Creating a wetsuit for every type of triathlete was Orca’s goal when designing their 2015 collection. With several new suits at the top of the collection that feature a material never before used in a wetsuit as well as an entry-level suit that will appeal to anyone, Orca appears to have succeeded in creating something for everyone.
The range-topping predator is actually $100 cheaper than the previous iteration and features a new material on the arms and top of the shoulder called 0.88 Free, which is the thinnest neoprene ever used on a triathlon wetsuit. The existing industry standard for arm and shoulder panels was 1.5mm, which is found on most high-end wetsuits. Orca partnered with Yamamoto to create a new standard and went to great lengths to achieve their goal of creating the most flexible material possible.
Neoprene panels are traditionally cut from large chunks, but the machinery used for this construction process has a hard time slicing anything slimmer than 1.5mm. To overcome this hurdle, the neoprene is cut and then compressed. It feels crinkly to the touch, almost paper-like, but it offers a level of flexibility that was previously unobtainable. Orca’s tests found 0.88 Free to be nearly three times as stretchy as Yamamoto 44 cell, which was the previous industry standard. That extra elongation results in about a 3% increase in a swimmer’s range of motion, which can save precious energy, especially over the course of a 2.4-mile swim. The material is so thin, Orca incorporated a titanium lining to help your body retain heat in cold water.
The Predator is built to assist swimmers who need help with core stabilization and want extra buoyancy through the lower body and torso. To accomplish this, Orca placed thicker panels of neoprene called Core Lateral Stabilizers on the sides of the suit that streamline the swimmer along with a front panel Orca calls Exo-Lift that lacks a jersey lining so it doesn’t absorb as much water, making the suit more buoyant when it gets wet. Swimming in this wetsuit is a profound experience because it offers outstanding lower body lift and upper body flexibility. The Core Lateral Stabilizers aren’t just some gimmicky feature made up by the marketing department–it feels like your lower body is on a surfboard in the sense that it keeps you streamlined, yet you’re free to roll during the glide phase of your stroke.