Review: Plus size wetsuits
For years it has been almost impossible to find wetsuits for bigger, curvier bodies. So it is exciting to see some brands developing their range to meet more swimmers’ needs. Open water and mountain guide Suzanna Cruickshank reviews the latest plus size wetsuits for outdoor swimmers.
Blue Seventy Sprint WXLA (16-20) | £199
They say: The Sprint has long been renowned as the most comfortable entry level suit on the market, and we’ve taken it one step further with 39 cell Yamamoto neoprene throughout the entire suit. By using a higher quality neoprene through the entire suit, the Sprint offers more flexibility and comfort so that you can focus on your swimming and not what you are wearing.
We say: Blue Seventy has offered an Athena size option for many years. Most wetsuits get taller as they get bigger but the Athena attempts to solve this problem by providing a more generous fit for a shorter frame in medium, large, and extra-large options. There is more room in the hips and thigh, and under-arm stretch panels allow for a generous bust. Whilst technically not a plus size, the WXLA size suits a traditionally proportioned curvy figure from 84kg upwards, and in my experience can fit up to 100kg.
Lomo Prime MWC (22/24) | £129 *BEST FOR PLUS SIZE*
They say: The Prime 4/3/2 smooth skin triathlon wetsuit comes in a super-stretchy neoprene. It’s easy to get into and offers warmth, flexibility and buoyancy. The high degree of flexibility of this suit means the swimmer is less restricted than they would be in a standard wetsuit. The main front panel is made from 4mm neoprene while the back panel is 3mm thick. Arms have been made in 2mm super-stretchy neoprene to allow an easier and fuller range of movement when swimming. The underarm area of the suit, where most flexibility is required, is made from 2mm neoprene to reduce restriction.
We say: Lomo added ‘short wide’ and ‘medium wide’ sizes to the Prime Wetsuit range to little fanfare back in 2021 and it was the start of a revolution in wetsuit sizing. Boasting 11 size options in the women’s range, the Prime really delivers for plus size women. The short wide and medium wide sizes are for swimmers who are average height or shorter and broad in the body. The generous body dimensions and low price are hard to beat. A true entry level suit, and the one most deserving of a plus size tag.
Orca Vitalis TRN | £219
They say: The Openwater Vitalis TRN is the perfect wetsuit for swimmers who are just starting out in open water or who need a suit for daily, triathlon-oriented training. The high flexibility in the shoulders makes your first workouts in open water very comfortable, while its buoyancy will keep you feeling secure.
We say: I’ve always looked enviously at friends in their Orca suits but the athletic dimensions never worked for my plump body. Orca’s new generous sizes options of ‘medium wide’ and ‘large wide’ indicated I might finally be able to fit into one of their suits. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. For my body shape the suit doesn’t work. The good news is that for shorter swimmers with chunky legs the suit will be a dream. The Vitalis is the best quality neoprene out of all the wetsuits and feels lovely. It’s very generous in the calves and thigh but less so in the body, and because of this it will only fit a narrow range of people.
Yonda Spook (short 20/22 or a tall 18) | £229
They say: Yonda’s Spook is the perfect first wetsuit for those who want to get out into the wild, have fun and enjoy open water swimming. Ideal for breaststroke swimmers, the 3mm sustainable Yamamoto neoprene supports the swimmer with extra buoyancy and helps gain confidence in the water. This suit comes at a great price but doesn’t compromise on build, durability, comfort or performance.
We say: I’m big fan of the Yonda Spook. It’s an excellent entry level wetsuit for bigger swimmers with sizing going up to a 4XL. I like the simple styling, and the neutral buoyancy and stretchy side panels are ideal for breaststroke swimmers. It still falls into the trap of the length of the suit increasing with the size – meaning shorter swimmers will find the arms and legs very long, but neoprene can be trimmed to fit with no special sewing skills required.
Zone 3 Aspect (short 16/18 tall 12/14) | £179
They say: The Zone3 Aspect wetsuit has been developed in response to the high volume of swimmers searching for a wetsuit in which they can swim breaststroke with as well as front crawl. Utilising a mixture of high performance Aqua-X, Smoothskin and High-Stetch Nylon panels, this wetsuit is designed to allow an extended range of movement between the legs and across the chest. Aqua-X is a coating applied to the neoprene which significantly reduces drag in the water whilst also improving durability.
We say: Having added an XXL to their size range I was interested to try the Aspect breaststroke specific wetsuit. This is a light and stretchy suit, ideal for swimmers who don’t need much thermal protection. Unfortunately, the sizing is not particularly generous and I couldn’t get it past my knees. Swimmers with a taller, slender frame will benefit from the XL and XXL sizes, but plumper swimmers will struggle with the narrow waist.
Snugg Slipstream Custom Fit | from £325 *WETSUIT OF DREAMS*
They Say: Always in the pursuit of excellence we are constantly researching and testing new materials in our wetsuits. We have now introduced a 5mm glide panel through the centre of the chest and waist, widening out through the hips, creating a better roll in your stroke, this panel, with fine dimple finish, diffuses the water and reduces the co-efficient drag factor.
Sized out of the largest sizes on the market, I went to Snugg for a bespoke suit in 2019 and I haven’t looked back. To get the fit right you must be totally accurate and honest about your measurements – get a friend or partner to measure you to avoid any mistakes, and you will end up with the wetsuit of your dreams. Having paid less for off the peg suits that don’t fit properly in the past, I am more than happy to pay Snugg’s £325+ price tag. If you are thinking of going down this route bear in mind wait times can be several months depending on when you place your order.To see all the online content from the May 2023 issue of Outdoor Swimmer, visit the 'Spring(s)' page.