When you get the fit of your triathlon suit wrong, you’re heading to pretty uncomfortable race experience. This is because triathletes come in all shapes and sizes, so choosing a perfect tri-suit that fits you well must be one of your top priority.
If you are a beginner or you just finished your first triathlon, never be afraid to ask for help from your fellow athletes.
Here, we will give you tips to consider when buying a tri-suit, but the rule of the thumb, it’s always a great idea to try before you buy.
Tri-suits Key Components
Today, most manufacturers focus on the individual needs of triathletes. According to Nick Busca, a tri-suit is a gear of three disciplines – swimming, cycling, and running. When designing a tri-suit, top brands consider speed and aerodynamics, especially on short-sleeved suits.
For sleeveless tri-suits, comfort is the number one priority aside from the seam and pocket placements. To be able to identify which tri-suit works for you best, don’t miss looking for the following critical components of a tri-suit and be keen on inspecting each one of them.
It is essential to choose a tri-suit that is close-fitting but not too restrictive. When buying a tri-suit, always gauge the fit options by trying the suit. Also, examine the chamois size and evaluate how the grippers and pockets are distributed.
Tri-suits are usually made from a mix of elastane or Lycra, nylon and polyester. Some of the design considerations include the breathability, aero- and hydrodynamics, UV protection., and most importantly the comfort and fit. You can find these on various tri-suits at the different price range.
Tri-suits are available with a front or back zips, short or full-length versions. A rear zip usually provides an added aero or hydro benefits in terms of performance. Meanwhile, a front zip offers better comfort. Ensure that the zipper doesn’t rub into your skin during the course of the race. Typically, a fabric buffer or garage will prevent this.
The pad or chamois is by far the most important element making a tri-suit perform better. When it is too big, it will soak up water during the swim or becomes cumbersome during the run. When it is too small, your bum will likely feel sore. Always consider whether you’re racing 30km or 150km on the bike.
These panels are usually located under the arms, hips, and back to provide ventilation and breathability to athletes during the course of the bike and run legs. The downside of ventilation panels are a lack of UV protection so, make sure to wear a water-resistant sunscreen before the race.
It is essential to make sure that the tri-suit provides flexibility around the arms most especially during swim legs.
Consider the type of leg grippers utilized by your tri-suit. Most tri-suits have leg grippers made of silicone dots, rubber, or tight hems to hold your suit in place. Remember that they aren’t too tight to avoid any discomfort during your race day because one of the worst things, when you’re running is having your shorts riding up.
Top 5 Tips to Consider When Buying a Tri-suit
Now that you know the key components of a perfect tri-suit be sure to consider the following important tips when buying your gear.
Tip #1: One-piece or Two-piece
First, it is essential to consider the distance of the race. Typically, one-piece tri-suits are designed for short to middle distance races where a bladder break is unlikely to occur. For longer distance races, consider getting a two-piece suit for faster and easier breaks during the race.
Tip #2: Built-in Support
Some women’s tri-suits come with a built-in bra to provide additional support. Unless you have a small bust, you can consider wearing a regular sports bra under your tri-suit as the built-in bras may not offer adequate support.
Tip #3: Pockets
If you are planning to carry items throughout the race, for example, nutritional gels or bars, consider buying a tri-suit with accessible pockets. Be sure that they are deep enough to provide space and security for your items.
Tip #4: Type of Material
A lot of tri-suits offer different features including a high-tech quick-drying fabric. Some of them have additional features like SPF 50 sun protection, reflective details, and panels to promote cooling.
And since you’ll be doing a lot of training in swimming pools, look for a tri-suit that is chlorine-resistant to prevent sagging after few times in the pool. Also, check the seams and zips when buying a tri-suit to make sure that they are not going to rub against your skin and cause discomfort.
If you have a suit that causes chafing, it can be very uncomfortable.
Tip #5: Cost
Your budget is a consideration when choosing a tri-suit but always go for value rather than resorting to a low-cost tri-suit. The tri-suit you are choosing should last for several occasions so, prioritize comfort and fit over the price.
PROTIP: Personal preference plays a big part when choosing a tri-suit. Aside from following the points we mentioned above, watch this short demo and learn the pros and cons of wearing a one-piece or two-piece tri-suit and know what other key components to look for before making that final purchase.
Our Top 5 Triathlon Suit Picks
1. Castelli Free W Tri ITU Suit
The latest suit from Castelli features Castelli’s SpeedFreak Ventilated Race Fabric located in front. At the back is a Velocity mesh, which provides breathability. The entire suit is made of very high-quality fabric in such a way that it prevents the usual chafing during running or biking.
Zip up the zipper located at the back, and you are ready to go. This feature makes it easy to put on and get out of, especially for quick rest stops. Instead of than usual chamois padding, the Free W ITU has the Kiss Tri seat pad, keeping and maintaining your aero position on the bike.
