Here are the top budget triathlon wetsuits, from £100 up to £250, for men and women. Your first triathlon wetsuit purchase is one of the most crucial you’ll ever make, the start of a multisport journey that could last a lifetime. But that’s not to say that the entry-level suits here are just for beginners, as many display enough quality for a host of tri experiences.
- Best triathlon wetsuits for all budgets
- Best women’s triathlon wetsuits for all budgets
- Swimrun wetsuits: 5 of the best reviewed
- 30 of the best tri-suits reviewed: short-sleeved, vested and Ironman
When it comes to buying your tri wetsuit, our mantra is repeatedly ‘try before you buy’, as the sizes can vary massively between brands, and it’s paramount your wetsuit fits you properly. If you can, find a tri retailer or tri expo to try the suits, especially if this is your first triathlon wetsuit purchase. If not, ensure any online seller has a decent returns policy and study the size guide.
Also, think about your own swim ability when picking as some features – slender neoprene and a reduction in buoyancy – are lost on, or even detrimental to, beginner swimmers. Those with sinking legs should look for increased neoprene thickness with enhanced buoyancy. And consider which races (sprint or Ironman?!) you’ll be entering and whether you suffer from the cold.
- What are the advantages of a two-piece wetsuit?
- Triathlon cost-cutting: how to train and race on a budget
Features editor Matt takes on the men’s suits, and will provide a close examination of buoyancy for sinking bodies, comfort and fit, plus added technologies. Value and beginner benefits were other key considerations.
In the women’s best cheapest triathlon wetsuits, Helen Webster looks at value for money, buoyancy levels and additional features for athletes either new to tri and/or on a budget.
Top women’s budget wetsuits
This is a good-looking suit for the money (not that that’s the main thing, but it’s a bonus). It feels good quality in the water with the 1.5mm neoprene across the chest and arms allowing plenty of flexibility, even for those with a wide ‘swinger’ style of swimming. The rest of the buoyancy profile errs towards stabilisation, which many new swimmers may welcome.
The 5mm in the front of the legs coupled with 4mm in the backs and a mix of 3mm/2.5mm in the body gave us a high position in the water, but it did feel a little too much, as well as restrictive. If, like this tester, your lower back is prone to aching, then be careful of suits that lift your legs too high. This is something many female swimmers may find isn’t needed, due to lower-body fat distribution (talking to all the pear shapes out there!).
Verdict: A good suit at a good price, but watch out for the levels of lower-body buoyancy
Huub Axiom 3:3
You can get a very entry-level Huub (the £130 Alpha), but the Axiom sits just above that at £199. We found some restriction in the previous Axiom, but some tweaks have made this a perfect fit. The suit (along with the Orca) followed the curve of our backs and didn’t cause aches after long swims. That’ll also be due to the 3:3 buoyancy profile (men get 3:5), designed to allow for the different fat distribution on women’s bodies.
It’s less ‘stretchy’ than others on test, though, and Huub recommends sizing up if you’re in doubt. The low neckline is comfy and we found the shoulders seemed to encourage high-elbow technique rather than letting us get away with our usual wide straighter-arm style!
Finally, there’s a breakaway zipper, which may be a faff in these socially-distanced times as you’ll need someone to do it up.
Verdict: A comfy and nicely balanced suit, although less flexible than others. Tricky zip!
A rare beast at the sub-£100 price point, the men’s version – in the same orange colourway – has featured in our ‘budget best buys’ before now with an 86% rating.
You get a mix of 4mm neoprene through the core body, to 3mm on the legs and 2mm arms. The cut on the women’s suit is odd though as although our height/weight put us in a M, the top half of the suit was huge, with loads of excess neoprene. A size S improved things a little, but meant the legs were too tight. We asked a second (UK12) tester with a different body shape to try the medium and she also reported problems with sizing and water ingress, as well as overall comfort. One that proves when it comes to wetsuits, fit is king!
The neckline was cut very high as well, which felt odd, but didn’t bother us when swimming.
Verdict: The spec for the money gives this a big tick – but our testers couldn’t find a good fit
Any brand that opts for bright pink on a women’s design will have some of us wrinkling our noses (men get red). Yet we have to give Orca kudos for providing the only bright-armed suit on test – which works as a safety feature so you’re visible in open water, as well as helping family spot you on race day. If you like pink, it’s pretty funky, too.
This suit felt great on and equal to Speedo’s in flexibility. Orca have clearly used their tri know-how in this budget offering as it’s easy to pull on (a big worry for many new open-water swimmers), while the 4m bottom/2mm top neoprene combo works to combine buoyancy and flexibility in a way that felt comfy and supportive. There was a tiny water trickle in the neck, but that may be solved by sizing down from a medium to a S/M – and it didn’t really bother us in the 19°C waters of our test lake.
Verdict: A flexible, striking and comfortable suit that comes with an amazing price tag for the tech
This Blueseventy staple’s £200 price tag puts it at the top of our suits here by a whole pound, and savvy swimmers may find the considerably cheaper Orca or Speedo more of a draw. The Sprint was among the snugger size medium suits on test and, after an hour in the water, we found it pulled our lower back a little, so watch sizing.
Those stretchy blue jersey panels under the arms feel a touch basic compared to the full neoprene construction of others on test but, coupled with thin 1.5mm neoprene on the outer arms, allow a wide range of movement. You also get stretchy calf panels for quick removal and the 3-4-4mm buoyancy pattern gave us a good body position. The bottom-up zipper and rolled neck, although bulky and high at the back, prevented water ingress, as did the cuffed sleeves.
Verdict: Some nice features, but the sprint now feels dated and is the most expensive here
Which women’s budget triathlon wetsuit was the best?
Given this is a budget test, in order of price the Lomo Prime comes in as a bargain and has been well-rated in previous 220 men’s tests, though sizing/cut troubles meant they missed out on a high score here.
The Orca TRN is a great suit and the bargain of the test offering a flexible, comfortable and well-thought out experience which will keep most triathlon newcomers happy, while the Speedo Proton is a similar offering for £10 more, but too buoyant, giving us lower back issues after swimming.
At the top end of the entry-level test, the Huub Axiom 3:3 gave us a superb swim, though it is less stretchy than others, so some who want a more flexible feel may prefer to go for one of the Orca or Speedo.
Finally, the Blueseventy Sprint was pipped by much cheaper suits that also offered better features, so feels overpriced and is in need of a long-overdue upgrade in time for the 2021 race season.
Top men’s budget wetsuit
The Advance was once this tester’s top entry-level suit recommendation, but it’s recently been superseded by the £179 Orca S7 and 2XU P:1. The 2020 Advance instantly takes the eco award with its recycled rubber construction, and there’s no pre-swim faff with the standard zipper (unlike Aptonia and Raceskin).
Zone3 don’t list the panel thicknesses, but it’s 2mm on the shoulders, a 3/4mm core and 2mm again in the calves. Buoyancy is far from excessive (leg/bottom sinkers may want more) but it’s evenly balanced. There were no neck or water-ingress issues, yet the suit only placed third in our timed speed tests.
While not an exact science, we found it tight around the shoulders (and we’re more Woody Allen than The Rock in shoulder width), which could’ve lessened efficiency. Getting it off is speedy thanks to the Pro Speed Cuffs.
Verdict: Efficiently ticks the boxes for entry-level triathletes, but edged here by the 2XUand DHB
Aptonia Neoprene LD
The Aptonia was second out of the testing bag and looked odds-on for the Best Buy award until the Dhb swept to the title. Plus points include the ability to try before you buy at a Decathlon store, which is tricky for the Dhb and Raceskin suits on test, and a visual design that’s our top pick here.
Into the emerald waters of Vobster (once we’d wrestled, breathed in and been fastened up due to the reverse zipper – see also Raceskin), you can feel the buoyancy levels are high thanks to air bubbles inserted into the fabric and the 5mm neoprene thickness on the chest, hips and thighs. Some stronger swimmers will find this excessive. As a leg sinker we didn’t mind too much, and the LD wasn’t far behind the Zone3 in our timed lake tests.
It’s slightly baggy under the arms and that zipper loses it points, but a two-year guarantee is welcome.
Verdict: Looks the part, adequate in the water and a nice price, but we have to question the reverse zipper
2XU p:1 Propel
2XU have won the lion’s share of Best on Test wetsuit awards for the past few seasons, and the 2020 P:1 Propel boasts an impressive feature list for the £215 tag. There’s a SCS coating, high grade 39-cell Yamomoto neoprene and 1.5mm neoprene in the upper body. Fairly high buoyancy levels are provided by a mix of 3mm and 5mm on the upper chest, legs and back, while 2XU’s ‘rollbar’ tech adds to the controlled body position.
Similar to our mid-range tester on p60, water ingress was felt around the neck and along the rear zipper – something that was bearable in 19°C waters, wince-inducing in less (it also trickled into the arms). Yet this didn’t hugely affect its aquatic chops, as this was the fastest on test loops. We personally prefer the visuals and feel of 2018’s edition of the P:1, but a two-year warranty is another plus.
Verdict: Top tech, swift in the water and a decent price tag make this the budget suit to beat
The Magna’s price tag flirts with mid-range wetsuit territory, and there are features here you’d expect from loftier wetsuit companies. These include a lean 1.5mm neoprene thickness in the arms and shoulders, Yamamoto’s hydrodynamic SCS coating and a reverse zipper, though the latter is something we question on an entry-level suit for the pre-swim toil it brings (you’ll need to ask someone to zip you up).
While Raceskin’s Summa is a hit for our mid-range tester on p61, no matter how many times we tried, the Magna just felt restrictive around our shoulders and limited our stroke extension. Whether it’s down to panel placement (our shoulders are far from broad), that lithe 1.5mm neoprene failed to do the trick and resulted in our slowest times on test. It’s a shame, as the suit is stylish, durable and has limited water ingress.
Verdict: Impressive tech, stylish visuals, durable… yet we just struggled once in the water
The Hydron 2.0 is currently (we imagine permanently) down to £88 on Wiggle, but we’d happily pay the original RRP (or a little more) for it. Put simply, it’s a budget suit that’s very hard to fault.
The construction is durable, the fit true to size and the visual design – for a circa £100 suit – is decent enough. Into the 36m-deep waters of Vobster Quay in Somerset, and the buoyancy is surprisingly moderate for an entry-level suit thanks to the 3mm thickness on the hips and 2.5mm on the thighs (usually this thickness can be up to 5mm).
We’re a leg sinker but still managed our second fastest lake splits in the Hydron, even if the 2mm back/arms thickness and flexibility understandably felt less flexible than the £215 2XU. The zip’s a standard bottom-up affair, while removal is swift thanks to the calf panels. Water ingress, meanwhile, was minimal.
Verdict: A sequel that easily betters the original and is hard to fault for triathlon beginners
Which was the best men’s budget wetsuit?
Flexibility, measured buoyancy and plenty of mid-range tech make the £215 2XU P:1 Propel the winner of this sub-£250 test. And yet, as the women’s test overleaf shows, spending more doesn’t always guarantee a better wetsuit for you.
Try as we may, we just couldn’t swim naturally in the Raceskin, while the Aptonia is the best tri wetsuit yet from Decathlon… but we’ll be hoping for a standard zipper on both suits in 2021. The Zone3 will do the job for countless athletes, but it’s edged by the Dhb in terms of budget and the 2XU for feel in the water.
As budget suits aren’t only for beginner triathletes, we also did repeated timed average speed per 100m tests on our multiple 750m swim loops. Comfort and feel in the water were our key parameters for this test, but the results – 2XU, Dhb, Zone3, Aptonia and Raceskin – confirmed our perceptions of the suits, and also highlighted how trying before you buy (or a watertight returns policy) is essential.