Your wetsuit will be one of your most expensive pieces of triathlon gear, so choosing the right wetsuit is a very important decision. Sizing and fit can be the difference between the suit that works and the one that doesn't, regardless of the style of the suit. Tri wetsuits are known for their precise neoprene width that vary on different areas of the wetsuit. Thicker areas are for easy buoyancy while thinner areas are for flexibility. Keep in mind that the most expensive option isn’t always the best for you, while you definitely will be getting what you pay for if you skimp. This list of seven options is designed to help you make the choice that’s right for you.
1. Zone3 Vanquish
This wetsuit was placed at the top of our list because it provides top-notch features and is about a hundred dollars less than the top-of-the-line wetsuit. We especially like the single shoulder panel, which will give you a stable fit as well as a greater range of motion due to its lack of seams. We really liked the Pro Speed Cuffs on the arms and legs, which allow for a rapid transition from the swim leg of your race. This wetsuit also comes with two chest panels that each do something slightly different. First, the 5mm aerodome roll bar increases your buoyancy allowing you to maintain a proper swim posture. Then the 3mm chest panel increases flexibility to take deeper breaths and expand your chest. The only real drawbacks are that it is still fairly expensive (around $750) and a little difficult to put on.
2.TYR Hurricane Freak Nature
It’s all about speed with this wetsuit, and while it’s the most expensive of our top three, we think it’s worth it. It features the best catch panels we’ve seen, as well as special speed wrap paneling at the legs, chest, and core. This wetsuit is also coated in super composite skin that allows it to have incredibly low drag. This suit is also extremely soft and pliant, with remarkable stretch-and-return capacity. Finally, this suit offers great buoyancy by providing aerodome panels in 360-degrees around the wetsuit to help you maintain a proper swimming position. The only drawback we found is that this suit will set you back around $900.
3. Blueseventy Thermal Helix
While BlueSeventy is more well-known for their women’s line, we included this great wetsuit for its design and insulation. The aqua-seal cuffs prevent water from getting in but are designed in such a way that still allows the wetsuit to be easily peeled off once you’ve finished the swim. The leg opening is also designed for quick removal. But the big stand-out for this suit was its impressive insulation. This suit boasts a thickness of 5/4, which makes it one of the thickest wetsuits we’ve seen. Additionally, it has a quick-drying zirconium thermal liner with a wool-like feel to further keep in your body heat. This wetsuit is priced at $649, making it the most affordable of our picks.
Suitable for all levels, the Synergy Endorphin is both an affordable and high-quality wetsuit. The seams alone are outstanding: triple-stitched, chemically bonded and reinforced with tape at pivotal junctures. Even the zipper is hidden within the seams to help reduce drag. The panels are also terrific. At the sides of the wetsuit, the Synergy Endorphin features AquaLift panels to help increase your buoyancy and keep your swimming form in the proper alignment. Finally, the PowerMax forearm panels serve as excellent catch panels. At 5mm, this wetsuit provides the maximum buoyancy allowed in triathlon wetsuits, and at $199, is an excellent value.
2. BlueSeventy Women’s Helix
This wetsuit is fully loaded with features that provide for top-notch speed and comfort. The minimalistic forearm panels increase awareness of arm position in the water, encouraging better technique and more power. Aerodome panels increase your buoyancy and will help ensure proper form for faster speed and energy conservation. The arms have aqua-feel catch panels that increase your stroke speed and provide a better feel for the water. The quick-exit legs will make getting out of the suit a snap. A reverse zipper features the added bonus of removing the bulky zipper head from behind your neck, for a lower and more comfortable collar. Of course, all these features add up to the tune of about $850.
3. Orca Women’s RS1 Swim-Run
This suit clearly meant for warm-weather races, is exactly what it’s called: just for swim-run. But its material is what sets it apart. Instead of the various types of neoprene used for a traditional wetsuit, the Orca RS1 is made of nylon and lycra. This allows the Orca to remain lighter weight than most of its competitors without sacrificing either durability or flexibility. It’s breathable, has removable arms, and is more breathable than other warm-weather racing suits.
Your best bet for getting the optimal suit for you is to try before you buy. Avoid impulse buying because of a deep discount; do your research. Some sporting goods stores allow you to rent wetsuits, which is an excellent way to test out the product before you decide. Comfort is key- but if you must purchase a wetsuit before you can try it on, make sure it is returnable. You may find that while you may be a medium in clothing, you may be a size up or down in a wetsuit. It may take a few tries, but since it’s a bit of an investment, it’s worth taking your time to find the right one for you.