Try These 11 Triathlon Wetsuits for Men & Women

our favorite-best triathlon wetsuit picks by better triathlete featuring orca wetsuits

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an elite swimmer. Having a good triathlon wetsuit makes all the difference with open-water swimming.  But with so many swimwear brands to choose from, it can be difficult to wade through all of the options.

Below we share some of our favorite picks for men’s and women’s triathlon wetsuits. But before we jump into the products, keep in mind that any wetsuit you purchase should meet USAT and IRONMAN wetsuit rules. These are some of the best triathlon wetsuit options that meet these requirements. 

 

Jump to: Men’s WetsuitsWomen’s WetsuitsIRONMAN RulesUSAT Rules

ORCA Triathlon Wetsuits for Men

 

Men’s Triathlon Wetsuits

Below are several triathlon wetsuits for men, including brands like ORCA, ROKA, Zone3, TYR, Blueseventy, and Xterra. We discuss the overarching features and where you can find each wetsuit for purchase or more information. 

 

1. ROKA Maverick X2 Triathlon Wetsuit

ROKA Maverick X2 Triathlon Wetsuit for Men

If you’re truly looking for the best triathlon wetsuit, then the Maverick X2 from ROKA is probably it. The X2 is a front-runner and podium topper, and it’s the choice among many elite professionals in IRONMAN and 70.3 triathlons.

Designed with seven liners around the core, the Maverick X2 is specially engineered for power transfer with its stiff, rigid midsection. The outcome is a more efficient and faster swim stroke with the same power output. Competitive athletes will feel the difference.

Have a closer look at the ROKA Maverick X2 or purchase it directly from ROKA.com.

 

2. Blueseventy Reaction Wetsuit

Men's Blueseventy Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit

The perfect balance of performance, functionality, and versatility, the Blueseventy Reaction is an elite-level triathlon wetsuit that’s designed to maximize your potential in the water.

Like most Blueseventy tri wetsuits, the Reaction has been upgraded with a thinner neoprene thickness in the shoulders for optimized shoulder mobility, and strategically displaced neoprene thickness paneling in the core, sides, and back encourages natural body rotation and optimize buoyancy.

There’s a reason why the Reaction is such a well-reviewed swimming wetsuit. Get more information or buy direct from Blueseventy.

 

3. ROKA Maverick Pro II

Roka Maverick Pro 2 Triathlon Wetsuit Mens

Designed for competitive triathletes, the ROKA Maverick Pro II (second generation) is better than before. It’s tailored with several freestyle-specific patents, including ROKA’s ARMS-UP™ design that enables unrestricted shoulder mobility and the RS2™ centerline buoyancy profile that facilitates optimal body rotation.

As one of ROKA’s fastest and most comfortable triathlon wetsuits, the Maverick Pro II features a more advanced buoyancy construction for streamlined body position and quick-release ankle panels for efficient T1s. It’s also made with the most premium Yamamoto neoprene and high-glide, durable SCS nano-coating.

There’s a reason why ROKA’s Maverick Pro II triathlon wetsuit has a 4.8 average star rating out of 5 stars (across over a hundred reviews) and is an IRONMAN swimwear partner. The quality is second to none and gets every bit of what you pay for.

The Maverick Pro II is priced around $825 but there are several other Maverick models ranging between $275 and $1075. Buy direct from ROKA.

 

4. ORCA APEX Flex Triathlon Wetsuit

ORCA Apex Flex Mens Triathlon Wetsuit

The ORCA APEX Flex is a higher-end full-sleeve triathlon wetsuit that’s designed for maximum freedom of movement, elasticity, and flexibility. It is made with Yamamoto 40 technology and Infinity Skin 2 lining and has a Smoothskin surface finish. This composition provides the open-water swimmer with a complete range of motion in the shoulder area.

The ORCA APEX Flex is minimalist in its neoprene thickness at a mere 0.5-mm thick and combines the best lining with a titanium coating for better thermal insulation. The Power-fit compressive lining, along with ORCA’s high-end Yamamoto 40 technology, makes this wetsuit a great choice for those looking to improve their swimming speed.

