For triathletes, deciding what to wear is a significant concern that is repeatedly asked over and over again. A tri-suit, worn during all three legs of a triathlon, is a critical item you’ll need for a race day. With a triathlon suit that is designed to be worn across all disciplines, you can save time and be more comfortable.
Whether you’re an amateur athlete aiming to finish comfortably or a pro heading for an extra edge, there’s a tri-clothing with relevant features that will suit you. Newbie triathletes may find this very tough and challenging. For this reason, choosing the best tri-suit becomes confusing and overwhelming.
When it comes to tri-suits, you have two options: one-piece or two-piece. A two-piece, also called a tri-kit, comprise of a separate top and shorts. A one-piece tri-suit is a complete full-body suit designed with a front or rear zipper. When choosing a tri-suit, one essential element is their functionality while swimming.
While it’s a lot easier to find a tri-gear for swimming and biking, a one-piece or two-piece tri-suit is designed to endure the water as well. Tri-suits have minimal or thin chamois with quick-drying and wicking properties. They are also designed and intended to be tight making it more aero- and hydrodynamic.
A one-piece tri-suit is made of unique fabric that contours your body shape. It also means that you don’t have to worry about your top from riding up or the shorts from slipping down, which is a common problem with a two-piece suit. This is particularly important on the bike as tri-suits are more aerodynamic. Being less bulky, smoother, and tighter, expect a more aero- and hydrodynamic performance.
There are also several tri-suits made of one piece fabric to eliminate chafing and drag. With a two-piece suit, a tight waistband on shorts can sometimes cause chafing and gastric distress. It is always best to check the product description to know the suit’s functionality. Some even offer compression properties to aid in muscle recovery.
The usual complaint encountered with a one-piece tri-suit is the difficulty of going to the bathroom. Most triathletes opt for a one-piece suit on short-distance races. For a long-distance race, a two-piece suit is more suitable, especially if you need frequent bathroom breaks.
– More aero- and hydrodynamic
– Better chamois support
– Less chafing
– Higher compression rate
– No drawstring on the waistline –
– Time-consuming when it comes to bathroom breaks
– Overheating may be experienced due to tightness
Two-piece tri-suits are known to be more restrictive. Unlike one-piece suits, they are more breathable. This means that two-piece suit allows more airflow to reach the skin and at the same time allowing the heat to escape. Though one-piece suits are made of ventilation panels, they still tend to hold in more body heat. Different brands address overheating by designing one-piece tri-suits with a front or back zipper, which are easily accessible while racing.
One disadvantage of a two-piece suit is that they create more drag making them less aerodynamic. The upper piece tends to move out of position and tri-suits made of lycra tends to bunch up. One advantage of having a two-piece is that triathletes can purchase tri-clothing in their correct sizes. Unlike one-piece design, you can match different sizes in the shorts and top making two-piece tri-suit a more flexible racewear.
And while one-piece tri-suits is a faster option for short course event, a two-piece is more comfortable and versatile for long-distance races. You can always use your favorite combination like a shorts with extra padding with a pocketed tri top.
– More breathable
– Allows better air flow to your skin
– Easier to have bathroom stops
– Easier to find correct sizes for body shape
– Less aero and less hydrodynamic
– Pressure around the midsection due to the waistband
– More chafing
Deciding what to wear on your race day starts months before your big day because in triathlon, there’s often much more gear involved.
Regardless what will be your choice, always try it in training and on smaller races. Choosing what to wear should never be a last minute decision as it can cause more problem.
In the end, your personal preference is essential as many brands offer similar features and functionalities in both one-piece and two-piece tri-suits. Some are made of fabric with UV protection, more pockets for added storage, and more panels for ventilation. Remember to check for chafing around zippers or seams as well as the thinness or thickness of the chamois. Although triathlon can be an expensive sport, investing in both types of triathlon clothing will give you several options from sprint distance up to Ironman distance races.