13 of the best pro-level triathlon wetsuits reviewed in part 2 of our big 2014 wetsuit test

Following last month’s review of the best entry-level triathlon wetsuits, we’re putting 13 of the best wetsuits in the world through their paces from the likes of Blueseventy, HUUB, Zone3, Orca and 2XU.

Check out our other wetsuit reviews or our entire triathlon gear reviews archive for more tri gear goodness.

Nineteen Rogue 2014 Wetsuit ReviewNineteen Rogue

£395
multisportdistribution.co.uk; body-limits-transition.co.uk

Canadian company Nineteen’s range-topping Rogue has ultra-supple shoulders to make long swims chore-free with no barriers to an efficient, natural stroke. Stability around the hips and lower torso is superb, helping to keep shoulders, core and legs aligned while excellent buoyancy means sinky legs are raised and that a kick is optional for extra balance rather than a necessity. We didn’t notice a tangible benefit to the lumpy catch panels on the forearm, but they certainly didn’t hurt the Rogue’s blistering speed through the water. The reverse zip is also a bonus for quick transitions and the fact that all this comes in at such a competitive price point makes it incredible value too.

Extraordinary flexibility and performance at a price that should scare bigger manufacturers

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

Xterra Vector Pro X3 2014 Wetsuit ReviewXterra Vector Pro X3

£400
xterrawetsuits.co.uk

Online-only retailer Xterra always offer excellent value, regularly offering suits at half their RRP. The Vector Pro X3 moves to the middle of the company’s range in 2014 with the arrival of the upcoming pro-level Vendetta. The thickness of the Vector Pro’s legs is obvious when pulling the suit on, which translates to a speedy high-in-the-water position. There were no issues with freedom of movement in the shoulders, though it generally felt a bit stiffer than the others around the core and chest – which could benefit those wanting lots of support, but which made it a bit less enjoyable to swim in. Xterra’s suits typically come up a little large, so be aware when ordering.

A good suit that doesn’t do anything wrong but is overshadowed by others on test

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

Zone3 Vanquish 2014 Wetsuit ReviewZone3 Vanquish

£425
racezone3.com

The Zone3 Vanquish uses a thin, single-piece panel that runs from hand to hand across the shoulders resulting in mind-boggling flexibility. This, paired with thin, waterproof fabric on the forearms that lets you feel the cold water, means flawless technique transfer from pool to open water. Carefully placed panels on the chest, hips and upper legs make for exceptionally balanced buoyancy. The result is faster swimming from a high-in-the-water body position that lifts legs and adds support to body roll without impinging on stroke mechanics – this could be too much for some naturally horizontal swimmers though. The low neck is extremely comfortable, while the reverse zipper and quick-release cuffs and ankles ensure you zip through transition unhindered.

Perhaps the perfect marrying of flexibility, high buoyancy and comfort – ideal for Ironman

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

Zoot Prophet 2.0 2014 Wetsuit ReviewZoot Prophet 2.0

£470
zootsports.com

The buoyancy of Zoot ’s top-end suit gives a real lift, but not at the expense of body roll or natural stroke mechanics – it’s just a stable base to see you through the water with minimum fuss. Flexibility is great through the shoulders, though we couldn’t notice any particular advantage to the Confulence Fluid Design forearm lumps, which are designed to create less resistance on arm entry. The new cuffs protect well from in-flowing water while thin ankle panels aid speedy disrobing. The bright green polyester lining is great for marking your T2 spot as well. Fit is more relaxed than most brands, so try a couple of sizes on before buying. Overall, it’s close but just not quite as good a performer as the Nineteen or Zone3.

Flexible, fast and buoyant with good stability for beginners or long-course athletes

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

Speedo Tri Elite V2 2014 Wetsuit ReviewSpeedo Tri Elite V2

£480
store.speedo.co.uk

After the old Speedo Tri Elite was banned for its catch panels giving an unfair advantage, Speedo has maintained its strange forearm designs by including odd ridges on the outside of the V2’s forearm. Although there are markings in the suit to help you fit it in the correct, most efficient way, we couldn’t work out what these raised sections were meant to do. The suit had a looser fit than most brands for the same size – so try before you buy if possible as Speedo claims a compressive drag reducing fit as a feature. Despite water sloshing around inside a bit due to the sizing, the suit felt flexible and free in the water, the Aerodome panels aiding body position to help produce fast splits. The reverse zipper also helped the suit peel off quickly.

Strange forearms but good performance make this a solid suit if it fits you correctly

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

Mako Extreme 2014 Wetsuit ReviewMako eXtreme

£485
mako-sport.fr

The thin arms and shoulders of the Mako eXtreme have a huge amount of give despite the suit’s snug fit. This means very free arm movement and unhindered technique with support in the right places for better alignment. A large chest-to-knees Aerodome panel lifts you in the water and corrects leg drop without restriction – the eXtreme simply supports you in achieving a natural, smooth stroke and makes it much faster in the process. The Shark Skin forearm catch panels are designed to improve feel on the water, but aren’t quite as successful as Zone3 or Blueseventy’s efforts. The thoughtful cut and Lycra jersey liner equal comfort and the eXtreme was also one of the easiest to whip off in transition thanks to the reverse zip, high-cut wrists and thin calf panels.

