14 of 2013’s best triathlon wetsuits tested, rated and reviewed to help you boost your open-water swimming


Best Triathlon Wetsuits Review 2013What’s the best triathlon wetsuit out there? We put more than 30 suits through their paces to find out for this year’s review.

With a testing group of varying abilities, we whiled away hour upon hour in a 50m pool subjecting them to time trials and longer Ironman-pace swims to really get a feel for how the suits would perform on race day.

The initial selection was then whittled down to a final shortlist of 14. Then it was back to the pool for more intensive testing. We judged how easily the suits went on and how quickly we could get them off in a simulated transition.

Finally we deliberated on which suits were the most fun to swim in and most worthy of your cash. Read on for the results.

You can find the second part of our 2013 triathlon wetsuits review here and more of our best triathlon gear reviews here.

Foor Classic wetsuit

Foor Classic

£99
foor.co.uk / triuk.com

While some wetsuit manufacturers have upped the price of their suits for 2013, Foor have managed to keep their Classic suit at the same ridiculously good value price of £99. You might expect a suit at this pricepoint to have laughable performance, but it’s surprisingly good. The fit is snug but without tight hot spots and while the thick neoprene is less advanced than on pricier suits, flexibility is good, especially for shorter swims, fitting well with the entry-level market. There’s no slick skin coating on the back and underarms so it feels heavier than others on test and, while buoyancy is well balanced, sinky-legged athletes might want a bit more on the quads. It keeps the water out well though, and is comfy while swimming despite the high neck.

Verdict
A superb choice for rookie triathletes wanting flexibility and buoyancy at a keen price

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

TYR Hurricane Category 1 wetsuit

TYR Hurricane Category 1

£210
tyr.comtyrswimwear.co.uk

TYR suits are a popular long-distance choice and considering the exceptional buoyancy of the C1, it’s easy to see why. The snug fit initially felt tight across the chest but loosened up once in the water. Flexibility is impressive for what’s essentially an entry-level suit, and arm and shoulder movement are good for the price. One element that did prove divisive with testers was the suit’s high level of buoyancy. For those with sinky legs looking to conserve energy during races rather than lead out of the water, the Hurricane C1 provides a great solution. However, more naturally buoyant and balanced swimmers may come unstuck with such buoyancy, which can be uncomfortable.

Verdict
A good suit for heavy-legged cyclists looking to go long with excellent support

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

Blueseventy Reaction wetsuit

Blueseventy Reaction

£299
blueseventy.comblueseventy.co.uk

Blueseventy have been in the sport since 1993 and their suits are worn by some of the world’s best athletes including Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs. The Reaction sits below the company’s top-end Helix suit and offers a great balance of snug fit, flexibility and buoyancy that hits above its pricetag. The slim-fitting suit allows a great range of motion in the shoulders, making for an unimpeded stroke with good feel for the water. Buoyancy feels expertly balanced, supporting in the right places and allowing the hips to roll naturally. All this adds up to a great suit that allows you to just get on and enjoy swimming. The Reaction does seem harder to get off than some other suits, but the taped seams mean the ankles can be cut to accommodate a faster exit.

Verdict
An expert blend of flexibility and buoyancy that makes open-water swimming fun

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

Aqua Sphere Racer wetsuit

Aqua Sphere Racer

£339
aquasphereswim.com

The Racer was one of the hardest suits to get on and off, due in part to the Aqua Grip cuffs that succeeded in keeping water out but added stress to our transition simulations. In the water it’s a competent suit that keeps you well insulated but feels over-designed with needless add-ons that hindered overall performance. Shoulder flexibility is average, but the uncoated elbow panels, designed to encourage a high elbow, just get in the way. They restrict the arms, making swimming uncomfortable, disrupting a natural stroke and ultimately meaning more energy is needed to cover the distance. There’s enough buoyancy to lift the chest but if your legs have a tendency to sink, you’ll likely require more than is on offer here from Aqua Sphere.

