Celebrated for their leading Brownlee Agilis wetsuit and Anemoi tri-suit, Huub isn’t the first brand that comes to mind when budget wetsuits are discussed. And yet, alongside the Anemoi, the new Alpha wetsuit could become a major tri release of 2019. Because here’s a sub-£100 suit that promises both performance gains and value. But can the Alpha hit these lofty claims?
In terms of existing entry-level wetsuits we’d recommend, the Zone3 Advance (£169) and Orca’s S7 (£179) are both fantastic suits for the price. Yet Huub’s Alpha surprisingly undercuts these and sits below the £100 price point, pitching at the truly budget end alongside direct sellers Dhb (Hydron, £110) and Lomo (Challenger, £69) instead of against its traditional major league wetsuit rivals. Where the Lomo offers minimal aesthetic flourishes, the Alpha trumps this by offering a sleek design that doesn’t look out of place against its loftier Huub siblings. The feel is also different from the usual budget suits, which often offer masses of neoprene thickness.
‘The days of adding the thickest neoprene panels to the chest and legs have long gone,’ believe Huub, ‘because we know that, by adding more buoyancy to the legs and less to the chest, we can reduce the frontal drag of the wetsuit, and put you in a better swim position.’ Huub have achieved this lean feel with a thinner 2:3 buoyancy combination, and impressive 1.5mm underarm thickness for a budget suit.
Cut to poolside and the ‘speed cut’ ankles and smooth neoprene make it swift to put on… until the shoulder area. This tester isn’t exactly broad, but getting the suit over our shoulders was problematic, and we managed to twinge a shoulder muscle pulling it on (much to the amusement of the jammer-clad fraternity on the waterside). Things initially pick up once in the water, with the level of buoyancy feeling evenly controlled and far from excessive. Whether it’s down to the ‘Glide Skin’ neoprene or not, the outer also feels slick through the water.
The flatlock construction of the interior continues the comfort and chafe-free theme, and yet we still had arm issues in the water, with ingress up the sleeves and shoulder fatigue by the end of our sessions. Much of this is down to failing to find a desired fit, with the underarms remaining baggy (two medium friends also had fit issues). And yet, while we’d pick the Dhb Hydron due to our arm fit issues here, there’s much to celebrate with the Alpha and it’s great to witness a suit that offers trickle-down tech from its vaunted stablemates. If you spot it at an expo and it fits you, you could do far worse.
Verdict: great buoyancy profile, price and internal comfort, but arm fit issues 79%
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