Vested suits suitable for sprint right through to iron-distance races are increasingly less common, but the Spartan Blaze from Airofin ticks these boxes. The front zipper opens fully for easy access, the two large ‘floating’ pockets can house plenty of nutrition and the venting keeps you cool (although doesn’t provide much sun protection). While we found Airofin’s Maori tri top too wide, this suit is a streamlined race fit, but the legs did sit well above the knee. The chamois is the same as Dhb’s Classic suit, which is slim but comfy enough for long rides. airofin.com
Verdict: breathable and slim-fitting suit with iron features 91%
Buy from www.airofin.com
The fabric in Orca’s Core is made from ‘Xtra Life’ Lycra, thought to be more resistant to wear and tear, and the water repellent coating makes for faster swimming. Highlights of the Core include durability, a comfy chamois and decent leg grippers. While it dries quickly, the all-nylon front doesn’t hug the body and feels hot and restrictive. The two pockets are well positioned either side of your lower back for easy access, although they’ll only house small gel packets. There’s sadly no neck guard, plus the exposed stitching around the arms is a source of irritation. Orca’s 226 suit is far superior and we’d recommend spending the extra.
Verdict: basic for the price, with few standout features 72%
Buy from /www.wiggle.co.uk
Zone3’s Lava is a familiar sight at races, arguably due to the more relaxed fit than many high-end suits, comfortable fabric and extra pocket space. It’s quite wide across the chest and the ‘Aeroforce Soft-Touch’ fabric is comfortable against the skin. It means there’s less need for mesh fabric, and the white colour reflects the sun. The Cytech chamois is our gold standard of pad design for long-course comfort and, while it’s fairly wide, it’s not bothersome while running. The pockets are stitched into the back so can sag a little when fully loaded, but it’s a negligible issue. This design is a limited edition suit, with a £10 levy added.
Verdict: pricey and tech-heavy with long-course cred 81%
Buy from www.sigmasports.com
The Lion is by far the cheapest here and it will serve you well for sprint-distance tri, but we wouldn’t opt to use it for anything longer. The ‘pad’ is actually just a bit of fleece lining and offers little comfort for cycling, although you’ve nothing to weigh you down on the run. The thick silicon grippers aren’t as comfortable as the thinner bands here, but they offer a secure enough fit. We were left chafe-free under our arms, although the zip housing didn’t do enough to stop rubbing in the chest area. The Lion isn’t without its compromises, but most of them are tolerable for a very affordable, entry-level suit. aropec.co.uk
Verdict: very inexpensive and fine for short-course 72%
Buy from aropec.co.uk
The final verdict
There was a full spectrum of price points and tech on test here, proving that there’s plenty of innovation and lifespan left in the vested tri-suit market. At the value end, Dhb’s suit can’t be beaten. It has identical features and build quality to suits a third more expensive. It’s often even cheaper on Wiggle, but you’re onto a winner at the RRP price as it stands.
While Aropec’s suit will see you through a few races it just isn’t quite up to the standard of the other suits on test, although it’s not terrible by any means. We weren’t thrilled by Orca’s Core suit, and found Lusso’s offering a better choice between the £75-£100 mark.
Huub’s DS just edges Zone3 in the high-end techy suit battle due to its fabric quality and closer fit. But our Best on Test award goes to Manchester’s Airofin. It’s suitable for every race distance, including long-distance triathlon, is
very breathable and the smart storage make it a great all-rounder. And at a sensible price, too.