Verdict
A tech-filled suit that’s bettered by simpler, cheaper alternatives

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

HUUB Aura 3:3 wetsuit

HUUB Aura 3:3

£350
huubdesign.com

The Aura is HUUB’s women-only suit, designed from the ground up to give female athletes the best possible swim. It’s largely free from zany features and is at its core an incredibly comfortable and flexible wetsuit. With no restriction of the arms at all thanks to the 3mm neoprene, movement through the water feels smooth and natural. Performance is aided rather than constricted by carefully placed buoyancy that works in harmony with the female physique and includes HUUB’s X-O Skeleton – bands of more buoyant neoprene that wrap around the hips and thighs for a supportive body roll. Like their men’s suits, the Aura also has stretch calf-release panels that are both comfy and – along with the quick-release zip – make the suit a dream in transition.

Verdict
A proper swimming wetsuit for women wanting to go fast in luxurious comfort

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

Z3R0D Neptune Woman wetsuit

Z3R0D Neptune Woman

£355
z3r0d.com/en

The women’s-specific version of the Neptune sits at the lower end of Z3R0D’s four-suit range and is designed for intermediate swimmers across all distances. The fit is comfortable and snug without being overly restrictive but while the low neckline feels great for sighting, it does let in a fair amount of water. The Neptune’s ample buoyancy effortlessly supports the torso and legs, feeling supportive and relatively stiff in the water so there’s no need to kick. Some more experienced swimmers might find this restrictive and while it’s not as flexible across the shoulders as some of the other suits on test, it’s a good balance for the improving triathlete it’s aimed at.

Verdict
A great balance of flexibility and buoyancy; a good all-rounder

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

Zone3 Vanquish wetsuit

Zone3 Vanquish

£395
racezone3.com

Zone3‘s Vanquish has a lot going for it.  One of the easiest suits to get on, fit is exceptionally snug, comfy and unrestrictive, with the low neck line avoiding choking and making sighting easy without letting water in. Shoulder flexibility is second to none, allowing a completely unimpeded stroke that’s heightened by the replacement of catch panels with thin material that allows amazing feel during the catch phase. Extra-buoyant Aerodome covers the chest and quads, raising you high in the water, though athletes requiring less leg buoyancy may find the bum and chest higher than the abs without a well-developed core to hold things together. Thanks to the reverse zipper and quick-release wrists and ankles, this suit is one of the fastest to get out of too.

Verdict
There’s no better suit for those wanting exceptional performance and extra buoyancy

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

Mako B-First wetsuit

Mako B-First

£399
mako-sport.fr / tri-1st.co.uk

Mako’s suits are designed by French ITU pro Jessica Harrison and worn by Olympic gold medallist Nicola Spirig, so the brand has serious pedigree. The B-First was instantly one of the most comfortable suits on test with a close but not tight cut that just felt right from the first stroke. The flexibility throughout is astounding, allowing you to roll, stretch and catch the water without being held back in the slightest. Buoyancy likewise feels perfectly judged, levelling out sinking legs without compromising rotation or feel against the water. The result is one of the fastest suits on test and one that left us feeling fresh no matter how long we swam for. The reverse zipper makes getting out of it a cinch too.

Verdict
A perfect balance of flexibility and buoyancy for those who don’t want to be constrained

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

Xterra Vector Pro X3 wetsuit

Xterra Vector Pro X3

£400
xterrawetsuits.comxterrawetsuits.co.uk

This understated suit from Xterra has a really comfy interior jersey material, making it ideal for longer swims. Flexible enough to make swimming easy, it feels smooth and unobtrusive, allowing you to maintain your stroke mechanics while also offering great buoyancy in the legs. This eliminates the need to kick but can also be a little overpowering if not so much support is needed, as it can actually push the upper body down, making a slight crane of the neck necessary to sight properly. However, if you have a very draggy lower body position, the Vector Pro X3 will go a long way towards improving your efficiency and speed in the water.

Verdict
A simple long-course suit for those who need rebalancing in the water to swim faster

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

Speedo Tri Elite wetsuit

Speedo Tri Elite

£450
speedo.comspeedo.co.uk

The range of motion in Speedo’s top-end suit is good despite the generous use of extra-buoyant, less-flexible Aerodome panels, which are cleverly placed between areas of regular, stretchy neoprene, minimising the impact on stroke. This creates a well-balanced and flexible suit that feels smooth and fast. One unique feature is the Vortex Stroke System, a series of forearm gills that open during the catch phase to act like paddles. We were surprised at how pronounced the effect was, though it does require extra strength in each stroke, which could fatigue during long swims, especially for those who aren’t blessed with a natural swimmer’s physique. The suit has a quick-release zipper for a fast transition, though we found this a bit fiddly to do up initially.

