With so much choice out there, why would you go for a traditional vested version? Well, the thinking behind the sleeved versions is they’re more for long-course racing, as the sleeves keep the sun off your shoulders and make you more aerodynamic, whereas the vested versions are marketed more toward shorter races.
However for us, there are no hard and fast rules, so if you’re looking for your first tri-suit then try a few and see what suits you most. This is maybe more important for women than men too, as you need to consider bust size and what is least restrictive – especially for the run. In our tests this year, we’ve been finding the sleeved versions more flattering and comfortable, but they do come with a premium price tag, so it’s a case of weighing up what’s important to you.
- Women’s tri-suits buyer’s guide
- Tri-suits: What are the different options?
- Tri-suits: everything you need to know
- Best tri-suits
How we tested
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.
When you find a £30 tri-suit like this, it’s proof that cost doesn’t always determine performance. The black and pink graphics go hand in hand with the quick-drying material for a flattering shape. The shorts fit perfectly and find just the right length, while the grippers held our legs without being too tight. We actually didn’t mind the low neckline, as it still provided plenty of bust support and kept everything covered up. It’s slick in the water and offers a big and comfy chamois for the bike, plus ample pocket space. While that chammy did restrict movement on the run, overall there’s much to admire here for the outlay. decathlon.co.uk
Verdict: mostly cracking quality for a budget price, 83%
Buy from www.decathlon.co.uk
Designed for long-course tri, this rear-zipped suit is the best all-rounder on test, outperforming the others in each discipline. The shorts are an ideal mid-thigh length and have balanced compression to increase blood flow in the legs and reduce lactic acid build-up. They also have two pockets on either side of the shorts, enough to secure bike and run nutrition in, as well as pockets at the back. The ‘Iron performance’ chamois is one of the best we’ve ever tried, keeping us comfy for all distances. It’s on the pricey side, but it’s reliable and ticks every box, including style and shape to make you look and feel good.
Verdict: A fine-looking and top-performing suit 95%
Buy from www.evanscycles.com
For us, the Tana is an improvement on the Core we tested in 2018. The inner bra suited this tester and is
supportive even on bigger busts, while the lightweight fabric is quick to dry and features a vent down the spine to keep you cool. The grippers are strong, no doubt, but there was a slight sausage effect, and, while we welcome a female-specific chamois, it does feel paper thin on the bike. We also suffered some shoulder restriction on the swim, the small pockets were difficult to reach once riding, and as a curvier athlete, we found the cut a little unflattering.
Verdict: bra a good fit, but pricey and pocket problems, 78%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Sailfish are one of the masters of swimwear, and its Tri-suit Comp instantly scores well in the water, feeling drag-free. Onto the bike, it’s quick to dry, has good-sized pockets for nutrition and the chamois is supportive. Yet the legs are very long and, when you start to notice sweat patches becoming visible in odd places, you realise that darker materials are possibly better, especially as this is targeted for 70.3 and Ironman racing. Post-T2 and the seams on the lower abdomen pull tight across the upper thighs, restricting movement while running, making us feel that you can get more for your money elsewhere.
Verdict: Great on the swim but causes restriction on the run, 69%
Buy from www.swiminn.com
Positively, Dare2Tri’s suit provides a quick-drying material that adds no drag in the water and the flatlock stitching is smooth against the skin (although the seam direction makes it restrictive around the shoulders, waist and legs). The anti-bacterial chamois has a good thickness, and the shorts are an ideal length and grip effectively, yet the hem is too tight around the quads and doesn’t make for comfortable swimming or running. For those wanting a taste of triathlon, it ticks the box as a no-frills suit, yet it lacks style. There are higher quality and more comfortable tri-suits tailored towards novices.
Verdict: Does the job on a budget, but sacrifices movement, 59%
Buy from www.dare2tri.com/trigear
The Fastskin Xenon offers pure comfort at a decent price. Speedo’s Endurance10 fabric is soft, flexible yet compressive, quick-drying and chorine resistant, and stretches in every direction to give you a great range of movement. It’s light in the water and on the bike the chamois is only 2mm thick but does the job for longer efforts. It has sizeable pockets yet the best part is the cut around the legs, which is designed with muscly women’s thighs in mind rather than having to squeeze them in! It’s let down by the inner bra that serves no purpose but, once you’ve paired it with your favourite sports bra, you won’t be disappointed.
Verdict: A top performing suit at a bargain price 91%
Buy from www.speedo.com
The Perform from Aussie brand 2XU is made from techy, beautifully-soft Italian SBR vent fabric, which looks and feels great to wear, especially if you’re racing longer tri distances. The material is stretchy and breathable, allowing you to move freely while swimming, cycling and running, but it does feels heavier and slower to dry after the swim leg. It’s designed as an all-distance performer, with three decent-sized pockets and a supportive chamois for those long days on the bike. It feels suitable for all body shapes, and since the fabric is so incredibly soft and flexible you might even forget you’re wearing it! 2xu.com
Verdict: a good buy if comfort is top of your tri list, 86%
Buy from www.sportsshoes.com
The final verdict
With countless different body shapes and sizes to cater for, as well as racing goals and distances to factor in, producing a tri-suit that has wide appeal is extremely difficult for manufacturers. Ultimately we all want the same outcome: to feel comfortable, look stylish, and wear something to help us execute the best performance.
In the budget stakes, the Aptonia easily sees off Dare2Tri’s option, while the Huub has more to recommend it than the Sailfish in the battle between the most expensive suits on test. But a key part of our remit here is to find the best suit for the widest array of athletes, and for this reason the 2XU, Speedo and Zone3 score highly.
Each suit was designed with more than one body shape in mind, and they all move in the direction you want them to, regardless of shape or ability. But it’s the versatility, comfort and multi-distance appeal of the Zone3 Lava that gives it the overall win in this year’s grouptest.