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  • Mar

    Top 2016 Tech Suits Compared - The Expert Review

    TOP 2016 TECH SUITS REVIEWED (all prices subject to change at any time)

    2016 Men's Elite Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
    Arena Carbon Ultra - Gangloff Review | *Available Soon
    FINIS Onyx - Gangloff ReviewProduct Page
    A3 Perfomance Legend - Gangloff ReviewProduct Page
    Funky Trunks Apex Stealth - Gangloff Review | *Available Late March 2016
    Jaked JKeel - Gangloff ReviewProduct Page
    FINIS Fuse - Gangloff ReviewProduct Page

    2016 Women's Elite Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
    Arena Carbon Ultra - Stupp Review | *Available Soon
    FINIS Onyx - Stupp ReviewProduct Page
    A3 Perfomance Legend - Stupp ReviewProduct Page
    Funkita Apex Stealth - Stupp Review | *Available Late March 2016
    Jaked JKeel - Stupp ReviewProduct Page
    FINIS Fuse - Stupp ReviewProduct Page

    2016 Men's Tech Suit Reviews 
    by Mark Gangloff

    What an exciting time in our sport! Just as coaches, swimmers, and families are making final preparations for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and the Rio Olympic Games, so are the suit manufacturers. Manufacturers are putting final touches on their suits and adding exciting colorways and color pops, so that we can swim our best – and look good – this summer.

    While many of the big brands unveiled their Olympic suits last year so they could be used by elite athletes at the 2015 Swimming Worlds, many of the suits in this review are not only effective in making us swim fast, but they are also affordable.

    Additionally, newcomers like Funky Trunks and A3 are surfacing, providing us with even more options. I had a blast with this review—I took a trip down memory lane, as I reminisced about preparing for the Trials and Olympic Games myself. I was equally excited thinking about all of the insanely talented swimmers racing for a spot in the history books this coming summer.

    As I have done in the past, I review suits based on three essential criteria:

    1. Size/Fit
    2. Material
    3. Performance

    I’m ready to dive in and go suit-by-suit, but first, remember my annual disclaimer: each swimmer’s body is different, his or her goals are different, and his or her swimming is different. So, regardless of any suit review, it is up to you to find the suit that is going to make you feel the best swimming your race. What I like to provide are my personal insights of what suit works for me and my body, and how a suit might compare to its peers.
     

    ARENA CARBON ULTRA ($399.00)
    Size 30

    Arena is a brand that has put out some terrific, quality suits over the past couple of years. As you are probably aware, the primary feature in all of the Arena tech suits is the carbon cage in each of their top of the line offerings: Carbon Pro, Carbon Flex and Carbon Air. We were excited to get the chance to try this latest Carbon, which is coming soon to SwimOutlet.com. This carbon fiber is wound into the swim suit fabric creating a great deal of compression and not allowing the suit fabric to be stretched too far. The Arena Carbon Ultra has many of the features of some of the other suits in the Carbon Series, but the designers have really focused a lot of their energy on what is going on INSIDE the suit instead of just on the outside. The great thing about what Arena is doing is they give consumers as many options as you could possibly want.

    Size/Fit
    Originally, I tried a size 28 and I could not get it over the boney part of my hips. Not even close. In order to get the correct fit, I had to size up to a 30. Once over my hips I was extremely happy with how the suit felt. The compression in the legs was good and my hips and butt were locked into place, which is exactly what I look for in a high performing suit. As you can see in my picture, the suit does ride a little higher than some of the others that I reviewed, but for my own taste that is a plus. This additional coverage may be a combination of the cut of the suit and also the fact that I had to size up.

    My recommendation for sizing would be to go with your original size if you have smaller hips. If you have larger hips, then I would go up one size. I wish I could have cleared the size 28 over my hips, because I think that this would have been a perfect fit for me.