You can usually find the ORCA APEX Flex for between $600-$700 on Amazon.

 

5. Blueseventy Sprint Triathlon Wetsuit

Blueseventy Sprint Triathlon Wetsuit in Mens

The Men’s Sprint Triathlon Wetsuit from Blueseventy is a top-of-the-line but well-priced wetsuit designed to help you perform your best in short-course and beyond. Featuring an improved neckline for comfort, an updated flexible upper for increased flexibility and visibility, and easy-out ankles for quick suit exit, this wetsuit has everything you need to give you the edge on race day. Its durable coating along the hips, legs, and arms creates a strong hydrophobic barrier that helps reduce drag and improve your speed in the water.

So, whether you’re looking to shave seconds off your time or just want a comfortable and efficient wetsuit for your next sprint triathlon, the 2022 Men’s Sprint Triathlon Wetsuit from Blueseventy is an excellent choice.

We recommend buying the Sprint wetsuit directly from Blueseventy for better returns and support. But you can usually find it on Backcountry and Amazon for alternative inventory options.

 

6. Synergy Endorphin Triathlon Wetsuit

Synergy Endorphin Mens Triathlon Wetsuit

The Synergy Endorphin triathlon wetsuit is a top-quality wetsuit that is perfect for all levels of triathletes. It is made from 100% nylon bonded to neoprene and features a hydrodynamic neoprene construction with SCS silicone-coated SyPrene.

The Synergy Endorphin is a sleek wetsuit that has a 5mm thick core buoyancy panel, 3mm lower legs and back, and 2mm arms and shoulders. This makes it exceptionally functional and flexible. It also comes in a wide range of sizes to ensure a perfect fit for every athlete.

This swimming wetsuit is priced right around the $300 mark on Amazon.

 

7. ROKA Maverick MX Wetsuit (Maximum Buoyancy)

Men's ROKA Maverick MX Wetsuit (Maximum Buoyancy)

An excellent open-water wetsuit at a mid-range price of just above $500, the ROKA Maverick MX provides maximum buoyancy for optimized streamlined capabilities. In comparison to the entry-level Maverick Comp suit, the MX has 20% more buoyancy and is still an IRONMAN-legal wetsuit.

In addition to its added buoyancy benefits, the ROKA Maverick MX is known for its comfort and durability. It’s designed to prevent abrasions and tears. And while it’s more resilient and buoyant, it also provides exceptional shoulder mobility.

For non-elite swimmers looking for a top-tier triathlon wetsuit, the Maverick MX is worth checking out. See it or buy it direct from ROKA.com.

 

8. Zone3 Vanquish Wetsuit

Zone3 Vanquish Triathlon Wetsuit for Men

The Zone3 Vanquish wetsuit is designed for serious athletes who want to give themselves a competitive edge. Made with high-quality, ultra-thin 0.3mm Yamamoto BRS SCS neoprene, the Vanquish is incredibly lightweight and buoyant, helping you easily move through the water.

The Pro Speed Cuffs make it easy to take the wetsuit on and off, while the SCS nano-coating reduces drag and increases speed.

To conclude, the Vanquish Wetsuit is perfect for triathlons, as it increases speed and reduces fatigue. It is also ideal for open water swimming, as it provides warmth and protection from the elements.

This swimming wetsuit can also be found on Amazon in the mid-$300 range on Amazon.

 

9. Blueseventy Helix Triathlon Wetsuit

blueseventy Helix Men's Triathlon Wetsuit

Blueseventy Helix is a professional-level triathlon wetsuit that’s engineered for maximum allowed buoyancy, shoulder flexibility, and T1 efficiency. Between its intricately designed neoprene paneling and upper mobility for freestyle, it’s touted as one of the best triathlon wetsuits for men.

The Blueseventy Helix is meticulously tailored to displace greater neoprene thickness and buoyancy in the core and upper legs and less in the shoulders and back, thereby enabling an optimal range of motion and body rotation. This is evident in Blueseventy’s Torsion Stretch Technology (TST) and unique construction that aids natural rotation.  

