We review 15 of 2012’s best one-piece tri suits from budget buys to sleek supersuits

Check out our newest tri suits reviews here. Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

Louis Garneau Elite Lazer Tek Suit 2
£119.99
www.louisgarneau.com; www.evanscycles.co.uk

This suit from Canadian company Louis Garneau is fantastically comfortable, with wide bands of thin, laser cut fabric on the legs and shoulders keeping the suit in place without chafing seams. In the water, it topped all other suits speed-wise apart from the ZeroD, its comfort allowing an unrestricted stroke while supporting in all the right places. It also shed quickly after swimming, its Tri Elite chamois draining nicely and despite being thin, remaining very comfy. There was no aero sapping flappiness on the bike, with the large but enveloped pockets minimising drag and maximising storage, while the 43cm zip adds additional cooling if the mesh panels aren’t enough. Running was also sublimely comfortable and supportive with no hint of chafing.

Verdict
A comfy suit with fantastic performance and plenty of practicality too.

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Gold Award, issue 40

ZeroD oSuit
£150
www.zerod.com

If the shape of the oSuit looks familiar, it’s because you will have seen it on some top ITU athletes. ZeroD say their special Water Weapon Wear woven fabric gives better freedom of movement and hydrodynamics and that was borne out in our test; it’s the best suit we swam in. The women’s suit is especially good, with an open racer back and thin straps helping give complete freedom of movement. Long legs and smooth seams keep it drag free and slippery in the water. All of that of course makes a great cycling and running suit too; it’s really cool and breathable, and there’s nothing to rub on the run. The pad is perfect for Olympic distance and could see you round a 70.3. Only lack of support (the women’s version just has a liner in the chest) and pockets limit its versatility.

Verdict
A high-end suit at a high-end price, but if you are racing short and fast this is the one for you.

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Peak Performer Award, issue 40

Blueseventy TX2000
£100
www.blueseventy.com

This mid-range suit from Blueseventy has a slim, pro-style fit with a Coldblack finish designed to reflect infrared heat. In the water, the suit felt quick but a little too compressive across the chest, making it tricky to get a full breath at times, so be sure to try it on before buying to get sizing right. The TX2000 held a fair amount of water on exiting the pool but dried off quite quickly on the bike. Here, the pad was superb – comfy and buzz reducing – but the long legs, which come almost to the knees and are backed by small rubber grippers, occasionally rubbed the back of the knee. The enveloped rear pockets, complete with reflective trim, were aero and held gels well while running. The suit regulated heat well and the lack of horizontal seams across the belly kept things comfy.

Verdict
A solidly performing suit but the long legs and tight chest mean trying on is essential.

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Sailfish Comp
£120
www.sailfish.com

Sailfish’s founder, Jan Sibbersen, still holds the swim record at Kona so it’s no surprise this tri suit is good in the water. A snug but stretchy fit makes swimming a breeze, hampered only by mesh pockets on the back. Out of the pool, it sheds water seriously fast with the perforated pad draining quickly too to keep things comfy on the bike. The material, so at home in the water, is less practical in the other disciplines, warming up quickly but the mesh side panels and front zip stop things from getting too toasty. The stretchy fabric is supportive and comfy on the run, where once again breathability was the only issue. The women’s suit has a separate crop top to go under the suit, but be careful: after an hour’s swim our white-chested version was a tad revealing.

Verdict
A good swimming suit but quite average on the other disciplines.

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

TriZoo Alright Jack
£76
www.trizoo.org

TriZoo’s Alright Jack suit will certainly show off national pride in this Olympic year. Made from CoolMax fabric, the suit performs well in the water, shedding it quickly once onto the bike. The pad is a simple thin fleece, but comfy enough for quick rides and there’s a zipped pocket on the back for a couple of gels. There are a few spiky seams on the inside of the upper that can itch during biking and running, but the 30cm zip and mesh panels help to keep things cool. We also found a hole quickly developed below the zip during testing so longevity could be an issue. The fit comes up surprisingly large – our small size was more like a medium or even large in pro-fit terms. However, for those looking to stand out, it’s a good enough suit for shorter races.

Verdict
Ideal for charity races or individualists, but a little basic compared to the big boys.

