Pulsar $395; Sleeveless TIL $220
While Aquaman runs the show in Europe, the French-based manufacturer is making its bid stateside, with availability in a handful of shops on the West Coast and in the Midwest.
Aquamans 2000 focus is on the suit's exit in the swim-to-run transition. These wetsuits tend to be a good 2 to 3 inches shorter in the arms and legs than other suits tested, and that's by design.
The resulting wider openings make it easier to take off out of the water. Its a design that may take some getting used to sort of like Aquamans reverse configuration zipper, where you zip up to get out of the suit.
They both oppose conventional wisdom but both have solid functional merits that make it a very fast suit drop.
While the Pulsar tested was a bit binding at the back of the armpit, it was nice and snug in the lower back, an area that is often too roomy in a lot of suits.
Aquaman continues to use the two-direction Hydroprene 6000 rubber on its top-of-the-line Pulsar 2000, a rubber with incredible range of motion.
The suit has 5mm rubber on the body and legs and 2mm on the arms and collar. It also features a ribbed forearm rubber designed to "grip" the water during the pull phase of the stroke.
VO2 Stealth II $395; Elite Fullsuit $325
Ironman Wetsuits has instituted several changes to its product line for 2000, including new two-directional rubber on all of their four suits.
Ironman believes that the key to a good triathlon involves conservation of energy. A wetsuit can keep you warm and buoyant, but if your breathing is restricted across the chest, all benefits will be lost as you wheeze into T1.
Ironman went to work. The result: Its top-of-the-line VO2 Stealth, a three-dimensionally designed suit featuring additional chest panels to facilitate a proper deep breath without reducing your oxygen consumption.
Ironman says that tests conducted at the University of Calgary in Alberta found that oxygen consumption in its VO2 Stealth is nearly identical to that of someone without a wetsuit.
Add flexible two-directional rubber, a grooved upper forearm panel for increased water catch, angle-cut ankles for quick suit removal and a back composed of a heat-dissipating rubber (a nice feature to prevent over-heating) and you have a fast suit with a unique breathability feature.
The extra paneling in the VO2 did seem to bring the suit off the upper ribcage a bit better than most. Long or short course, its easy to see how this freedom of breathing would be an advantage.
The slick coated rubber of Ironman suits is also the least susceptible to getting damaging nail-dig marks.
Across the line for 2000, all suits having new rubber and the suits are longer in the torso for better reach.
They also screened on a label to ink your name and phone number (simple and smart), re-designed the collar to make getting out faster, added new graphics and developed new extra small and extra large sizes.
Ironman has also done away with the Elite Longjohn for 2000, bringing aboard the Stealth John, which has a new gusset under the arm for more freedom of movement.
Suits are available in shops or can be ordered online.