High-end, trickle-down features highlight Roka’s first foray into the entry-level wetsuit category, to great effect.
Great price and value
Good seals at hemlines
Could be floatier for a beginner wetsuit
Ok amount of sizings
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If you’re not familiar with Roka, the Austin-based brand has been around for about a decade, producing high-end and super high-end wetsuits, goggles, and eyewear. Their eyewear is easily some of the clearest we’ve tested alongside Oakley; their goggles aren’t super expensive, but boast some of the best variety in lens colors and are still clearer than almost anything out there; their wetsuits are excellent, but very very expensive and have been almost solely in the realm of the experienced and budget-be-damned triathlete. It’s been a gaping hole in their wetsuit lineup that they haven’t had an entry-level (or maybe training-only) wetsuit, but they’ve (finally) come around with the release of their Maverick suit.
Roka Maverick Wetsuit: The Basics
While we’ll get to most of the features below, the long-and-short-of-it is that the Maverick uses a lot of the trickle-down “tech” you’d find in their pricier Maverick Comp II ($400), their Maverick Pro II ($750), and their über-premium Maverick X2 ($975). This means you’ll get their very-cool “arms up” patterning that’s built around a model with…you guessed it…his or her arms above their head to help with reach. You’ll also get flexible and eco-friendly Yamamoto #38 rubber (rare in a suit <$300), and a handily buoyant center panel for better rotation. Finally, they’ve mimicked one of their suits’ best features: Roka’s very good neckline.
RELATED – Reviewed: Roka Maverick X2 Wetsuit
Roka Maverick Wetsuit: The Good
Ok, so there’s a reason Roka has waited this long to put out an entry-level wetsuit (they say)—they wanted to make sure they did it right. My guess is that they also wanted to find a way to get as many of their tried-and-true features from their $400-and-way-up suits into something under $300. This would keep them competitive with the entry-level market that typically consists of brands like Synergy or BlueSeventy who make some of the better low-end suits.
The good news is that they succeeded in porting their arms-up design (which seems gimmicky, but is a great solution when you’re not using top-of-the-line neoprene), their neckline, eco-friendly neoprene, and even chest panels—which may not seem like a big deal, but are rare on a sub-$300 suit.
While the flexibility of the neoprene itself is good—but about what you’d expect at this pricepoint—the arms-up design makes up for any type of pulling that you’d typically feel in an entry-level suit as you extend your stroke outward (a common complaint in the similarly priced BlueSeventy Sprint). The neckline is chafe-free, while sealing in water, and truly feels more like a $400-500 suit. Along with the neck, the other potential water-entry points like the wrists (and to some extent, the legs) seal up incredibly well—another thing that entry-level suits don’t typically do well with.
Finally, the durability on this suit is quite good—particularly when you consider that most suits under $300 can sometimes have the texture of a suit of armour and therefore are unsurprisingly durable yet inflexible as a result. This is important because new triathletes don’t typically treat their suits with kid gloves (yes, many high-end wetsuits actually come with cotton gloves just for this reason!), and if you’re using this as a training suit, you’d better be able to beat it up.
Roka Maverick Wetsuit: The Not-So-Good
This is a tough one because Roka really did go above and beyond when it came to putting out a high-feature, entry-level suit, so my not-so-goods are a little more nitpicky or maybe like suggestions to Roka (if you’re reading this, hi!).
First, while I do appreciate the flexibility of the 1mm/2mm/4mm Yamamoto #38 neoprene, I know for sure beginners would typically appreciate some 5mm neoprene, especially in the legs. Now I understand that Roka has THE FLOATIEST WETSUIT IN THE WORLD with their super super thick Maverick MX, but since most first- or second-time triathletes sink like a stone, I’d probably default with something thicker—at least in the legs—than what this basic Maverick has. That said, if you’re an experienced or semi-experienced swimmer getting into triathlon, and you don’t want to feel restricted in your shoulders (but your swim posture is very good already), there’s literally no better suit for under $300.
Second, and again this is pretty nitpicky and maybe outside of the scope of Roka’s manufacturing abilities (sorry!)—I’d love to see the Maverick in more than 10 sizes. While I know 10 sizes is still a great range, as much or slightly more than some competitors, I’d love to see Roka go all in on the vastly different body types that new triathletes often have. Some competitors in this price range have 16 sizes—yes, that’s a lot! Otherwise, this is a tough wetsuit to find any not-so-goods about—even if it was another $50 or $75 more.
RELATED – Reviewed: Roka Maverick MX Wetsuit
There are only a handful of entry-level wetsuits out there that I’d consider recommending to friends who are looking to get into tri. Similarly, there aren’t many wetsuits that I’d say, “Hey, look, you bought a $700 wetsuit to race in, let’s not ruin it by stuffing it in your backpack after your twice-weekly open-water sessions in the salt water. Maybe you should get something to train in.” And while the Maverick isn’t perfect, I think it fills a specific need in the tri wetsuit hierarchy that has been vacant up until now: If you’re more concerned about flexibility and shoulder restriction than anything else, this is the best sub-$300 wetsuit you can find (though some brands…cough…Synergy…coughcough are always on sale for some reason).
In terms of trickle-down tech being the name of the game in tri in the last few years—I’m thinking Cervelo’s P-Series bike or Coros’ Pace 2 smartwatch as good examples—Roka’s Maverick wetsuit hits the nail on the head for killer value but great features that typically cost much more. Finally, newer or super budget-conscious triathletes can actually get their hands on some great Roka stuff.