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2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Wetsuits

Looking to purchase a new wetsuit? Here are 18 from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.

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Synergy Endorphin Long John $199

The Synergy Endorphin Long John features a very soft and flexible neckline, helping to prevent chafing and the feeling of neck constriction. The Long John’s buoyant leg paneling was also noticeable, making the swim seem easier. In terms of figuring out your size, we found the sizing chart to more closely align with weight than height and to run a little big. Synergysport.com

Aqua Sphere Powered W-Pursuit $250

The Pursuit emulates a lot of the features of Aqua Sphere’s higher-end suit, the Racer, but with a more generous fit and slightly less flexibility throughout. Although its arms felt slightly less flexible than the Racer, the difference was subtle. Both the core and shoulders are slightly roomier in this suit. The Pursuit uses 5mm neoprene around the core for added warmth and buoyancy, helping to position the swimmer high in the water. The ankle is constructed with the same flexible panel as its higher-end sibling, allowing for quick removal in T1. Aquasphereswim.com

Tyr Hurricane Category 1 $290

While the Hurricane Category 1 wetsuit is a lower-priced Tyr model it still provides good value with its flexible shoulders, soft neckline and buoyant legs and core. The rubber around the shoulders isn’t as thin as some higher-end wetsuits, but the suit is still easy to swim in, reducing the fatigue triathletes feel in their shoulders when they haven’t swum in a wetsuit in a while. Tyr touts the Hurricane as a wetsuit that is easy to remove, and we found this to be true, making it a great choice for someone hoping to prevent bungled transitions. We found the wetsuit to be an ideal fit for medium and athletic builds. Tyr.com

Orca Sonar Sleeveless $299

As with many of Orca’s wetsuits and clothes, the Sonar is extremely flexible and molds snugly to your body, helping to prevent water leakage—as much as this can be prevented in a sleeveless wetsuit—and giving you the feeling of being at one with the suit. The suit’s flexibility also makes it relatively easy to get on and off. We found the wetsuit to be true to size, aligning with weight more so than height. Orca.com

Blueseventy Reaction $399

Blueseventy divides its wetsuits into two categories of buoyancy: positive (more buoyant in the lower body) and natural (overall neutral buoyancy). The Reaction falls into the latter category, supporting the body without an emphasis on the hips and legs—ideal for swimmers who already position their torso horizontally in the water. The Reaction went through some upgrades for 2012, including a lower neckline to avoid chafing and an added SCS coating to the suit’s exterior that decreases drag. The Reaction’s precise fit made the tester feel “at home” in the suit. Blueseventy.com

Aqua Sphere Powered W-Racer $499

The Racer is for swimmers focused on performance, with a tighter fit than Aqua Sphere’s lower-end suits. The arms of the suit are long, with narrow wrist cuffs that keep water out and forearm panels that help with traction during the pull. The thinner material that runs under the armpit and around the lower back allows for an incredible range of motion and creates uninhibited arm flexibility. The panel near the ankle makes taking the suit on and off significantly easier. Aquasphereswim.com

Profile Design Wahoo $195

The sleeveless Wahoo meets the needs of swimmers with either shoulder- or hip-driven freestyle technique (you practice one or the other). The neck and shoulder neoprene prevents the shoulders from overreaching, which is a common cause of shoulder injury. The neoprene is moderately comfortable around the neck, but you should still use lubricant to prevent chafing and to maintain comfort in high-friction areas. The neck Velcro has two separate patches with stitching that may need repair before the suit wears out. Profile-design.com

Zoot Z Force 1.0 WetZoot $200

If you’re transitioning from the pool to open-water swimming and want an affordable wetsuit, look no further than the Z Force 1.0. The best features of the wetsuit are buoyancy and warmth, two attributes that can help overcome anxiety over open-water swimming. The dorsal flex zipper pulls tight along the back, putting the body into a heads-up sighting position, giving new swimmers added support to refine and control their kick. The chest will feel compressed and tight in this position, so spend time practicing in this suit before racing. The neoprene around the arms is slightly thick but has enough flexibility to allow for high arm cadence. Zootsports.com

Neosport Finishline Fullsuit $295

The Finishline has a new and unique liner style called Micro Plus. This blue layer inside the wetsuit feels like a plush oriental rug against the body. It’s a brilliant concept in skin comfort, but imperfect for the rigors of T1. The material is more fragile than some liners, but finely sewn stitching keeps the high-stress areas intact. Neosport’s collars are superb. The Finishline doesn’t chafe or allow a drop of water into the suit. The neoprene is 5mm thick at the calf and blends into 3mm-thick arms. The thick neoprene in the upper body makes the Finishline ideal for swimmers with a propulsive kick or good body position in the water. Neosportusa.com

