Suits you sir! The humble tri suit could make the difference between a good race and a disaster. We tested 15 men’s suits to find the best…
Buying tri suits: what to look for
A comfortable pad is essential as the bike is the longest leg. Styles vary from simple fleece to sophisticated saddle-style chamois. They need to dry quickly after the swim and fade into the background on the run.
Our testers agreed a front zip is preferable, both for ease of getting in and out and for offering extra ventilation on a hot day. Check for details like a zipper protector to prevent the zip from cutting into you.
There’s an impressive array of technical fabrics and designs offering breathability, wickaway qualities and compression. A suit that wicks water well will also wickaway sweat effectively. Comfort is vital.
Good pockets are a must for fuel, particularly for long distances, but you don’t want them to turn into drag nets on a non-wetsuit swim or be difficult to reach. Fold over pockets add security and peace of mind.
Many suits now incorporate compression panels to boost performance and ease fatigue. But some athletes can find compression panels overly tight. It’s personal, and comfort is your number one priority.
A good fit is essential. Most of the suits tested were one piece but don’t rule out two pieces if you have an overly long or short body. Check seams for lumps and bumps that can chafe, and that stitching is even.
How we test
Our testers have more than 30 years of triathlon experience between them including both half and full Ironman events. We asked each to swim, bike and run in every suit and give honest verdicts on everything from quality of padding to fuel storage. Although prices of suits ranged from £39.99 to £139.99 we deliberately kept the price of the suits secret to ensure their verdicts were not influenced.
TYR COMPETITOR TRI SUIT
RRP £99.99 wiggle.co.uk
IT’S HARD TO GET a suit that performs well in looks, performance and fit, but the Tyr competitor scored highly on all counts. Our testers loved the striking colour blocks under the arms and across the legs while the matching fluorescent stitching was eye-catching. A breathable, stretchy, pad absorbs weight while in the aero position ensuring a comfy ride but feels invisible on the run. Compression panels on the legs reduce muscle vibration and improve blood flow and circulation while secure soft silicon beaded leg grippers ensure fabric doesn’t ride up. Unique mesh panels around the underarms and legs prevent over-heating and improve breathability. The suit didn’t wick water as quickly as some on test but dried quickly. Side pockets were small but easy to access and the front zip can be locked into position. It also has a UPF 50+.
Sailfish MEN’S TRI SUIT COMP
TESTERS AGREED THIS was a classy-looking suit with a range of fabric features including quick-drying polyamide micro and a “power mesh” back panel for breathability and moisture management. Water-wicking qualities were high – water literally rolled off this suit. Features include carbon power tapes for maximum kinetic support, a combination of Lycra and “powertech skin material” to support muscles and improve circulation. However one tester did find it overly tight across the chest. The quick-drying perforated crotch pad was comfortable, generous and saddle shaped offering plenty of cushioning without being bulky and the leg grippers were snug but not tight. The back pocket is small and tricky to access quickly but our testers loved the handy leg pockets. Despite the promise of flat, ergonomic seams, testers found it was not the comfiest on test.
Aqua Sphere ENERGIZE TRI SUIT
RRP £135.99 milletsports.co.uk
A HYDROPHOBIC COATING and body-flattening properties means this suit is most at home on the swim (although one tester complained the fabric felt thick). Compression panels in the hips, waist, abs and legs claim to support muscles, boost circulation and reduce fatigue but some testers found the legs excessively tight. One tester found the vertical flat lock seams uncomfortable and suggested sealing them for extra comfort. Our testers doubted the fleecy pad would hold up to long distances on the bike and were disappointed that no improvements had been made to ventilation and breathability in this new version. One tester wore this on a hot day and said he quickly felt excessively warm – especially with a rear zip. On the plus side, it wins the award for the best rear pocket – roomy, secure and zipped.
Decathlon B’TWIN TRI SUIT
RRP £39.99 decathlon.co.uk
PROBABLY THE MOST impressive thing about this suit is the price tag – a fraction of some of the others on review. But despite the budget price it tested well. The ultra-thin fabric feels delicate and flimsy compared to other suits but offered great breathability particularly with the generous mesh side panels. Despite retaining a bit of water on the swim it remained comfortable while the pad gave adequate support for the bike without hindering running action. Great grippers on legs prevented the material from riding up on the run. A zip guard isn’t included so you’d need to take care not to catch your skin when doing up in a hurry. The back pocket is a decent size with handy drain holes but is very open and would benefit from a zip or fastening. Although the description refers to back pockets but we could only find one.
