Put simply, a tri-suit is the most crucial triathlon-specific purchase you’ll make, being the only garment that’s with you every second of your tri race.
As 2018 gets into full swing and the race season is upon us, tri is embroiled in an arms race (ha!) when it comes to multisport apparel. That is, whether to choose a tri-suit with short sleeves or a vested style.
Sleeved suits weren’t widely popularised until this decade, with long-course athletes in particular adopting them for their drag-reducing benefits. If you’re not fussed by marginal gains, increased sun protection through better coverage is a more practical reason for age-groupers. And sleeved suits have now caught on over all race distances, buoyed further by the ITU allowing them to be used in competition in 2016. So, they’re more aero, look cooler and you can use them in pretty much any race… so why would anyone still go sleeveless?
For a start, less fabric and bare arms will keep you cooler if you really struggle with overheating. You’ll also get more freedom of movement, particularly useful for pool triathlons where you don’t have a wetsuit over the top.
And finally, because there’s less material, they’re often cheaper! For your first triathlon, that could well start in a pool, it’s wise to go for an affordable vested suit rather than risk restricting yourself in the swim. If you get the bug from then on, you can start experimenting and investing in different suits depending on what types of races you have planned for the season.
Tri-suits: what to look for
Women’s tri-suits buyer’s guide
How we tested the vested tri-suits
The suits here were tested in a host of outdoor conditions, and also indoor sessions to try out the breathability of each suit. We ran plenty of miles and had swims in each suit to test out the drying properties and comfort across all three sports, paying particular attention to the integration of the chamois pad at the rear. We also marked each suit on its ability to dry quickly, as well as aesthetics, pockets, price, zippers and grippers.
This high-end suit is infused with Coldblack technology, which reduces heat absorption and provides at least UPF30 protection, with mesh venting across the back for extra breathability. The material is quite rigid, but it’s more hydrodynamic than your standard nylon and it feels fast through the water. It feels properly compressive and has a slim drag-reducing fit with enough unrestrictive stretch. We did experience slight underarm irritation, but this likely was down to the tight fit as the seams are well covered; if you’re of a slim build it won’t be an issue. ‘DS’ refers to Dave Scott, who works with Huub on the range. huubdesign.com
Verdict: big bucks, but worth it for the serious triathlete 85%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
The Classic isn’t quite as loud as Dhb’s Blok collection, but the fluoro, blue or grey colourways means there’s lots of choice. It punches above its weight, with a well-engineered (if narrow) chamois that doesn’t sag and comfy grippers. The fabric is soft against the skin and is especially comfortable under the arms. It also uses Xtra Life Lycra like Orca’s Core suit. While it’s not the most breathable, a UPF50 rating means you get decent sun protection everywhere except the back’s mesh section. The pockets each side of the lower back are roomy enough for gels or energy bars. And it can often be found half price, which is a steal.
Verdict: basic but very good, and at a bargain price 83%
But from www.wiggle.co.uk
For us, the Shattered from Lusso wins the style points here. The wide pad (15.5cm across) is beginner-friendly yet doesn’t cause any distraction on the run and dries quickly. The sizeable leg grippers are comfortable without being too tight, there’s a good housing over the YKK zipper and the seams are flatlocked around the shoulders and underarms to prevent irritation. A shortfall is the small pockets: they’re narrow and positioned right in the middle so they’re difficult to access. The soft Italian fabric is breathable and mostly makes up for the lack of venting, but it’s not ideal for the hottest days.
Verdict: a good looking and comfy suit for short races 79%
Buy from lusso.bike
Continue reading our guide to this year's best vested tri-suits of 2018 (2/2)