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A well-fitting and comfortable wetsuit can propel you to your fastest swim split in the open water. Zero in on the right choice for your body type and swim style with help from our triathlete testers, who logged some yards in the latest offerings.
TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Sleeveless
Best for: Strong kickers
Unique feature: Slick neoprene for minimal drag
You might just want to sleep in the Cat 1. Super soft in and out, this suit is also very stretchy—a feature you don’t often find in suits at this low price point. That makes the legs feel like you’re wearing your favorite yoga pants and leaves your kick totally unrestrained. In fact, if you like to switch up strokes while you’re training or racing, the Cat 1 will kindly let you get your frog kick on. While the neck is the most comfortable we’ve found on a sleeveless suit, the super wide cut of the shoulders on top may impede some swimmers’ strokes.
XTERRA Vendetta Sleeveless
Best for: Lower-body sinkers, warm-water swims
Unique feature: Air-filled neoprene improves buoyancy
The distinct look of this sleeveless speedster comes from the dimpled neoprene that covers the majority of the suit. This material offers a noticeable lift to your lower body in the water thanks to the pockets of air within the neoprene (you can actually see inside the air pockets at the edge of the ankle cuff). The cut of the arm openings is large and surrounded by stretchy neoprene to give your arms complete range of motion. If you frequently swim in warm water, or prefer the flexibility of a sleeveless suit, the Vendetta Sleeveless is tough to beat because of its buoyancy.
Zoot Z Force 1.0 Wetzoot
Best for: Beginners
Unique feature: Drag-reducing coating
No fancy forearm catch zones or paper-thin neoprene here. The Z Force 1.0 is an entry-level wetsuit with a price tag to match. Made of Yamamoto 38 neoprene, this suit lacks flexibility compared to more expensive suits but still offers plenty of buoyancy thanks to the 5mm panels that lift the body toward the surface. This suit isn’t especially easy to get off, but if your main priorities are to keep your triathlon budget in check and get out of the water safely, this shouldn’t be much of a concern. The drag-busting SCS hydrodynamic coating is a nice bonus, and the flashy graphics make it easy to spot in a crowd.
ROKA Maverick Elite Fullsuit
Best for: Swimmers needing a rotational boost
Unique features: Silky liner, low neckline
Want a magic suit that can transform you into a torpedo? This is it. Previous iterations of this wetsuit were voted “most comfortable” and “fastest overall” by this magazine, and this year’s Maverick Elite bests those predecessors. With a slick, easy-on, easy-off liner and a second-skin feel, the Elite aids rotation and provides lift without popping swimmers awkwardly above the water. Made of both Yamamoto 38 (arms, shoulders, chest, back, hips, legs) and 39 (buoyancy and core stability panels), the Elite is flexible yet durable. Plus ROKA put super flexible No. 40 rubber in the neck so you’ll never feel like you’re in a chokehold. Suits this comfy usually aren’t water tight, but this one is. And with nine sizes to choose from, you can find your perfect fit.
Aqua Sphere Challenger
Best for: Well-rounded swimmers seeking value
Unique features: Quick-release ankle cuffs, shoulder flexibility
This wetsuit boasts impressive features for the price. Made entirely of supple Yamamoto 39 neoprene, the Challenger has a thin, stretchy panel under the arms to give it the flexibility of a more expensive wetsuit. Swimming in the Challenger doesn’t feel as effortless as a top-end super suit, but this suit does a great job of supporting the torso and assisting swim stroke rather than impeding it. The collar is effective at sealing out water, and the quick-release ankles make it easy to stomp off in T1. The Challenger doesn’t have a SCS hydrodynamic coating, but that’s one of the only features missing when comparing it to pricier wetsuits.
Best for: Advanced swimmers
Unique features: Forearm catch panels, reverse zipper
Swimming in the Helix feels like you’re receiving a little extra forward propulsion with every stroke. The blue panels on the shoulder and back are made of seam-free 1.5mm Yamamoto 40 cell neoprene that make the upper body feel totally uninhibited. The honeycomb forearm panels are made of the same material as Blueseventy’s swimskins and provide a solid feel for the water. The downside is that the permeable material lets water in, so the Helix may not be the best choice for really cold swims. The reverse zipper makes the cord easier to locate for unzipping, removes the zipper head from behind the neck and eliminates the need for a traditionally higher collar, which improves comfort and makes it easier to lift your head to sight.
2XU A:1 Active Sleeveless
Best for: Athletes seeking shoulder freedom
Unique feature: Streamlined front buoyancy panel
The A:1 has all of the features of a swim-enhancing suit without the sleeves. Extra buoyancy at the hips helps athletes get in a perfect streamlined position while aiding rotation. And those chest channels aren’t just for looks—they help swimmers track straight. You’ll feel like you’re cutting more efficiently through the water, though some of that sensation might come from the mental boost you’ll get from looking like a boss. (A swimmer at the pool actually told our tester she resembled a superhero.) Swimmers broad- and narrow-shouldered alike will love the A:1 for its slightly racerback, shoulder-freeing cut, fast feel and sleek look. Even better: No water trickles down this suit. The snug neck and form-fitting design make the A:1 perform like a full suit, just cooler.
Best for: Lower-body sinkers and fishtailers
Unique features: Flexible sleeves, core support
This high-end wetsuit aims to provide the best combination of lower-body buoyancy and upper-body flexibility. The 0.88mm Free material on the arms is the thinnest neoprene on the market, which promotes an unrestrictive feel and incredible flexibility. The Predator has 5mm side panels in the torso to keep your body properly aligned throughout your stroke. This wetsuit is unique in that the upper body is incredibly flexible compared to the support and buoyancy offered in the torso and lower body. Combine the Predator’s best-of-both-worlds neoprene structure with a re-designed collar and a soft, stretchable liner with bamboo fibers embedded in the nylon, and you have one of the most technologically advanced wetsuits out there.
Best for: Advanced swimmers
Unique feature: Speedy arm and leg cuffs
Good swimmers will love the Aspire for its natural feel, while the style minded will appreciate its purple and gold rocker-chic look. Neutral buoyancy gives a gentle lift in the water without influencing rotation. So if you’d rather control your rotation—a feature that experienced swimmers may appreciate—rather than get rocked side to side, the Aspire deserves your attention. A snug neck keeps water out while specially designed easy-out arm and leg cuffs make for a speedy T1.