Easy to get in and out of
Suitable for long distance races
The chamois provides the right combination of support without feeling over bulky
Comes in two color options
A hydro- and aero-optimized pockets are located at the rear and hip that could hold foods or items on the run
Be sure to check the Castelli size guide if you’re concerned about fit
2. Pearl iZUMi Women’s Select Pursuit Tri Suit
This woman’s suit is made with a separate bra for maximum support. Take note that the armholes are wide and low so the bra support helps with “decency.” Being a lightweight suit, it is easy to take on and off and can easily be worn under wetsuits and other layers.
The stretchable fabric provides compression while on the road, and the silicone leg grippers allow you to move freely without worrying about chafing. If you are easily irritated with zippers, the iZUMi Women’s Select Pursuit has flatlock seams providing superior abrasion resistance.
Wide armholes do help to prevent underarm friction
Leg grippers keep the suit in place
Comes in a number of colors and overall looks sleek
Some users find that they are too tight, so it is advised to going up a size for the UK sizing
The semi-attached bra can be very difficult to get on along
3. Zoot Sports Women’s Ultra Tri Race Suit
Whether you’re going to a race or a training session, you’ll be able to focus on your ultimate goal with the Zoot Sports Ultra Tri Race Suit. Aside from being a race-ready suit for athletes, the Ultra Tri Racesuit is comfortable to wear even during post-race.
In terms of comfort and performance, it is an excellent choice for ladies providing a tremendous amount of protection from the sun with its UPF 30 properties. It also has the ability to resist heat buildup on the suit’s surface by reflecting 80% of UV and heat rays. This is brought by its Schoeller’s “coldblack” textile finish where even dark-colored suits don’t get hot.
Also, the suit is wrapped in ULTRAcarbon BIOwrap providing graduated compression, muscle support, and maximum moisture and odor management. Plus, it has the 2D triathlon-specific chamois technology for quick drying protection without the added bulk. A quality suit with plenty of nice features.
It has a built-in bra featuring a dynamic Xposture supporting and separating cam Lock zipper
Designed to provide ease of wearing for easy on-off
Designed with leg hem and reflective grip band
With hip mounted pockets for energy gels and bars or other items
Some users complain about the irritation brought by the leg hem
4. SLS3 Women’s Triathlon Tri Race Suit FX
This Tri race Suit is made with a flattering design to keep you comfortable and look stylish all at the same time. It has a flexible fabric that provides easy stretchability and a supportive fit giving you a complete range of motion while flattering your body shape.
Unlike other cheap tri-suits, this one has long legs to prevent chafing while on the run with a soft gripper that keeps the legs in place. All the seams are anti-friction and flat allowing you to go on with the race without the burn of under-arm chafing.
Add to that the custom foam-cushioned pads that provide chafe-free support during your bike ride. And to keep you cool and dry, the SLS3 Women Triathlon suit is made from super comfortable nylon/spandex/lycra mix that wicks sweat all throughout the race.
Made of flexible fabric that stretches in any direction
Better breathability and evaporation
Lightweight and slim
Made with three back pockets for easy storage of energy gels, bars, and chews
With front zip adding extra comfort
With added mesh panels for comfort and ventilation
Unmatched moisture management
Sizing may run a bit small
Has no built-in bra-support
5. 2XU Women’s Active Tri Suit
The 2XY Active Tri Suit is made for training and competition featuring the Sbr Skin X technology that provides lasting compression for the swim, bike, and run. This ladies triathlon suit is built from combining fabrics that yield moisture management resulting in smooth and a more aerodynamic surface.
Adding to the excellent moisture control property of this tri-suit is the fact that it’s made from the project-X Chamois material while maintaining minimal profile and flexibility. Also, it’s stretchable fiber works together to provide full body, and muscle support and chafing problems are very minimal during cycling or running.
The front zip in front adds to the comfort and regulates your body temperature with easy adjustments. Plus, the 2XU Active Tri Suit has UPF 50+ protection.
Made from a mix of elastane, nylon, and discreetly fitted ergonomic panel making it durable suitable for high performance
Quick-drying with super thin and ultra-lightweight chamois
Great moisture control
Provides good aero and hydrodynamics
With nice pocket system located at the back
Some athletes experience overworked zippers during a transition
Our Top Choice
Our top choice is the Castelli Free W Tri ITU Suit because as we’ve said before when it comes to races, comfort equates to speed. With the technology that Castelli incorporated on this product like the SpeedFreak race fabric and Velocity mesh, you can experience improved ventilation and breathability making you feel more comfortable while on the race.
Aside from that, Castelli’s Kiss tri seat pad is brilliant when it comes to providing freedom of movement without the feeling of running in a soggy diaper.
When it comes to choosing a suit, pick something that will survive every season, and that can last for longer distance races like the one from Castelli. For short-distance races, consider getting a tri-suit made from lightweight fabric whether it’s a one-piece or two-piece suit.
Overall, the fabric, storage, and comfort a suit provides makes you want to wear a tri-suit longer. And when you are comfortable in your suit, you can focus on what matters most- crushing the competition.