Trigirl’s Triathlon Wetsuit Buying Advice for Larger Sized Women

It is important that your triathlon wetsuit fits you well – not too tight and not too big. But what do you do, if your wetsuit size is not available? What if you are looking for a women’s larger sized triathlon wetsuit? And why are XXL women’s wetsuits so hard to find?

Since this appears to affect quite a few women, we have gathered a few tips on larger sized triathlon wetsuits for women. 

A good fit is key

A good wetsuit fit for open water swimming or triathlon is important because it will enable you to swim well (and fast) without giving you a feeling of restriction. If your wetsuit is too small, it can restrict your blood circulation causing your legs to cramp. If your wetsuit is too big, water can enter through the collar and cuffs and exit through your leg hem and back zip as you swim. This means new, cold water constantly flushes through and your suit will not keep you warm and you will get cold quickly. 

You want to swim, not surf

Surfing wetsuits are available in a much larger range of sizes (and usually at a lower price point too), and so you may be tempted to opt for a women’s surf wetsuit instead. However, a surfing wetsuit will not work. Open water swim wetsuits are designed to improve your body position when you swim front crawl. Buoyant and flexible neoprene panels are combined in a clever way to allow you to swim more efficiently. Generally speaking, the shoulder area features highly flexible neoprene to help your front crawl arm movement. The legs feature thicker neoprene to aid buoyancy. 

Neoprene thickness and properties are very different in a surfing wetsuit. Surfing wetsuits are predominantly designed to keep you warm as you stride atop the surfboard. Swimming wetsuits are designed to make you swim faster in the water. Insulation is less important as you constantly move while swimming.

The demand dilemma

Most respected brands like Zone3 for example, offer women’s specific wetsuits up to XL (UK16/18). Larger women’s sizes can be more difficult to find. The sport of open water swimming is still relatively new and demand for the XXL women’s sizes is small. Factories often expect a minimum order quantity in a size. There may simply be not enough demand in the bigger sizes to enable brands to meet the factories minimum order quantity.

Luckily the sport is growing quickly and with that in mind, we think there will be enough demand for larger sizes before long. 

Try a higher-quality suit?

Swim specific wetsuits come in a wide range of prices, starting from £150 for a novice suit up to £500 and more. Much of the price difference comes from the different neoprene quality the suit is made from. A higher grade, more expensive material is much softer and more flexible. That means, if you have tried the largest size of a brand’s entry level wetsuit and found it just a bit too tight, the slightly more expensive, more flexible mid-range wetsuit of the same brand could fit you.

Go for the man

If all fails, do try a men’s wetsuit. Of course, this is not ideal as men generally have longer torsos, wider shoulders and longer arms than women. However, you may find that a little bit of bunched-up sleeve length does not affect your swim performance all that much. 

By the way, do not be tempted to cut any extra length off. I once cut the leg cuffs of an old wetsuit to see if it would give me more room around the ankle. To my despair, a short cut in the neoprene did not stay a short cut. Each time I wore the suit, the cut ripped up longer and longer. I had to discard the entire suit soon after. My advice: if you end up buying a men’s wetsuit, find one that fits well enough as it is. Do not try to trim it!

Put it on correctly

Finally, putting your wetsuit on correctly is actually harder than you might think. If this is your first triathlon wetsuit purchase check out the following video. Even more experienced swimmers may not know about the advice given from minute 5:09 onwards. Pulling your wetsuit all the way up as described will make a big difference in feeling comfortable. This is even more important, if you have a men’s wetsuit that may have a longer torso:

Larger sized wetsuits


If you are struggling to find a women’s larger sized triathlon wetsuit, don’t despair. You are not alone. With the rise in popularity of open water swimming, larger female wetsuits will become available soon. In the meantime, you could try a higher quality neoprene material. Failing that, do try a men’s size. And make sure you are wearing it correctly.

Don’t let the wetsuit sizing issue stop you from experiencing the wonderful sport of triathlon and open water swimming. And don’t forget you can buy your gorgeous XL women’s trisuit from our webshop here:

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You may also be interested in our related article – Tips for Buying a Wetsuit for Triathlon. Read it here:

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