This 7th-generation wetsuit is not a budget option, but it’s very worth it for competitive triathletes. The best place to buy the men’s Helix is directly from blueseventy (where returns are easier).

 

10. TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Full Sleeve Wetsuit

TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Mens Full Sleeve Triathlon Wetsuit

The TYR Hurricane Cat 1 is one of the best men’s triathlon wetsuits on the market for the price at $225-ish. It’s made with quality neoprene and features a comfortable fit that allows you to move freely in the water. The Hurricane also works well in colder temperatures, keeping you warmer in cooler open water swims.

We’ve tried this wetsuit and it’s seemingly more buoyant in the water compared to other triathlon wetsuits. The zippered back closure makes it easy to get in and out of the wetsuit. The TYR Men’s Hurricane Cat 1 Fullsleeve is an excellent choice for beginner and competitive triathletes who want to improve their performance in the water.

The price ranges in the low to mid $200’s and can usually be found on Amazon.

 

11. ORCA Equip Triathlon Wetsuit

ORCA Equip Triathlon Wetsuit for Men

Firstly, introducing the ORCA Equip men’s triathlon wetsuit. This wetsuit is designed to be flexible and optimize your swimming ability, especially in open waters.

The 1.5 mm Yamamoto 39 material in the arms provides exceptional flexibility found in high-end wetsuits, while the inner lining is gentle on your skin and doesn’t constrict around your neck. Faster transitions are made possible by a Hydrolite panel design that allows the wetsuit to peel off more efficiently. 

All in all, this wetsuit is perfect for athletes who are looking for a comfortable, high-performance wetsuit that will help them transition quickly and efficiently during a race. With its superior construction and materials, the ORCA Equip men’s tri wetsuit is sure to give you the edge you need to succeed.

You purchase this wetsuit in the mid-$300 range on Amazon.

 

 

ORCA Triathlon Wetsuits for Women

Women’s Triathlon Wetsuits

Below are some of our favorite triathlon wetsuits for women, including brands like Zoot, ORCA, blueseventy, ROKA, Zone3, and TYR. Get information about each wetsuit and where to go to purchase.

 

1. Blueseventy Reaction Wetsuit

Women's Blueseventy Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit

The Blueseventy Reaction is an elite-caliber triathlon wetsuit for women that provides the right balance of performance and comfort. Women will appreciate expanded sizing options, as Blueseventy makes it a priority to ensure their female wetsuits are adjusted for women’s body types (not just a men’s wetsuit in a different color.)

The women’s Reaction has been redesigned with a thinner 1.5mm neoprene thickness around the underarms and shoulders to improve flexibility for freestyle swimming. Optimized torso paneling encourages body rotation and better buoyancy. The engineering alone is impressive advancement in tri wetsuit technology.

The Reaction receives high praise from the triathlon community. Get more information or purchase the Reaction direct from Blueseventy.

 

2. ROKA Maverick Pro II

ROKA Maverick Pro 2 Triathlon Wetsuit Womens

 

The women’s ROKA Maverick Pro II is a performance option that’s been upgraded for competitive female triathletes. As one of ROKA’s fastest and most comfortable triathlon wetsuits, the Maverick Pro II is made with the most durable Yamamoto neoprene and high-glide SCS nano-coating.

The Maverick Pro II comes equipped with ROKA’s patented ARMS-UP™ technology that’s freestyle-friendly for optimized shoulder flexibility as well as the wetsuit’s RS2™ centerline buoyancy design that encourages a more fluid body rotation. Quick-release ankle panels shave seconds in the first transition zone.

The Maverick Pro II women’s triathlon wetsuit has a 4.9 average star rating out of 5 stars. ROKA offers 30-day returns, free shipping, and a 2-year warranty. Oh, and it’s also the wetsuit choice for Lucy Charles-Barclay who holds the fastest IRONMAN swim time.

The Pro II model is priced around $825 but there are several other women’s Maverick wetsuit models ranging between $275 and $1075. Buy the Pro II direct from ROKA. Or see all women’s Maverick wetsuits from ROKA.

