30 of the best tri-suits reviewed: short-sleeved, vested and Ironman

November 11, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

As the only piece on apparel that’s with you for every step of your race, the tri-suit is a fundamental piece of triathlon gear. Here’s our guide to the best tri-suits on the market, whether you’re racing sprint or Ironman, on a budget or looking for aerodynamic gains.

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What is a tri-suit?

A tri-suit is a garment specifically designed for racing all three disciplines of triathlon. Made of a similar quick-drying fabric to swimwear, it’s flexible, hydrodynamic and aerodynamic so it can cater for the demands of swimming, cycling and running. It includes a pad/chamois for comfort on the bike leg, but this pad shouldn’t obstruct your final run leg.

Do you need to wear underwear under a tri-suit?

What tri-suit should I buy?

As the only piece of triathlon gear that’ll be with you from the starting horn until the finishing chute, the right tri-suit is a key purchase: too tight, baggy, poorly made or slow to dry and you’ll be flirting with a DNF instead of reaching for a personal best.

It also depends on what distance you’re planning to race and whether comfort or speed is your priority, and race conditions. The main options are vested, short-sleeved and those designed especially for Ironman, and there are advantages and disadvantages of each. See below for more information on choosing the best tri-suit for you.

What are the different types of tri-suit available?
Sprint versus long-distance tri-suits

How are the tri-suits tested and reviewed?

The tri-suits here were all given multiple tests on the swim, bike and run to find the best tri-suit. Key factors included breathability, how fast they dried, chafing (or lack of), pocket sizing and accessibility, and the effectiveness of the leg grippers and zippers. The pad was assessed for how quickly it dried after the swim, its ability to provide comfort on the bike leg and whether the size impacted on the run. The price, aesthetics, durability and aerodynamics were also considered, as was the versatility of each suit. Many of the Ironman tri-suits were also tested for their aerodynamic abilities at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub’s wind tunnel.

Best tri and Ironman tri-suits to buy in 2020

The best short-sleeved tri-suits
The best vested tri-suits
The best Ironman tri-suits
The best two-piece tri-suits

The best short-sleeved tri-suits

Elbow-length suits are equipped for the needs of the modern-day triathlete: shoulders and sleeves help to protect your skin; improved pads aid comfort; and fabrics are designed to be both hydro- and aerodynamic. On top of all that, manufacturers have thought about the practicalities of getting them on and off and have started getting creative with their designs, producing tri-suits that can suit a variety of distances. Time then to take a look at some of the best multi-distance short-sleeved tri-suits on the market.

Tri-fit Evo

£179

The Evo is an outstanding package from Aussie brand Tri-Fit. The suit proves to be very comfortable, especially across the chest where it uses premium Italian fabric. The pad is great even for longer sessions and races, while the fit felt perfect for us. A focus on aerodynamics (Tri-Fit have wind-tunnel-tested the latest version of the Evo) across the shoulders, back and arms didn’t inhibit flexibility and is of high quality, with the sleeves held in place. Pocket space is among the best on test here, with a decent rear pocket complemented by one on either leg for energy gels, while the full-length zipper and middle vent make it easy to get on and off. The design is far from bland but isn’t the most striking compared to the Zoot and Raceskin tri-suits tested here, and we would’ve welcomed more effective leg grippers. 

Verdict: Comfort, aerodynamics and features… a standout tri-suit for all race distances

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Score: 93%

Buy from TRI-FIT Athletic

Zone3 Lava Short Sleeve

£190

There’s much to like about Zone3’s newest iteration of their Lava series, but also a few concerns as the fit here delivered only mixed results. The length in the legs and body was outstanding but it was looser around the neck and shoulders. The test model is, however, a final prototype, and we’ve been assured these issues have been addressed for the production version (we’ll do a full review online). The back pocket design is positioned in an interesting way for access but proves a little fiddly. The woven fabrics are very comfortable and the temperature control excellent. The Cytech pad is supportive, even over longer distances, the grippers on the legs are effective and there’s promise of aerodynamic benefits thanks to Aero-Stripe material on the sleeves. So very close to being perfect, but just falling a little short. 

Verdict: Much to admire, and the final production version of the Lava should be even better Score: 90%

Buy from My Triathlon

Zoot Ltd Tri Aero Tokyo

£170