Having a great wetsuit is a key piece of triathlon gear in every triathletes arsenal. But how do you know you are getting the best triathlon wetsuit for your race?
Well don’t worry! Because we are going to break down the components that make up a good wetsuit and what you need to be looking to ensure that the wetsuit you pick out is the best option for you.
Qualities of a great triathlon wetsuit
Regardless of if you are looking for the best entry level triathlon wetsuit, or you are a seasoned triathlete, these are qualities that you should always be looking for in your next triathlon wetsuit.
Proper Wetsuit Fit
Obviously, the wetsuit has got to fit you properly. It may seem like a no brainer but in reality there are lots of different parameters to consider regarding wetsuit fit.
Triathlon wetsuits tend to be made for a specific body type, which can be frustrating if your dimensions are not fitting to this ideal category. Does that mean you are out of luck if you have a different torso size, or if you have a wider chest?
No, it doesn’t.
It just means that you might have to shop around a bit more if this is of concern. Always pay attention to sizing charts for the manufacturer’s wetsuits. Unless of course you have bought wetsuits in the past and already know what size fits you comfortably.
Also a Triathlon Wetsuit should be snug! I mean really snug! However it should not be hampering your range of motion during the swim. If it is so tight that you cannot perform a normal freestyle swim stroke then I suggest you try a size larger.
Keep in mind too that you will be wearing your tri suit underneath your wetsuit. So it should fit over the top of your tri suit without creating any additional discomfort. I suggest that you try this full set up out a few times prior to race day as well so you are used to swimming in your full triathlon kit.
It seems like another obvious one, I know. However having a wetsuit that lets in too much water will definitely prevent your suit from being the best triathlon wetsuit. So just know that your wetsuit should be forming a tight seal around your neck and you want to keep zippers on the suit to a minimum. Zippers on your wetsuit equal water entry points!
You may be thinking, Ya but isn’t every wetsuit going to have some water entry because well… I am in the water!
Yes it is but there are metrics you can use to determine if too much water is getting in your wetsuit and I will tell you why it is bad for triathlons.
First off, you will feel it. If you have too much water inside your wetsuit it will tend to pool up inside the arm and shoulder areas. You will feel this during every stroke you take. Not only do you have to deal with the annoyance of feeling this water mass each time you move but you are carrying this mass with you! Each stroke then in essence becomes a workout! You are lifting extra pounds with every movement which is going to lead to faster exhaustion of your arms, shoulders or possibly legs.
You might be able to get away with this during a Sprint triathlon. But try carrying around an extra pound or two on your arms over the course of an hour plus and you are in a danger zone!
Another tell-tale sign is when you take the suit off.
Did you bring half the water from the pool outside onto the deck? Ya, your suit is the wrong size or has bad sealing.
In either of these situations you should first look at the sizing of the suit. If it is a new suit I would return it and get a size smaller. I have had to do this on a few occasions and it is very painless. Triathlon wetsuit manufacturers know that sizing is difficult and happily swap for a size adjustment. Make sure you read any of their warranties though as most wetsuit makers will not swap if you used your wetsuit in a pool due to chlorine damage, so make sure you test it in freshwater or saltwater.
Range of motion
If you want the best triathlon wetsuit then this is the most important feature by far!
A good triathlon wetsuit should not impede any of your swim strokes. Ideally you should maintain the same range of motion during each stroke that you would have if you were just wearing a tri suit or swim jammers.
Triathlon wetsuits are designed specifically with this in mind. They are made with special fabrics around the rubber to ensure that the fabric has a good stretch to it and you have full range of motion. If you do go swimming and are unable to do a standard freestyle stroke, then you are probably in a size that is too small.
Built to last
Next on the triathlon wetsuit feature list is durability.
Your wetsuit is going to see a lot of miles put on it, both during races and training. I personally train swimming daily. Which means if I have a race coming up that allows wetsuits I will be training daily in mine.
With that in mind you need to make sure that your wetsuit can handle the quantity of swims you will be doing.
When you get your new triathlon wetsuit give it a good once over look. Make sure to check along the seams and zippers to ensure everything looks tightly sealed and there are no signs that it is coming apart. I have never received a suit that had this but it is always good to check while warranties apply.
Another good rule is to see if your suit can handle chlorine pools. Some triathlon wetsuits now are coming with the ability to be used in the pool. A lot of triathlon wetsuits though are not and this voids the warranty!
Chlorine can break down the seals on the wetsuit faster so make sure you do not use any suit in the pool unless it was specifically stated that it was built for pool use as well.
One of the main reasons that triathletes want a good wetsuit is for the hydrodynamic and buoyancy properties.
In short, if you have the best triathlon wetsuit, it should be making you faster in the water!
Your wetsuit should improve your floatation, mobility and water resistance which all contribute to how hydrodynamic you are during your swim leg of the race.
The best way to make sure that your triathlon wetsuit passes this test is with a good long swim. In order to do this however you need to put in some meters!
I would suggest that you take your wetsuit out for a minimum of 1500m. The reasoning for this is you want ample time for water to penetrate the suit and you want to have enough time too for you to get a bit tired.