 

3. ORCA Openwater Core TRN Triathlon Wetsuit

ORCA Openwater Core TRN Triathlon Wetsuit

The Openwater Core TRN from ORCA is an ideal full-sleeve wetsuit for women who are just starting out in triathlon and open water swimming. It uses a Yamamoto 39 neoprene, a resilient, lightweight, and flexible material designed for performance. Equally strong is its tough YKK #10 zipper.

Engineered with ORCA’s Infinity Skin inner, the Openwater Core TRN offer optimal comfort and mobility. Overall, this is a terrific triathlon wetsuit for women seeking a budget option in the mid-$200’s.

If you’re interested in this wetsuit, check for sizing availability on Amazon.

 

4. ROKA Maverick X2 Triathlon Wetsuit

ROKA Maverick X2 Triathlon Wetsuit for Women

Indisputably one of (if not the) best triathlon wetsuit for women, the ROKA Maverick X2 takes wetsuit technology to another dimension. A top-tier wetsuit priced at just over $1K, the Maverick X2 is a powerful investment for serious athletes, particularly IRON-WOMEN.

The core is composed of seven different liners to make a stiffer and more responsive exoskeleton. In short order, this facilitates greater power transfer and efficiency, enabling swimmers to go longer and faster at the same relative effort.

7% more buoyant compared to the Maverick line’s entry-level Comp suit, the women’s X2 is like a second skin. It’s also the wetsuit used by professional triathlon (and fastest IRONMAN swimmer) Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Learn more about the ROKA Maverick X2 or purchase it directly from ROKA.com.

 

5. Blueseventy Helix Triathlon Wetsuit

blueseventy Helix Triathlon Wetsuit for Women

The Helix series from Blueseventy is a triathlon-specific wetsuit that’s designed for maximum allowed buoyancy, shoulder flexibility for optimal freestyle, and ease of exit when entering T1. All in all, it’s one of the best pro triathlon wetsuits for women.

The neoprene thickness of the Blueseventy Helix is intricately designed to displace greater thickness and buoyancy in the core and upper legs and less thickness in the back and shoulders, allowing greater mobility.

This is all rooted in Blueseventy’s Torsion Stretch Technology (TST) and unique paneling and construction that aids natural rotation. In addition to exceptional shoulder flexibility and buoyancy, this 7th generation tri wetsuit is expertly designed for the best triathletes.

While not cheap, you can often find deals on the women’s Helix directly from Blueseventy (buying direct is also the best route for easy returns and support).

 

6. Synergy Endorphin Triathlon Wetsuit 5/3mm

Synergy Endorphin Women's Triathlon Wetsuit 5/3mm

The Synergy Endorphin 5/3mm  wetsuit is a top-quality wetsuit that has been designed specifically for competitive triathletes. Not only does it look good but it performs even better. It’s well-designed with optimal buoyancy and mobility, offering a 5mm thick core panel, 3mm thick lower legs and back, and 2mm thick arms and shoulders.

Synergy Endorphin Triathlon Wetsuit is made from Yamamoto neoprene which is extremely hydrodynamic and provides superior performance in the water. This top-choice women’s triathlon suit is also coated with SCS silicone which makes it more durable and resistant to wear and tear. Moreover, it is equipped with an internal wetsuit zipper from YKK, which greatly reduces drag as you move through the water. Not to mention the wetsuit is also Ironman and USAT-approved.

You can get the Synergy Endorphin swimming wetsuit for a little over $300 on Amazon.

 

7. ROKA Maverick MX Wetsuit (Maximum Buoyancy)

Women's ROKA Maverick MX Wetsuit (Maximum Buoyancy)

Offering 20% greater buoyancy compared to the entry-level Maverick Comp, ROKA’s Maverick MX is designed to provide maximum buoyancy in the water. A big advantage for less-experienced swimmers, the Maverick MX helps improve flotation, body position, and reduce drag.

