%, which will have the least restrictions on the wearer. That’s why the best Patagonia wetsuits and Rip Curl wetsuits are manufactured from this material. You’ll have a more comfortable wetsuit that’s easier to use. Often, a better wetsuit is less expensive than you would expect.

Is the Wetsuit Sized Correctly?

If you’ve never worn a wetsuit before, it can be difficult to know if you have the right fit. First, you have to remember that wetsuits are made for the water. It’s not going to be as comfortable outside of the water as it is while you’re in the water.

Also, if you buy a wetsuit in the wrong size, it isn’t going to stretch to fit you better. Sure, after many years of wear, the wetsuit might stretch out a bit, but you want to buy a wetsuit in the right size to begin with.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to know if you have the right fit:

  • Can you zip up the wetsuit?
  • Can you move and breathe while wearing it?
  • Does it fit like a second skin?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, your wetsuit fits. If you’ve answered no, go up a size.

So, do wetsuits stretch? The answer depends a lot on what you mean by stretch. If you’re curious about the stretchiness of the fabric wetsuits are made from, wetsuits stretch. However, if you purchase a wetsuit in the wrong size, it is unlikely to stretch to fit your body.


Chris Moleskie

Chris "Mole" Moleskie is the Founder, President, and CEO of Wetsuit Wearhouse. Mole grew up in the water on the East Coast. After graduating from Salisbury University, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he headed to San Diego to find the eternal Ocean City. Wetsuit Wearhouse was formed a few years later in 2001. He swims, surfs when he can, SCUBA dives, wakeboards, SUPs, snowboards 15-20 days a season, and recently fell in lust with wakesurfing. Mole spends his summers at the not so secret Wetsuit Wearehouse Testing Facility on the Potomac River.

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  • Avatar Lily says:

    I recently bought a new Tiki wetsuit, the same size that I’ve previously hired. However it seems quite tight, I can zip it up and breathe ok, it just feels like it’s pulling on my shoulders slightly, would you say it will stretch a little once used or it’s worth getting one size up?

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Lily! It really does come down to how comfortable you are. A wetsuit should fit like a second skin without feeling restrictive and certainly should never affect your ability to breathe normally. Modern wetsuits are designed to “break-in” as little as possible with wear, so it’s hard to estimate how much it will give with time. If you feel like your wetsuit is holding you back from your full range of motion, or feels uncomfortable, it might be worthwhile trying the next size up in the same suit or checking out other wetsuits with more stretch that might fit you better. If you need additional assistance in finding a great suit for you or picking a size, you can also reach out to our awesome customer service team either via email ( or call 866-906-7848. Cheers!

  • Avatar Pedro Reis says:

    Hi, got a bit “larger” and my smooth wet suit, 4mm and tailored is a bit tide, which doesn’t let me breath comfortably. Question, if you can help me, how do I “enlarge a bit the wet suit” mainly in the chest area?

    Thanks & Regards

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Pedro! Thanks for reaching out. Regretfully, there is no way to enlarge any part of a wetsuit. I recommend considering sizing up with a new wetsuit so that you can be your most comfortable, and most safe in the water. Cheers!

  • Avatar Mo Ludlam says:

    I have an O’Neil wetsuit and although it fits well and keeps me warm it is super uncomfortable to paddle…’s not flexible at all. Also the neck area is uncomfortable….almost feels like it’s making my ability to breathe more difficult
    I was in San Sebastián Spain and rented a wetsuit that zipped at the chest.It was a 3/2 like my O’Neil but man it was easy to paddle and it wasn’t “ choking “ me
    Any suggestions..
    Us older guys need a little more flexibility when paddling out into the surf !!

    • Elizabeth Werdnik Elizabeth Werdnik says:

      Hi Mo, thanks for your comment! Some people swear by chest zip wetsuits for superior comfort, but if you like the easy entry of a back zip you might just need a wetsuit with a more flexible neoprene for a better range of motion. Check out our paddle westuit catagory here for our favorite stretchy paddle wetsuits!

  • Avatar Yvette says:

    My new Sisstre spring suite fits perfectly, but it takes me 20 mins to get my feet through the bottom of the legs. And yes, I use a plastic bag and powder for slip. How do I stretch the bottom of the legs.

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Yvette,

      Sometimes we recommend taking cans (like canned food) and put it inside the wetsuit legs for a few hours or maybe a couple of days to try and stretch it out a little bit. Hope that helps!

  • Avatar Tina says:

    Need something stretchey

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