Dutch brand Dare2Tri are big on the continent but they often underwhelm us with their visuals, looking cheaper than the price suggests. Happily, as evidenced in their two-piece Cool Body tri-suit, they perform better than they look, and top-drawer features include SCS coating and 39-cell neoprene.
It features a fabric (instead of rubber) material under the arms that we’ve seen on Lomo and Volaire suits (and the Mako here) that, although flexible, can become baggy and chafe under the arms during long swims. While the price is pleasing, we just can’t see us picking this over similarly-priced suits from Orca (S6) and Zone3 (Advance).
Verdict: classy tech for the RRP, but better suits here 67%
Buy from www.decathlon.co.uk
The entry-level Huub Axiom sneaks in under the £200 price point and shares the 3mm/5mm buoyancy ratio of their top-end suits. The extended reach achieved by the underarm panels and smooth skin neoprene do create a swift suit in the water, but – and it’s a major but – we found the Axiom overly tight. We sit between small and medium on the size chart, but this medium was uncomfortably close. It proved tough to put on and tiring during long swims, with water ingress through the zip, so try before you buy. There’s a traditional zip rather than Huub’s breakaway zip though, which newbies will find more user-friendly. huubdesign.com
Verdict: swift and loaded with tech but too tight for comfort 77%
Buy from www.tredz.co.uk
Aropec Flying Fish
We’ve long been impressed by Aropec’s entry-level tri-suits and wetsuits, but their direct-selling model means you can’t try before you buy (although returns are free). The stylish Flying Fish sits at the top of their range and boasts 2mm neoprene on back, arms, hips and rear of legs to provide adequate flexibility. We found the neckline sits a little high and the 3mm thickness on the front of legs and chest only offers limited buoyancy. We’re not fans of breakaway zips at this price point due to the difficulty in getting them on (especially if you swim alone), but the drainage channels are a welcome touch.
Verdict: a decent suit at a decent price but lacks buoyancy 76%
Buy from aropec.co.uk
The Mako shares the Lycra fabric under the arms as the Dare2Tri and it’s certainly flexible and offers an extended reach. But we found it just becomes a little baggy and has the potential to chafe over longer distances. Which is a shame, as there’s plenty to admire in the Genesis from the French brand. There’s a smart buoyancy balance of 4.5mm in the torso/ thighs and 3mm in the back/calves, and of all the suits here this was the most enjoyable to swim in for shorter distances. The low-cut collar stays chafe-free, while the high-cut wrists and legs, plus an internal Lycra liner, also ensure that it’s incredibly swift to remove.
Verdict: a fine and affordable pick for short-course racers 85%
Buy from www.swiminn.com
The budget triathlon wetsuit overall verdict
The triathlon wetsuits here are all a decent standard and designers have discounted superfluous features (such as, catch panels) that were being experimented with at the start of the decade. Due to nothing new from Lomo and Dhb, there’s nothing under £150 in the men’s test but we’d suggest spending at least this amount to find a suit that delivers the best possible fit, comfort and flexibility for your budget.
The Dare2Tri and Mako share similar underarm construction, but the Mako edges it for sheer fun and bundles of upper-body flexibility. With its limited buoyancy and breakaway zipper, the Aropec will suit the more advanced swimmers out there but it lacks the broadest appeal for these reasons.
Of the major brands here, the Huub felt too restrictive, and the Zoot was well-crafted and well priced. But the overall honours came down to a head-to-head between Zone3 and 2XU, with the latter just edging it due to the Rollbar tech. But both would serve you well.