Big Buoyancy, Little Price: We Review The Zerod Archi Wetsuit
This well-established European brand is making a big effort to come across the Atlantic. The result is a budget-friendly suit with tons of float (and a few little quirks).
Has a few misses, but overall, a good suit for a first-time wetsuit purchase.
- Underarm flexibility
- Standard zipper
- Easy on & off
- Very buoyant
- Long legs
- Extra neck flap, strange velcro
- Pricey for entry-level wetsuit
- Small size range
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Zerod (which also uses Z3R0D as a branding signature) is a clothing brand out of France that was created by two brothers who formerly raced elite triathlons. The brand is commonly seen in the form of racing kits on the Olympic/World Triathlon circuit. Most recently they partnered with USA Triathlon to outfit the U.S. national team members. Zerod is rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic, but due to their growing European popularity, their footprint is steadily increasing. Unlike most wetsuit brands, they offer a budget-friendly and splurge-worthy suit in each of their three styles. You get to pick between buoyancy, flexibility, or a combination of the two and then decide how much you want to spend.Section divider
Zerod Archi Wetsuit Review: The Basics
The Archi wetsuit is the entry-level suit for athletes looking for buoyancy. As such, most of the suit is made with 2mm and 4mm neoprene. If you’re looking for even more, the Archi Max ($680) does have 5mm thickness in areas that need additional support—like the chest and legs. The Archi line is designed for athletes that want a bit of help with body position so they can focus on moving forward in the water. If you’ve already got a great horizontal body position in the water, you should look at the Zerod Flex ($430) and Flex Max ($760) suits.Section divider
Zerod Archi Wetsuit Review: The Good
With the Archi, Zerod made such a nice entry-level setup, you honestly cannot tell that you’re wearing a budget suit. It feels durable while you’re putting it on and supportive as soon as you get in the water. There are no visible aspects to this suit that scream “entry level” on this suit like bright colors or panels without the slick outer coating that show up on other brands.
The sleeves are made from a thicker 2mm neoprene for the high buoyancy factor. This thickness does make them feel stiffer and offer less connection (“feel”) with the water than a typical 1-1.5mm sleeve you might find on more flexible-focused suits. But surprisingly, the shoulder and upper body flexibility of this suit is superior. Even with additional neoprene thickness, the underarm panel offers incredible stretch when reaching overhead and extending arms forward in the stroke. This was by far one of the most impressive parts of the suit!
Getting in and out of the Archi is easy and quick. Zerod uses a regular zipper on this suit (you will find a bottom-to-top zipper on the Archi Max) so you can zip up without assistance for solo workouts. We noticed that the zipper was a bit longer (or it seemed that way due to the lower collar) than others and it provided a larger opening at the base to pull over the hips. This suit will roll off your arms and legs very easily due to the additional thickness of the neoprene. It’s typically suits with very thin neoprene that become entangled during removal and get stuck around the wrists and ankles.Section divider
Zerod Archi Wetsuit: The Not-So-Good
We had to really search to find some dislikes for this suit because we were too busy just enjoying a great float in the water with effortless horizontal body position. However, we realized that we need to have a quick chat with the person in charge of Velcro at Zerod.
The first “miss” we noticed when testing the Archi was an extra flap of neoprene that is behind the Velcro tab on the neck. It’s unlike any other wetsuit we’ve tested because it has three layers of neoprene at a critical—and typically the most annoying—location on a wetsuit. Adding an extra layer of fabric where most athletes wind up chafing is a risky move for Zerod. It added bulk to the base of the neck and was uncomfortable while sighting in the open water.
We’re thinking that the Velcro decision makers at Zerod were on holiday for the final Archi design because they put the rough “hook” side on the base of the zipper string. The common choice here is the softer “loop” side to secure it to the Velcro tab at your neck while swimming. Unfortunately, the Archi string will flop around in your bag and get stuck to all kinds of things, including the inside of the wetsuit, causing small rips of damage each time.
The Archi isn’t sold in USD yet and you’ll typically see the price listed in Euros as they continue to grow their market in America. But the current conversion rate has the Archi ($350) selling for a bit more than most entry-level suits at or under $300. The size range is a bit small, only catering to women under 175lbs (with a mere six size options) and men under 220lbs (with a more substantial nine size options).
Zerod Archi Wetsuit: Conclusions
It won’t take long for this emerging brand to cement itself on starting lines in America. They’re continuing to grow and expand and making Zerod a more common brand name among triathletes. We look forward to the opportunity when everyone can enjoy an open-water swim in the Archi with effortless buoyancy and unrestricted arm and shoulder movement. In the meantime, Zerod will (hopefully, hint, hint) continue to make small improvements on the product features and increase the size options for more athlete inclusivity.
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