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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:
- Cut down transition times
- Be more aerodynamically efficient while swimming and biking
- Improve your overall comfort
What Are The Benefits Of A Triathlon Suit Compared To A Wetsuit?
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.
And compared to a wetsuit, which you can use only during the swimming part of the trial, it has a lot of benefits. Check our full guide to learn more.
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.
For triathletes, nailing the transition time in just a few vital seconds is an important aspect of the race. The transition phase is often looked upon as the fourth ‘element’ to a triathlon, and is equally important as its accompanying three sections. Wearing a tri-suit will substantially speed up that transition time, and could even be the difference between first and second place.
Most good tri-suits are designed so that they can dry off as quickly as possible. This is for two reasons: 1. So that you’re comfortable during the next part of the event after the swim and 2. So you can move faster. When the suit is dryer, it is lighter and therefore you move faster.
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!
How do I know that a tri-suit is high quality?
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.
The downside of triathlon suits
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.
Types of Tri Suits: One Piece and Two Piece
There are two types of trisuits to pick from: one-piece and two-piece. They offer different quality of comfort for different parts of the race. You can check it in detail in our one piece vs two piece suit comparison article.
Things To Consider When Buying Your Trisuit: The Guide
There are many things to consider when picking your new tri-suit. Take a look at the advantages tri-suits can offer and what specifically to look for in each brand or model:
There are so many options out there on the market that sometimes it can become overwhelming to know where to start. How do you know if a certain one is better than another? You will need to start by comparing the basic functions of each tri-suit – like how it fits, its materials, its ventilation ability, its design, and its zipper access. Here’s what you should know:
It will be especially important that the fit is close-fitting without being too restrictive. Being close-fitting is what you need to make the suit as aerodynamic as possible. Excess material that hangs away from your body will slow you down.
Your tri-suit needs to be comfortable enough to bend in, but tight enough that it conforms well to your body shape. Definitely try on several different suits before settling for one, this way you will get a good idea of what feels best for you.
Although you may think that a nice smooth tri-suit is going to be the best option in terms of aero and hydrodynamics, you actually would be wrong. Actually, a smooth fabric will allow both air and water to attach to the suit at a molecular level.
Instead, a tri-suit that is designed with a more textured, or rougher, edge encourages the air and water to flow and glide smoothly over the surface without getting ‘stuck’ in the fabric.
It’s a good idea to look for a suit that provides a good amount of breathability and ventilation, as no doubt you produce a good amount of sweat and moisture during the event. One with a mesh design or ventilation airflow design namely under the armpits, on the back and sometimes even on the hips, will allow the suit to wick away moisture and keep you as cool as possible during the course of the triathlon.
Although sleeveless tri-suits have been a very popular choice over the years, suits with arms have now become an even more popular purchase by triathletes. When purchasing a short sleeved one, it is important to understand that the sleeves must be comfortable, yet tight fitting, as well as flexible.
As long as the tri-suit you chose is the correct fit for your body physique, then a sleeved suit will provide you with an aerodynamic and comfortable race.
The placement of the zipper varies between suits, with some having the zipper down the front of the suit, whilst others see the zipper running down the back of the suit. A front zipper will allow for easier access to ventilation should you need it, but you may prefer a tri-suit with a back zipper if you are looking to get every single bit of aerodynamic power that you can.
However, you need to be careful, as it can often be easy to get the back zipper mixed up with the zipper on your wetsuit. The last thing you need to want during the transition is to accidentally rip off both suits whilst in a hurry!
This part of the tri-suit is equally as important as the rest, but sometimes it can be the most difficult to element to get right. The padding can’t be as thick as it appears in cycling shorts, because then you will have too much added weight due to more water absorption when it comes to the run.
But, it still needs to provide enough support and saddle separation to make your cycle as comfortable as possible.
Now you are aware of what elements to look out for when purchasing a new suit, let’s find you the perfect one for you! Check out our top 5 tri-suits and why each one is pretty great.
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.
Cycling or Biking
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.
Our Top Selection For Best Triathlon Suit Review For Men
Here’s a breakdown of 6 of the top men’s tri-suits on the market that will have you looking and feeling your best on the big day.
1. Synergy Men’s Triathlon Tri-Suit
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.
2. Castelli Men’s Free Sanremo Short Sleeve
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.
3. TYR Men’s Competitor Tri-suit
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.
4. SLS3 Men’s Triathlon Suit
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.
5. Pearl iZUMi Men’s Select Pursuit Tri-Suit
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.
6. Castelli Men’s Free Sanremo Sleeveless
You will probably have heard of Castelli if you are an avid cyclist, but they have relatively recently bought some tri-suits to the market that are ideal for triathletes. The Castelli Men’s Free Sanremo Sleeves is made with SpeedFreak material on the front whilst the back is made from Velocity fabric. The combination of these two high quality materials allows you to remain cooler during your race, whilst also offering great aerodynamics.
A full length zipper is featured on the back and it uses a Kiss Tri seat pad which provides not only great comfort when sitting on the saddle, but it also works well for running as it is not bulky or heavy, and it pretty much disappears when you run. It allows features a Bacteriostatic treatment which helps to prevent saddle sores and infection.