Aropec MEN’S PANTHER TRIATHLON LYCRA SUIT
AROPEC’S PANTHER IS one of the cheapest suits on test but it certainly gave the others a run for their money. Our testers disagreed on appearance and the effectiveness of fleecy padding as opposed to a more sophisticated chamois, but both were impressed with how comfortable it was. Good grips keep legs in place without being overly restrictive. A large spandex mesh panel on the back offers great ventilation and sweat release with decent storage space in the back pocket. The front zipper comes with a quality protection strip to prevent painful nicks while a protection pouch stops it accidentally unzipping. Plus the fabric offers UV protection 50+.
Mako SANDTIGER TEAM MEN’S TRI SUIT
THE SUIT HAS AN eye-catching design with lively patterned panels on the sides and legs. However, the fit is a bit snug compared to other suits on test. One tester found it hard to get over the hips (but said it felt great once on) while another found the short body length made it tight all over so you might want to go up a size. We had two suits to test in different colourways and although one had smooth, comfy seams under the arms, the other felt quite rough so it’s definitely worth giving the stitching a once-over before you buy. “Speedtek” fabric makes repelling water a breeze on the swim while quality padding and stay-put leg grippers ensure comfort both on the bike and run. The rear pocket is roomy and secure – keeping gels firmly in place.
Zone 3 LAVA TOP AND SHORTS
RRP TOP £49; SHORTS £59 racezone3.com
THIS TWO-PIECE features a generous overlap of fabric to prevent the dreaded tummy gap. Zone3 says comfort was the number one priority when it came to making a long distance top and shorts and this suit doesn’t disappoint. Testers commented on the light, stretchy fabric, excellent fit and quality padding and leg grips that gave a comfy aero ride. The fabric wicks water well and dries quickly on the bike. The large rear pockets (in cycling top style) offer great fuel storage, but on the downside they collect water on the swim. With three pockets on the shorts (one rear zipped pocket and two gel pockets on the legs) there is plenty of space for storing nutrition. Wide shoulder straps are designed to protect against sunburn but one tester found the zipper poked above the guarding fabric causing irritation on the run.
Speedo MEN’S C15 COMP SUIT
RRP £75 activinstinct.com
THIS SUIT HAS a swimsuit style look and feel which gives the excellent water run off we’ve come to expect from Speedo. It claims to fit like a second skin under a wetsuit and the structured compression panel (a double layer of posture improving fabric) improves both posture and streamlining position providing a smooth glide through the water. Some testers felt the suit was let down by overly tight, elastic inner leg grippers which make the suit both hard to pull on and bite into the legs, causing discomfort on even short distances. It’s a crying shame as the suit is well-designed and features an ultra-slim, quick drying, tri pad for comfort on the bike, a nice fit on the shoulders, two handy side pockets for nutrition and airy ventilation panels. Loosen the leg grips and Speedo will have a great suit at a reasonable price.
HUUB CORE TRI SUIT
RRP £99.99 huubdesign.com
HUUB BOASTS THAT a harmony of fabrics and coatings makes this is a tri suit like no other and the perfect all-distance suit that you’ll never want to take off. And they might be right, as our testers really did struggle to find anything negative to say about this suit. Not only does the suit have a great look and feel to it but it fits to the body like a glove. Low fluid and heat absorption provides excellent water runoff, padding was great for a lengthy bike ride and the leg grippers were comfortable. Impressive ventilation panels down the back and across the waist ensure great cooling and breathability, even on a hot day, while long, flapped, gel shaped pockets down each side were secure and easy to reach. One tester conceded that the chamois was a fraction off the quality of some of the others on test but admitted he was being ultra-picky. All in all, this is a great top-range suit for a mid-range price.
Orca MEN’S CORE RACE SUIT
RRP £89 orca.com
OUR TESTERS THOUGHT this was a great looking suit and that the fit, feel and performance were just as impressive. Light, soft Aquaglide fabric really offers the best of both worlds. The Orca Enduro water-repellent coating minimises water absorption ensuring a smooth glide through the water during the swim, while a tight knit means the suit remains breathable on the bike and run. Special “vapour” panels wick moisture away from your skin while a large mesh panel at the back cools without slowing down the swim. Two covered rear pockets are roomy and accessible, leg grips were light and effective while the 6mm Italian Tri-Support chamois was declared excellent and voted the best on test. A zipper protector to prevent any possible irritation would have been the icing on the cake but otherwise this suit really is hard to fault.