    Materials
    This suit is made up of 50% nylon, 47% elastane and 3% carbon fiber, which is slightly less nylon and slightly more carbon fiber than the other suits in the Carbon Series. Reading some of the technology behind the Carbon Ultra really helped me understand why I had the sizing issue that I had. Like I referenced earlier, much of the development in this suit was done on the inside rather than the outside. The Carbon Ultra has incorporated the Ultra-Link System, which is a combination of how the suit is taped together and additional compression panels. When you turn the suit inside out, you can easily see the additional compression panels in a black and white giraffe pattern that make up this system. Needless to say those compression panels work very well because that is the reason I could not get suit on. While getting the suit on is a struggle, once in place I was extremely happy with the performance and fit of those compression panels.

    Performance
    Arena has done it again: this is a great suit. I give this suit an A for performance. Once in place this suit feels great in the water, giving you the compression that you need, while also giving you the freedom to move through all components of your stroke. The only reason this suit did not get the A+ is because of my sizing issue, which is part of my body composition and I wouldn’t expect from all people that purchase this suit. And it’s not cheap, I might add.

    Summary
    Pros: Great compression and great fit (once in place); unique interior construction.
    Cons: Difficult to get on and high price.
    Grade: A
     

    FINIS ONYX ($289.99)
    Size 28

    FINIS got into the tech suit game with the Vapor about two years ago. While I liked the suit, I haven’t seen it out there too much, so it’s interesting that they have come out with two new tech suits at the same time in early 2016. The higher-priced suit of the two-tiered approach from FINIS’s dual launch this year, the Onyx is the more technical suit that many elite athletes will prefer. Complex stitching allows the fabric to return to its original shape after being stretched.

    Size/Fit
    I prefer the cut of this suit over the FINIS Fuse. It is longer, hitting right above my knee instead of around my thigh. The double paneling in the Onyx gives this suit terrific compression qualities. My only (picky) criticism is that I prefer my glutes to be squeezed together more. Once again, the leg holes were a little too tight—I’m always looking for a suit that does not restrict my circulation or IT band just above my knee.

    Material
    The FINIS Onyx is made of 56% polyamide and 44% elastane. It is the greater proportion of elastane that gives this suit extra compression that I like. The “diamond flex technology” is another added feature of this suit, which likely contributes to the extra compression along with its double paneling. The double paneling may make the suit hard to adjust.

    Performance
    Congratulations, Onyx, you earned an A- for overall performance! They earned this grade because of the great cut and fit. For the top grade of an A, I’m looking for just a tad better fit in the legs for my taste.

    Summary
    Pros: great compression; love the additional sizing options (e.g., 27, 29, etc.)
    Cons: leg holes are too tight
    Grade: A-
     

    A3 PERFORMANCE LEGEND ($229.00)
    Size 28

    A3, a company based out of Wisconsin, may be a new brand name for a lot of you. While A3 has been around for several years, I am only now seeing more and more on deck, especially with teams. This is the first time I had tried an A3 product, but I was excited to do so.

    Size/Fit
    This suit fit true to size, which is always nice when you are getting to know a brand for the first time. While this suit is comfortable, it lacks some compression in the butt/hips for ultimate performance.  With that said, the suit feels good and moves well with the body on all four strokes. The leg holes were “sticky” enough to prevent the suit from shifting, but wasn’t “tacky” to the point where it was glued to my skin. Finding that nice middle ground is key in my opinion and contributes to the suit’s comfort.

    Material
    The Legend is made of 53% polyamide and 47% elastane. The suit’s material treatment gives this suit the ability to repel water well. Well done, A3!

    Performance
    The overall performance of A3’s Legend earns a B+. With a little more compression, Legend can move up to the A-range. While I prefer more compression, I would feel confident racing in this suit and those looking for a touch more comfort if wearing the suit for long stretches might like this option. The A3 Legend was a great addition to this review and to the tech suit market!