Aquaman ADN $299

The Aquaman ADN is a perfect match for beginner triathletes with larger builds. Thinner athletes will need to double-check the sizing before jumping in the water, as water may seep into the suit if the forearm opening is too large. Regardless of suit size, shoulder flexibility is remarkable. The wetsuit also implements a reverse zipper with its patented Flash System for speedy wetsuit removal in T1. Have a buddy check the Velcro positioning; otherwise, the Flash System can rub awkwardly on the neck. Aquamantri.com

2XU R:2 $399

The R:2’s outer skin feels slick in the water, and its ample neoprene on the hips and upper body floats the swimmer toward the surface. Those thick neoprene patches on the hips help maintain an efficient position through a complete stroke, but the wetsuit needs to be broken in to feel fully flexible. By design, the R:2 helps bring the arms into the mid-stroke, which can help increase turnover but creates a slight tug for swimmers who end their stroke with a long follow-through. 2xu.com

Xterra Vortex $400

The Vortex does not compromise on comfort or durability. Beginner and expert triathletes alike will find this suit effective for training and racing. The only drawback was slight resistance during the recovery phase of the stroke. Xterra’s sizing charts are true and give an excellent indication of your ideal suit size. The inner liner makes the Vortex warmer than most suits. Also, Xterra offers a generous two-year warranty to cover wetsuit damage. Xterrawetsuits.com

Quintana Roo Superfull $550

Triathletes love pull buoys, and QR played into this fondness. The Virtual Pull Buoy design holds true to its title, providing swimmers with an ultra-buoyant feel from the knees to the hips.  The Superfull runs a bit big, so be sure to test out different sizes before making a final purchase. The flexible chest allows swimmers of different upper-body types to breathe freely without any hindrance. This wetsuit will get the job done for races and is well-suited for year-round training as its neoprene is very durable. Quintanarootri.com

Blueseventy Helix $650

Put simply, the Helix is the ultimate wetsuit experience. Blueseventy boldly decided to blend swimsuit fabric into the forearms to allow water to flow onto the swimmer’s forearm, creating an unparalleled feel for the water. The incredibly flexible shoulders allow arms to move free of restriction, but the suit’s true revelation comes from the neutral buoyancy design. The 5mm neoprene in the chest, upper abs and hips provide buoyancy in all the right places for swimmers with an efficient horizontal body position in the
water. It matches an efficient stroke perfectly. Blueseventy.com

19 Rogue $650

Durable, fast, and reasonably priced for a high-quality wetsuit, this racing suit is capable of withstanding the rigors of regular open-water training swims. The elbow elevator helps improve the catch stroke phase by guiding the forearm into a vertical position. Be sure to firmly lock down the Velcro around the neck; otherwise it can come undone. With a firm fit, the collar keeps the interior chest ultra-dry. Another big selling feature: the five-year warranty. Nineteenwetsuits.com

Orca Alpha $650

Patches of ultra-buoyant neoprene are positioned along the buttocks and posterior thigh, putting the legs in a prime position to propel the swimmer. From the elbow through the core, the suit is remarkably flexible and light, allowing for unimpeded stroke mechanics. Triathletes will also enjoy the low-profile collar that limits chafing and water entry. Unless you have enormous lat muscles, check for looseness along the spine before selecting your size. Orca.com

De Soto T1 First Wave $630

With its first suit constructed of GreenGoma rubber, De Soto has produced a flexible and buoyant wetsuit that is outside the norm of wetsuit design. The BibJohn and Pullover are sold separately, which allows swimmers of all body types to fit the T1 First Wave. The neoprene-on-neoprene overlap between the two pieces provides frictionless hip rotation and arm extension. Quickly zipping and unzipping the Pullover becomes easy with practice. If your shoulders feel compressed or restricted in most suits, the T1 Pullover has ample space for large swimmer’s muscles but may feel large on very thin physiques. Extremely thick arm panels help grab the water. Desotosport.com

Tyr Hurricane Freak of Nature $1,200

The Freak of Nature delivers on the expectations that come with its very steep price tag. Although the suit looks small out of the box, it stretches to the swimmer’s contours because the entire suit is constructed with Yamamoto #40 neoprene (the most flexible variety), supported by the most flexible inner liner. The aerated panels on the thighs, hips, abdomen and chest keep the swimmer on top of the water. Expect the suit to feel very buoyant—maybe even too buoyant for some experienced swimmers. The neck closure is forgiving, and the Freak of Nature is definitely a serious wetsuit for serious triathletes. Tyr.com