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Wetsuit Fitting Diagram

Do I Need a Wetsuit?

A common question among first time triathletes is, “Do I need a triathlon wetsuit?” Wetsuits are almost always recommended in triathlons, but I’m writing this from the perspective of necessity.

This is a big concern because it’s often a hefty monetary investment, beating out the entry fee for a first timer. You can usually borrow a friend’s bike, or use your own hybrid/mountain/beater, but wetsuits are a different story because the fit is particular to a person’s body.

So do you need a wetsuit?

Wetsuit Fitting Diagram

I know it's not the most appropriate image for the article, but hey I thought it was helpful.

It depends.

Off the bat, when the water temperature is warm enough, wetsuits can be banned outright by the race, or permissible but rendering the athlete ineligible for awards.   If you’ve signed up for a race that falls under this instance, you won’t need one.

The USA Triathlon (USAT) rules on this point:

  • If the water is 78 degrees or lower, you can wear wetsuits without any issues.
  • But if the water is 78.1 – 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards.
  • If the water temperature is 84 degrees or above, wetsuits are banned outright.

The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC/Ironman) rules on this point:

  • If the water is 76.1F degrees  or below, wetsuits are allowed without issues.
  • If the water is 76.1 – 83.9 degrees, competitors may wear wetsuits, but will not be eligible for awards.
  • If the water temperature is 84 degrees or above, wetsuits are banned outright.

For races where wetsuits are allowed (meaning the water temperature is on the cooler side), there are a few factors to consider.  Let’s get started.

Is it a pool swim?

If yes, there’s no need.  Have a good race!

No?

Is it an ocean swim?

If yes, then a wetsuit is recommended.   Waves and currents make ocean swimming challenging, especially for the more casual swimmer.  Having a wetsuit helps with buoyancy, making it easier to stay afloat, and also helps  you swim faster.  It’s a safety net of sorts, as the wetsuit can do quite a bit of work for you.  But if you’re a life long swimmer, and it’s a badge of pride to swim only with a jammer or bathing suit, perhaps this doesn’t apply. There is no doubt that a wetsuit will still provide benefits even if you don’t really need it to finish the race.

Not an ocean swim?

Is it a Lake swim?

If yes, a wetsuit is generally still recommended for the benefits of buoyancy as noted above.  But, the need here isn’t as dramatic.  Calm lake swims in bearable waters is something you may already do every summer.  Enjoy.  Same analysis for the life long swimmer as noted above. A wetsuit will provide benefits even if you are a great swimmer.

But what if the water is super cold?

Then yes, it’s recommended, but you might be able to abate the cold by also using a neoprene swim cap under your colored race swim cap provided to you.  This is where those life long swimmers would fall into. For all categories of people you should probably get a suit to help combat the cold.

Do you need all the help you can get?

A young lady I helped in the store told me, “I need all the help I can get.”  She blurted this statement as part of a logical assessment of her newbie abilities after I explained to her the different attributes and levels of suits we carry.  She ended up going with a Zoot Women’s Prophet that was on sale, fitting into her budget.   If you, like her, are not very confident in your swimming abilities and have heard yourself saying this, then you will take solace in having a wetsuit for the race.

It doesn’t have to be a high-end wetsuit, but practically any of the popular swim/triathlon wetsuits would give you the help you’ll need. I won’t argue the fact that a more expensive wetsuit generally offer more benefits. However I will say that there are so many choices out there that sometimes the most expensive option isn’t the best option for you.

So after going through this exercise, you may have concluded that a wetsuit is something you need.

I’ve compiled a few wetsuit resources along with actual products for your research:

Best of luck to you on your search for a triathlon wetsuit.

Louis Garneau Tri-Lite Bike Shoes

Louis Garneau Tri Lite Bike Shoe

The Louis Garneau Tri-Lite Cycling Shoe

Louis Garneau makes several different triathlon cycling shoes, including the tri lite, which is a mid to higher end shoe.

I updated to the Louis Garneau Tri-Lite last year from a generic regular bike shoe I bought at a big chain store when I first got started in cycling a few years before.   After a bit of installation to line up the cleats as I had them, I went on the bike for a ride and immediately felt the difference.  This was the first thing I bought with carbon for biking.