    Summary
    Pros: comfortable; price
    Cons: lacks the outright compression of the top models
    Grade: B+
     

    JAKED JKEEL ($198.95)
    Size 26

    Jaked is an Italian brand that came onto the scene during the “super-suit” era (circa 2009). Since then, we’ve seen several jammers from the manufacturer and SwimOutlet.com has been one of the few retailers to carry them in the U.S. I was excited to open the box and see this suit for the first time and see the bonding and unique seaming. My interest was definitely peaked before even putting the suit on!

    Size/Fit
    I sized down in this suit and I’m glad I did! The compression of this suit was very good and it fit well. The suit hits at just the right spot above the knee, as well as hitting high enough on my hips and back that I didn’t get any water down my backside on my dives or push-offs.

    Unlike many other brands, this suit does not have any sticky plastic around the leg holes. This made the suit more comfortable. Even without the sticky plastic, the suit stayed in place – so an excellent job by Jaked relying on design rather than added features to do the trick. The JKeel also features seaming down each butt cheek, which smooth out the rounder parts of the rear end. 

    Material
    The Jaked JKeel features an interesting blend of 58% polyamide, 32% elastane and 10% polyester. When swimming in this suit, I felt “locked” in. The material of this suit contributes to its “shimmery” look/feel and its ability to repel water. Jaked calls this the “AcquaSuAcqua” side effect using their Italian heritage to highlight the attribute.

    Performance
    Jaked JKeel earns an A for overall performance from me! Any racer in the world should feel confident wearing this suit. I liked it and I think the fact that it’s a mid-priced suit with top qualities makes you want to give it that extra half grade! For the win with an A+, Jaked will have to improve the compression and cut even more.

    Summary
    Pros: good compression; comfortable; repels water; price
    Cons: availability in the U.S. can be hard to find, unless you go to SwimOutlet.com
    Grade: A
     

    FUNKY TRUNKS APEX STEALTH ($170.00)
    Size 28

    Funky Trunks is an Australian-based company. Known for their swimwear, underwear and beachwear, this company prides itself on style—BRIGHT colors galore. Now they’ve taken the plunge into elite performance suits. I am always excited to see a new suit and lots of fun options like Funky Trunks. Funky Trunks is debuting with the Apex Stealth.

    Size/Fit
    Apex Stealth features a very traditional silhouette—it hits just above the knee and below the hip bones. However, for those with a larger backside like me, it is a little low in the back. Might not be a problem for those with thinner glutes. For this reason, I felt some water down the rear and had to keep adjusting to keep the suit up where it was supposed to be. I prefer more compression than this suit offers, especially in the hips. While I could size down to get the compression I like/need, I’d be afraid that sizing down wouldn’t give me the proper size in the legs.

    Material
    This suit is made of an outer shell (70% polyamide, 29% elastane, and 1% carbon fiber) and a lining (73% polyamide and 27% elastane). It offers “gridlocking fabric technology,” which I compare to the carbon fiber patter in the Arena Carbon Flex and the Hammerhead Silver Armor that I reviewed last year. The Apex Stealth’s carbon fiber is not wound as tightly as the other two suits. This probably contributes to its lack of compression in the butt/hips. That being said, I do like the compression in the legs of this suit.

    Performance
    Overall, this suit earns a B- for its performance. My preferred suit has more compression, so this suit misses the mark slightly, but it’s a solid debut. I always think brands need a year to tweak their original designs before they can really hit a home run. However, Apex Stealth is very comfortable and moved well with my body.

    Summary
    Pros: price & comfort
    Cons: Lacks compression and cut was a little low in the rear
    Grade: B-
     

    FINIS FUSE ($119.99)
    Size 28

    I did not review a FINIS suit during my last review, so I was excited to get the chance to try not one but two suits this time around! FINIS has always demonstrated top-of-the-line technology, but it has been mostly seen in FINIS gear and training accessories, not tech suits. Nonetheless, I had a gut feeling that the same innovative posture would be seen in a FINIS suit. While the Fuse may be considered Finis’ lower-end tech suit, some big names actually prefer to race in this one.

