Swim

Reviewed: Roka Maverick X2 Wetsuit

Deluxe neoprene gets a minor makeover with Roka’s top-of-the-line Maverick X2.

Basics

This is a decidedly super luxe wetsuit with all of the bells and whistles that makes swimmers of pretty much all types faster without many downsides (except the price, of course).


Pros

Crazy lightweight; next-level flexible where you need it, supportive where you don’t

Cons

Wildly expensive, a little chilly, and quite delicate


Price

$975

Brand

Roka


Three years ago, Roka released a wetsuit with a staggering price tag—the Maverick X had all sorts of fancy features that made it super lightweight, flexible, and effective for swimmers that range from struggling to elite-level. Today things are a little bit different: the Maverick X is no longer the high bar for expensive wetsuits, as you’ll find DeBoer occupies that top spot with its $1,500 luxurious rubber. But while the Maverick X is still an excellent wetsuit that still works well for a lot of triathletes—except for those on a budget—Roka has made some slight improvements to their top-tier wetsuit with the Roka Maverick X2 that actually reap big gains in the water.

Roka Maverick X2: The Basics

First let’s talk a little bit about what makes the Maverick X unique, and then we’ll get into the upgrades down below. If you don’t know anything about the Maverick X, the big deal behind this wetsuit—aside from excellent flexibility, lightweight (like, really lightweight) floatation, quick on/off, and overall slickness—is the “|X|” taping on the inside of the suit. The best way to describe Roka’s “|X|” taping is visualizing someone kinesiotaping your wetsuit in certain spots to prevent wasted motion. In the same way that super dense, super inflexible (laterally), and super sticky kinesio tape helps restrict your mobility when you’ve got an injury, Roka’s technology does the same for your wetsuit. The idea here is that you’ll have tons of flexibility in the directions you need it to swim, but your ability to bend and twist in way that makes you slow will be limited. Most notably, the |X| taping helps prevent snaking—something that triathletes are particularly notorious for and helps with connectivity between the feet and hands. Not only is it a neat feature on paper, but in my experience, I felt the benefits even before I knew the system existed in the suit. Call it blind (or ignorant) testing.

Roka Maverick X2: The Upgrades

While most of the features mentioned above apply to both the old Maverick X and the new Maverick X2, the newer version does have a handful of upgrades that do make it a substantially better suit. First, the |X| taping remains, but is also extended and then bolstered by two lateral panels of thicker neoprene that run vertically alongside the torso. The idea here is that these panels will provide further structure and floatation without restricting breathing—which would happen if the panel was solid and not broken up into two strips. The result is a wetsuit that does a fantastic job of preventing that claustrophobic, “panicked” breathing feeling that so many triathletes get, especially at the start of a race. With that, Roka added 7% more buoyancy across the entire suit, making it a surprisingly floaty suit that still remains among the lightest in the game. Finally, they made some modifications to the ankle opening to make this by far one of the fastest non-trimmed wetsuits I’ve ever taken off. 

Roka Maverick X2: The Fit

Aside from that big crown jewel mentioned above—which likely helps drive up the price of the X series—the rest of the features like super high-end Yamamoto neoprene and a hydrophobic nano coating all add up together to make a super fast wetsuit in the water. In terms of fit, Roka’s renowned “arms-up design” and liner materials make this a very comfy wetsuit—a design patterned after a model with his or her arms raised upward in the air, as if you’re in the reach phase of your stroke. This works to varying degrees on their mid- to lower-end wetsuits, as we’ve experienced some neoprene bunching at the back of the stroke on the beefier Maverick MX, but in this suit it works wonderfully. The super-thin armpit neoprene is thin enough and flexible enough to eliminate any odd feelings created by the arms-up design at the back of the stroke, and does a great job of helping extend your stroke and create a smooth, tugging-free recovery as your hand comes forward. Aside from that, the fit works well for most body types, favoring those with reasonably even proportions—likely aided by the flexible liner that expands and contracts even if the sizing is a little bit off.

Roka Maverick X2: In The Water

While the features are certainly everything you’d need (and more), and the fit is excellent, the experience in the water is generally what counts. As mentioned before, this suit has one of the best recovery phases, aided by the arms-up design, but it also does a great job of linking your stroke with your kick—something that QR’s HydroSix also does an excellent job with. This means you’ll feel a connection between your foot, your hip, and your arm as you go through your stroke, just like a super-excellent, experienced, and efficient swimmer would (even if you’re none of those things). It’s safe to say that we have the |X| taping to thank for that. This is a big part of why both good swimmers and bad swimmers will feel great with this suit, which is not always the case. The only slight downside to the flexibility-at-all costs scenario is that this ends up being a very chilly wetsuit that might need to be supplemented with a race kit or some other warm fabric underneath if the temperatures dip. Particularly in the armpit area—which we loved for its ability not to bunch up and remain flexible—we felt quite chilly, even after the first few minutes of warming up.

Roka Maverick X2: Other Things

Though this could be considered part of the fit, we felt that the neck closure system was also notably impressive, even when compared to other wetsuits in this same price range (or even higher). While it rested fairly low on the neckline, it did a fantastic job of closing up tightly, preventing water entry (which is super important given that this wetsuit was already pretty chilly to begin with, see above) and had no chafing right out of the box. The only other little note about this wetsuit is more of a cautionary tale for anyone who is looking at a high-end wetsuit around $500 or higher: Nice neoprene is quite delicate. While nobody likes getting little tears on their expensive neoprene, we had no issues while testing that indicated anything other than little cosmetic rips duel to pulling—and yes, I’ve been putting on and taking off wetsuits of all prices for well over a decade. But those rips did happen quicker than I expected. The good news/bad news here is that expensive neoprene just doesn’t last all that long in general, as a side effect of it’s super flexy nature, so it’s unlikely that a tiny cut, or lots of tiny cuts will be this suit’s undoing. All of the major seams that could cause a sudden failure all held very strong and looked great after plenty of testing. The takeaway here is simply that you need to be careful, and you shouldn’t lose your mind if you nick your suit’s ankle—no matter your initial investment.

Roka Maverick X2: Conclusions Of Grandeur

While this is conceivably one of the best wetsuits on the market for a huge range of body types and swim abilities, it’s still hard to ignore the Maverick X2’s intimidating pricepoint. And just because there’s another wetsuit out there that costs more isn’t really any consolation to a triathlete’s wallet. That said, triathletes often spend way more money on things that won’t necessarily impact their finishing time (or racing/training experience) as much as a great wetsuit will. It’s just a matter of deciding if you’d rather be faster and more comfortable in the water or slightly faster and likely less comfortable on the bike with a $1,000 set of wheels. The good news is that you will actually get something entirely singular and unique if you decide to spend your entire stimulus check on one wetsuit, as the features and design of this suit don’t really have any competition. It would be great if the tech in the X2 trickled down to something in the $4-500 range, but with the release of this upgrade, it seems pretty clear that that’s not going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, save your pennies.