By far, one of my favorite features on this shoe is the carbon composite sole.  Because it’s stiffer than the last shoe, the power transfer is significantly more efficient, and my feet are much more comfortable when riding.  These shoes feel much cooler, as Louis Garneau’s Tri-Lites have vented soles to help your feet dry from the swim.

The shoe weighs 226 grams.

Picture of the tri-lite.  Notice how it has one main reversed strap on the upper.

The carbon sole with vent.

Also a great plus about these shoes is the interchangeable sole insert.  Red for colder days, and blue for the warmer ones.

I’ve worn these without socks for sometime now, and I rarely wear my other cycling shoes, which I’ve relegated to spin class.

Check out the tri-lite and other tri shoes at OneTri.com.

New 2XU Compression Quad Sleeve (Perform)

New 2XU Compression Quad Sleeve (Perform)

As part of the new “PXR” 2XU Compression line, the 2XU Compression Quad Sleeve (Perform) is unisex, versatile, and great for active use to promote the plethora of compression benefits during activity.

Constructed with 2XU’s new fabric, PWX – POWER, WEIGHT, FLEX – this compression piece is arguably a favorite among triathletes because of the ability to isolate a single muscle group that’s prone to soreness during and post activity.   This isolation helps you increase overall blood flow to the area and reduce muscle oscillation.

2XU Compression is packaged and labeled to easily identify its function for athletic use.  Here, the P stands for Perform, or active use.

A sizing chart behind the package helps the shopper pick up the correct 2Xu Compression Quad Sleeve size.

For men, a vote for this product over the 2XU Perform Compression Short has merit when it comes to comfort, as it’s not always necessary to have everything up to your waist compressed.

What are the benefits compression for active use?  Off the bat, here’s two:

Reduced Damage

2XU Compression features muscle containment properties which reduce muscle damage during exercise. By reducing muscle damage, 2XU Compression garments can minimize swelling post exercise and can significantly reduce the severity and duration of exercise induced muscle injury and soreness such as Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

Increased Performance
During exercise, your muscles are exposed to vibration. This major cause of muscle fatigue, known as muscle oscillation can be reduced when wearing 2XU Compression garments. This leads to improved muscle endurance, strength, power output and lower heart rate for greater performance.

Still curious about the benefits of compression?  See: What is 2XU Compression?

New 2XU Compression – Perform, Xform, and Recover

Introduction to 2XU


Based in Melbourne, Australia, the philosophy of 2XU has been to promote human performance through competition and training.  Making a name for itself by crafting wetsuits, compression, and athletic apparel, their functional quality and cool factor is uncompromisingly delivered as an end product.

Through the years, they’ve partnered with heavyweights such as the Australian Institute of Sports and other research scientists, leading 2XU to industry recognition, and most recently becoming the official compression partner of the Ironman brand.

Introduction to Compression

With roots in medicine, compression apparel has found application in sports and competition, aiding athletes to perform better and recover faster.

2XU has redefined the compression category by sourcing and working with the right fabric for varying stages of athletic performance.  2XU’s latest fabric – PWX – which stands for Power, Weight, and Flex, offers different denier gauged fabric, providing different levels of mmHg to narrowly tailor toward the specific needs of an athlete.  This has been the design philosophy of the new 2XU compression, making it one of the unique product  in the industry.

How 2XU Compression Works:

The design of 2XU’s compression is graduated – it’s more compressive at the extremities to encourage and enhance venous return, pushing de-oxygenated blood back to the heart while also allowing the arteries to relax to deliver oxygenated blood to improve overall circulation.

The Benefits of 2XU Compression:

  • Increased blood circulation – sustained muscle performance, less fatigue, and faster recovery.
  • Muscle containment – reduced muscle vibration, improved muscle alignment for increased power.
  • Reduced effects of delayed onset muscle soreness.
  • Improved thermal regulation – better cooling and warming in varied climates

The Primary uses of 2XU Compression:

  • Active wear – warming up, training and racing
  • Recovery – post workout
  • Destination races – Prevention of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and pooling of blood in feet on air travel.
  • Sleeping – Increases circulation for improved muscle repair and faster recovery
  • At high altitude – to help combat less oxygen
  • Rehabilitation from injury or surgery

Introduction to P,X, and R


Perform (Active)

Designed for active use, this category focuses on dampening muscle oscillation during performance.  This unique fabric offers great breath-ability, moisture management, and flexibility to keep the wearer comfortable and focused on performance.

