Another 10 of 2013’s best triathlon wetsuits tested, rated and reviewed

This year’s triathlon wetsuit review was our biggest ever – here are final 10 suits that didn’t make it into our first 2013 wetsuit review.

2XU Z:1

£230
2xushop.co.uk

A new suit for 2013, the Z:1 is 2XU’s new entry-level model but features many of the hallmarks of the range’s higher end. 2XU suits have long been famed for their corrective buoyancy and beginner-friendly support and the Z:1 is no exception. The really close fit doesn’t constrict the chest – though the neck was initially extremely tight – and less confident swimmers will love the solid platform and high position in the water that the thick chest provides. Once into your rhythm, the suit rolls easily and allows good reach, with only the slightly tight shoulders hampering its energy-saving design.

Verdict
A worthy introduction into the unique 2XU swimming experience at a decent price

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

2XU Project X:3

£665
2xushop.co.uk

With an astonishing price tag, the X:3 had to do a lot to impress our testers. Despite the tight fit – which like the Z:1 was really constrictive around the throat – shoulder flexibility has improved from the X:2 and this makes the whole swimming experience easier without compromising the brand’s legendary support. Bouyancy levels are incredibly high, letting you glide along the top of the water while body roll was controlled and easy to maintain. Despite the pro-level price tag, it’s a great suit for less able swimmers. It wasn’t the fastest suit on test, but we finished feeling fresh and ready to ride.

Verdict
A good suit but prohibitively expensive for most

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

Aqua Sphere Phantom

£499.99
aquasphereswim.com

Packed with technology all over, the Phantom is Aqua Sphere’s pro-level suit. You’ll need to budget extra pre-race time to suit up as it was the hardest on test to get on, but once settled in, the compressive fit allowed a decent level of flex in the shoulders. Buoyancy was well balanced and we appreciated the low, comfortable neck during longer swims. The Core Power System, a sort of Velcro girdle, did feel supportive but the sensation quickly faded making it hard to justify the behind-the-back manoeuvre to free yourself once out the water. The Auto-Positioning Sleeve – a band of 5mm neoprene on the forearm – didn’t seem to have any effect at all on our swim.

Verdict
A lot of tech, but performance isn’t on a par with cheaper suits out there.

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

HUUB Aerious 3:5

£350
huubdesign.com

HUUB’s mid range suit is a corker. Thin, supple neoprene, encases the body with a slightly compressive fit that allows an unrestricted chest and good stroke mechanics without unwanted fatigue. Buoyancy on the 3:5 model (it’s also available in 4:4) is spot on for those wanting extra leg support, but not so extreme that the chest is pushed too far under the water. The thicker, more rigid X-O Skeleton holds the hips in place for a natural body roll without hampering rotation. The suit feels really speedy in all conditions, allowing you to turn autopilot on and just get on with it. Some water did occasionally penetrate the low neck though, so make sure you opt for a snug-fitting size.

Verdict
A brilliant suit that remains the best on the market for £350.

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

HUUB Archimedes 4:4

£495
huubdesign.com

The Archimedes won our 2012 best wetsuits review and this year we tested the neutral buoyancy of the 4:4 version to see if the company’s design philosophy really does work. The 4:4 gave the incredible fit and flexibility that we’ve quickly come to expect from HUUB, along with top-end speed, comfort and just the right support for a perfect body roll via the X-O Skeleton panels around the hips. Our sinky-legged swimmer reported that it was indeed a vastly different experience than in the 3:5, with the lower half of the body sitting too far under the water’s surface, while our neutral tester was nipping along like a powerboat.

Verdict
A top-end suit tailored to your buoyancy needs

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

Peak Performer Award

Mako eXtreme

£479
mako-sport.fr; tri-1st.co.uk

Like the B-First, Mako’s eXtreme wetsuit has extremely flexible shoulders and features a superb cut that just works; being snug-fitting and free from constriction. The eXtreme adds extra-buoyant Aerodome to the mix, which runs from legs to under the collar, and serves to raise the whole body higher in the water – perfect for heavier swimmers or those who struggle to maintain a horizontal position in the water. The extra thickness of the Aerodome did make it harder to pull on initially though. The Shark Skin forearm grips from the B-First are also present and help increase the sensation of feeling the water during the catch phase. Swimming was unrestricted with a really stable body roll and no need to kick, making it great for all distances and superb when going long.

Verdict
Fast, comfy and unrestrictive – a stunning suit for those needing extra buoyancy

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

Peak Performer Award

Orca Sonar

£285
orca.com

Sitting in the middle of Orca’s range, the Sonar is a great compromise of performance and price, meaning the fact that it’s the company’s most popular suit is no surprise. A good fit and decent flexibility combine with a supported body roll to make it a great suit for beginners. Solid lower-half buoyancy thanks to Aerodome panels eliminates the need to kick. The unrestrictive neck made sighting comfortable during longer swims though the shoulders lacked the flexibility of some top-end suits.

Verdict
A good suit from one of triathlon’s most experienced brands

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

Xterra Vortex4

£265
xterrawetsuits.co.uk

The Vortex 4 is a mid-range suit at the upper end of the entry-level price tag and offers great performance. Restriction across the shoulders is minimal while buoyancy was excellent – the 5mm front levelling dragging legs really well. It’s not the supplest of suits out there, but once it’s on, the thoughtful cut and smooth jersey liner kept everything comfortable even during long swims. Fit is a little large compared to most brands so size accordingly.

Verdict
A decent mid-range suit at a great price

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

Zone3 Vision

£195
racezone3.com

For a fiver under £200 the Zone3 Vision provides you with a fully-coated suit, 1.5mm shoulders for flexibility and 5mm buoyancy panels. With the Aspire – Zone3’s superb mid-level suit – now sitting at £285, there’s more reason than ever to invest in this extremely flexible, snug fitting and fast swimming wetsuit. Performance outdoes most mid-level suits with the buoyancy holding sinky legs in check and the flexibility allowing good technique without the arms immediately turning to lead. The Speed Cuffs help get it off fast in transition too.

Verdict
Remains the best wetsuit we’ve tested at the sub-£200 price point.

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

Zone3 Victory D

£645
racezone3.com

There’s no denying that £645 is a lot of money to hand over for a wetsuit, but if any deserves it, it’s the Victory D. With Yamamoto 40 and 45 neoprene; Aerodome; variable panel thickness; a titanium-lined inner jersey; a reverse zip; and the company’s trademark Pro-Speed Cuffs, there’s a lot of technology that could easily have made swimming cumbersome. Once in the water however, it all comes together. The suit feels more compressive for the same size than the Vanquish or Vision, but the snug fit is supportive with no irritating hot spots and swimming feels smooth with an unimpeded stroke. Buoyancy is expertly placed for the typically heavy-legged long-course athletes the suit is designed for. The low neck meant sighting didn’t cause any strain. We can’t say whether or not the titanium lining helped maintain blood circulation, but it was a quick suit to get off. The only real downside is that the performance isn’t so much better than the Vanquish that the extra money is easily justified. However, if you’ve got the cash, like the gold colours and fancy the exclusive training day that comes with every suit, it’ll serve you very well indeed.

Verdict
Pricey, but great performance and top exclusivity

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

Peak Performer Award

You can find the first part of our 2013 triathlon wetsuits review here. Check out our triathlon wetsuit reviews homepage, along with our Best Triathlon Wetsuits Review 2012 and Best Triathlon Wetsuits Review 2011 round-ups.

You can also check out some handy tips on our Wetsuits For Triathlon buying advice page. Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.