$95 each, Swimoutlet.com
The draw: Appealing aesthetics
We would’ve named this kit Violet Femme … but we digress. The kaleidoscopic color scheme is fun and flattering, and we appreciated this two-piece’s chafe-free comfort and ample storage space. The longer tank, which doesn’t ride up when tucked in the aero position or running, has a built-in shelf bra, but women with medium- and larger-sized busts will want the added support of a sports bra. A silicone band at the short’s leg openings keeps them in place without any pinch.
The draw: Barely there feel
We felt a little naked when wearing this tri suit. But that’s not due to any transparency issues—it just feels like a second skin. This is a great option for short-course racing for a few reasons: The seamless fleece liner is on the thinner side, and the aero-optimized one-piece construction makes multiple bathroom breaks a little more tedious. You’ll want to wear this suit under a swimskin or wetsuit due to the lower plunging neckline.
*Best in Class*
The draw: Aero advantage
This kit had us scratching our heads. How can a skinsuit so (intentionally) tight-fitting feel so airy and comfortable? Betty Designs credits the suit’s large panels of technical mesh fabric, which provide a compressive fit without being constrictive or hot. If aerodynamic details like ergonomic patterning that hugs you in, drag-reducing longer sleeves, and low-profile back pockets is a priority, this is the race-day wardrobe for you. Note that you’ll need to add your own sports bra.
$80 and $75 (respectively), Zootsports.com
The draw: Big value at a lower price
The Surf Graffiti print is the newest update to this popular Zoot pairing. We were fans of the wide, yoga pants-style waistband on the short, which kept us feeling hugged in, and the broad mesh leg openings. Like the short, the tank has soft internal stitching to avoid any hot spots. It also features a supportive, airy internal bra, two roomy pockets, a flattering flare cut and a zipper for easy cooling. Make the value of this affordable kit stretch further by using it in training.
$84 and $94 (respectively), Aliisport.com
The draw: Silky feel and favorable fit
This brand’s guiding philosophy is “athletic can be feminine,” and this ensemble reflects that thinking. We weren’t immediately sold on the tank’s evening gown-esque design “inspired by the very latest in French Couture,” but after putting it on we appreciated the exceptionally flattering lines and cut. The made-in-Italy performance fabric feels high-end—it is silky to the touch yet substantially compressive. There is a shelf bra, but most will need to double up with a sports bra. The shorts were a test favorite—they felt slimming but supportive, and the chamois provided solid support in the saddle yet didn’t feel bulky on the run.
$65 and $75 (respectively), Swimoutlet.com
*Best in Class*
The draw: Thoughtful details
“Supportive stretch” are the operative words with this kit, updated with a playful “X” and “O” graphic print. The fabric is compressive yet boasts significant elasticity and give. The chamois offers a bit more padding than the other shorts in this roundup, and we noted the comfort at the wide waistband, which can be adjusted using a drawstring. The tank’s inner shelf bra offers built-in support, and pockets in the shorts are designed to minimize drag in the water.
The draw: Hydrophobic compression
We expected a serious tri suit from a serious swim brand, and TYR delivered. The Competitor features the brand’s compression web fabric technology, which did a nice job of stabilizing upper quads. A woven, UPF 50+ technical material throughout the suit wicks moisture, and various mesh panels and a deep zipper will help keep you cool in the hottest conditions. With its substantial chamois pad, this suit is a smart choice for long-course racing.
– Women’s race kit reviews by Julia Polloreno
The draw: Non-wetsuit swim speed
The Elite felt fastest in the water of all the suits tested, thanks to a tight fit and the sensation of added buoyancy. The quick-dry chamois felt barely there when running, but chafed a bit on longer rides, making this suit best for sprint or Olympic-distance events. The small back pockets are good for two gels total, and silicone thigh grippers kept the legs from riding up. Testers loved the suit’s silky, comfortable material. But the Elite isn’t for wallflowers as the stitching draws attention to your nether regions.
The draw: Long-course protection
Core and leg compression make this super-tight suit feel streamlined once you wrestle it on. Testers noted that it felt quick in the pool—even with the sleeves, which are meant to enhance aerodynamics and have the handy added bonus of protecting shoulders from the sun on long days. The chamois didn’t absorb water, making the transition to the bike comfy. But lube up if you’re going to be riding for more than an hour because that quick-dry feature can also feel a bit rough. Small back pockets hold gels, while the front zip design makes pit stops a breeze.
*Best in Class*
The draw: Sprint-distance dominance
Testers loved this suit’s lightweight, vented chamois that’s stitched down around the edges to prevent chafing. The Core’s material dried the fastest of the suits we tested with the help of a massive vented back and vents at the back of the thighs. That means you could race a sprint comfortably dry—an impressive and rare feat when racing in most other suits. The suit has a UPF of 30 to keep everything it covers from frying on sunny days, while side pockets can hold up to four gels.
$85 each, Zootsports.com
The draw: A perfect fit for everyone
The old-school checker design channels Spicoli, but this Tri Cali kit is no slacker. The medium-thick chamois was comfy on long rides, and the material was the quickest to dry after swimming of the two-piece options tested. Super stretchy material means two things: This suit will fit—and look good on—most people. And it’s easy to stuff everything you need and more into the pockets. So if you’re going for a long training ride or just don’t like to depend on aid stations, Tri Cali is your best choice.
$90 each, 2xu.com
*Best in Class*
The draw: Long-course comfort
Aussie brand 2XU (pronounced “two times you”) put the most comfortable chamois we tested in this Perform kit. The pad is made of smooth material just thick enough to keep us happy on long rides but disappear during the run. The top and bottoms both offer perfectly calibrated compression—comfortably tight. “I like the way the jersey compresses my core,” one tester said. “It just feels fast, like it’s holding things in.” Three gel pockets on the top and two on the shorts make it easy to stash essentials on training and race days.
$70 and $80 (respectively), Swimoutlet.com
The draw: Short-course speed—and style points
Testers loved the sharp, Euro-cool look of this kit, with the top and shorts cut just a bit shorter than the rest. Super-silky material makes it look expensive and feel comfortable while “speed hooks” (we’d call it Velcro on steroids) on the back lock into the top of the shorts to keep the top from riding up and create a more aero profile. Side-access back pockets don’t take on water while swimming, making this the only two-piece kit testers would swim in without a wetsuit.
The draw: No drag (OK, almost)
This suit has quite a heritage. Sebastian Kienle wore it to Kona glory in 2014, and Andrew Starykowicz wore it to set Challenge Roth’s bike course record. The RS1 feels as fast out of the water as it looks, with a comfortable chamois that’s thin enough to disappear during the swim and run, and that never chafed during testing. The super-aero profile—which includes a place to tuck in the zipper pull—means you won’t find any pockets. So if you’re a pack rat on long-distance days, the RS1 isn’t for you. Rubber grips on the sleeves and legs keep them from riding up.