2XU Calf Guard – Perform

Xform (Active and Refresh)

Combining the fabrics from both Active and Refresh, XFORM is powerful and breathable, providing support to dampen muscles oscillation, and more efficient delivery of oxygenated blood to fatigued muscles.

2XU Long Sleeve Compression Top

2XU Long Sleeve Compressoin Top – Xform

Refresh (Pure Recovery)

Constructed with high denier fabric, the Refresh category is the gold standard for compression apparel, as the recovery phase is where its athletic use began.  The application is vast, as it can be used post workout, during long travel (to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis), during sleep to maximize muscle repair and recovery, and rehabilitation from injury or surgery.

2XU Compression Recovery Tight – Refresh

2XU currently offers a full range of compression apparel with its new revolutionary fabric to include arm sleeves, cycling bibs, compression shorts, and knickers as well.  You can find these and more on OneTri.com’s 2XU Compression homepage.

TYR Hurricane Category 5 Wetsuit Review

TYR Hurricane Category 5

Over the weekend, I was looking at my Facebook feed and saw some photos from Age Group Nationals in Vermont.  What floored me a bit was the fact that so many people were wearing TYR wetsuits, in particular the Cat 5!  Being the inquisitive I am, it warranted further investigation.

The Facts:

  • The wetsuit is made of the highest grade Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene, with 40 where the red stripes are on the shoulders.  This allows for unparalleled flexibility.
  • A higher cut on the legs makes this suit extremely easy to put on and take off.
  • The wetsuit itself was designed with valuable input from pros such as Andy Potts.
  • Over 30 of the top triathletes switched to the Hurricane before it even launched.  To name a few, Chrissie Wellington, Andy Potts, Mirinda Carfrae, Hilary Biscay.
  • Graded force catch panels – Thick graded panels are strategically aligned on the forearm to allow a catch and pull stroke like a built-in paddle.

The Swim

  • Shoulders feel great
  • Core stabilization feature is impressive.  The material that ends up wrapping around your core seems to separate the rest of your body, to ensure a proper swim form.

Taking it Off

  • Taking off the Hurricane Cat 5 was pretty easy, especially when it’s wet, thanks to the higher cut on the legs.

TYR makes their Cat 5 as a sleeveless wetsuit as well.  See the rest of the TYR Hurricane Wetsuits.

Profile Design Aerodrink Base Bar

Profile Design Aerodrink Base Bar. Simple and basic, this new bracket by Profile Design is probably one of my favorite new products.

  With this new bracket, your aero drink mounts directly onto your base bar, freeing up space from your cockpit and brings it closer to your body.  For a lot of people, it makes it easier to drink from this new position.  This bracket is also a lot more secure, and reduces any excessive rattling, as it allows the bottle to “click-in” place.

The bracket is for use with Profile Design aero drink bottles.  To see more Profile Design products, check out their brand page.

Xlab Rocket Pocket

This is the Xlab Rocket Pocket (like a bento box).  It’s small and contoured so that it wouldn’t slip or slide down or around the top tube while resting.  It holds all the essentials like your keys, gels, bars, and IDs.

The Xlab Rocket Pocket is good for use during training and during race day so that you’ll have access to what you need on the bike.

Don’t want to put nutrition in it?  You can also just use it to put tools in there if you prefer.  The sky is the limit.  See this and more Xlab products by going to the Xlab products page.

