You only have one goal in a race – that is to win the competition and take that race-day performance to the next level. So, investing in a quality triathlon suit is all worth the extra buck after all. This article will answer most of your questions about tri-suits. Aside from that we will guide you in choosing the best tri-suit to ensure that you’ll be achieving the following benefits:
You may be asking why do you need a triathlon suit. If you ask professional and high-end triathletes, their answer would be because tri-suit offers an all-purpose gear that can be worn right before the race up to the post-race cool down. With majority of races set outside in the rough environment, a tri-suit should be one of your first investments. Though some triathletes would not require wearing one, tri-suits are designed to assist and help you race faster while providing utmost comfort.
Our friend Taren explains in this video the common types of clothings used on tri-races including their importance, benefits, and some disadvantages. Lear what fits you best. Check it out!
A quality tri-suit improves your overall racing performance while providing comfort during a race. It is like a second layer of skin, which fits well underneath your wetsuit or as your sole gear in the water. It is also quick-drying and should not chafe by the time you are on the bike or on the run. Most importantly, when you are on a tri-suit, adding or subtracting clothing during the transition is not anymore necessary, allowing you to move to the next leg as quickly as possible.
Triathlon suits can be expensive, and honestly, most triathletes can do triathlons without wearing one. Also, some would prefer clothing that they could wear during workouts, and a tri-suit is considered a one-purpose garment only. Given that tri-suits are expensive, you should not train in them for regular periods. Use it for few training sessions to make sure you know how it feels wearing it during the race day. Of course, you can train in whatever clothing that feels comfortable and fits well.
Aside from considering the price tag of a tri-suit, there are more important elements you should assess that is appropriate for the different events, typically swimming, cycling, and long-distance running.
Core support. According to an article published by triathlon.org, a strong core is key to having a strong triathlon. When choosing a tri-suit, go for the one that is tighter than loose. It is a given fact that some suits will stretch over time. The best tri-suits are designed with compression around the core and hips while you are in the swim. They support the engagement of your core and thus increasing hip drive and reduce fatigue over the course of the swim.
Hydrodynamics. Most would believe that super smooth fabrics are more hydrodynamic, but the fact is, slightly rough surfaces are. According to Guy Jones, a two-time Australian age-group champion and triathlon coach, a smooth fabric creates a turbulent or rough flow thus increasing the drag while textured fabrics promote a very thin layer of turbulent flow over the surface.
Quick-drying. Coming out fresh from the swim, you wouldn’t want a suit that is wet and carrying the extra weight of the water. When this is the case, your range of motion is restricted requiring more effort to turn the pedals. A low-quality and poorly fitted suit usually absorb more water which merely means that you will carry the extra weight further. A good quality suit has hydrophobic properties which creates a wicking action. This is the process where the moisture moves away from your skin allowing it to evaporate. Most high-quality tri-suits are made of fabrics with higher beading properties for faster drying.
Aerodynamics. Aerodynamics are not just contributed by the expensive wheels you are driving. Today, speed is improved by enhancing the aerodynamics of tri-clothings. Also, loose fabric and minimizing the seams are another drag contributor.
Comfort. One of the most important parts to consider on a tri-suit is the pad or chamois. The chamois should not be thick as it adds on the bulk on the run, but the pad should provide enough support and separation from the saddle. Different types of chamois are made from a thick-floaty-pull-light pad or thin polyester fleece. Some expert athletes racing on very long distances wear a tri-clothing without chamois at all. Eventually, you will find out if you need one or not, but many manufacturers have the option to create tri-suits with lighter pads to minimize water absorption and irritation.
Support and compression. A good quality tri-suit with compression positioned in appropriate areas will not just provide core support, but it will also improve your running performance, reduce possible muscle damage, delay muscle fatigue, and produce maximum muscle output.
Ease of transition. For shorter distance and some long distance races, triathletes consider having a two-piece tri-suit for easier bladder breaks. One-piece tri-suits are usually worn for longer distance races.
Chafing. Chafing or the irritation caused by repetitive friction can be caused by fitting, body shape, temperature, and moisture. A quality tri-suit do not just fit perfectly an individual, but it must be capable of wicking moisture from the skin.
Temperature Regulation. Regulating temperature is key during racing, so it’s best to consider tri-suits with zippers and the type of fabric. Zippers are usually located at the back for improved aerodynamics or in front for added comfort. Like we mentioned above, the fabric should be hydrophobic and able to draw off moisture to maintain optimal body temperature.
Pockets. Tri-suits with pockets are common in long course races where you need to stuff energy bars or gels. You should avoid large pockets as these create drag. For very long races, triathletes wear nutrition or race belt with loops.
Here’s a breakdown of 5 of the top men’s tri-suits on the market that will have you looking and feeling your best on the big day.
