What to look for in a triathlon wetsuit
(Credit: thesecretstudio.net)
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What to look for in a triathlon wetsuit (2/2)

Why a triathlon wetsuit is worth the investment and what to look for when buying

So what should you look for in a triathlon wetsuit? Here are our five essentials...

Fit

The most important aspect of a triathlon wetsuit. Too loose and water will gush in and out and never warm up; too tight and your stroke will be restricted, leading to fatigue and frustration.

Ultimately, a wetsuit should be snug and not lead to tourniquet. This applies to full wetsuits, and also the less-common shorties and sleeveless versions.  

Neoprene thickness

Wetsuits are comprised of neoprene panels of varying thicknesses up to 5mm. In areas seeking greater buoyancy, like the legs, 5mm is often used.

Thinner neoprene (commonly 3mm) is used where flexibility’s needed and buoyancy is less of an issue, like the shoulders and latissimus dorsi (back muscle) area. One of the big innovations for 2015 is Orca's introduction of 0.88mm Yamamoto fabric for the luminescent ultra-supple neoprene panels on and under the arms of its new Alpha wetsuit:

Detail on Orca Alpha wetsuit

Zippers

Historically, wetsuits zip down for removal, with the zip string located near your neck and clamped in place by a strip of Velcro. This has the advantage of being able to zip yourself up, which can come in handy if someone inadvertently tugs you during a race.

A recent innovation is a zip-up-closure system. These are fractionally quicker to unzip in T1, but you’ll require help to zip up before the off.

Coating 

The occasional beginner’s suit, but all mid-range suits and above, will feature SCS coating – or nano SCS coating – which is essentially a slippery layer that reduces drag and friction through the water.

Stitching

There are a couple of variations of how a wetsuit is put together, but the most common is by gluing neoprene before applying heat. It’s then stitched across the seam. Extra tape is sometimes added at extreme stress points. Top-end suits are virtually seamless. 

Huub wetsuit

Arms

Catch panels are used by many manufacturers and are generally – though not exclusively – seen in a brand’s top-end suit.

“Our Concave Water Entrapment Zone (CWEZ) increases the surface area on your forearm,” says Mike Martin, 2XU’s UK marketing manager, about how their technology works. “It has the same effect as swimming with paddles, but to a lesser effect so that it remains legal.”

Recommended wetsuits

Here are the top five models from our last wetsuits grouptest: 

Snugg Stealth

Score: 85%
Price: £330

Snugg Stealth

The mid-range offering from the Cornish pioneers, whose USP is the custom-fitting option to ensure the ultimate fit. For more info head to www.snuggwetsuits.co.uk.

Blueseventy Reaction

Score: 86%
Price: £345

Blueseventy Reaction

Nestling below the award-winning Helix, this still offers plenty of the Kiwi brand’s famous flexibility. For more info head to www.blueseventy.co.uk.

Huub Aerious

Score: 90%
Price: £350

Huub Aerious

Available in two types of neoprene thickness, either 3:5mm (for weaker leg kickers) and 4:4mm (for stronger swimmers). For more info head to www.huubdesign.com.

Zone3 Vanquish

Score: 92%
Price: £425

Zone3 Vanquish

Top-end release, available with multiple neoprene densities for flexibility, warmth and buoyancy. For more info head to www.racezone3.com.

Aqua Sphere Phantom

Score: 87%
Price: £499

Aqua Sphere Phantom

Plenty of features are packed into the Italian’s top suit, even six-pack graphics on the abs. For more info head to www.aquasphereswim.com.

(All images: thesecretstudio.com)

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