Women's tri-suits: 6 of the best reviewed
A tri-suit is the only piece of triathlon kit you will wear throughout swim, bike and run – so it needs to work three times as hard. Helen Webster reviews, tests and rates six of the best
Your tri-suit will be with you for the whole race, so when buying one consider your needs. Do you want it to help you swim faster? Do you need a lot of padding for the bike? Are you worried about how quickly it wicks sweat and dries? Also, will you need pockets for gels? As for female-specific features, look for a good integral bra with enough support for the run. Also, keep an eye out for anything that may rub or chafe – a small irritant can become a big problem after a couple of hours (or more!) of racing.
Designed ‘for ITU athletes whose primary focus is to go faster in a non-wetsuit race’, it comes as no surprise that this is a suit where speed is the focus. So what does that mean? Well, a pared back design (no pockets here!) for starters. Of all the suits on test this is the one designed most like a swimsuit, with an open back, shelf bra and shorter legs.
The construction (as you’d expect) is pretty amazing too – teflon-coated microfibre fabric helps you glide through the water and dries super quickly on the bike, while the seams are welded to reduce drag. The chammy is comfy enough on shorter bike sections, yet feels barely-there on the swim and run. There aren’t any zips and the suit is slightly compressive, so it feels amazing once it’s on, but if you have curves, wriggling into it takes a while. Plus, even our modest A-cup tester found the skimpy design revealed a touch of what the Daily Mail would no doubt refer to as ‘side boob’…
Verdict: Amazing – but price and skimpiness will limit appeal 88%
This suit took top honours in last year’s women’s tri-suit test, so it’s no surprise that we were equally impressed this year. Although not entry-level (and Huub do another suit beneath this one), the price isn’t unreasonable for a well-made, aesthetically-pleasing and high-performing suit that should last you a number of seasons. So what do you get? Impressing us first is the stretchy integral crop-top style bra (unique in this test) that gives great support while being very light and also avoiding the annoying double-zip design.
There are also wide mesh panels on the back and along the hips (tip: use sunscreen under these if going long to avoid sunburn on the bike) to keep things cool, Coldblack fabric that dries quickly and two clever pockets on the sides of the suit that keep gels accessible yet tucked away enough not to annoy. We’d like some rubber grippers on the legs to make them extra
secure, but they stayed in place okay without.
Verdict: A suit that continues to impress with great features 92%
ORCA CORE RACESUIT
Initial reactions to the new entry-level suit from Orca were good – we liked the striking graphics (three colourways available) and the Aquastretch fabric with breathable Vapour side panels felt good quality, especially for the price. A duo of rubber bands around each leg do a good job of keeping the legs in place, while mesh panels help with cooling. Angled storage pockets with a flap are well-positioned and the chammy was ample for keeping our rear comfortable – although it did feel a little soggy on the run. Sadly though, where this suit falls down is in one annoying oversight.
There are zips on both the bra and the suit front, yet neither has a protective flap or zip garage, leading to chafing from both the zip and the plastic stitching. For a nicely-designed suit, this is just a real shame. Also it’s a personal thing, but we weren’t a fan of the slightly frumpy longer leg length, that came almost down to the knees on our 5ft 7in tester.
Verdict: Some nice qualities let down by a scratchy zip 75%
Continue reading our guide to the best women's tri-suits of 2016 (2/2)