Choosing the Right Triathlon Wetsuit



The number one question I get asked about triathlon wetsuits is “Which one should I get?”  Choosing the right triathlon wetsuit can be daunting, but with some knowledge and patience, you’ll be able to find the right one.

When choosing a wetsuit, not only do you take into account personal preference, but also your swimming ability, water temperature of where you’ll be racing, and your own temperature tolerances.

Choosing the Right Triathlon Wetsuit

Wetsuits are an investment.  They may not be as expensive as a tri bike, but they can cost you a few hundred dollars.  Taking care of your triathlon wetsuit will help it last through many races and open water swims.  Don’t rush when choosing a wetsuit and make sure you get the right size.  They should be fitted, but not so tight that you have a hard time moving.

The benefits you receive from wearing a wetsuit are buoyancy, speed, and warmth.

Wetsuits are designed to have very little drag.  Less drag in the water results in more speed and a faster swim time.  A wetsuit will also helps keep your hips and legs up in the water (resulting in less drag), an added benefit for triathletes and swimmers who don’t have the best form while swimming.

Whether you’re looking into buying your first wetsuit or you’re looking into a replacement, there are a few things you should ask yourself when shopping around.

First, let’s look at USAT rules concerning wearing wetsuits in a race:


78 degrees and colder – everyone can wear a wetsuit.

79 to 84 degrees – wetsuits are optional, but those who wear a wetsuit are not eligible for awards.

85 degrees and warmer – no wetsuits should be worn.


Even if you’re comfortable swimming in 78 degree or colder water without a wetsuit, you should wear it for the speed benefit you receive.

When it comes to deciding on a full or sleeveless wetsuit, there are a few things you should take into consideration.

Generally, those who are new to the sport or are weak swimmers prefer a full wetsuit.

Those coming from a swimming background generally prefer sleeveless because they feel there’s less restriction around the shoulders.

If you’ll be racing in colder water or are can’t tolerate cold water very well, then you’ll probably want a full wetsuit.  A sleeveless wetsuit will be good for those athletes who prefer cooler temperatures, overheat easily, or race in warmer water.

If you’re still confused about which wetsuit is right for you, think about renting one from your local triathlon or sports store so you can get a feel for it. And don’t forget to check out our sponsor Xterra Wetsuits.

So, now you may be wondering if you should practice in your wetsuit before race day?



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