Sugoi MEN’S RS ICE TRI SUIT
RRP £99.99 cyclesuk.com
SUGOI’S FAMOUS ICEFILL material makes the top half of this suit alarmingly flimsy and almost transparent (you’ll definitely want to opt for a race belt rather than risky safety pins) but offers silky soft comfort and a generous fit around the shoulders. The suit wicked water well and dried quickly out of the swim. Testers agreed unanimously that the pad was excellent and added to comfort on the bike without being obtrusive on the run – while quality gripper panels made sure the legs stayed put. Two good sized pockets on the rear were protected with a flap and easy to access. Flat stitching and uber soft materials put this suit streets ahead in terms of comfort and performance. The added bonus is it also looks great. A simple addition of a zip guard to avoid any skin irritation would make this suit hard to beat.
Blue Seventy TX2000 TRI SINGLET AND TRI SHORT
RRP £50 SINGLET £60 SHORTS blueseventy.co.uk
OUR TESTERS WERE impressed by the quality and comfort of this design. Like the Zoot it uses ColdBlack heat transfer technology to ensure coolness and breathability while a soft velo mesh back offers extra ventilation. Water run off on the swim was excellent but the three back pockets became drag nets and failed to keep gels in place on the run. However, one tester found the seams were rough under the arms causing some slight discomfort, but others were impressed with the good fit which ensured the back stayed covered even in the aero position. A pocket on the back of the shorts means plenty of room for nutrition and reflective piping gave an added safety feature.
2XU MEN’S PERFORM TRI SUIT
RRP £100 2XU.co.uk
AT FIRST GLANCE, this suit looks a bit too plain but our testers quickly discovered that sometimes less is more and there are versions with more colour available. A combination of fabrics in the design offers all-round moisture management, air flow, UV protection, muscle compression and breathability. On the swim, the suit both sheds and wicks water well, while ventilation panels on both sides helped prevent overheating on the bike and run. Our testers disagreed over the effectiveness of the silicon-less leggrippers but they were all unanimous in their praise of the comfy padding on the bike. Three small rear pockets provided good storage for fuel without slowing down movement through the water. And the zip guard was the best on test – guaranteeing no irritation.
DHB PERFORMANCE TRI SUIT
RRP £45 wiggle.co.uk
ONE OF our testers is already a big fan of DHB cycling bibs for comfort and longevity so he was looking forward to seeing how the tri suit measured up, and it didn’t disappoint. The VITA fabric is thin and soft, but durable and stretchy, resistant to both chlorine and sunscreen. Although the pad looked flimsy and ineffective it was surprisingly comfortable and supportive on the bike especially when in the aero position. Two good sized pockets on the back offer plenty of room for gels with plenty of strategically placed mesh panels for air cooling. The leg grippers keep the suit in place while compression properties within the fabric prevent muscle fatigue – and it wicks water beautifully. Our testers had just one fairly major gripe – the high front zip which finishes almost at throat level. “If the zip was just an inch shorter this suit would be perfect,” they concluded.
Zoot ULTRA TRI RACESUIT
RRP £110 probikekit.co.uk
THIS SUIT HAS improved in leaps and bounds since our last review. The pad, criticised for being thin and uncushioned in previous reviews, is now excellent thanks to the new ultra tri carbon chamois feature. It offers unbeatable comfort on the bike while almost disappearing on the run which is a sure sign of great design. The suit itself offers a comfortable, easy fit all over with soft, stretchy leg gripper bands to prevent any ride-up. The fabric is light, stretchy and both sheds water and wicks moisture with ease. ColdBlack’ technology fabric reflects both UV and heat rays ensuring a cool performance in hot temperatures. Four pockets on the back – two rear and two holster – mean there is plenty of room for nutrition. The lack of a guard on the zip meant it dug into the chest slightly but not enough to put our affected tester off wearing it.
Our testers were staggered at how the suits varied in style, features and price. All were extremely impressed with the Aropec and were surprised to discover how cheap it was making it far and away the best value suit. We were impressed at the quality of some of the budget suits out there which is good news for newcomers or those on a tight budget. Some of the suits scored extremely well in huge areas like comfort or ventilation but fell down on tiny details such as lack of zip guard or a gaping pocket. However, these details can make all the difference come race day! Fit varies across the brands so we recommend trying before you buy. Five suits scored impressively – Zoot, Orca, 2XU and Sugoi but the Huub Core pipped the others to the post making it our winner.