The Castelli brand is known in terms of cycling and the technology they incorporate into their products always makes them superior to their counterparts. With the Sanremo Tri-suit, you’ll get a water-resistant gear designed with rear aerodynamic pockets. Aside from reducing the drag, it also provides UPF 16 to protect you from the sun. The suit is made from SpeedFreak fabric with ventilation panels on top and a SpeedFabric-Instadry for the shorts. Its high-performance clothing technology improves hydrodynamics making your every stroke smoother in the water. The Sanremo Tri-suit also has flat-lock seams improving the structural integrity of the tri-suit, and the popular tri-quality chamois prevents the usual chafing from cheaper alternatives. Moreover, the back of the suit has a Velocity mesh system that improves aerodynamics with rapid wicking capability, allowing moisture evaporates quickly.
Velocity mesh for improved aerodynamics
Tri-quality chamois providing comfort and flexibility
Minimal or no chafing
Full-front zipper for quicker transitions and body temperature regulation
Don’t overwork the zippers as front zippers are mostly damaged
TYR is known for their tri-clothings and tri-accessories. This brand incorporates cutting-edge technology and smart design into their products to maximize comfort and performance. The Competitor Tri-suit is easy to wear and easy to take off. Aside from providing a perfect body and leg grip, it has the Ebbing system compression that maximizes blood flow and muscle strength. It was designed with aerodynamic pockets for easy refueling and a front zipper for accessible and easy temperature regulation. With UPF 50 protection, this suit is also quick-drying and lightweight keeping you comfortable and cool.
UPF 50 protection
Quick-drying and ultra-light
The material keeps you cool, and the chamois is comfortable rather than hindering
Zipper is not subdued and can chafe
Some users encounter sizing problems
Limited color and style
This lightweight and ultra-slim tri-suit are made of nylon, lycra and spandex mix, which is lightweight and provides an extra cooling effect. The material is capable of wicking sweat and moisture keeping you cool and dry throughout the race. Add to that the mesh back and sleeves for added ventilation.
As no one would disregard speed, the SLS3 Tri-suit has a thin, custom, foam-cushioned pad providing comfort and chafe-free performance. The flexible fabric offers excellent and supportive compression to support the muscles and reduce muscle fatigue. You can quickly grab those energy bars and gels for refueling and nourishment with its two rear pockets.
The flexible fabric which is non-restrictive
Provides excellent compression to support the muscles and prevent muscle fatigue
Quick-drying and lightweight
Foam-cushioned, chafe-free chamois
Front zippers for added comfort
Some athletes complain of small pockets
The Pearl Izumi Select Tri-Suit has armhole or opening that is larger than usual tri-suits with the prime purpose of providing freedom and flexibility in the water. It has an excellent secure but unrestrictive fit, thus improving hydrodynamics. It is made of flexible fabric of nylon and lycra/elastane mix. Plus, it provides sun protection with its UPF 50+. The mesh panels aid in breathability and ventilation and are paired with a front zipper for improved thermo-regulation. The fleece pad of this tri-suit is just a basic making it more suitable for short distance races, especially with a firm saddle. For the leg grippers, they provide firm compression without irritation while the rear pockets allow you to store foods for nourishment.
Made with a wide armhole for added freedom and flexibility in the water
It has a comfortable and chafe-free neckline
Elastic silicone leg gripper
Not suitable for long-distance races due to thin padding
Has only one pocket
The Synergy Men’s Tri-Suit offers the same benefits of the usual Synergy lineup of tri-clothings. The only difference is that this one has an adjustable zipper ¾ the body length, which increases flexibility and efficiency. Made from durable aquaphobic spandex, the Synergy Tri-Suit boasts its breathability, comfort, and compression properties.
Also, the Neopad gel with antimicrobial features makes it one of the best during transitions, especially for short spring and long distance running. Also, this tri-gear retains almost zero water as you transition from swimming. In addition to its attributes we just mentioned, it has AquaLift Panels that improves flexibility and movement. It is also made of light materials assisting you to float and move higher. Lastly, all seams are triple-stitched that perfectly adapts for durability. This suit will last for many seasons and triathlon events.
Made of durable but lightweight fabric
Features UPF 50+
Chafe-free large armholes for freedom and flexibility
Two rear pockets
Neopad gel with antimicrobial properties
Great leg compression
Some athletes complain about sizing
Front zipper has the chance to chafe
Bottom line, we are choosing the Synergy Men’s Triathlon Suit for this roundup over the Castelli Men’s Free Tri-Suit though the race is too close. The only downside of the Synergy tri-suit is the reported front zipper that can chafe. We still believe that this boils down to the individual fitting. But overall, we are impressed with the Synergy’s flexibility in its category. Most likely, there’s improved speed and aerodynamics thereby increasing your triathlon finish times.
The simplicity of not changing throughout the entire duration of the race is a plus. Besides, using only one gear saves time, especially during transitions. But you have to keep in mind that the tri-suit should be quick-drying to ensure that you are not in a tight, wet, clingy situation. Aside from that, consider if you need a tri-suit that has chamois for extra comfort along the road. This is very important on long-distance and Olympic-distance races.
Lastly, remember that when choosing a tri-suit, it’s best to try the tri-clothing before making that purchase. Inspect every element we discussed above so that by the time you are on race day, all you have to do is to eye on that finish line.