The draw: Zipperless design
The Latitude features a unique design that eliminates the traditional zippered closure system in favor of Velcro tabs on the back. The result is a lightweight wetsuit that is quite flexible through the upper body thanks to Yamamoto 40 neoprene. It shines in transition, where you can quickly unfasten the tabs without searching for a zipper cord. The low-cut neckline let in a bit more water than on other suits in this test.
The draw: High visibility and value
This wetsuit literally stands out from the crowd because of its bright orange sleeves, and because few wetsuits offer the same level of comfort and flexibility at this price. It’s thinner through the torso at 2.5mm, so it sacrifices a bit of warmth and buoyancy, but the arms are thin and stretchy to offer comparable flexibility to suits that cost three times as much.
The draw: Extra shoulder room
The Cat 2 has a little something for everyone. Broad-shouldered swimmers will appreciate extra wiggle room in the shoulder-bicep area. Athletes who need a solid boost in body position will like the extra buoyant core panels, some perfectly placed to look like a hot set of abs. Those who get cold easily will like the thicker-feeling neoprene. And everyone will have an opinion about the suit’s massive rubber catch panels.
The draw: A quick getaway
Give yourself a good 15 minutes to get into this suit. That’s the commitment needed for a second-skin fit that sheds impossibly fast with a reverse zipper. Skilled swimmers will appreciate the Frequency for its stay-out-of-the-way simplicity: It rides neutral in the water, won’t influence hip rotation and doesn’t feature any kind of forearm catch panel design. Bonus: The greenish yellow and teal accents evoke a certain superhero. “You look like Aquaman!” a swimmer said to our tester at the pool.
The draw: Core stability, warmth
Aqua Sphere completely revamped its entire line of wetsuits, and the Phantom is the pinnacle of its collection. An internal belt-like piece supports the lower back and promotes better hip rotation. Swimmers who tend to fishtail in the water will find this feature especially useful. The Yamamoto neoprene ranges in thickness from 1mm on the sleeves to 5mm on the torso and has additional properties to help retain body heat.
The draw: Subtle form enhancement
Think of the Z Force as the retouch tool for body position, gently raising your hips, encouraging rotation and making your kick effortless. The high neck feels snug at first, but after a few strokes you’ll forget about the tightness and appreciate how well it keeps water out. Not-too-thick neoprene means you won’t overheat in warmer water. Plus, we love the look: business black on the outside, party pink on the inside.
The draw: Fatigue-fighting flexibility
The Vengeance was designed to work with your body so you don’t feel like you’re fighting the suit at the end of a long swim. With similar paneling to XTERRA’s top-end Vendetta wetsuit, the thinnest panels of neoprene are placed over the shoulders to provide wide range of motion while the X-Air neoprene on the legs lifts the lower body to create a downstream swimming experience. This neoprene has a dimpled texture because there are tiny air pockets built into the material to increase buoyancy.
The draw: Extra warmth in frigid water
The thermal version of Blueseventy’s flagship Helix wetsuit receives some reinforcements to make it perform better in cold water. The entire interior of the suit is lined with Blueseventy’s fleece-like zirconium liner that enhances warmth while minimizing water absorption. This suit remains flexible and raises your hips in the water thanks to buoyant neoprene on the chest and torso. The split chest construction allows some stretch when you breathe to enhance overall comfort.
The draw: Flexibility and stability where you need it
The new Maverick Pro retains all the same swimmer-friendly features as its predecessor, such as core stability panels and a center line panel of extra buoyant Aerodome neoprene, with a few refinements that add to its overall comfort. The neckline has been lowered slightly on all ROKA wetsuits, and the back closure is now made of a higher-quality neoprene to make it easier to lift your head to sight. ROKA also added a few sizes to the Maverick Pro, including small/extra tall, medium/extra tall and XXL in addition to dropping the price $50.
The draw: Perfect combination of flexibility and buoyancy
*Best In Class*
It’s not often you forget you’re swimming in a wetsuit, but the all-new Vanquish accomplishes this rare feat with a strategic mix of premium neoprene. The 1.5mm thick one-piece shoulder panel extends from the middle of the chest to the center of the back, making the upper body extremely flexible while the 5mm Yamamoto Aerodome neoprene on the torso supplies significant buoyancy.
The draw: A natural feel
The first thing you’ll notice about the Endorphin is that it’s feather light. Easy on and off, it hugs the body with the kind of flexibility we’d only expect in more expensive suits. Good swimmers will appreciate its natural feel in the water—a gentle boost in body position, subtle rotational help and flexible shoulders. The outer neoprene is so smooth that putting it on feels like transforming into a human seal.
The draw: Comfortable neckline, breakaway zipper
The redesigned Aegis represents Huub’s entry-level option, but it doesn’t skimp on value. Thinner neoprene in the chest and thicker material in the legs promote an ideal body position in the water. The neckline on this suit is one of the most comfortable on the market and is tight enough to keep water out while remaining supple so it won’t restrict your breathing. The breakaway zipper releases with one quick tug.
The draw: Enhanced proprioception
First things first: Like the Endorphin, the GHST is crazy light and flexible. A special stretch lining makes it easy to put on while maintaining a second-skin feel. It rides neutral in the water and has a nice roll side to side. It just feels fast. Now about those forearms—2XU ditched neoprene altogether from elbow to wrist for bathing suit-like material designed to increase proprioception. Mission accomplished, but the tight fit at the wrist demands an extra tug to get it off.
$220 and $180 (respectively), Desotosport.com
The draw: Great for warm-water swims
The benefit of De Soto’s two-piece design is greater freedom of movement. The Speedvest is 2mm thick, so it doesn’t provide much warmth or buoyancy, making it ideal for warmer triathlon swims that are still wetsuit-legal. The Speedtube supplies more buoyancy (5mm thick) than the top and can be worn alone and utilized as a training tool in the pool when you want to focus on proper body positioning, specifically getting the legs to not sink.