Zoot Z-Pack Tri Bag

Zoot Z-Pack Training Bag

This Zoot Triathlon Bag is what you need for a streamlined race day or training session.  The Z-Pack features:

  • The ability to attach a Race Travel Bag for complete travel ensemble
  • An expandable helmet storage panel
  • A Separate wet/shoe storage pocket with external access
  • An external ID/business card window
  • Two mesh cargo pockets for easy-access storage
  • An interior CD/MP3 pocket with rubber headphone jack
  • A large main compartment with top access
  • Two external zippered, fleece-lined pockets
  • Cell phone pocket on shoulder strap
  • Vented back panel for breathability and comfort
  • Memory foam shoulder straps for comfort
  • Adjustable sternum and shoulder straps for different torso lengths

Specs:

  • Fabric: 1680D Nylon in high-abrasion areas, 420D Poly, PU- coated mesh
    Size: 11″ wide, 9″ deep, 21″ tall (28 cm wide, 23cm deep, 53.25 cm tall)

At a triathlon transition where space is usually scarce, having a bag too bulky would make things much too difficult.  One, you’ll likely peeve other people around you, and second,  merely getting organized ends up being a more daunting task if  you end up bringing too much to transition.  This is why the Z-Pack is a great choice.  Bring what you need to your training session or race day, so you can focus on what’s most important – your race.

See how the Z-Pack compares for your needs to other Triathlon Bags.

Bellwether Retro Jersey

I’ll probably get a lot of crap for this, but triathlon and cycling apparel has gotten so serious and technical that all the style is non-existent these days.  So this is why I’m a proponent of the Bellwether Retro Jersey.  Comfortable and stylish, it features an elastic-free arm opening, silicon elastic gripper at the hem, three slanted pockets, and a 4″ zippered pocket.   Pair this  with a Bellwether Forma Bib Short  (I found these to essentially double as a compression piece for active use), and you’re set for the road.

Fit:  Club Fit (means that the fit is a bit more relaxed, as if you’re riding with a club, get it?)
Fabric: Quadra-Tech (excellent ventilation system for moisture and heat management)

Bellwether Comfort Control System (Below info is from Bellwether)

Clothing physiology is the interaction between the layers of clothing and the body’s own micro climate. Air temperature, humidity, skin temperature, rate of perspiration, and other factors all effect clothing performance. Technical fabrics and products only work well if they allow the body to achieve equilibrium between the input and output of heat and moisture.  With the Bellwether Comfort Control System, the correct balance of breathability and moisture transfer is achieved. The properties of each fabric are chosen to support the thermoregulation of the human body to insure maximum performance and optimal comfort.  At Bellwether we understand the functional design of our products. Using our Comfort Control System as a guide, we can ensure that each item is designed to excel for its intended purpose.

Quadra Tech

Unique box like construction increases the outer surface area of the fabric which improves transfer of perspiration away from the skin for speedy evaporation, while small channels promote ventilation for proper temperature modulation.

Orca Core Tri Pant Review

Looking for a pair of tri shorts with a bit more coverage, with a comfortable pad, and has pockets?  You should consider the Orca Core Tri Pant.

It features a 6mm thick pad that provides ample coverage and support while on the bike, but not so big that it’d interfere with you on the run.  On the back is center pocket for storing personal items, such as additional nutrition, keys or an ID.  As for the inseam length, it’s 8.26 inches.

Other features of the short is that it has  reflective trim for lower light conditions, hydroseal leg hems, and a rubber waistband/internal draw cord.

Links of note:

Xlab Gorilla XT – Highest Grip Carbon Cage

The Xlab Gorilla XT.  If you’re riding on bumpier roads, or you’re paranoid of any bottles flying out your rear hydration systems, this is the cage for you!  Designed for mountain bikers, this is Xlab’s highest grip carbon cage.

 

Light, sturdy, tight, and tough, your bottles ain’t going anywhere anymore – meaning you can rest assured while going on the trails.  Gone are the days of having to deal with one less bottle on the road or trail.  The Gorilla XT cage installs quickly like any other cage.  So go ahead, jump over that mountain lion, or that neighborhood cat and don’t even think twice about it.

See this and more Xlab products on the Xlab products brand page.

Zoot Fuzion Sleeveless Wetsuit Review

Looking for a Sleeveless Wetsuit?  The Zoot Fuzion might be a great candidate in your search for your first or all around training triathlon wetsuit.