This IRONMAN-approved triathlon wetsuit is durably made to prevent tears and abrasions, ensuring that it will hold up for years of training and racing. For women aiming for a high-quality tri wetsuit in the mid-$500 price range, take a closer look at the Maverick MX.

For more info on the women’s Maverick MX, visit Roka.com.

 

8. Blueseventy Sprint Tri Wetsuit

blueseventy Sprint Tri Wetsuit

Whether you’re an experienced triathlete or just starting out, the Blueseventy Sprint triathlon wetsuit is a great investment that will deliver high-end open-water performance for many years. Featuring an updated flexible upper and improved neckline, this wetsuit is touted for its comfort and ability to minimize chafing.

The 3-4-4 buoyancy profile promotes optimal body position and streamlined buoyancy. The T1-minded easy-out ankles make for a quick suit exit. Blueseventy SCS wetsuit coating creates a strong hydrophobic barrier for increased speed and performance in the water. 

The women’s Blueseventy Sprint tri wetsuit is usually priced around $275, Buy the women’s Sprint direct from Blueseventy or find it on Amazon.

 

9. Zone3 Advance Triathlon Wetsuit

Zone3 Advance Triathlon Wetsuit for Women

If you’re an avid triathlete, then you know that having a reliable wetsuit is essential to your success in the water. The Zone3 Advance is designed to provide both comfort and performance, so you can focus on your swim and nothing else.

The neoprene material is soft and flexible, yet still provides the buoyancy you need to stay afloat. The seams are double-stitched and reinforced, so you won’t have to worry about them coming undone in the middle of your swim. The swimsuit features an SCS coating that prevents the suit from absorbing water, ensuring that you glide effortlessly through the water. It is adorned with 4mm core support buoyancy panels that help you maintain your body position in the water.

The price varies based on your size requirements but is generally in the mid-$200s on Amazon.

 

10. TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Triathlon Wetsuit

The women’s TYR Hurricane Cat 1 triathlon wetsuit is a great choice for beginner and aspiring triathletes looking to improve performance in the water. Made from 100% neoprene rubber, it is rugged and buoyant, providing substantial aid in staying streamlined.

The wetsuit is available in an all-black color scheme. The panel has minimal seams, helping to minimize drag and maximize speed in the water. As a long sleeve tri wetsuit, it’s cozy in colder waters but also protects against the sun’s harmful rays.

All in all, the TYR Hurricane Cat 1 is a great choice for new and mid-level triathletes looking for a wetsuit right at the $200 price point. See size availability on Amazon.

 

11. ORCA Openwater RS1 Sleeveless Wetsuit

ORCA Openwater RS1 Sleeveless Tri Wetsuit Women's

The ORCA Openwater RS1 is a high-performance sleeveless tri wetsuit that features laser-cut neoprene panels for a comfortable fit and Yamamoto neoprene for durability. The suit also has SCS 60% water resistance and Hydrolite technology to help you transition even faster.

The YKK #8 zipper makes it easy to get in and out of the suit, and the flexible materials make it possible to move freely in the water. In addition, the ORCA Openwater RS1 sleeveless wetsuit has an ultimate seal collar to prevent any abrasion on the skin.

You can find the ORCA RS1 sleeveless wetsuit priced in the mid-$200s on Amazon.

 

12. Zoot Bolt Triathlon Wetsuit

Zoot Bolt Triathlon Wetsuit Women

The Zoot Bolt Triathlon Wetsuit for women is designed to provide maximum shoulder and arm flexibility, as well as superior buoyancy. The wetsuit is made with Yamamoto Aerodome, which is designed to be lighter and more buoyant than conventional neoprene. 

The Zoot Bolt is a triathlon-specific wetsuit that features premium textile liners that are optimized for maximum stretch and comfort. It’s treated with SCS (Super Composite Skin) to reduce drag and improve swimming speeds. All in all, this flashy tri wetsuit is an excellent choice for female triathletes who are looking for something more performance-oriented. In short, it’s designed with pro’s in mind.

You purchase the Zoot Bolt right at the $500 mark on Amazon.

