A Personal Problem, Shared By Many

Mike George | 05/02/2016
Ollie the Octopus stretching on a rack
5’6” tall, 45” chest in old money, (167cm and 115cm), nothing fits, or does it?

The chest size places me in the Large or XLarge bracket for most clothing, wetsuits etc, but in order for them to fit me I need to stretch to be at least 6ft (182cm) tall. The rack might work but painfully, and as far as I can see, hanging from tree branches only results in longer arms, witness the ape family.

So how come I have several wetsuits, a diving dry suit and full wet weather sailing gear, all of which serve their purpose and do a good job for me? The answer as always is compromise, I’m never going to ‘look good’ in a wetsuit, I accept that, so the compromise begins. What else am I prepared to forgo, definitely not warmth, that’s right at the top of my ‘must have’ list, so what else really doesn’t matter to me? Folded back cuffs and ankles, ‘am I bovered’? Not me.

So here’s my theory...

Wetsuit fitting guide

For wetsuits, start with the chest, must be snug but not so tight it makes breathing uncomfortable, the waist and hips next, not so critical, you can get away with a bit of tightness as it usually feels less so when in the water. If getting into the wetsuit doesn’t involve a bit of a struggle, including the odd curse and mutterings of ‘why do I do this’ it is going to be too loose and too big to keep you warm! (view our guide to choosing a wetsuit here).

For sailing gear, I have a set of Gill OS2 Offshore jacket and hi-fits, size chart suggested probably an XL but I went for L, still miles too long in theory. In practice, ok so the length of the jacket makes me look even shorter, I can live with that, but the cuffs have Velcro adjustments so the sleeves can be tuned, likewise the length of the hi-fit legs, just lift them over my boots, fasten the Velcro and I’m warm, dry and very comfortable.

So despite my personal disadvantage, that is I don’t fit the size chart, the gear still works for me, remember manufacturer’s sizes are usually based on averages, me I’d rather be different!

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