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triathlon wetsuit

Best Wetsuits For Triathlon

The triathlon wetsuit as we know it today was designed in the late 1980s by triathlon entrepreneur and all-around top fella, Dan Empfield. He wanted to swim and transition faster during a triathlon and decided to apply the old if you want something done, do it yourself logic.   

When the modern wetsuit was invented in the 1950s, they were developed for diving and water sports. The key aim was to provide warmth in the water and even today this style is thicker with a more rugged outer to cope with wear and tear. Modern wetsuits, due to the thick neoprene, are more restrictive and difficult to remove. Yet, when the key goal is warmth, these are not problematic design features. When you want to perform with speed and precision in a triathlon...they are.   

Triathlon wetsuits are designed to improve flexibility, hydrodynamic resistance and ease of removal during the transition. Their design is very different to the modern or surfing wetsuit, with a higher number of panels and varying thickness to ensure maximum flexibility through the shoulders, buoyancy (to raise body position in the water) and thermal protection.   

If you’re a triathlon beginner then you might not have realised there was a difference at all. As an amateur, it’s important to supply yourself with equipment to support your growing performance and although you don’t need to throw all your money into the BEST TRIATHLON WETSUIT EVER - you do need to get the best wetsuit for you that suits your requirements and event goals.   

We’ve already covered wetsuits for beginners but as a developing amateur with a little more experience you might be looking toward investing in something more!   

In this guide, we will examine what you need to consider when buying your wetsuit and give you our best solutions to get you to the top of your game in no time.  

tri wetsuit

Entry Level Triathlete: What to consider when buying 

When you look at buying a triathlon wetsuit, you should pay as much attention to the process as you would with a pair of running shoes. But what are the key things you should consider?   


Natural water sources are cold most of the time. If you’re training or competing in the British Isles then you can expect very small periods of time where the temperature reaches the high teens and when those autumn/winter months roll around expect low single figures. As the temperature of the water is not influenced daily but is determined by previous temperatures, it’s always hard to know exactly what you’re going to get.   

When cold, your body loses heat drastically. It’s hard to acclimatise naturally if you don’t swim in open water often and even though the first plunge into the water may knock some air out of your lungs, your wetness will fill with a thin layer of water that will heat up quickly between your skin and the wetsuit.   

The swim may be the shortest leg of the race but if you start off the race cold it’ll directly impact the rest of your competition. Seized muscles and chattering teeth are certainly not going to bode well as you climb onto your bike and have to stop in five minutes because your calves or shoulders are screaming.   

To ensure maximum warmth you should make sure your fit is perfect for you (covered below).   

International competitions (that is to say competitions run outside Great Britain) that are run under ITU Competition Rules will adhere to those rules for wetsuit usage; competitors taking part in these should familiarise themselves with these differences.   

There are also specific British Triathlon rules that dictate wetsuit wear in competition:   

a.) The use of wetsuits is forbidden or mandatory if the following combinations of distance and water temperature are attained:   

Swim length         Forbidden Above       Mandatory Below
Up to 1500m          22ºC        14ºC
1501–3000m         23ºC       15ºC
3001–4000m         24ºC       16ºC

*when mandatory, the wetsuit must cover at least the torso   

4.4 Modifications:   

a.) At temperatures below 11°C it is recommended that open water swimming does not take place. The above temperatures are based on water temperatures alone and assume that the wind chill factor is negligible. If wind chill is significant, swim distances may be reduced at higher temperatures.  

b.) At the following temperatures, the maximum swim distances are:   

Temperature         Maximum Distance Permissible
13ºC          2000m
12ºC         1000m 
11ºC         500m

c.) It is recommended that wetsuits are worn by all novices and Age-Groupers up to 22°C  


Flexibility is the main difference for triathlon-specific wetsuits and varies significantly between different suits. It’s important to move through the water as economically as possible rather than fighting against the suit with every arm rotation. Fighting with resistance unnecessarily saps energy and affects technique and efficiency drastically.   

Triathlon wetsuits are designed with thinner neoprene around the arm and shoulders to boost the extension and reduce the drawback. The thickness of a suit directly contributes to everything from warmth to flexibility but it also impacts buoyancy.   

Neoprene/rubber makes wetsuits float naturally. The higher you float in the water, the easier and faster you swim. Thicker material is more buoyant but less flexible. Thinner layers are more flexible to help preserve energy.   