 

 

IRONMAN Triathlon Wetsuit Rules

Ironman Triathlon Wetsuit Rules Swim

There are a few key things to remember when it comes to the IRONMAN triathlon wetsuit rules. First and foremost, the rules are updated annually and come into effect after March in Africa, America, and Europe, and after July in China and Oceania. This is to ensure that all athletes competing in international races are on a level playing field.

Secondly, while the specific rules can vary slightly at some events due to local rules, Ironman tries to standardize wetsuit rules across all events.

The IRONMAN triathlon is one of the most challenging and demanding races in the world. To complete the race, athletes must swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon – all without taking a break.

To make sure that everyone has a fair chance to complete the race, there are some rules regarding the use of wetsuits. Here are a few:

  • Wetsuits may be worn in water temperatures up to and including 24.5°C/76.1°F.
  • The maximum allowable thickness for a wetsuit is 5mm.
  • Neoprene or any other booties are prohibited unless the temperature of the water is 18.3°C/65.0°F or colder.
  • Wetsuits are mandatory if the water temperature is below 16°C/60.8°F
  • Gloves or any hand cover are not allowed. 

 

 

USAT Triathlon Wetsuit Rules 

Orca equipe triathlon wetsuit men

The USAT Triathlon is the national governing body for the sport of triathlon in the United States. It sanctions races and regulates athletes to ensure fair competition. It also offers coaching certification and training programs to help athletes reach their potential. The USAT Triathlon also puts on events such as clinics, camps, and seminars to educate the public about the sport of triathlon.

In order to participate in a USAT-sanctioned event, athletes must comply with the following wetsuit rules:

  • Wetsuits may be worn during any USAT triathlon event, except where prohibited by the race director.
  • The maximum thickness is 5mm for a wetsuit.
  • Competitors may wear wetsuits if the water temperature is 78 degrees or lower.
  • Competitors may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards if the water temperature is between 78.1 – 83.9 degrees
  • Competitors aren’t allowed to wear wetsuits if the temperature is 84 degrees or above.

 

Triathlon Swimming Wetsuit FAQs

Triathlon wetsuits are a high-dollar item that requires some level of research and understanding. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions in the space. 

sleeveless triathlon wetsuit in open swimming temperature

Do wetsuits make you faster in triathlon?

For athletes of all swim calibers, a wetsuit can provide significant improvements in both speed and efficiency. While the potential benefits are highly individual, the influence of buoyancy and hydrostatic lift offers practical advantages for triathletes. 

A more buoyant vessel enables a more streamlined position that keeps swimmers horizontal with the water. This added lift allows swimmers to glide faster and more efficiently. Published studies have highlighted particular wetsuit benefits for inexperienced or poor swimmers as well as lean individuals with low body fat.(1)

So, how much faster is a wetsuit for triathlon swimming? Depending on the level of the swimmer, tests have shown time savings between four and ten seconds per hundred meters. There are many reports of wetsuit speed gains providing an average of 10 percent or one minute per kilometer. Evan Morrison tested his sleeveless wetsuit and achieved speed improvements of 7.3 percent and 55 seconds per kilometer.

However, it’s worth noting that a triathlon wetsuit with sleeves is generally faster than a sleeveless one. This triathlete’s test of several different wetsuits showed the Blueseventy Helix to deliver the fastest speed gains. The Helix was also highly reviewed by Ironman athlete Ben Greenfield for its buoyancy and feel. Ultra swimmer 

triathlon training ironman wetsuit

What type of wetsuit is best for triathlon?

Today’s top-rated triathlon wetsuits are designed with specialized paneling and strategically-displaced neoprene thicknesses to optimize buoyancy in the torso and legs while maximizing stretch and flexibility around the shoulders. This enables optimal efficiency for open-water swimming and primarily utilizing the freestyle stroke.

Some of the best triathlon wetsuits that deliver on these features include:  

 

pre-race open water swimming breathing

What is the difference between a triathlon wetsuit and a normal wetsuit?