    Size/Fit
    This, too, is a very traditional cut, but it is a little shorter. To fit properly in the crotch, I kept pulling the legs higher and higher. But, the higher the legs got on my thigh, the tighter it felt. Ultimately, this fit led to the suit being too tight in the legs—it felt as though it cut off my circulation. The compression, on the other hand, was good (especially for this price point!).

    Material
    The Fuse is made of 71% polyamide and 29% elastane. It move great with the body on all four strokes! I never felt as though this suit restricted my movement. It is thick enough to provide enough compression on your muscles, but also stretchy—GREAT combination. Also, as a bonus, the hydro-reflective textile offers UVA/UVB protection to those swimmers racing outdoors.

    Performance
    The Fuse earned a B- on overall performance and its compression punches above its weight in terms of price. Unfortunately, for me, this suit just didn’t meet my own fit preferences. However, shorter swimmers may not have the same length issue that I experienced.

    Summary
    Pros: Good compression given the price point; moves well with your body on all four strokes; price
    Cons: too short; tight in the leg holes (probably from pulling it up higher on the waist)
    Grade: B-

    2016 Women's Tech Suit Reviews 
    by Julie Stupp

    In case you didn’t notice, it is an Olympic year! The #RoadToRio is getting shorter by the day because the Olympic Games officially begin in less than 150 days. Athletes are feverishly preparing for the most monumental competition of their lives and one of the biggest decisions an Olympic swimmer must make is which suit to wear on race day. Many companies have worked tirelessly to design the perfect tech suit for Rio, and many of those were featured in the 2015 Tech Suit Review so swimmers could wear them at 2015 Worlds. Luckily it’s not just the Olympic athletes who benefit from the suit companies innovative new designs. Mark and I have been testing technical racing suits for four years now and I can say without a doubt that the suits get better every year. It’s evident that at the end of every Olympic quad the brands put a little extra time and attention towards making a very special gold medal worthy suit.

    The major trends of 2016: The two words I heard the most while speaking with the different tech suit brands were “engineered-fitting” and “durability.” Fit is especially important for female swimmers, because no two women look the same. The brands have really taken this in to consideration and have all worked hard to design suits that specifically fit female swimmer bodies. Many of the brands have also focused on creating more durable fabrics. It is frustrating for any athlete to wear a tech suit for one swim meet and then the next time they put the suit on for a race it no longer fits the same way it did right out of the box. Tech suits are an investment and the brands respect the fact that consumers want a product to last for more than one weekend of racing.

    The drawback of 2016: Unfortunately, a new trend I have found in some of this year’s tech suits is a seam that runs horizontally across the midsection of the suit. Not only is this seam very uncomfortable when you are wearing the suit for longer periods of time, but it is also very unflattering on anyone who doesn’t have a rock hard six-pack. I hope this seam disappears as quickly as it came!
     

    ARENA CARBON ULTRA ($549)
    Size 30

    Size/Fit
    Arena began their Powerskin Carbon Series in 2012 with the Carbon Pro just before the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. Throughout the past quad they have launched several different suit technologies and 2016 is no different. Mark and I were luckily able to test the Ultra just days before the Tech Suit Review was released and shortly before its availability on  SwimOutlet.com (it’s available globally). It did not disappoint! The Ultra combines several of the most successful features of the previous Carbon series, but interestingly with the Ultra its innovation lies on the inside. The Ultra is absolutely a more compressive suit -- much like the original Carbon Pro or the Flex. Getting the suit on takes time and patience because of the different blend of fabrics and many inner seams. The suit fits very tightly on the lower body and is a bit more forgiving in the upper body. The compression from the original outer Carbon Cage textile combined with the new, “Ultra-Cage,” fabric bonded on the inside of the suit creates strong compression zones most felt throughout the legs, hips and glutes for me. My core and chest also felt very compressed and supported because of the Ultra-Cage, but I had more movement because of the new, “X-Pivot” seam design on the inside of the suit. This X-Pivot allows for much more rotation while swimming and more comfort while wearing the suit on deck for a longer session. The cutouts as I call them or areas of the suit that aren’t internally covered with the Ultra-Cage fabric are much more pliable. The only downside to the Ultra was the upper neckline of the suit. The Ultra-Cage fabric stops about an inch short of the top of the suit leaving a little too much stretch and movement for my liking. 

