Part of the joy of triathlon, like any endurance discipline, is wearing fabrics that would otherwise not fly in day-to-day public appearances — preferably in neon (or “hi-viz”, in 2014 parlance). The apparel you choose in a race is important from a performance and comfort standpoint, too: while you can change clothes at each transition, a tri suit can take you from swim to bike to run to post-race pizza and beer. In a wetsuit-legal race, put it on over your tri suit. Burning up on the marathon run at Ironman Louisville? Unzip the front and put some cold sponges inside. These five tri suits are among the best for a single-garment race day.
Zoot Ultra Tri Racesuit
Zoot’s tri suits are comfortable enough to wear as PJs, with the added benefit of being race-ready. The Ultra Tri Racesuit is made using Schoeller’s coldblack textile finish, which provides UVA and UVB protection of UPF 30 while reducing heat build-up on the surface. The suit also has strategically-placed compression (what they call ULTRAcarbon BIOwrap) for added support and a minimal chamois that dries quickly and doesn’t feel like a diaper when you come off the bike and head out for the run. As a rule, we generally prefer front-zip tri suits like this one.
2XU LD Core Support Trisuit
Like Zoot’s Ultra suit, 2XU uses strategically-placed compression to encourage alignment and provide support in long races, plus Ice X fabrics that provide UPF 50+ protection and, according to 2XU, can lower skin temperature by up to five degrees fahrenheit. While we can’t vouch for the latter claim, we’re on board with the benefits of compression for long races where every bit of help makes a difference. As an added bonus, the antibacterial chamois in this suit is made from memory foam — so your lower regions will get Tempur-Pedic-quality treatment even while you hammer away on the bike leg.
Orca RS1 Killa Race Suit
Orca’s top-of-the-line race suit is made from two distinct fabrics: Featherlite, a combination of nylon and spandex, and HydroSkn, a combination of nylon and lycra. The former is built into the side panels of the upper and legs for unrestricted movement, while the latter has hydrodynamic qualities meant to help you slip through the water more efficiently. This is the suit you’ve seen on Andrew Starykowicz, world record holder for bike splits in the half and full Ironman distances.
Castelli Free Sanremo Suit
Cyclists will be familiar with Castelli, the cycling clothing brand that traces its roots back to a tailor in Milan circa 1876 who stitched some of the earliest cycling clothing and inspired Maurizio Castelli’s brand when it launched in 1974. While relatively new to the triathlon game, Castelli makes a handful of excellent products including the Sanremo suit, which is water-repellent, has aerodynamically designed pockets, provides UPF 16 protection and has and an anatomically designed seat pad that’s the most comfortable of any tri suit we’ve worn.
De Soto Forza
San Diego-based De Soto is a triathlon-specific brand that’s been making multi-sport products since 1990, much of them in the U.S. The Forza makes use of a handful of De Soto innovations: their Skin Cooler fabric stays wet to provide a cooling effect when you sweat; Liftfoil is a hydrodynamic fabric that reduces drag in the water; and a proprietary 4mm pad is integrated right into the suit (rather than inside the shorts, adding an extra layer). Bonus points for the color options, which include “Italia Pink” and “Nassau Blue”.