The triathlon wetsuit is one of tri’s big ticket items and one of the most crucial triathlon buys you’ll ever make. While they’ve experienced a host of technical innovations since the mid-1980s, a triathlon wetsuit’s aim largely remains the same: to get you through the open-water swim as swiftly, as comfortable and as fresh as possible.
Here are the best triathlon wetsuits on the market today, starting from around £100, all the way up to £600, all independently reviewed by our experts.
Best women’s triathlon wetsuits in 2021
- Best women’s budget triathlon wetsuits under £250 reviewed
- Best women’s triathlon wetsuits priced £250-£500 reviewed
- Best women’s top-end triathlon wetsuits, priced over £450, reviewed
What to look for when buying a triathlon wetsuit?
Although most events will see you in a wetsuit for about 10-20% of your race, a triathlon wetsuit can make or break your experience. The fit of your triathlon wetsuit is paramount. An ill-fitting, poorly-chosen suit will leave you sinking in the water with a sore neck; your optimum suit will be the finishing touch to all those hours of pool training and will make you look and feel unstoppable come race morning.
You also need to be truthful with yourself about your swim level. If you’re a beginner you might need one that will help you maintain your swim position in the water.
- How thick should my tri wetsuit be?
- What’s the difference between a triathlon wetsuit and a surf wetsuit?
- How to store a wetsuit
- How to mend a wetsuit tear
- How long should a triathlon wetsuit last?
2XU Propel P:2
The Propel claims to be 2XU’s most buoyant thanks to its 39-cell 5mm front panel. With female hips and thighs, high buoyancy isn’t something this tester would normally prioritise but they’ve got their ratios spot on. The ‘Rollbar’ provides extra core control, supporting swimming without feeling unbalanced even as fatigue set in. The blend of 1.5mm in the shoulders and added stretch zone panels allows a natural stroke and full range of motion. The SCS coating cuts drag, regulates body temperature and decreases body fatigue. This, in sync with the forearm water entrapment zone, which seemed to improve the catch dynamics, made this the fastest here. The only negative is significant water entered through the back of the neck and flowed to the arms, which could be an issue in colder waters especially.
Verdict: highly flexible and supportive wetsuit; a little water intake but still fast, 89%
With reactive stretch technology and 1.5mm around the arms, the Reaction offers great shoulder flexibility, comfort and full range of motion throughout the stroke. The 5mm core and hip neoprene provided excellent support and, combined with 4mm on the legs, a good body position could be obtained with minimal effort. The split chest panels allow extra stretch and easier breathing yet, despite claims of a low neckline, it actually felt too tight and a touch uncomfortable around the throat. The four-way Aquaseal technology on the cuffs prevents any influx of water but seemed to make the suit harder to remove in T1. If transition speed is of concern, the arms and legs are designed to be cut up to six inches shorter without impact to the suit’s overall performance.
Verdict: Support and flexibility where you want it, but let down by the neckline, 82%
DHB Aeron Lab
It may be the budget option of the mid-range wetsuits on test here, yet the Aeron Lab still packs in many of the features seen in those almost twice the price, such as the drag-minimising Super Composite Skin (SCS) coating and the
39-cell Yamamoto neoprene grading throughout. The low-profile neckline is the most comfortable here and also keeps water at bay. While the overall fit is good, it was slightly let down by what felt like a thicker and less flexible 1.5mm shoulder area than some of the others on test. Despite this, the suit proved fast both in the water and on land in our mock transition one tests. The 3D-ribbed panels along the torso are claimed to channel the water and certainly seem to improve propulsion, and T1 is a breeze thanks to the M-flex lining and the quick-release cuffs.
Verdict: Not the most comfortable here, but performs well for the price, 83%
Aimed at top-level athletes, putting on this suit required the skill of an Olympian to navigate the YKK reverse zip. Not ideal if you’re swimming solo or not comfortable asking for help before a race start or at training days. Once zipped in, the neck appears to come up very high at the front, but this did ease once in the water. High-quality 1.5mm panels around the shoulder enabled a full range of motion and flexibility in the upper body that, combined with a generous body length, allowed for a restriction-free stroke. Aerodome panels in the hips and lower body provide plenty of buoyancy and the SCS coating allowed us to slip through the water with ease. Thankfully, the zip is easy to operate for the removal phase and the suit was the fastest to remove in our T1 simulation.
Verdict: Fast in the swim and transition one, and with impressive flex in the shoulders, 85%
With neoprene derived from limestone rather than oil, the Aspire claims to be the environmentally-friendly option. The Aerodome materials provide a reported 30% extra buoyancy than standard neoprene, and the added leg and hip panels meant no kicking was required to stay afloat in our sea-swim tests. While it boasts superior flexibility, movement didn’t feel as free around the shoulders as others on test and the forearms felt unnecessarily tight. The arms and legs came up a bit short and, when at the catch phase of the stroke, there was a pulling feeling at the front of the body – those above average height may struggle here. Despite this, the Pro Speed cuffs made for a quick transition and, despite feeling restricted, thanks to the drag-reducing SCS coating it gives the feeling of gliding along with minimal effort.
Verdict: positive environmental message; good buoyancy and speed; let down by comfort and fit, 79%
Which is the best triathlon wetsuits in the £250-£500 range?
While all of the women’s triathlon wetsuits did a good job of keeping us warm in the early summer waters, they were also all substantially quicker than swimming without a suit and for far less effort.
For those wanting performance on a budget, the Dhb Aeron Lab is a great choice. With fit of high priority, the Blueseventy Reaction is the only suit to come in nine sizes, while both the Aeron Lab and the Reaction are designed for the limbs to be custom cut to suit personal preferences.
