Put simply, Ironman race day can be one of the most emotional journeys of a lifetime. Your race course companion throughout all of this will be your tri-suit, with you from the starter’s horn to that finish line. So what should you look for when picking your long-course tri-suit?
Think about which type of athlete you really are, from an age-grouper vying for marginal gains to a long-course newcomer looking for iron survival. Top-end age-groupers should assess their suit’s aero properties, but comfort is key for all levels of athlete: what rubs during a sprint race will become a full-blown irritant in Ironman.
While budget is acknowledged in our test, we believe if you’re going to spend hundreds of pounds to enter an iron-distance race, cutting corners on a tri-suit that could potentially hinder your big race is a false economy.
In terms of testing, we’ve raced middle- and long-course in some of these already, and we were lucky enough to test the rest in Tenerife in late January. The conditions mirrored British summertime, with temps between 10 and 25°C, winds, rain and gorgeous sunshine to boot. Pads were pummelled, grippers graded and elastane evaluated in a bid to find the greatest suit for the widest range of athletes.
The R&D work and wind-tunnel time that’s gone into Huub’s new top-billing tri-suit (as worn by Alistair Brownlee and David McNamee) is evident from the get-go, with air disruptor hems on the legs and ribbed arms included in the name of speed. It feels fast in the pool and on the bike, but what also makes this garment a landmark release is how comfortable it is for a speed suit, with barely-restricted limb movements provided by the stretchy fabric.
The arms and legs are grippy and the seams are smooth. Yet there are some sacrifices for back/mid-pack athletes, with just one rear pocket, no full-length zip at the front for easier toilet stops and a lean pad that some will find too slender for Ironman. While that price will put off those not vying for age-group or elite honours, for those at the pointy end this is a remarkable achievement.
Verdict: innovative, speedy and comfortable. A landmark winner for long-distance speedsters 92%
Buy from www.tredz.co.uk
The Aerosuit Comp from the German triathlon heavyweights has been around for a while now but, until Sailfish update their range, it still boasts plenty of winning features for 113km middle-distance racing. These include superior looks, breathability, covered rear pockets and some of the most effective leg grippers we’ve used. The suit’s polyester and elastane mix fits well without being restrictive and the white sleeves are a major draw, offering UV protection in hot races (and they don’t feel confining in the pool). The full-length zip ensures mid-race toilet stops are a breeze, although the lack of a zip garage between zipper and skin does cause some irritation. Sadly for many full Ironman athletes, the perforated pad (although quick-to-dry after the swim) just won’t be big enough for tackling more than 90km on the bike and the price puts it as the higher end here.
Verdict: A good-looking and breathable pick for 70.3 racing, especially in the heat 87%
Buy from www.swiminn.com
Ryzon is the tri-suit brand of two-time Ironman world champ Jan Frodeno, and the unisex Myth Aero instantly looks the part with an attractive colour scheme. The high-quality feel continues once on, with a soft-on-the-skin feel, bonded seams and ample flexibility. Despite the hydrophobic materials, we’d seriously question its non-wetsuit swim credentials, however, as ours filled up with water down the neck to create a Michelin Man effect on the opening leg that rendered it almost unusable.
Things pick up once on the bike and run due to the stability and breathability offered, while swifter athletes will appreciate the aero sleeves and long legs. The wide back pocket is ample for a number of gels and the slender pad actually has enough cushioning for longer stints. Worth noting is that the price is high and it doesn’t conceal any excess weight around the waist!
Verdict: A slick, techy and visually striking suit, but not one for non-wetsuit swims 80%
Buy from www.ryzon.net
The Lava from Brit brand Zone3 is instantly one of the most comfortable suits here (surpassed only by the Heart Sports suit overleaf) and is also the largest on test, so study the sizing chart carefully. There’s flatlock stitching and the Elastic Interface pad is suitable for middle and up, with the two huge rear pockets (plus two leg pockets) able to carry enough fuel for an ultra Ironman (but also adding some drag on non-wetsuit swims). The leg bands provide grip, there are ribbed aero properties on the arm sleeves and the frontal fabric offers some windproofing for colder races. We’re also pleased that they’ve recently added a full-length breakaway zip for race-day convenience. But for the price, it feels noticeably less techy and more dated than most on test here, and the bottom half especially underwhelms in the aesthetic stakes.
Verdict: Plenty of comfort and practicality, but we’d like more innovation for the spend 79%
Buy from zone3.com
Continue reading our 10 top Ironman tri-suits (2/2)