Orca Predator wetsuit review
It’s the wetsuit of choice for Ironman champ Sebastian Kienle, but how did we get on with the updated version of Orca’s top-end wetsuit the Predator?
Orca’s Predator is right at the top-end of their wetsuit range, now coming in at £649 for the all-new 2017 version. It’s a huge spend, but plenty of R+D has gone into making the Predator as flexible as possible, while providing more buoyancy than their even more stripped-back Alpha suit.
It’s aimed at swimmers who have no problem with form in the upper body but have minor imperfections in their kicking technique, and is the suit of choice for 2014 Ironman World Champ Sebastian Kienle; a rapid swimmer by usual standards, but one who requires more support than fellow pro and former swimmer, Andrew Starykowicz.
The main update for the 2017 version is the increased coverage of Orca’s ‘0.88Free’ material, which is literally neoprene that’s 0.88mm thick. This has appeared on the arms and shoulders of the Predator since 2015, but it’s now spread to the lat panels at the sides.
For this tester (a sub-20min 1.5km open-water athlete), it was a welcome addition that allowed for a smooth and fast arm turnover, particularly when the arms started to tire in the second half of our initial 2.5km open-water test. If you’re worried about the cold then Orca line all the 0.88mm panels with a titanium coating for insulation, technology that also appears on Zone3’s Victory D.
We also experienced no chafing or discomfort around the neck area, and the whole top half gave a freedom of movement matched by few suits to date.
The sleeves have a lining around the wrist that make the Predator quite tough to remove and, as the material is so thin, we couldn’t help but worry we’d tear it during our T1 test. We didn’t, but our average wetsuit removal time hovers around 13secs, yet the Predator took 17secs due to those tricky sleeves.
Orca claim the buoyancy in the lower back and midriff is akin to lying on a surfboard, and we definitely felt like the Predator gave us a lift compared to other high-end suits. The buoyancy between the chest and legs is nicely balanced, and although it pushed our lower body position a little too high on rapid sprint efforts, this won’t pose an issue for long distances.
It’s during those long swims with periods of reduced leg-kick that you’ll need that extra lift, and as a money-no-object purchase the Predator is one of the most flexible on the market with extra buoyancy to suit a wide range of swimmers.
Verdict: Great flexibility and comfort at a cost, plus very delicate sleeves 85%
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