For an amateur triathlete, the choice is mostly personal. For those with less fitness or those looking to compete for top positions, a thinner wetsuit can help with energy reduction and saving valuable time. If athletes struggle with the swim section of the race the most because of ability, the increased thickness can help to keep them afloat. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages respectively.   


Fit is a very important aspect to consider when buying a wetsuit. If your wetsuit does not fit properly it will not keep you warm or allow the mobility you need for your sport.    A wetsuit should fit like a second skin with no sagging in the back or excessive bunching in the arms or legs. It should fit tight in order to keep only a thin layer of water between your body and your suit. If your suit is loose, an abundance of water will flush through and it won’t effectively keep you warm. There should be no folds or excess material and a full range of motion.

A correct fit will make sure you get the right wetsuit for your body and will reduce issues occurring later that will hinder your performance. Wetsuit testing is the best way to make sure you’re making an experienced, informed choice between the options and TRI UK lets you TRI before you buy.   

beginner triathlete

What are the best entry level triathlon wetsuits? 

Many triathletes get a few races under their belts before shelling out loads of cash for their very first wetsuit.  After all, you want to make sure you enjoy the sport before making major investments in it, and it is important to get your triathlon swim technique down and not simply rely on the wetsuit for your buoyancy and speed.   

With that in mind from thickness to the brand to sleeve length, every aspect of a tri wetsuit can improve your performance and thinner, more flexible wetsuits will cost more. With those considerations in mind, we’ve chosen the best wetsuits for entry level competitors from our incredible tri wetsuit range to give you an idea of where to find your next step to success.   

GUL Swim FL 7 Seas Swim Wetsuit - Was £129.99 Now £80

New to TRI UK The Gul Swim 7 Seas Open Water Swimming Wetsuit has been designed to offer fantastic flexibility while having the buoyancy required to give the user the optimum swimming position.


  • 2/3Mm Buoyancy Panel Combination - For Improved Body Position And Minimal Drag.
  • 1.5Mm Under Arm Panels - For Maximum Flexibility.
  • Smoothskin Neoprene - For Reduced Surface Drag.
  • Revofit 3D Pattern Technology - For Flexibility And Efficiency.
  • Speed Cut Ankle With Double Lined Neoprene - For Ease Of Exit.
  • Flatlock Construction.


2XU P:1 Propel Wetsuit - £250

Our 2XU wetsuits are designed for the ultimate comfort and performance when in the water. However, with superior models such as the Propel Pro boasting a higher price along with its ability, our 2XU P:1 Propel is much more suited to those just entering the sport.   

This P:1 Propel is an all-round wetsuit that delivers many of the key technical benefits of the elite tier of the 2XU range. The inclusion of the rollbar, floating zip, SCS coating and 39 cell buoyancy panelling make the P:1 Propel a top-value wetsuit that will deliver the power needed to surpass the competition. Introduce yourself to the discipline with prowess and power with the P:1 Propel.   

2xu wetsuit

How to put a wetsuit on

Putting a wetsuit on is probably one of the least stirring things a human being can do. But knowing how to put it on can be a valuable tool for amateur athletes to increase their comfort and confidence.   

When putting on your wetsuit, be careful sliding it on. Make sure to only pull with the pads of your fingers, and not the nails so that the material doesn’t become nicked. As a tip, place plastic bags (or socks) over your feet before sliding on the suit. Always be sure the wetsuit is dry when you put it on. If it must be wet take extra care in putting the wetsuit on and do not pull too hard on key parts. TRI UK’s Glide anti-chafe balm can help protect your skin against the wet and improve with the putting on and taking off process.   

Where to buy triathlon wetsuits? 

Our introduction of the Endless Pools in our stores was a groundbreaking feature. Such a facility had never been on offer to customers wanting to try wetsuits before they made their purchase decision. At the time customers often visited the store just to see the pool!   

That was how groundbreaking the facility was. Even though the hype may have faded and the paparazzi might have stopped coming by, our Endless Pool still allows our valued customer to tri before they buy.   

These innovative features are fitting with a broad, deep current that allows swimmers to test how their wetsuit would actually feel in motion. When it comes to performance, don’t sacrifice. Choose the best triathlon wetsuit for you.   

Need a triathlon wetsuit? Contact our TRI UK team today on 01935 414142 or email