There are no two ways about it: get the fit of your tri-suit wrong and you’re going to be in for a pretty uncomfortable race experience.
Find the right one though and it should feel like a second skin – with legs that stay in place, straps that allow you to swim without restriction and a chamois that keeps things comfortable on the bike leg. If possible I’d recommend trying the suit on before you buy – sizes between brands can differ and if you’re between sizes, try both.
Next, think about features: if you have a larger bust an integral bra could be a real benefit. Pockets to house energy gels are useful for longer distances and more breathable, water-wicking fabrics make a huge difference to comfort.
ZOOT ULTRA TRI AERO SKINSUIT
This suit also appeared in our men’s tri-suit grouptest, where some sizing issues with oversized, baggy arms and legs saw it lose marks. Not the case here, where the wide, comfy rubberised bands on both biceps and thighs kept them perfectly in place. The fabric was good quality and included breathable mesh on the arms and back with just enough stretch, although the upper body was a little big around the torso in our size medium. Three pockets on the back in varying sizes were great for race essentials. We would have liked to see a zip garage, but as we didn’t experience any chafing we’ll forgive Zoot for this. In fact, our only real quibble was with the chammy, which was fine when dry, but felt a bit big and soggy when running with it wet.
Verdict: Quality suit with great details - although sizing a little big and chammy could be smaller 85%
Designed in collaboration with Tana Ramsay (wife of the shouty chef), you’ll need deep pockets for this suit. That said though, it feels very high quality and more like the kind of thing you’d find on the rails in Sweaty Betty than your average tri shop. The fabric is soft and feels great against the skin, while ventilation is courtesy of clever punched holes under the arms and in the lower and mid back. Two rear pockets in the lower back are plenty big enough, although you’ll need to be flexible to reach them. This was the only suit on test with an integral bra and although the suit itself
was a perfect fit, the stitched-in bra was too big for our cup size and we’d prefer to have had the option to add our own. Also, although the compressive leg grippers were comfy, they created a bit of an unflattering indent on our non-supermodel thighs.
Verdict: A top-end suit with some stylish, quality details - if you've got the right body shape for it! 88%
American women’s brand Coeur are fast gaining some fans in the UK, thanks to their unique one-piece chammy, that is best described as a piece of soft fleece that extends across the crotch and down the inside of the thighs, thus removing any uncomfortable seams or ridges. We found this worked well and, as you’d guess, it was easily the least noticeable on the run.
The fabric was very breathable and the suit had wide, rubberised bands similar to the Orca and Zoot suits that kept the legs in place. Beyond that though, it was tricky to judge the suit as the fit of the top half was just way too big for us although the legs were fine and Coeur recommend a tight fit to get the best from this suit (we tested mediums from all brands and checked size guides). We’d also have liked a zip guard as the scratchy zip top rubbed uncomfortably.
Verdict: Top marks for a zingy print and pioneering chammy,but baggy up top and zip rubbed 81%
Continue reading our guide to the best women’s tri-suits (2/2)