Offering nine sizes, this wetsuit was designed to ensure a proper fit on different body types.   A notable feature on this suit is that fact that it’s made with Yamamoto 39 cell neoprene.  It’s the world’s most light weight and low-density rubber, making the suit extremely flexible, buoyant, and durable.  This translates to more speed.

The Fuzion also has a tapered collar line SCS smoothskin, which will help minimize chafing.  An updated cuff construction seals out water, and helps with getting the wetsuit on and off, giving it a feature that many entry-level wetsuits do not have.

The torso and thighs are 5mm,  sleeve and underarms are 1.5mm, and in the legs between 3-4mm.

Links of note:

Orca Core Sport Pant Review

My cousin came to me about a week before his first tri, “what do I need to get?”

There’s certainly joy in helping someone new with triathlon, but these are daunting because there’s so much to talk them through, if they absolutely have no triathlon gear.

The first thing I tell anyone is that they need a tri short.  I told him to get the Orca Core Sport Pant.

This short is excellent for newbies because it has exceptional value and features all the essential triathlon specific short properties – quick drying, has a lighter pad (compared with a bike short), and is made to be worn underneath a wetsuit.  The added bonus about this short is that because it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s great for use in brick workouts.

This is good, because I’m tired of hearing a triathlete friend telling me that he still uses board shorts to swim in the pool.

Click here to see more Orca tri shorts.

Profile Design T2+ Aerobar Extensions

The Profile Design T2+ Aerobar Extensions uses a system that fits both 26.0mm & 31.8mm bars, making the Profile Design T2+ Aerobar Extensions one of the most practical S-Bend extension on the market! These aero bars are ideal for triathletes and time trialists.  These are an excellent replacement if you’re looking a flatter bar that puts you into a more aggressive riding position.

Installation for these bars aren’t the most difficult, but you should have some basic understanding of cable routing for your shifters if you decide to go that route. You can also have your local bike shop help you out.

FEATURES:

  • Affordable, lightweight aluminum constriction
  • MULTI-FIT System™ fits 26.0mm & 31.8mm bars
  • 6061-T6 aluminum extensions and forged brackets
  • Length, width, and rotational extension adjustment
  • Equipped with “J” Brackets™ for a lower arm position
  • Includes F-19™ length and rotationally adjustable armrests
  • Shot peened and anodized finish for added strength and durability
  • Dual cable routing holes for optional internal cable routing Full aero carbon wing with ergonomic brake grip areas

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Clamp: 26.0mm & 31.8mm bars
  • Width: Adjustable
  • Color: Anodized matte black
  • Weight: 470g

De Soto Forza Tri Short

De Soto Forza Tri Short – longer, compressive race fabric for muscle support, and comfort.

I got these shorts for a race last weekend, and like a few of the key features:

  • It’s “compressive”.   With the “Compressor” fabric, think of the short as having active compression like qualities, which dampens muscle vibration, giving you the muscle support during race day, and in training.  Excellent feature for the price point.
  • The pad.  The pad construction is good, as it doesn’t make it apparent that you’re wearing a short with a pad in it!
  • The Fabric.  It’s comfortable against the skin, and it’s extremely quick drying.

De Soto also makes a 4 pocket Forza Tri Short.  See more De Soto Tri Shorts.

Bellwether Forma Bike Short

It’s all about the short, the short, the short!  The bike short, that is.  Bellwether’s Forma Bike Short answers the call with a quality chamois, and durable fabrics that’s able with withstand the most aggressive rider on the road.

I’m careless when it comes in washing my athletic apparel, and I usually just throw these in the washer/dryer because I hardly have the time to hand wash this stuff.  After about 6 cycles now, the fabric and chamois has held up quite well!

The bonus is that the fabric, as is the case with all Bellwether mid to higher end shorts, is that they have a compressive property to it.  In theory, this could possibly be the best value for a compression cycling short!

Check out Greg’s take on the shorts below:

Features:

  • LYCRA POWER™ fabric supports muscles
  • Ribbed surface improves airflow
  • High-density 3D molded seat pad
  • Soft elasticized waistband
  • Externally sewn silicon leg gripper
  • Flat-locked seams
Fit: Ergonomic ten-panel design
Fabric:  Aenergia™, Axial™
Chamois:  Physio Pro™

See more Bellwether goods by checking out the Bellwether Products page.