Triathlon wetsuits are vastly different in comparison to traditional wetsuits used for surfing, scuba diving, and other watersports. The main differences center on the wetsuit’s material composition, design, and fit. 

Like most wetsuits, triathlon wetsuits are primarily made of neoprene. But what makes them different from normal wetsuits is the type of neoprene and the coating applied to the outside of the suit. Most high-performance triathlon wetsuits use a premium-grade Yamamoto neoprene with an SCS (or equivalent) coating to maximize the slipstream effect in the water.

In addition to the type of neoprene, most of today’s top swimming wetsuits are strategically designed to displace greater neoprene thickness in the torso and upper legs (specifically the bottom-facing part of the body when in a freestyle swimming position). This engineering is intended to increase buoyancy in targeted areas where it matters most for triathlon swimming. Conversely, a thinner neoprene is used around the neck and shoulders to maximize flexibility and reach during the freestyle swim motion.

Lastly, triathlon wetsuits have unique design considerations that emphasize fit and ease of removal. They often come in a multitude of sizes to ensure an optimal fit for athletes. And because triathletes often obsess about every second saved in when transitioning from swim to bike (T1), tri wetsuits are crafted with easy-to-use zippers and quick-to-remove ankles and sleeves.

triathlon swimming wetsuit Orca

What is the best thickness for a triathlon wetsuit?

The optimal thickness for a triathlon wetsuit largely depends on the athlete and the type of water their swimming in. But in general, utilizing the maximum allowed wetsuit thickness of 5mm is preferred to maximize buoyancy, and therefore, swim speed and efficiency. 

Most of today’s best triathlon wetsuits use neoprene thickness paneling to improve buoyancy while optimizing freestyle swimming. For instance, some wetsuits will feature a 5mm thick torso but only 0.5mm to 1mm thick shoulders. Keep in mind that USAT and Ironman-sanction triathlons limit wetsuit thickness to 5mm maximum.

 

What water temp is wetsuit legal for triathlon?

The rules that govern wetsuit-legal water temperatures vary depending on the event and governing body. 

USAT Triathlons

Most local triathlon use USAT wetsuit rules which allow athletes to wear a wetsuit if the water temperatures are 78 degrees Fahrenheit (28.5 degrees Celcius) or lower. This rule only applies to competitors who wish to be eligible for awards (athletes can still wear a wetsuit in water temps above 78 degrees, but they won’t qualify for overall race results.)

For elite athletes racing USAT, the wetsuit policy is different. The maximum wetsuit-legal water temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit  (20 degrees Celcius) for swim distances less than 3000 meters and 71.6 degrees F (22 C) for distances of 3000 meters or greater. This policy is determined by the USAT Athletes Advisory Council.

Ironman Triathlons

For Ironman events, including 70.3/half-Ironman distance triathlons under the Ironman brand, the rules are slightly different. Professionals and age-group athletes are allowed to wear wetsuits if the water temperature is 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit (24.5 degrees Celsius) or lower. Any temps 76.2 F or more and wetsuits are not permitted.

Additionally, wetsuits are mandatory for Ironman professionals and age-group athletes when water temps are below 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). Wetsuits are also prohibited in water temperatures greater than 83.8 degrees Fahrenheit (28.8 degrees Celsius). These rules are designed to help protect the safety of athletes.

 

Group Swim Shot - Ken Welsh Triathlon Coach

Do You Have Triathlon Wetsuit to Suggest?

Do you like a favorite triathlon wetsuit that we did not mention? We want to know about it! Let us know your best-choice tri wetsuit and why by contacting us

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About the Author

Tyler Tafelsky Head of Content Better Triathlete

Tyler Tafelsky is an experienced open-water swimmer, multisport athlete, and cyclist. Lately, he’s been exploring the world of gravel bike racing, competing at the professional level. Tyler is the Head of Content for Better Triathlete and leads the site’s editorial team. Learn more about Tyler. Or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

 

References

1. Chatard, Jean-Claude & Millet, Gregoire. (1996). Effects of Wetsuit Use in Swimming Events. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). 22. 70-5. 10.2165/00007256-199622020-00002.