What to Look for in a Triathlon Wetsuit

A good triathlon wetsuit can really improve your racing and training experience. It goes without saying that it is a key component and investment for any triathlete.

If you are looking for advice about wetsuits, we recommend contacting a team member here at Wetsuit Centre. We have over a decade of experience in being one of the largest wetsuit suppliers in Europe, so you can be sure to find the perfect triathlon wetsuit with our expertise.

How to size a wetsuit for men, women and kids

What is a Triathlon Wetsuit?

Originally, triathlon wetsuits date back to the late '80s; they were designed by an ironman athlete Dan Empfield. He had a mission to create a suit that would support him to swim faster and easily transition out of the suit. From there, the suit has evolved with the innovative technology of wetsuits.

Triathlon wetsuits are part of a triathlon kit. They are made up of a top and bottom combo that is designed to be worn while you swim, bike and run, so there is no need to take it off, apart from the wetsuit if needed.

A triathlon wetsuit has three main functions:

- Retain heat
- Buoyancy
- Streamline

Triathlon wetsuits are designed to be thick enough to keep the wearer warm and thin enough to offer flexibility. The wetsuit is made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber with thousands of tiny air pockets. The pockets are what give the wetsuit its buoyancy and insulation.

Although neoprene is used in a vast selection of wetsuits, not all neoprene is the same. Triathlon wetsuits are usually made of Yamamoto rubber, a limestone-sourced rubber with a closed-cell structure, allowing for more buoyancy than regular wetsuits.

A woman swimming in a body of water
The Difference Between a Triathlon Wetsuit and a Surfing Wetsuit

Wetsuits were first designed for diving and water sports. These usually needed a much stronger emphasis on warmth, durability and flexibility. Because of this, surf wetsuits are often thick, tough and rugged, allowing them to cope with wear and tear.

Although these key features are still prominent in triathlon wetsuits, they will also incorporate additional design features to ensure less water resistance and more ease of removal for transitions.

Because of these additions, the construction of a triathlon suit differs a noticeable amount to a surfing wetsuit; a triathlon wetsuit outer layer will be much smoother than a surf wetsuit to reduce drag, for example.

Four triathlon contestants running into water
How Does a Triathlon Wetsuit Work?

Rather than trapping water between the suit and your skin, a triathlon wetsuit's neoprene is blended with rubber and coated with a hydrophobic or water repellent material.

A regular wetsuit is designed to give you buoyancy and warmth. If you increase the neoprene's thickness, it will offer you more insulation; the thicker the neoprene, the more buoyant the suit will be.

A Triathlon wetsuit is designed to propel you forward through the water. An entry-level triathlon wetsuit will be thicker around the legs than the arms and torso, which is the complete opposite of a regular wetsuit; this design supports the triathlete’s swimming posture by keeping the legs up.

Two men running in a triathlon
What to look For in a Triathlon Wetsuit

Picking out a regular wetsuit can be confusing, but choosing to invest in a triathlon wetsuit can be even more intimidating. This guide will help you differentiate what triathlon wetsuits align with your ambitions and budget.

Fit

When choosing your triathlon wetsuit, you'll want to do a little research and ensure that you try the suit on. The suit is intended to be slightly tight, but it should never be restrictive; it's important to remember that neoprene will mould to your body and feel a little larger in water.

You want your suit to be comfortable; it shouldn't be too loose, allowing excess water to be held and chaffing or too tight where it will feel constricting.

Buoyancy

Higher-end suits will have a maximum buoyancy, but that's not to say you can't find great value suits that will give you that added lift when in the water.

Take into account where the suit focuses its buoyant behaviour. Most wetsuit makers will incorporate extra buoyant fabric panels in key areas such as the lower back.

Extra buoyancy can be helpful for non-technical swimmers as it will improve your posture. If you don't consider yourself a strong swimmer, you might want to invest in a trisuit with added buoyancy in the chest panels.

Cost

Price will have a major influence over which suit you pick. However, you can still find great suits at a wallet-friendly price.

Good quality budget suits include the Zone 3 Women's Activate Trisuit. Designed for comfort, performance and speed, the trisuit is well recognised among triathletes as a number one choice in swim and run wear for extremely good value.

Other budget suits include the Zone 3 Active Short Sleeve Mens Trisuit, which is laden with features you would usually see in top-level trisuits. The highly breathable fabric allows for sweat management, temperature control and comfort, and full coverage.

For more experienced triathletes with a larger budget, you might want to consider the Orca Equip Triathlon Swimming Wetsuit. The suit has been designed with flexible 39 Cell Yamamoto neoprene, helping to improve the range of movement and hydrodynamics, so you can glide through the water.

Coverage

Depending on the range of temperatures, it's best to consider what kind of coverage you will need. You might want to consider a sleeveless suit for warmer weather as it will allow a greater range of movement; longer sleeved wetsuits will retain more heat, but they will be slightly more restrictive.

When deciding what suit will work best for you, it's important to remember that it will depend on your sporting necessities. Here at Wetsuit Centre, we pride ourselves on giving our customers honest advice. Be sure to contact us for extra information as you browse through our site to find the perfect triathlon wetsuit for you.

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