Verdict
Not for everyone, but if you want to make the most of strong arms it’s a good candidate

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

Zoot Prophet wetsuit

Zoot Prophet

£450
zootsports.com

The Prophet from Zoot is a difficult suit to pull on due to thicker panelling in the legs for buoyancy and the Confluence Fluid Design panels on the forearms. These are designed to extend the trailing edge of the forearm to reduce drag, much as with aero bike design. In practice, we couldn’t feel any difference at all while swimming except that it seemed to buoy our forearms up, making the elbows drop and scuppering our stroke. The fit is tight and not as comfy as other suits but despite this, a fair amount of water sloshes around the back. Buoyancy is excellent however, with the fairly rigid support helping to avoid fishtailing and shoulder flexibility also good. We’d have preferred an emphasis on ease of stroke rather than tech though.

Verdict
A mixed bag that doesn’t live up to the promise of its lofty design ambitions

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

Sailfish One wetsuit

Sailfish One

£476
sailfish.com

The Sailfish One was the most comfortable and flexible suit on test. The stretchy neoprene hugs the body without being overly compressive and the interior jersey material is smooth against the skin. Being so flexible, it almost feels like you’re not wearing a wetsuit; the One complies effortlessly with your every movement, keeping your stroke just as it is in the pool. Aerodome adds buoyancy from chest to groin, keeping you comfortably high in the water, and stability panels on the side of the hips/thighs avoid excessive rolling. The legs aren’t quite as well buoyed as others on test, although this is a bonus for natural swimmers with a strong kick. Getting out of the suit is easy, though a quick-release zip would have been nice at this pricepoint.

Verdict
A stunning suit that you could swim in all day long – almost perfect

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

Orca 1.5 Alpha wetsuit

Orca 1.5 Alpha

£485
orca.com

Named after the Olympic swim distance, the new Orca 1.5 Alpha has exceptionally thin shoulders and arms which, aided by a funkily-designed inner jersey material, make the suit feel like a second skin. The Alpha sits lower in the water than other suits and with Aerodome 2 material on the back of the legs, it feels as if you’re being hoisted from above rather than pushed from below. This enables a totally unimpeded stroke that’s not compromised by rigid panels. It’s not as stable as some other suits on test and you have to kick to maintain body position, but the 1.5 Alpha offers impeccable performance for those who are already strong swimmers and want to lead from the water by an even bigger margin. The only thing missing is a quick-release zip.

Verdict
Not for everyone, but sublime performance for those with immaculate freestyle technique

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

2XU V:3 Velocity wetsuit

2XU V:3 Velocity

£499
2xu.com2xushop.co.uk

2XU is one of the few wetsuit companies that seems to be able to strike the right balance of technology and practicality in its suits. The V:3 Velocity replaces the old V:2 and has improved flexibility and feel during the catch, though it’s still not quite on a par with other more flexible suits on test. There is, however, a lot of buoyancy, which stiffens the suit, giving horizontal balance that feels really secure and is immediately confidence-inspiring. Great for those new to open-water swimming, the V:3 helps to hold you in a hydrodynamic position, allowing easy rotation of shoulders and hips in unison. The fit is on the small side and tight on the neck, so be sure to pick the correct suit from the 16 sizes on offer.

Verdict

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

Mako B-First wetsuit

OVERALL VERDICT

There are an ever-growing number of fantastic wetsuits to be had across the price spectrum, making this year’s test tough. At the entry-level end, the Blueseventy Reaction deserves a mention as an great all-rounder, but it’s hard to find fault with the Foor Classic. It costs less than a fifth of the price of some of the more expensive suits, but offers a much larger fraction of their performance, so it wins our Top Value award.

When you’ve got the cash for a top-end suit, it’s easy to be swayed by a long list of features, but for their simplicity and exceptional performance, the Sailfish One and HUUB Aura impressed our testers. As the Aura’s not available for men, the One just edges it out for our Peak Performer award.

While £400 is a lot to spend, the Zone3 Vanquish and Mako B-First prove you don’t have to pay any more for an incredible suit. The Vanquish is ideal for those who need a little more support without compromising feel but for luxurious comfort, an unrestricted stroke and balanced buoyancy it’s the Mako we’d want to swim in all season. That’s why it’s our overall winner.

You can find the second 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.