Performance 2/5
Value 4/5
Overall 2/5

Editor’s Note: A hitch in the production process of our test suit resulted in the problems with seams described above. TriZoo assure us this has now been fixed, with new suits featuring double flatlocked seams for better build quality. This will likely raise the performance and overall scores and we will have an updated review soon.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Tri Speed Suit
£159.99
www.pearlizumi.com; www.madison.co.uk

Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. suit is made from an incredibly thin fabric with a dappled, checkerboard texture for aerodynamics. Aside from the women’s ZeroD, this is the only zipperless suit on test, and the pro fit means it comes up frighteningly small, needing patience and a wetsuit-esque pulling-on technique to avoid cracking the flatlock seams. One fitted, it’s incredibly comfortable though – tight without undue compression and with completely free arm movement. It wasn’t spectacularly fast in the pool, but shed water fine and the long, quick-dry chamois was comfortable on the bike, where the slim fit felt slippery against the wind. The enveloped pockets on the back also allow you to carry gels with minimum aero loss but it’s hard to justify the price compared to others on test.

Verdict
A great performing minimalist suit but make sure to try before you buy for sizing.

Performance 4/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

Zone3 Aquaflo
£75
www.racezone3.com

British brand Zone3 have introduced a higher-end tri suit this year, but they’ve also made a couple of tweaks which improve their great-value Aquaflo. It’s designed with swimming in mind, with a hydrodynamic fabric and very small, close fitting pockets to keep things drag free. It does swim well, though we felt a ‘whoosh’ down our backs from the thin mesh strip vent when we pushed off – that could be a fit issue so make sure you buy tight. The front zip gives it practicality and we really like the zip-up integrated crop top in the women’s version; the zip has been improved on previous years so it’s not noticeable at all now. The pad is fine for 25-50 miles on the bike. This is still a great value suit, though it doesn’t have the standout performance of some new suits on test.

Verdict
A really good practical suit and if you’re on a budget, look no further.

Performance 3/5
Value 5/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Value Award, issue 40

Castelli Body Paint Tri Suit
£170
www.castelli-cycling.com, www.saddleback.co.uk

This top-end suit from Castelli is wonderfully comfortable with a forget-it’s-there feeling once on. The laser cut legs have no seam to bunch up and are held firmly in place with a series of long ribbed rubber strips. Though not one of the very fastest through in the pool and holding a surprising amount of water, it felt very aero on the bike; hugging the skin and stretching to accommodate every movement. It also dried quickly once in the air and the 30cm front zip aided cooling. The pad is low profile and supportive, remaining comfortable out on the run. Those who bemoan tri suit pockets as aero-sappers will be glad to see there are none on the suit though at £170 you’re paying a premium for a high-end name and Italian style.

Verdict
A great suit for the aero conscious but less practical than others on test .

Performance 4/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

Sugoi Turbo Suit
£79.99
www.sugoi.com

This good-looking suit from Sugoi was one of the slowest through the water with its mesh panels on the upper noticeably dragging while swimming. It’s very comfortable though, with flat seams and absolutely no restriction of movement. Holding onto a lot of water out of the pool, its airy upper and long 45cm zip keep the wearer cool and the suit dries out quite quickly once on the bike. The legs have a simple folded seam and no grippers, but held perfectly in place even when stamping on the pedals. Two mesh pockets on the back of the suit are well designed, keeping gels secure. The new TriLite2 chamois pad is luxuriously thick and comfortable between T1 and T2 but once running it’s really cumbersome and rigid, disturbing the running stride.

Verdict
Really comfy and cool but the cycling pad lets it down on the run.

Performance 2/5
Value 3/5
Overall 2/5

Scott Fastsuit Tri
£109.99
www.scott-sports.com

Scott’s top suit is incredibly light and feels almost invisible thanks to its laser cut shoulders and legs. Though the styling’s not going to suit everyone, we thought it was a great looking and performing suit. A glossy fabric from the ribs to the crotch helped it glide through the water without the overheating problems of the more swim-specific suits, but while the rear zip’s tassel is velcro-ed down, it could be a problem with ruthless, grab-happy opponents. The thin fabric shed water very quickly and felt very aero but the meagre pad and lack of pockets mean it’s best suited to short races. Running was a pleasure with the laser cut arms keeping things comfy and chafe-free, and the suit’s thin, stretchy material moving easily with each movement.

Verdict
A thoughtfully designed suit for short races – fast, thin and comfortable.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Orca 226 Kompress

£109
www.orca.com

Designed for long distances, the 226 Kompress from triathlon stalwarts Orca performs just as well in short events. The mostly meshy upper didn’t seem to slow the close-fitting suit down in the pool and was comfy and unrestrictive on the shoulders. Its lightness also helped the suit to drain quickly. Jumping on the bike revealed the best chamois pad on test: incredibly comfy and shock absorbent without being at all cumbersome. The enveloped rear pockets are aero and ample for gel storage. The mesh panels meant the 30cm zip stayed up throughout testing and the legs were also compressive and supportive without being overly tight. This feeling continued when running, where the wicking was exceptional but the traditional shoulder seams weren’t as comfy as laser cut types.

