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Finding the Perfect Fitting Wetsuit

What you need to know before you buy

After your bike, a wetsuit is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your tri gear arsenal. So, it’s important to ensure that when you do pull out the plastic, you’ve done your wetsuit-buying due diligence. Recently we sat down with Dan Rishworth. owner of Toronto’s Enduro Sport tri shop, to get the low down on what you need to know before you buy.

Performance or ease of use?

The number one mistake people make when buying a wet suit, is buying one that is too big. You want your wetsuit to be like a second skin on your body. Whether you are looking to spend the extra time to wiggle into an extra tight suit or are happy to spend half that time wiggling, a tight suit is your top priority. Considering what you’re going to be doing with it over time could help you make your final choice. If you’re naturally competitive, set on stellar performance, and may be taking your wetsuit to higher levels over the years, invest in a high performance suit. These will take more time to adjust to your body, as they will be extra tight. They also need extra care and attention as the neoprene will be more prone to damage. Not looking to compete in the Ironman anytime soon? You still need your suit to feel like a second skin, but the time it will take to get into a high performance suit, won’t be worth it if you aren’t set on competing and upping your personal best.

The benefits of better Neoprene

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is produced by polymerization of chloroprene and was first used in wetsuit construction in the 1970s. Neoprene has the ability to maintain stability and flexibility in a variety of temperatures. More expensive suits will use a more flexible and buoyant neoprene. With better neoprene you get a better fit, less restriction when adapted to your body and a faster swim. The thickness of neoprene needed will differ on the water temperatures you are swimming in. Make sure to try on several suits so you can feel the difference between the different types of neoprene.

Get the right fit

Just like running shoes, we are hesitant to order something and make a purchase without trying them on. Make sure you try on your wetsuit, and not just one, but many. You are purchasing something that should feel like a second skin, so you want to try it on against yours. Try to find a brand that has a variety of sizing — short, tall and women’s specific sizing are offered by many brands, including Canada’s own Nineteen Wetsuits. Remember, the number one rule is a suit that fits like a glove, and has no loose areas.

Adjust the suit correctly

Once you have the suit on, you can do a couple of things to ensure it is the suit for you. Put the suit on properly as if you were about to go in the lake for a swim. Pull the arms up to your armpits so there is no gaping when you move your arms. Pull the legs up around the crotch and ensure there is no gaping here as well. Ask someone to help you with the zipper at the back so that it is fully zipped up and you can get a feel for your new skin!

Check for fit problems

Make a check list. Does my suit fit like second skin? Are there any gaps around joint areas? Are there gaps around the collar? Is the suit suctioned to my body? Put your arms out in front of you and cross your wrists, there should be no gaping at the chest and collar. Try and pull the suit away from your body, looking for that suction feeling.

Key overall tips:

-Don’t buy too small, but make sure your suit is your second skin.

-Suits last on average 5 years, but this depends on your activity level and care and maintenance of the suit.

-To keep your suit maintained and last as long as possible, be careful to avoid digging in your fingertips and instead pull your suit on from the inside fabric instead of the outside neoprene.

- Don’t leave you suit wet or rolled up in a ball. Dry it properly and then lay it flat.

- Always keep your suit away from heat sources

By Ashley Lavoie

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