We completed a 2.4-mile ocean swim and a mock transition to familiarize ourselves with each suit's design, feel how the wetsuit executed in the water and to see how easy it was to take off after running up the beach. This is what we found:
HUUB Aerious$400 1 of 9
When selecting a wetsuit, comfort is one of the most important factors. The Aerious' neoprene/nylon design is incredibly comfortable and stretchy. Also, the 3mm upper body to 5mm lower body neoprene ratio allows for greater freedom through the shoulders than many of the suits we've tried. Due to the 5mm legs, this suit specifically caters to athletes with sinking legs and provides the perfect buoyancy to excel. We found the size chart to be very true and the Aerious delivers on levels that some high-end suits cannot--specifically with comfort and durability. We highly recommended the Aerious for any triathlete demanding buoyancy in the hips and legs.
ROKA Maverick X$900 2 of 9
ROKA has broken the mold once again by designing a high-end wetsuit that centers around arm movement. The arms-up design promotes mobility and arm extension--allowing you to go long while almost forgetting you're wearing a wetsuit. The 100 percent SCS coated Yamamoto neoprene is super comfortable, durable and soft and the stretch woven textile in the forearms provides an increased feel of the water.
Although pricey, investing in a top-shelf wetsuit will pay out tenfold for any level of athlete. The X is simply the freest and fastest wetsuit on the market.
Orca S6$239 3 of 9
Simply put, the Orca S6 is a great entry-level triathlon wetsuit. Less paneling in the arms from their previous S5 suit add comfort and flexibility through the shoulders, and the 5mm SCS coated Yamamoto front and back panels add impressive buoyancy. The S6 is perfect for cold-water swims, but the breathable neck collar allows the suit to work in warmer climates as well. The suit is incredibly fast in transition, thanks to stretchy paneling on the backside of the legs. Despite lacking a few bells and whistles that other suits proudly display, the S6 is a durable, high-functioning entry-level suit.
XTERRA Volt Fullsuit$350 4 of 9
A long time favorite by many triathletes, XTERRA has produced tried and true wetsuits that come at an accessible price point for most. The suit's super stretchy 3:2mm neoprene is both comfy and warm, despite being slightly thinner than other comparable suits. The collar around the neck is nonrestrictive while impressively keeping water out. Perhaps the perfect balance of buoyancy and mobility, the Volt achieves fantastic float and compression without compromising your freedom to move. The Volt is the ultimate entry-level wetsuit.
Aquasphere Challenger$350 5 of 9
Constantly upping the ante and reworking previous designs, Aquasphere hit a home run with the new Challenger. The 2mm Yamamoto 39 neoprene panels in the underarm allow for great shoulder mobility in a lengthened arm position. Although the suit tops out at just 4mm, its insulation still performs in a big way. Oftentimes a thicker suit will feel restricting through the upper body, but the Challenger's leaner build is stretchy and comfortable. The horseshoe-cut design of the ankle panels is brilliant, and getting this suit off in transition is fast and effortless. In addition, the stretchy wrist cuff easily fits over a multisport watch. This wetsuit includes a ton of features in an affordable package and is a worthy investment for all levels.
BlueSeventy Fusion$325 6 of 9
The Fusion executes on many levels, but the comfortable, low-profile collar performs exceptionally well--paramount in longer swims. The extra buoyancy in the leg panels caters to beginner and intermediate swimmers, making this suit a shoe-in at its modest price point. BlueSeventy uses a unique method of liquid taping the internal seams, which allows you to cut the legs if you desire a shorter cuff for quick removal in transition. While the honeycomb forearm design creates a really cool look, it doesn't help you feel the water as well as it should. All in all, the Fusion is a fantastic wetsuit that will serve the age group population well.
Zoot Z Force 1.0$200 7 of 9
For only $200, the Zoot Z Force 1.0 has an amazing price-to-performance ratio. This is a heavy suit--at 4:3:5mm throughout--and maintains body heat incredibly well. The signature 5mm backside panel encourages extra buoyancy in the hips and legs, perfect for any beginner or intermediate triathlete. And the Z Force's SCS coated Yamamoto neoprene performs equally to other brands' high-end suits materials. Forget about struggling to get your wetsuit off--the Z Force's intelligent back paneling design above the ankles makes transitions a breeze. Additionally, the different panel shapes throughout the suit are thoughtful and restriction-free, particularly in the shoulders.
TYR Hurricane Cat 5$650 8 of 9
Aside from the stellar aesthetics of the suit, TYR has created a top-notch wetsuit that integrates unique design with excellent open water application. The thoughtful buoyant paneling around the torso is a standout feature--ultimately promoting the most efficient body positioning for swimming.
The Alpha Catch Panels are the suit's most interesting design element. These raised "grabbers" on the forearms excel at catching and holding water throughout the propulsive phases of the stroke exceptionally well. The stretchiness of the wrist and ankle cuffs allow for super fast removal, eliminating precious seconds in transition. Overall, this suit is a great choice for an intermediate to advanced triathlete taking their swim to the next level.