Bonk Breaker Bars

By far one of the best tasting “energy bars” on the market today, the Bonk Breaker Bar has taken on quite some traction as a gluten and dairy free food!

The bars come in a variety of flavors: Peanut Butter Jelly, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Almond Butter Honey, Espresso Chip, and Peanut Butter Banana.  I got a chance to sample one of the newest flavors – Espresso Chip – a few days ago.  As a self-professed caffeine addict, the bar was up to par without question.  Packed with 80mg of caffeine (think 1 can of red bull, 1 can of rockstar, or 2 cans of coke), the Espresso Chip Bonk Breaker will give you the additional kick you need to restart your engine for the final bike length home.

See more nutritional products like the Bonk Breaker.

Honey Stinger Gel

A gel that’s made out of Honey?  It’s true.  Honey Stinger Gel is a gel with one of its main ingredients as honey.  I got a chance to try it a few days ago, and liked it!
The gel itself has 120 calories, making it stack up to its competitors quite fairly.   It’s gluten free, so if you’re on a gluten free diet, it’s a perfect gel for you.

The taste and texture?  Surprisingly thin.  It’s thiner than the most popular gels out there, but perhaps thicker in consistency compared to Power Bar’s gels.

Interested in more gels?  Check out this nutrition page to see more energy gels.


Zoot Conduit Review

Last Thursday, I went out for a group swim at Corona Del Mar with some work peeps, and grabbed the Zoot Conduit to use.  I’ve always liked (rather, I hated the least) helping people put this suit on because it is fairly easy to do so.  It has stretchy flex panels, and the arms are thin yet durable to where I’m not afraid to put a puncture through it.

The verdict?!  My thought was… Why would I ever need another suit?  And, what would an extra 200 bucks buy me?!  The suit’s amazing for the price point.  My favorite features are the arms.  Relatively speaking, I’m barely able to notice that I have a giant rubber band wrapping around my body when I’m out swimming.

This suit has the mark of Karen Sing, the queen of neoprene, who is perhaps the most well-known wetsuit designer in the industry.  If you’re a wetsuit nerd, the Conduit, resembles Profile Design’s Marlin in that it also has flex panels through the suit.  It’s no surprise, as Ms. Sing is currently at Profile Design working her magic.

This is a great suit for a “mid-level” price point.  If you’re looking for something better than a base model, the money you spend on this wetsuit is worth every penny.

More triathlon wetsuit resources:

Nineteen Frequency Wetsuit

With awesome flexibility, the Nineteen Frequency Wetsuit features excellent freedom of movement in the upper body,  and delivers the speed and buoyancy where it’s needed.

  • Dual Seal Zipper – unique hidden zipper design features an additional internal seal next to the skin to further reduce water entry.
  • Uncollar – This will make you forget about uncomfortable and restrictive wetsuit collars. With its ultra-thin dual-sided construction and just the right height, you will forget that the suit has a collar.
  • Wingspan System – This is the evolution of Nineteen’s ground breaking flex panel. Now incorporating Yamamoto Cell 40 foam with an all-new ultra-stretch jersey, this 1.5mm panel is contoured around your lats and reaches all the way to your lower back. When combined with high-stretch arms, seamless shoulder construction and more 1.5mm neoprene on the side of your body, the Frequency encourages body roll and a fluid swim stroke — all designed to improve your swim technique.
  • PT Buoyancy Panels – The PT Buoyancy panel puts the most 5mm neoprene where you need it the most, around the hips. This lifts the hips in the water putting your body in the most powerful and hydrodynamic position possible.
  • Easy Off Legs – A very stretchy 2mm stretch panel covers the entire back of the calf allowing for ultra fast leg removal. The Frequency is fast in the water and fast on land.
  • Arm Grips  – These unique silicon seal bands at each wrist will minimize water leakage at this critical point allowing for fast and smooth hand entry and catch.

More triathlon wetsuit resources: