Men’s vested tri-suits: 7 of the best reviewed, tested & rated

Need a comfy and fast tri-suit to match your triathlon needs this season? We test and rate 7 of the best vested triathlon suits on the market.

Images by The Secret Studio

 Put simply, a tri-suit is the most crucial triathlon-specific purchase you’ll make, being the only garment that’s with you every second of your tri race.

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As 2019 gets into full swing and the race season is upon us, tri is embroiled in an arms race (ha!) when it comes to multisport apparel. That is, whether to choose a tri-suit with short sleeves or a vested style. 

Sleeved suits weren’t widely popularised until this decade, with long-course athletes in particular adopting them for their drag-reducing benefits. If you’re not fussed by marginal gains, increased sun protection through better coverage is a more practical reason for age-groupers. And sleeved suits have now caught on over all race distances, buoyed further by the ITU allowing them to be used in competition in 2016. So, they’re more aero, look cooler and you can use them in pretty much any race… so why would anyone still go sleeveless? 

For a start, less fabric and bare arms will keep you cooler if you really struggle with overheating. You’ll also get more freedom of movement, particularly useful for pool triathlons where you don’t have a wetsuit over the top.

And finally, because there’s less material, they’re often cheaper! For your first triathlon, that could well start in a pool, it’s wise to go for an affordable vested suit rather than risk restricting yourself in the swim. If you get the bug from then on, you can start experimenting and investing in different suits depending on what types of races you have planned for the season.

Tri-suits: what to look for

Tri-suits: What are the different options?

    

How we tested the vested tri-suits

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.

2XU Perform

£110

The SD mesh structure of the revamped Perform suit from Aussies 2XU is designed to offer superior cooling plus improved aerodynamics, and we found it exceptionally breathable during hard runs. Elsewhere there’s a good zip guard, while the silicone leg grippers provide the perfect amount of compression. The two pockets are easy to access on the lower back and will hold a large energy gel packet in each. We measured the wide chamois pad at 17cm, which really made a difference in terms of bike comfort, yet it still maintains a low profile and dries quickly to remain wholly unobtrusive on the swim and run. 2xu.com/uk

Verdict: breathable and high-performing suit for fast racing 88%

Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk

  

Endura QDC

£289.99

Endura’s Drag2Zero garments are at the cutting-edge of aerodynamic tech, so much so that their cycling skinsuit was recently banned by the UCI. This version of the QDC Drag2Zero obviously loses the very aero sleeves, and, for us, the other benefits aren’t worth it for the discomfort we felt compared to other suits here. Our medium had a longer leg length than most others on test, yet we experienced a lot of restriction across the chest on the run, which limits it to those with a very tall and slender build. On the positive side, the ventilation courtesy of the Coldblack tech is impressive and the extra leg pocket is a neat touch. endurasport.com

Verdict: has the same comfort issues as its sleeved sibling 68%

Buy from www.tredz.co.uk

  

DHB Blok

£80

With a vibrant design and wallet-friendly price, Dhb’s Blok will appeal to beginners and those on a budget. The chamois is quick-drying yet narrow, so won’t do for middle distance or above. The full length zip guard is flimsy and mid-run it didn’t sit properly against the zipper, which led to some irritation. The grippers aren’t as compressive as some here, while the rear pockets are big enough for multiple gels and bars. We’ve seen the Blok reduced online and, as a cheap purchase for your first races, the small comfort issues are plenty manageable. The chlorine and suncream-resistant Lycra should also ensure it lasts you multiple seasons.

Verdict: Good value option that needs a better zip guard 72%

Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk

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Zoot Ltd Ali’i

£115

The Ltd Ali’i is available in two other colourways for £10 less, but we’d rather spend the extra for this Hawaii-inspired design. While it falls short by not including a zipguard on the front, we didn’t notice any significant chafing thanks to the soft-finish binding on the zipper. Elsewhere, Zoot’s completely covered seams ensure it’s comfy against the skin. Rear mesh venting covers the back, including the two rear pockets that are roomy enough to house a couple of energy gels each. The large Italian leg grippers provide compression without being too clingy and the fleecy chamois offers just enough padding for a 2hr ride.

Verdict: Extra comfy seams and we like the design 86%

Buy from zootsports.com

  

Zone3 Aquaflo+

£95

The Aquaflo+ has plenty of performance-orientated features for a sub-£100 suit, and Zone3 say it’ll support you ‘all the way up to Ironman’. While we’d want a full-length zipper for that, elsewhere it fits the bill for longer races, with a comfortable 14.5cm wide chamois, wide leg grippers and plenty of ventilation across the back. The fabric feels soft to the touch and it’s just a really easy suit to get on with, with flat lock seams further increasing the comfort. The side pockets are small but fairly easy to access the single gel you’ll manage to fit in there. The Aquaflo is the roomiest suit here, so check the sizing chart.

Verdict: Smartly designed, functional suit for a great price 84%

Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk

Roka Gen II Elite 

£250

Now available from within the UK, the price of the Elite Aero has come down for us Brits, but it’s still a huge outlay. Yet we think it’s worth the money – a key reason being the superb leg grippers. They’re super comfortable and provide just the right amount of compression, never riding up under a wetsuit. The front is a carbon knit construction, keeping our core stable and providing freedom of movement, while the zipper is full length, which makes it more suitable for longer races. The chamois isn’t the best but dries quickly, and for sprint-, Olympic- and middle-distance tri the Elite Aero has become our go-to suit. 

Verdict: Supremely fast and comfy high-end race suit 92%

Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk

Huub Core

£129.99

The Core is arguably Huub’s most functional and accessible suit for the majority of triathletes, thanks to the comfortable, flexible fabric and decent price. It has an easy and unrestrictive fit (see also Zone3 and Dhb), and we found our medium was just right. Huub are another brand that make use of Coldblack tech to provide UPF30 protection and keep you cooler, and there are also mesh sections on the back to provide additional cooling. The pockets are placed above the hip, which isn’t ideal as we could feel our gel wrapper rubbing. The leg grippers are looser than some on test, but aren’t baggy enough to become problematic. huubdesign.com

Verdict: Comfy and does the job over multiple distances 80%

Buy from www.tredz.co.uk

The final verdict

Across the board none of the suits here were huge losers; the score of Endura’s QDC Drag2Zero was more reflective of its narrow target market and very high price. We know of multiple very fast age-groupers who use Endura’s Drag2Zero suits to great success, but for the majority of triathletes we think it’ll simply be too restrictive for most body shapes and/or too expensive.

Of the two suits under £100, we’d choose the Zone3 Aquaflo+ thanks to its superior comfort and robust yet breathable fabric. With a roomy fit and big pockets, Dhb’s Blok is made to get you round your first tri experiences comfortably, but it didn’t quite do enough to prevent chafing at the front. 2XU edge Huub and Zoot for the mid-priced offerings.

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Our overall test winner is Roka’s Elite Aero. At more than double the cost of some of the suits on test we were expecting a lot and Roka have delivered. It’s comfy, innovative and has proved to be durable, making it well worth the investment for competitive triathletes.