With so much choice out there, why would you go for a traditional vested version? Well, the thinking behind the sleeved versions is they’re more for long-course racing, as the sleeves keep the sun off your shoulders and make you more aerodynamic, whereas the vested versions are marketed more toward shorter races.
However for us, there are no hard and fast rules, so if you’re looking for your first tri-suit then try a few and see what suits you most. This is maybe more important for women than men too, as you need to consider bust size and what is least restrictive – especially for the run. In our tests this year, we’ve been finding the sleeved versions more flattering and comfortable, but they do come with a premium price tag, so it’s a case of weighing up what’s important to you.
Women’s tri-suits buyer’s guide
Tri-suits: What are the different options?
Tri-suits: everything you need to know
Men's tri-suits: 14 of the best reviewed, tested & rated
How we tested
All of the suits here were tested multiple times on the swim, bike and run. We paid particularly close attention to comfort across the chest where some fabrics can prove restrictive, and were looking for form-fitting leg grippers that don’t ride up or fit too loose/too tight. With most of these suits aimed more at short-course racing we weren’t expecting huge pockets, but would expect them to be easily accessible, and we’d also require a quick-drying chamois pad that provides adequate rear comfort.
When you find a £30 tri-suit like this, it’s proof that cost doesn’t always determine performance. The black and pink graphics go hand in hand with the quick-drying material for a flattering shape. The shorts fit perfectly and find just the right length, while the grippers held our legs without being too tight. We actually didn’t mind the low neckline, as it still provided plenty of bust support and kept everything covered up. It’s slick in the water and offers a big and comfy chamois for the bike, plus ample pocket space. While that chammy did restrict movement on the run, overall there’s much to admire here for the outlay. decathlon.co.uk
Verdict: mostly cracking quality for a budget price, 83%
Buy from www.decathlon.co.uk
Designed for long-course tri, this rear-zipped suit is the best all-rounder on test, outperforming the others in each discipline. The shorts are an ideal mid-thigh length and have balanced compression to increase blood flow in the legs and reduce lactic acid build-up. They also have two pockets on either side of the shorts, enough to secure bike and run nutrition in, as well as pockets at the back. The ‘Iron performance’ chamois is one of the best we’ve ever tried, keeping us comfy for all distances. It’s on the pricey side, but it’s reliable and ticks every box, including style and shape to make you look and feel good.
Verdict: A fine-looking and top-performing suit 95%
Buy from www.evanscycles.com
For us, the Tana is an improvement on the Core we tested in 2018. The inner bra suited this tester and is
supportive even on bigger busts, while the lightweight fabric is quick to dry and features a vent down the spine to keep you cool. The grippers are strong, no doubt, but there was a slight sausage effect, and, while we welcome a female-specific chamois, it does feel paper thin on the bike. We also suffered some shoulder restriction on the swim, the small pockets were difficult to reach once riding, and as a curvier athlete, we found the cut a little unflattering.
Verdict: bra a good fit, but pricey and pocket problems, 78%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Continue reading our guide to women's vested tri-suits (2/2)