LOUIS GARNEAU PRO
The Pro Carbon is a high-quality suit let down by poor finishing quality, with seams already fraying on the legs, something we’ve experienced before with LG. Yet the suit has much to recommend it. The pad is suitable for hours in the saddle but stays muted on the run. The grippers are also among the best here, the seams and zip guard do their business itch-free, and it looks sleek and is well-priced. The shallow pockets are covered for swim speed but we struggled to stuff our energy gels into them once on dry land, and the shallow neck saw water ingress in the pool. garneau.com
Verdict: Stylish and techy but a mixed bag overall 75%
With a miniscule pad, the Plasma appears a cross between a tri-suit and a swimskin. It’s furiously tight yet furiously fast in the water, with the fitted neckline refusing to sag and let water in. The reverse zipper and lack of pockets add to the aqua speed, yet we found the leash kept flapping around and we managed to pull it down twice, something not appreciated by the swimmer behind us. For 20km on the bike, that semi chamois is just enough and plenty of aerodynamic R&D has gone into polyamide/elastane fabric, yet the lack of both proper pad and pockets make it unsuitable for going any longer. skinfit.eu
Verdict : speedy but for the top-end sprint crew only 80%
The mid-level and comfy suit from Huub impresses on visuals and is fast in the pool, helped by the covered pockets that are positioned on the sides. While the pockets produce less bounce when loaded with nutrition on the bike, the relatively high position meant accessing them was an issue, especially on the bike, and we looked like we had some kind of underarm itch that needed urgent attention. The leg grippers feel a little loose and have a tendency to flay out at the seams, but there’s great breathability here and the pad is great for prolonged bike stints, is quick-to-dry and isn’t noticeable on the run.
Verdict: Solid enough suit with a couple of quirks 79%
The stylish, techy and durable 226 ticks every tri-suit box. The pad is wide but slender and isn’t noticeable on the run. The covered and well-positioned back pockets are swift through the water, while the leg bands are top-notch and are surely the future of grippers. While we’re unconvinced of the touted compressive properties, the suit is comfortable and chafe-free for extended stints in the sun, and we’re pleased they’ve added a zip guard since 2015’s version. Our key issue is with the 226’s iron-distance marketing, as we’d want easier frontal access and meatier pockets for going long (see Castelli).
The vested tri-suit verdict
Once again, the quality of the suits on test has improved this season. Brands have (mostly) sussed that zip guards are essential, the quality of the grippers has improved hugely and the fabric is increasingly hydro/aerodynamic.
For short-course racers with pool/non-wetsuit swims, the Skinfit and Sailfish are the options, boasting slippery materials, quick-drying abilities and rear zips. What they don’t have is versatility, with the lack of pockets and slender pads making these for short-course speedsters only.
Of the suits aimed at a variety of distances, the pockets of the Huub and Louis Garneau left us frustrated, meaning the Zone3, with all-new pad, takes the bronze medal on test.
Two suits stood out however, and for racing middle and up this season we’d have no qualms in recommending the Castelli. But for a variety of distances, the Orca is near flawless; a well-crafted, durable and comfortable creation that’ll withstand hours of racing.