You are trying to judge your overall stroke rate in the water from start to finish. If your wetsuit is meeting these hydrodynamic criteria then your stroke rate should not drop much from start to finish.
Lastly you need to make sure that your triathlon wetsuit is friendly during transition times.
What I mean by this is you should be able to get the suit off quickly!
Obviously any well fit suit is going to have some snags in getting it off, especially when it is loaded down with water. But you should be able to comfortably slip the suit off without having too much of a battle during transition one.
This is definitely a lower priority item and more of a nice to have.
If your suit has good hydrodynamic properties then it has managed to save you time during your swim, so even with some struggle you would still be improving your overall race time. But in the search for the best triathlon wetsuit and ease of getting the wetsuit off is a quality to consider.
Best Entry Level Triathlon Wetsuits in 2019
Below I have broken down the best triathlon wetsuits you can buy if you are new to triathlon and looking to get a good first suit.
It doesn't mean that these suits only work for an entry level triathlete. They are flagged as such due to price point and not containing all the bells and whistles that might come from a $500 triathlon wetsuit.
There is a lot of bang for the buck here, which is why these have all contenders for the best entry level triathlon wetsuit for 2019!
Synergy Endorphin triathlon wetsuits boast a long list of awards including: Triathlete Magazine Editors’ Choice Award and Lava Magazines best value wetsuit.
Synergy wetsuits use hydrodynamic neoprene. It is made from Yamamoto 39 and 40 and is 5mm in the core buoyancy panel, 3mm around your lower legs and back and only 2mm in your arms and shoulders.
This provides you the ideal buoyancy benefits without hindering your movements with think neoprene.
They have the highest rating of flexibility at 680% as well as an anti-corroding internal zipper which additionally reduces drag
Specs wise you cannot do any better than a Synergy Endorphin and they have the awards to back it up. It just might get the award from us for the best triathlon wetsuit as well!
Xterra is a tried triathlon wetsuit company and has been around 2001. Xterra prides themselves on designing their triathlon wetsuits around four core competencies – comfort, speed, buoyancy and value. And they hit this mark with every suit I have owned from them!
The Xterra Volt Sleeveless suit is the best entry level triathlon wetsuit you can buy. It is designed with shorter swim distances in mind. Which in the triathlon world means 70.3 Ironman’s or less, equivalent to 1.2 miles or less.
It is designed with a 3mm thick neoprene. They also build each suit with X-MAX Seam seal technology. This provides additional stitching and glue along the seams for long lasting waterproof durable seams.
Xterra suits fit phenomenally well and are built to last. I personally use a sleeved Volt and love the performance achieved from it. The X-Flex technology also has never had any limiting effect on any of my swim strokes, so this triathlon wetsuit checks off all the boxes.
If you are interested in the sleeved version of this wetsuit I have a whole xterra sleeved wetsuit review.
Tyr is a company that can provide you with your first beginner triathlon wetsuit all the way up to ironman level wetsuits. The Tyr Sport Men’s Hurricane wetsuit is what they classify as their CAT1 wetsuit, category 1 hurricane! Get it!
This suit is designed to be an entry level triathlon wetsuit but still boasts some cool features that will give you all the tools you need to excel in your race.
Some of the different features specific to Tyr suits is specific to transitions! Tyr triathlon wetsuits have a quick release ankle cuff. This is a tapered leg that you are then able to revers and open to remove the suit quickly during transition. They also have what they call “speed wrap paneling” on all of their triathlon wetsuits. This paneling is designed to provide elevation in your core, legs and chest to reduce water drag and add buoyancy.
The Orca S6 Full Sleeve wetsuit is another favorite wetsuit among triathletes. Orca is at the leading edge when it comes to wetsuit innovation in the sport of triathlon and boasts many of the same quality standards that synergy uses.
The suit is constructed with Yamamoto 39 a highly flexible 2mm neoprene which does not hinder your swim motion during triathlons.
Orca also equips their suits with a super composite skin which is the leading lining in wetsuits due to it hydrodynamic improvements it grants. The friction in water of suits equipped with this is .026, compared to 4.0 for standard wetsuits without it.
Orca also has speed transition calf panels as well, to help ease removal of the suit in T1 and get you onto the bike leg of the race.
Last on the list for the best triathlon wetsuits for men is the blueseventy men’s sprint triathlon wetsuit – the 2019 model!
Fresh off the assembly line the 2019 model of blueseventy’s wetsuit features all the features you would be expecting from a high level triathlon wetsuit.
They do a layered thickness as well with a 3mm neoprene chest and torso and a 4mm thickness on your legs to help aid with buoyancy. They do however bring your arms down to a thin 1.5mm to provide additional comfort and aid in flexibility and swim strokes.
They use the same SCS technology as Orca’s line of wetsuits so you should be getting a very hydrodynamic suit that will provide good speed and very little drag in the water.
So what is the best triathlon wetsuit you can buy in 2019 for entry level triathletes?
After a lot of review and having swam in several wetsuits I have to give it to the Synergy Endorphin Triathlon Wetsuit and let them pick up another award!
There is a reason that this suit is being awarded editors choice and triathlete magazine awards for being the best triathlon wetsuit.
It is just that damn good and for the price it is a must have for any beginning triathlete looking for a wetsuit.