It’s hard to be a Canadian triathlete and not own a wetsuit – the cool water conditions, especially for early season races, that we tend to experience on the Canadian race scene make a wetsuit a required piece of equipment. How much you spend on that required equipment piece can vary dramatically. Intro suits go for a few hundred dollars, typically, but you can also spend upwards of a thousand for the ultimate in comfort, speed and efficiency. Whether or not you need to go that far will depend on your level and just how much you’re willing to spend to gain a few seconds in your next race. You’ll be surprised, though, at just how good an “entry-level” wetsuit is these days, as you’ll see in this year’s guide, which includes some less- expensive models.
Tyr Category 1 $275 Using many of the technological features seen in their most expensive wetsuits, the Category 1 is a great entry-level suit. The R.O.M Zones in the suit are designed to enhance shoulder reach and eliminate constriction, while the strategic Speed Wrap panels (thicker sections of rubber) help keep you high in the water for optimal body position. Specially designed cuffs keep water out of the suit – an especially nice feature in colder conditions, and quick release ankle cuffs make it easy to fly through T1.
Blueseventy Thermal Helix $950 As if the flagship Helix (a long-time favourite of our reviewers) wasn’t enough, Blueseventy announces the Thermal Helix, designed to keep you going in even the coldest water conditions. The Thermal is fully lined with a mid-weight zirconium jersey for extra warmth without sacrificing any flex and, thanks to the special TST panels, there’s also excellent movement and rotation through the shoulders, arms and chest. The traditional YKK zipper is easy to do up by yourself and all the seams are triple glued, blind stitched and taped at high stress areas. Other features include a durable SCS coating and even a hidden key loop. You get all the benefits of a high end suit that’ll keep you extra warm.
Dare2Tri Mach 2 $275 Thanks to Qfoam 39-cell SCS rubber with 5-mm thick panels all the way down to the knee, the Mach 2 offers lots of performance in an entry to mid-level suit. Using 2- and 2.5-mm super stretch panels in the shoulder, you’ll enjoy lots of flexibility where you need it, while the specially designed back panel provides breathability and even more flexibility so you won’t overheat or feel encumbered. The specially designed zipper uses a protective overlap to reduce chafing.
Orca Predator $899 Using top of the line Yamamoto neoprene, the Predator is designed to put you in a streamlined position in the water, all the while providing excellent buoyancy and flexibility. The 0.88 Free arms used in the Predator provide a barely-there feel in the water, which will be especially appreciated by faster swimmers who have spent lots of time in the pool. Specially designed materials are placed in strategic parts of the suit to create a Core Lateral Stabilizer, which improves your body position.
Zoot Prophet 2.0 Wetzoot $750 A combination of Yamomoto Cell 40, Yamomoto Cell 39 and SCS Nano neoprene provides excellent floatation, flexibility and hydrodynamics in this high-end suit. Zoot incorporates special catch panels to help your arms move through the water with increased efficiency, while the rear of the suit uses Aqualift tech (a 5-mm thick panel) to provide extra buoyancy and put you in the optimal body position.
2XU Race Wetsuit $430 Using Yamamoto neoprene and a hydrodynamic SCS silicone coating, the Race offers lots of features you’ll see on more expensive suits. The embossed concave water entrapment zones on the forearm help you pull through the water, while the rollbar provides added core support to keep you in a good position. Buoyancy is helped by special 39 cell panels in the torso and legs, while the lining and special underarm and shoulder panels are designed to provide lots of flexibility, so you’ll be able to swim freely. There are even 16 different sizes available so you can dial in the fit.
Arena Tri Wetsuit $420 Using a specially designed internal lining that stretches with your body, Arena offers up a comfortable suit that uses a variety of rubber thicknesses for optimal buoyancy and flexibility. An external Pu coating helps the suit cut through the water, while shoulder movement is enhanced thanks to the functional cut. Arena is relatively new to the wetsuit market, but they’ve hit the water in style with this suit.