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Wet suit size

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If your weight and height put you in different categories, which do you follow? For example, the sizing chart may say you are a medium based on weight and a large based on height. Which should win? Ideally I'd be able to try on before buying, but no one really has them in stock at the moment so it will be purchased online (obviously it can be exchanged, but I'm trying to get it right the first time.) Many thanks for any ideas.

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Well, if you need the extra length of a large, the medium isn't going to fit. See if the manufacturer will provide measurements such as inseam, sleeve and torso lengths, as that will probably be a better indicator than a generic size recommendation. To get a good fit and maximum warmth, you need to buy it as small as possible while still being comfortable. Excess room in a wetsuit increases water infiltration and exchange, dramatically reducing it's effectiveness

One thing that you should consider is that for this area, a waterproof/breathable dry suit is a much better investment in the long run, despite the higher initial cost. It extends your paddling season much more than a wetsuit can and is far more comfortable and versatile. I find that I wear mine 7-8 months of the year, varying my insulating layers with the temperature (something you can't do with a wetsuit). Since the weather is not conducive to wetsuit use now anyway, you may want to consider waiting out the winter and saving up a few more bucks to buy a dry suit in the spring. You'll need it until June at least - since the spring water temps are dangerously cold - so you'll get good use out of it right away. You won't regret it. I consider my drysuit to be the single best investment I've made in a piece of paddling gear.

BTW, Stolhlquist (www.stolhquist.com) makes their dry suits in a size medium/large, which is basically a medium-tall. I'm 6', 165# with long arms (35" sleeve) and legs (36" inseam) and it fits me quite well. Another alternative is Ravenspring, which makes all of their suits custom sized to the customer. Despite the falling dollar, they're still a pretty good value, considering the customization they do and are still less expensive than Kokatat or Stohlquist. (www.ravenspring.com)

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I have the same problem (longer and skinnier) and my wetsuit size varies with the manufacturer. A few tips:

As Brian suggests, the key to warmth is snug fit around the torso. So lean towards the torso fit (weight) unless it is really uncomfortable in length. A new wetsuit will be....snug. While it doesn't really stretch much, it will loosen up in the first season.

Pay particular attention to the fit around the armpits and on the back between the shoulder blades. Gaps in either area increase cold water infiltration. On the other hand, any binding in the armpits will be pretty after an hour or two of paddling.

Height is a deceiving indicator since the only real issue is torso length: a long neck or even long legs can make your height a poor indicator of wetsuit fit.

I get a reasonable fit with a suit that is one size too small in height and in the lower range in weight. If it helps, I've found that a NRS Farmer John in large fits well. For Hydroskin shorts and short sleeve, I fit a medium. (I'm 6'-2" and 175 lbs.)

If you do take Brian's advice and go for a drysuit, it's worth it to get a custom size unless you're close to a stock size. I ordered a Kokotat and got a medium with 2" each added in the sleeves, legs and torso. The additional $ was well worth it.


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