Why Are Drysuits So Big? February 12 2014

Drysuits look huge. When you're about to try one on, it's the first thing you'll notice. "Ridiculous," you'll think. "It's taller than I am! I must have the wrong size."

You'll be surprised.

Try that enormous suit on, and it magically shrinks to fit you. Or maybe it's the other way around: a drysuit is such an awesome thing that, as soon as you put it on, you become bigger, more powerful -- better looking too!

A front-entry drysuit has to be big for a few reasons:

  • After you pull on the bottom half, you have to get your head through the entry zipper. The torso has to be extra long so that the top of the chest fits completely over your head.
  • Drysuit fabric doesn't stretch at all, so the legs have to be cut extra long to allow you to bend at the knees.
  • Because you'll wear a full suit of insulating clothing under the drysuit and need unimpeded freedom of movement, it has to be big around at every location: shoulders, armholes, chest, hips, etc. 
  • And if your suit has sewn-on drysocks, they add another foot or so below where your pants would normally end.

Where does all this extra fabric go when you put the suit on?

The upper torso remains big. You'll notice the entry zipper tends to stand out far from your chest. You need a lot of this extra room for full arm and shoulder movement and torso rotation. Your PFD will contain and hide all that extra fabric.

Even after your feet take up the length of the drysocks, the legs remain long. You simply need that extra length so that you can sit, bend your knees, etc. The cuffs may sag down over the top of your booties, but as long as you tighten the waist belt or drawstring, things shouldn't droop down too far.

There's one more factor that allows that apparently huge suit to fit you so well. When you put it on, you get bigger.

Don't believe me? Try it yourself.


Download this article as a PDF.

More information on drysuit sizing.

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