Fantastic cut, stretchy arms and pitch-perfect buoyancy make the eXtreme a superb wetsuit

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

Orca 3.8 Wetsuit Review 2014Orca 3.8 Enduro

£485
orca.com

Orca is one of triathlon’s best-known brands and the 3.8 Enduro is designed specifically to improve performance during iron-distance swims. The bevy of ultra-buoyant Aerodome 2 and Exo-cell panels lifts body position in the water and levels out chunky Ironman legs. All this comes with no compromise in terms of freedom of movement – the thin arms, paired with Orca’s ultra-stretchy Infinity Skin lining, are extremely flexible and make swimming a joy over any distance, but it’s perfect for Ironman. There’s also no stiffness in the torso, allowing a free core that swimmers with a dialled-in body roll will love. The standard zip might not be quite as fast as the reverse type, but the overall stretchiness of the suit makes it a breeze to get out of.

The 3.8 Enduro allows you to just get on and swim with total freedom

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

Zerod Vanguard 2014 Wetsuit Review z3r0dZ3R0D Vanguard

£485
z3r0d.com

The Zerod Vanguard’s supple neoprene made it reassuringly easy to pull on and comfortable, especially around the low neck and cuffs, which held the water out perfectly. It’s a very buoyant suit that raises legs, hips and chest high, meaning a feeling of curvature across the spine unless held in check by your core. The reverse zipper was easier than most to do up, but then not much faster than a standard zipper to pull undone. Arm freedom and flexibility were excellent, though not quite at the same level overall as the very best suits here. The Vanguard is still fast though, the nano SCS coating letting you scythe through the water with ease. The shark print on the inside is also a bonus for helping you easily spot your bike slot in T2 as well.

A great suit with plenty of buoyancy if you can hold it in check with your core

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

Blueseventy Helix 2014 Wetsuit ReviewBlueseventy Helix

£495
blueseventy.co.uk

The Blueseventy Helix’s ultra-buoyant Aerodome panels on the chest and legs raise and stabilise while swimming, lifting heavy legs, supporting smooth body rotation and enhancing body alignment rather than encumbering it. The 1mm thick arms offer staggering flexibility and freedom of movement that translates into fast, resistance-free swimming even over long distances. The long material panel on the forearm gives ‘feel’ for the water – promoting a good catch – for a closer experience to pool swimming than most suits. The body-hugging fit keeps water out well without restricting breathing or movement though the sleeves can be tricky to pull off, but the reverse zip and outstanding swimming performance more than make up for this.

Staggeringly free arm movement with amazing feel for the water and astonishingly fast

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

HUUB Axena 2014 Wetsuit ReviewHuub Axena

£495
huubdesign.com

Designed for Ironman superstar Caroline ‘Xena’ Steffen, the Huub Axena is the women’s specific version of the Brownlee-approved Archimedes wetsuit. It gets the same X-O skeleton structure around the hips – which aids a natural but supported body roll – as well as the stretchy arm- and leg-saving bicep and calf panels, which aid comfort. Buoyancy is expertly balanced, bringing the legs in line for a fast, streamlined position without a feeling of swimming downhill. Arm flexibility is on a par with the very best suits on the market too, leading to fatigue-free long swims, aided by a comfy jersey liner. The reverse zip was exceptionally difficult to do up on our test suit, which could fuel pre-race panic, but once on, the Axena’s the best women’s suit out there.

A flexible, fast and buoyant blend that sets the benchmark for women’s wetsuits

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

Aqua Sphere Phantom 2014 Wetsuit ReviewAqua Sphere Phantom

£499
aquasphereswim.com/uk

The Aqua Sphere Phantom has a unique Power Core waistband on the inside of the suit – a thick material girdle that’s held tight with Velcro. It feels supportive and will certainly aid those with floppier cores to better body alignment and roll. On the other hand, it holds so securely that it’s not ideal for a quick transition – though the reverse zipper will help you make up some of this time. The annoying honeycombed catch panels are thankfully gone for 2014, leaving an uncoated forearm section that absorbs some water and allows good feel during the catch phase. The ‘auto-positioning’ arm panel didn’t seem to do anything, but didn’t hurt flexibility, which is good throughout. The Phantom also lifts sinky legs well without buoyancy being too stiff and cumbersome.

If you fishtail while swimming or need extra core support, this could be the suit for you

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

2XU v3 2014 Wetsuit Review2XU v:3

£499
2XUshop.co.uk

While most wetsuit companies represented here have gone down the route of producing the most flexible possible suit to allow freedom of movement, 2XU have stuck to their traditional high-buoyancy, supportive design. Quite a tough suit to pull on due to its thickness, the chest of the V3 – with its ‘velocity strake’ cutouts – feels particularly stiff. This translates to incredible buoyancy and unmatched stability in the water that might appeal to beginners or perhaps heavier athletes looking for added security. On the other hand, a natural body roll is harder to achieve than in most of the other suits. This, along with the relative lack of flexibility in the shoulders compared to its peers meant more work for the same speed. The stiff catch panels added nothing either.

Buoyant but stiff and restrictive – the high-end wetsuit market has moved on.

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

Sailfish G Range 2014 Wetsuit ReviewSailfish G-range

£585
sailfish.com

Despite a body-hugging fit, the updated Sailfish G-range is extraordinarily flexible around the shoulders with balanced buoyancy evening out sinking legs and stabilising the hips for an easy body roll without encroaching upon a natural stroke. The suit is packed with special features too, with Sailfish having exclusive use of Nano Space Cell neoprene – a nano coating that the German company claim reduces drag coefficient to nearly nil. The liner is also designed to minimise water absorption to keep it as light as possible to avoid sapping energy. The standard upward-closing zip is a little slower to get out of though. There’s no arguing that it’s an incredibly fast and comfortable suit for those willing to fork out the extra cash, but you can still get incredible performance for less.

The G-Range does everything right – except to your bank balance

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