Sleeveless designs can often lead to uncomfortable irritation under the arms. But the Sanremo is constructed with a soft finish which prevents painful chafing.
7. Runbreeze Men’s Performance Triathlon Tri-Suit
This tri-suit from Runbreeze is designed with both comfort and performance in mind. It uses high quality Italian Technical fabric which dries very quickly and keeps you comfortable from start to finish. This material is strong, durable and long-lasting, meaning it will last you through rigorous training and of course, through a tough race.
The suit is tight fitting whilst still very comfortable. It has a compression fit that conforms to your unique body shape and moves as you do. It is flexible and ergonomic, aerodynamic and comfortable.
The zipper is on the front and rather than being full length, it ends at mid-chest height. There has been some complaints that the zipper rubs which can cause some irritation. There is an anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic pad which is there for added comfort and to create saddle separation. This pad works well for triathletes as it dries quickly and does not drag when running or swimming.
8. 2XU Project X Tri-Suit
The 2XU Project X Tri-Suit has ultra-aero fabric gives you a super streamline and tight fit which allows you to be very aerodynamic and fast through the air or water. There are fitted hydrodynamic pockets on the back which produce no drag.
The pad it has is a lot thicker than traditional tri-suit pads, in fact, it has three times the support of most others. The chamois uses Tech LD which is very quick drying and doesn’t drag. The triple-dense pad gives added comfort and support whilst separating you from the saddle.
The suit features breathable sensor mesh technology which works to keep you as cool as possible whilst participating in training or an event.
This tri-suit has a full length front zipper. This zipper allows for a super speedy transition whilst adding comfort as well as flexibility. Although be careful not to tug too hard, as there have been reports of some customers experiencing zipper locks or catching.
The material of the 2XU Project X Tri-Suit is durable, strong and long-lasting and allows you to perform at your best.
9. Louis Garneau LGneer Skin Suit
This tri-suit uses high quality materials and the highly technical engineered fabric to become one of the most sought after tri-suit out there. It combines fantastic coldblack treatment and super light, soft and flexible mesh, known as Grid 70 Air, to create an amazingly light and breathable suit that works to keep you cool and whip easily through the air or water.
The material is form fitting, meaning it perfectly conforms to your unique body shape which allows you to be as flexible as you wish, and the suit will simply flow in the same direction. The use of fabrics are blended together to give the suit the best aerodynamics possible.
The chamois has 5 motion technology to provide padding and comfort no matter how hard you go.
This tri-suit’s design is high quality and constructed with performance in mind. It has 3D wing shapes which helps to prevent irritation and chafing and prevents a build up of pressure. It also helps to wick away sweat and moisture to keep you cool from start to finish.
There is a full length zipper on the front of the suit which allows you to regulate your temperature and airflow. The suit also takes blood flow into consideration, due to the use of fabrics and thickness of compression zones.
10. De Soto Forza ITU
The De Soto Forza ITU Tri-Suit is made up of a combination of 80% nylon and 20% elastane and has a very compressive fit. The upper section is made from Skin Cooler 90 fabric which is highly innovative and super high quality. It also provides UVB 90 protection as well as a comfortable and cooling feeling.
The lower section is made from Forza Compressor fabric which has no binding gripper elastic which makes it super comfortable. They also don’t budge or shift out of place due to the 3 inch Mobius Comfort Compression double leg bands, which are comfortable and give a good amount of compression without constricting movement.
Solid black Liftfoil center panels add extra comfort and longer-lasting durability, as well as ensure that the suit is not see-through. And it also has a pad that is antimicrobial and at 4mm thick, it gives added comfort during the cycle and does not drag or weigh you done during the run or swim.
The suit features a 16 inch zipper on the front which helps provide self-regulated airflow and ventilation and the top zipper garage prevents you from experiencing irritation or scratching.
11. Nuckily Men’s Triathlon Tri-Suit
If you’re a triathlon enthusiast, then this is a great suit for you. This is also ideal for those who plan to join their first triathlon but have no idea which suit to use. Most first-time triathletes have a hard time choosing their suit. This is because they might pick a suit that looks good but cannot deliver when it’s competition time. The Nuckily Triathlon Suit has all that you need to keep you in your element while you compete.
They used highly-breathable materials in this suit. You don’t have to worry about getting too hot while competing. The said materials are also fast wicking and quick drying. This means that once you get out of the water and into your bike, you’re ready to pedal away. This triathlon suit gets rid of extra weight due to moisture in a matter of minutes.
I love the trendy design and perfect fit of this suit. Functionality is the most important factor when selecting a suit. But if you can get one that is functional but comfortable and trendy then why not have them both?
Just be mindful of the size when you order one. The sizes are based on an Asian size standard so you might need to get one that is larger by a size or two. There are also reported delays in the delivery of the item. So, don’t order this item if you need to use it in a few days.
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.
On top of it, if you are interested in making a custom tri suit, here a complete guide talking about creating a custom tri suit for yourself of your partner.
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.