Tri-suits: What are the different options?

Confused about the different types of tri-suits available and unsure which to buy? We explain four different types of tri-suit designs, suitable for a variety of different triathlon distances and conditions

Credit: The Secret Studio


The two-piece tri-suit (made famous by pro athletes Kenny Souza and Faris Al-Sultan) has made a mini-resurgence recently, with improved hem tech ensuring that the top doesn’t ride up and the shorts stay in place. The obvious advantage is the convenience they offer on race day, especially for Ironman. Negative points include an aerodynamic penalty, not ideal for the swim (you’ll have to add the top in T1) and more emphasis required to find a good fit. Pictured is Dhb’s Classic (£67) two-piece.



Despite the growth of sleeved tri-suits, the classic vested tri-suit still has its place in triathlon, especially for shorter  races. The lack of arms ensures an unrestricted swim stroke and a lack of wet sleeves on the bike, while they can be better for athletes who struggle in the heat and a reduction in the amount of fabric can mean cheaper prices. Downsides include a lack of UV protection from the sleeves and an aerodynamic (and, for us, an aesthetic) penalty. Seen here is the 2XU Perform (£110).


Suits without a front zip are often called ITU-style suits, and they feature a rear zipper on men’s styles and either a swim suit-style back or rear zipper on women’s. The advantages are increased hydrodynamics for non-wetsuit swims (making them ideal for pool triathlons) and comfort, with no chances of the zip rubbing on chests. Disadvantages include a lack of practicality for toilet stops and difficulty lowering the zip for cooling (if the race rules allow it). The image shows Zone3’s Lava (£139).


Short-sleeved tri-suits were only truly established half a decade ago, but they’ve since experienced a surge in popularity and tech advancements. They should offer improved aerodynamics if the fit is precise, better looks (especially if you don’t have Popeye-esque biceps) and protection from UV rays. The key is ensuring the sleeves don’t inhibit your swim stroke, the seams don’t rub under the arms and you don’t suffer from overheating on the arms. Pictured is the Zulu from Stolen Goat (£160).