Verdict
An airy suit with a fantastic pad to see you through all race distances.

Performance 4/5
Value 5/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Value Award, issue 40

Rocket Science BPM Rocket Race Suit
£195.50
www.rocketsciencesports.co.uk

This suit from US swimming specialists Rocket Science claims to reduce heart rate by 20BPM through a reflective white outer layer and quick wicking silver mesh inner. There’s also a dimpled coating on the legs for hydro/aerodynamics and ‘vortex’ panels on the back to stop air bubbles settling and increasing drag in the water. It was fast, comfy and supportive while swimming, though the legs may compress too much for some. The thin chamois pad is actually very comfortable on the bike and is easy to run in too, while the zip pocket is more aero than flappy mesh ones. The suit remained cool throughout testing, aided by the 30cm zip while the dual layers also reduced chafing and the included arm and leg sleeves up the value on the top-end price tag.

Verdict
A great suit for hot days or non-wetsuit legal triathlon swims in sunny climes.

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

Aqua Sphere Energize
£124.99
www.aquasphereswim.com/uk

Like the Sailfish suit, Aqua Sphere’s Energize is most at home in the water. The fit is fairly comfortable, with supportive compression, though the relatively thick seams of the thin shoulder straps dig in a little to begin with. As predicted, the suit was quick in the water but it was also supportive around the hips and seemed more buoyant too. Water shedding was impressive and the basic, fleecy pad satisfies for short distances on the bike with the rear-zipped pocket serving well to store gels. However, the lack of any mesh panels really harmed ventilation, especially considering the suit is rear zipped. Things get even hotter on the run, making it uncomfortable for heavy sweaters or those who crave fast wicking, airy gear.

Verdict
One for swimming purists, the benefits are limited once the first leg is over.

Performance 3/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

Zoot Ultra Tri Racesuit
£100
www.zootsports.com

This is Zoot’s top-level suit and features a multi-panelled design with plenty of stretch and comfortable, if a little thick, seams. The pockets on the back of the suit seemed to gape a bit when swimming, and the shoulders seemed a little more restrictive than other suits. On the bike, it drained of water quickly and the gripper-less legs were very comfy without riding up. The 30cm zip also provided good cooling but isn’t lined, causing it to pinch on a couple of occasions. The pad is a fairly simple fleece affair that lacks the cushioning of some others here at a similar price. Running performance was good with plenty of support but the small side pockets did eject gels when hammering along, so it’s best to stick to the large one at the small of the back.

Verdict
A good suit that remained cool and supportive but let down by pad and pockets.

Performance 3/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

2XU Compression Tri Suit
£130
www.2xushop.co.uk

This suit looks great and feels smooth, cool and unrestrictive. It’s not a swim-specific suit as such but the compression fit does lend itself to the water and it offers just the right balance of compromise for the three disciplines. The brand’s Ice X fabric on the back makes it practical for late wave starts. Compression fabric feels great round the legs and isn’t at all restrictive. The pad is soft, brushed and dries well with drainage holes, and it’s thick enough for a couple of hours’ riding. The great fit from well-cut panels and softly covered edges on the underarms are some of the details that show you’re wearing a suit from an experienced tri brand. There’s no bra in to the women’s version but you can buy 2XU’s new tri bra for £55 to go with it.

Verdict
Cool in both looks and feel with some nice design details, but pricey without a bra.

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

OVERALL VERDICT

What came out of this test for the Triathlon Plus team was that the range of choice in tri suits has grown hugely in the last three years. You can now pay anything from £70 up to £200 for a race suit, and you have the option to go for a super-high-tech swim-friendly suit or one with a nice plush pad and big pockets for longer races. Whatever your priorities are this season, we’re confident you’ll find a great, comfortable tri suit to race in.

We saw some great new suits this year and some improvements from experienced manufacturers. Our joint Top Value winners are both brilliant at their price point: the Orca 226, though designed for long distances, would suit a pool sprint almost as well; while Zone3’s Aquaflo offers all a first-timer could want at a very decent price. At the high-tech, high-price end of the market, we’ve got more suits to choose from than ever, but the ZeroD oSuit just made our female tester rule out anything else for sprint or Olympic-distance racing this summer.

But our Gold Award goes to the Louis Garneau, a suit that feels about £50 more expensive than it is, and above all offers an unbeatable level of comfort in all three disciplines.

Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

This review was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.

You’ll find loads more triathlon gear and kit reviews in triradar.com’s Gear section

Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TriathlonPlus and follow us on Twitter @TriathlonPlus.