The 2XU Propel, Zone3 Aspire and Raceskin Summa all provide a balanced and supportive level of buoyancy, while the Summa and Reaction excel with their impressive shoulder flexibility.
Yet it’s 2XU’s Propel that takes the Best on Test gong due to its impressive ‘Roll-bar’ core control, all-round comfort, support and supreme suppleness.
Got money to burn on a top-end wetsuit and starting to think about potential marginal swim gains that can be bought?
Key things to look for in a mid to top-end wetsuit are the correct buoyancy for your swim style, so consider whether you need more buoyancy in the legs, but also whether you want more structure and lift in the chest and torso, or whether your body position and core strength are such that you don’t need it. The thickness of the arms becomes a consideration here too, plus maximum flexibility in every area of your stroke should be a given.
Here are five of the best top-end triathlon wetsuits for women reviewed
The Bolt is new to the market for 2020 from one of tri’s major heritage brands. Sporting thicker panels of neoprene along the centre line and legs – plus thinner material around the upper body – the Bolt has good flexibility around the shoulders and arms, while going some way to improving body position in the water. The shaped legs mimic the natural form of the knee joint and we found it very easy to take off in T1. As with the Yonda Ghost II on test here, we found the fit bigger around the chest area, which could suit some women depending on their body shape. The Bolt has a straightforward bottom-to-top zip with a long leash, but we found the neck felt a little too tight over longer sessions. zootsports.co.uk
Verdict: A great all-round wetsuit with much to offer triathletes; bigger around the chest area 87%
Of the wetsuits on test here, the Agilis, along with the Orca Alpha, felt like we were swimming wetsuit-free. But that’s not surprising given its extensive input from the Brownlee brothers. Light and very flexible, the upper is made from 3mm thickness neoprene (5mm in the lower body). This means the Agilis isn’t going to give you the most warmth, but it’s very easy to get off in T1 and the neck is particularly comfortable. The breakaway zipper means you need to remember to pre-start it or make sure someone’s around to help you do it up, even when combined with its nice long leash. It’s worth noting that Huub tend to size small, so think about going for a size bigger or test for fit before you buy. huubdesign.com
Verdict: A well-designed suit with the strong swimmer in mind; think about trying before you buy, 92%
The Alpha is billed by Orca as the ‘perfect companion for Natural Swimmers from a swimming background who have a naturally good swimming technique.’ With thinner materials (a combination of 0.5mm and 1.5mm panels) and, therefore, less buoyancy than other wetsuits on test, the Alpha is aimed at ‘floaters’ rather than ‘sinkers’, and those likely to be swimming too fast to notice the cold. The Alpha has some of the best flexibility on test, especially for the all-important shoulder rotation, stroke distance and for easy T1 removal, even with a shorter-than-average zip length. The reverse zip means the wetsuit is less likely to be pulled undone during racing, but does mean you’ll need to make friends to do it up.
Verdict: Light, flexible and great for strong swimmers, but not for the sinkers out there, 94%
Roka Maverick MX
In a variation to their existing Maverick suits, Roka’s Maverick MX has maximum buoyancy in mind, in particular around the core, chest and arms. Of all the wetsuits on test, our feet noticeably broke the surface of the water when swimming. But, even with the Roka’s ‘arms-up’ design (the pattern is cut as if arms are in full extension), what was gained in improved body position and warmth was balanced out in reduced flexibility around the shoulders compared to others on test. Rear ankle panels of thinner material are included to speed up removal and, like the other suits here, wrist and ankle seams are taped to allow for personalised length. The softer Yamamoto neoprene and women’s cut make for a well-fitting suit.
Verdict: A robust and warm suit with excellent buoyancy, yet the normal maverick has more freedom, 82%
Yonda Ghost II
The Yonda Ghost II was voted Best on Test in our men’s test last year. The 4.5mm neoprene in a Y shape over the front of the body and back of the legs ensures a good body position in the water, but the dimpled Aerodome material made it harder to pull up. We found that the thinner 0.5mm around the shoulders, arms and side panels made for excellent shoulder rotation and we really liked the fabric arm panels, which allow your arms to flex and feel the water more than standard neoprene. Similar to Zoot, we found the fit bigger around the chest, which meant there was more chance of chafe, but for ease of removal this wetsuit won hands down due to its ‘slippy’ lining. The leash of the reverse zip could do with being a little longer.
Verdict: A great choice for athletes looking for a balance, between buoyancy and flexibility 90%
When it comes to a favourite wetsuit, so much depends on body shape, swimming position, comfort levels in cold water, budget and your triathlon aspirations. All the wetsuits here are of great quality and deal with the buoyancy-versus-flexibility equation in their own way.
The Yonda Ghost II would be a great choice for those with ‘sinky’ legs looking for improved body position in the water, while the Roka MX will also aid sinking swimmers with its increased buoyancy.
The new Zoot Bolt did nearly everything well and was hard to fault (the neck felt a little tight on longer swims), so it was the Huub Agilis and Orca Alpha that were the standout suits on test. Both offered unparalleled fit and felt the most like swimming in your own skin, with the Alpha just edging into the lead and the ‘Best of Test’ title due to its stylish look.
How we tested and reviewed the triathlon wetsuits
We tested these suits in UK waters within 2020’s disrupted season. Both lakes and the sea were the bodies of water, the latter especially allowing us to access how the suits dealt with UK summer seawater temps, dealing with waves and currents to judge their race-day form (and water ingress). Each was tested for comfort, performance, buoyancy, durability, hydrodynamics, zipper, removal speed, budget and the visual design.