2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Race Kits

A look at the 14 race kits reviewed in the 2016 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.

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$95 (top), $95 (shorts), Hansymracing.com
The draw: Standing out from the pack

This is the first men’s suit from sister brand SOAS, and it shares the same colorful aesthetic. The long cut of the tri top left no chance of a sunburnt lower back, and there are tons of pockets—two in the back of the top and three additional ones on the shorts for smaller items. The waistband is made with light elastic for stomach comfort, and the simple fleece pad will suit those who don’t want a substantial chamois.

$72 (top), $124 (shorts), Desotosport.com
The draw: Long-course comfort

De Soto’s signature white-stitching shorts have developed a following for the graduated compression and overall comfort. You can mix and match with one of De Soto’s tops; this Mobius top is lengthy for long torsos and combats the slightly low-riding waist fit. If you’re looking for a lot of protection on the bike, the 7mm De Soto chamois is the thickest in this review.

$90 (singlet), $90 (shorts), 2xu.com
The draw: Reliable performance

With a flexible and breathable material, 2XU’s Perform two-piece suit feels comfortable and race-ready. There were no uncomfortable hot spots, thanks to the flatlock stitching and absence of a tight leg gripper, and the suit’s material boasts UPF 50-plus sun protection. It dries quickly and looks good; however, the top (in size medium) was a little too short for our 6-foot-3-inch tester.

$185, Racezone3.com
The draw: Practical one-piece

This is the first one-piece tri suit from Zone3, and it can go the distance with easily accessible rear pockets to carry the essentials. Men with broad chests may find the cut of the top a little narrow, and although the neck is cut on the higher side, it isn’t restrictive while swimming and could possibly prevent any chafing when worn underneath a wetsuit. The chamois is high quality (made by Italian company Cytech), but an extra panel could help lower the risk of potential hot spots.

$70 (top), $65 (shorts), Tyr.com
The draw: Perfect balance of fit, comfort and style

TYR’s tri kits perform well and look good on a variety of body types. Small details like the zippered pocket in the back (helpful for keeping your car key safe during a brick workout) and leg grippers that keep shorts from creeping up while putting on a wetsuit or riding, add to the kit’s all-rounder status. The chamois strikes the ideal balance between minimalist pad and cycling shorts.

$250, Sugoi.com
The draw: Superior fit and performance
*Best In Class*

Sugoi’s new race suit was a tester favorite because, put simply, it looks and feels awesome. The race-specific suit is sleek but still practical—it has a hydrodynamic coating to reduce water drag and a dimpled surface to combat wind drag, but there are still pockets for race nutrition. All the panels are in the right places: vented and stretchy under the arms, with the perfect amount of compression on the legs to not require any leg grippers.

$300, Orca.com
The draw: Ready for the wind

The suit worn by 2014 Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle is the ultimate in aerodynamic design, with a smooth exterior, bonded seams, drag-reducing sleeves and no pockets to catch air. Orca uses a heat-reflection technology in the material, but one tester found the one-piece suit wasn’t as breathable as others. Fit is important for this suit—if it’s too big, the neck hole can allow air in, but if it’s too small, shoulders can feel tight in the aero position.

$89 (top), $84 (shorts), Allisport.com
The draw: Luxe fabrics and complimentary cut

The cut and lines of this two-piece kit are made to flatter, and the UPF 50+ Lycra blend material feels high-end and ultra comfortable. The racerback top has a built-in shelf bra that is breathable (just unzip the top for added ventilation) and supportive, and with silicone grippers around the top’s bottom edge, it won’t ride up on you. Combined with the shorts, there are five pockets for storing race-day essentials. The fleece chamois offers moderate padding that isn’t bulky.

$85 (top), $95 (shorts), Soasracing.com
The draw: Eye-catching design, no squeeze

Absent a built-in bra, this top gives you the flexibility of wearing your go-to sports bra under your racing top. (There’s also a matching sports bra, sold separately.) Our tester appreciated the forgiving cut of the top, which flairs out slightly, as well as the top’s mesh paneling down the back and the short’s elastic-free yoga pants-style waistband and wider-cut leg holes. Sizes run slightly large, so consult the company’s sizing chart before buying.

$150, Bettydesigns.com
The draw: Both breathable and compressive

For women who prefer a one-piece racing option for comfort and aerodynamics, this tri suit has everything you need, plus a playful “badass is beautiful” motto across the rear. A deep front zipper lets you adjust ventilation on the fly, and a pocket at the lower back is big enough to stash a few gels. Our tester raved about the softly gripping leg holes that don’t pinch or allow the suit to inch up on the ride or run. This suit doesn’t have a shelf bra, so BYOB.

$69 (top), $79 (shorts), Castelli-cycling.com
The draw:

Lightweight but still mildly compressive, the technical fabric used in this tri ensemble just feels good on the skin. Two large side pockets in the top and a small pocket in the rear of the shorts gives you ample room for nutrition—an important feature if you tend to skip aid stations in lieu of your go-to products. The leg openings are some of the most comfortable we’ve come across, and two small hook closures on the waistband of the shorts keep the top from riding up.

$85 (top), $85 (shorts), Coeursports.com
The draw: Bra support and seam-free chamois

The soft fleece chamois in these five-inch inseam shorts is unique in that the fleece material runs along the inner leg so that there are no seams chafing sensitive areas on the ride or run. A wide waistband adds to the comfort. Our tester also noted that the top’s fully constructed shelf bra makes it suitable for pairing with run shorts in training. Mesh panels on the back of the top promote breathability in hot conditions.

$80 (top), $75 (shorts), Zootsports.com
The draw: Longer hemline, flattering fit<

The longer hem on the backside of this airy racerback top means your lower back won’t be exposed while you’re tucked in the aero position during a race (goodbye, awkward sunburn lines). The built-in bra offers modest support so larger-chested athletes will want to double up. There are three stow pockets on the back of this top, which has a flared design with a slimming effect. The six-inch inseam shorts, also constructed with UPF 50-plus material, have a fleece chamois that offers moderate support.

$85 (top), $85 (shorts), Pearlizumi.com
The draw: A kit you’ll also want to wear in training

This ensemble features technical fabrics that are said to enhance cooling, sun protection and aerodynamics. A fully constructed shelf bra provides significant support, and there are two large pockets at the top’s back, which is cut longer for better coverage in the aero position. The shorts have a lower rise and shorter inseam (six-inch) than Pearl’s other Pursuit tri short, which have an eight-inch inseam.

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