    Material
    Arena always has high-quality fabrics that are well-manufactured and well-treated with hydrophobic coatings. The Ultra is no different. The outer and inner fabrics are both very sturdy and durable. The suit held its shape well after multiple wear tests due to the combination of different fabrics and inner seams. The seams running throughout the inside of the suit create the, “Infinity Loop” design. These seams are all connected, creating a comprehensive feeling of compression and connectivity while swimming. I especially liked the support the seams generated throughout the core and lower legs.

    Performance
    The Ultra absolutely gave me a feeling of being more streamlined in the water due to the new compression zone design. I really liked that I had the necessary movement in my hips for breaststroke and underwater dolphin kicks. The Ultra’s X-Pivot gave me the flexibility around my ribs to breath easier and rotate seamlessly on freestyle and backstroke, this is something not many tech suits do. The cutouts around my quads were so much more comfortable than past Carbon series suits and they allowed me to feel less constricted after building up lactic acid, which is especially beneficial in a race.

    Summary
    Pros: Comfortable compression zones from the new Ultra-Cage fabric and the added flexibility from the X-Pivot design are a winning combination.
    Cons: There is too much movement and not enough compression at the Ultra’s neckline.
    Grade: A+
     

    FINIS ONYX ($379.99)
    Size 28

    Size/Fit
    FINIS has always been known for their innovative swimming “toys.” They have created top of the line swimming equipment and accessories for years, but the brand admittedly told me that they, “haven’t ever been there on race day.” With this year’s release of two new tech suits, I would say FINIS has finally made its mark. The Onyx is a double-layered tech suit that has a very compressive fit. It definitely takes a bit more time and attention to put on compared to their other suit in the review, the Fuse. The Onyx has minimal seaming which is great for comfort, but combined with the inner liner of the suit it makes it harder to put on and get into the right places on the body. The suit fits very well and has the same ultra comfortable back and shoulder strap construction as the Fuse. The design of the seams around the lats really allowed me to engage and use my upper body with out putting extra tension on my muscles over time. The Onyx has a mid-back cut which is great for more material coverage. The only downside to the Onyx fit is similar to the first couple of Arena Carbon Series suits: really tight in the legs – so it’s not a suit I would want to wear for hours on end.

    Material
    FINIS has designed a new “Diamond Flex” textile for the Onyx. This particular fabric not only looks flattering on, but is very effective in the pool. The diamond shape helps the fabric to move with the body and stretch in all four directions while racing and simultaneously holds its shape. This Diamond Flex design is what gives the Onyx such comprehensive compression. The Onyx has a very strong hydrophobic coating that was evident by the thick sheen we all love to see on a new suit when we first jump in the pool. I also had tons of water beading off the suit after every wear test!

    Performance
    The Onyx’s double layering helped me to feel completely locked in and buoyant while swimming. Unfortunately the inner lining of the suit made it more difficult to swim breaststroke. I felt like I lost a little bit of flexibility in my hips, which can change your stroke a bit. The Onyx is the perfect suit for a distance freestyler because of its full body compression, excellent shoulder-back strap and lat design, and very comfortable crotch seam. This is absolutely a tech suit you can wear for a longer race without sacrificing any comfort.

    Summary
    Pros: The minimalistic seam design and an excellent engineered fit for female swimmers.
    Cons: The double fabric layering in the legs made swimming breaststroke more of a challenge.
    Grade: A-
     

    A3 PERFORMANCE LEGEND ($349)
    Size 30

    Size/Fit
    A3 Performance is a relatively young technical suit company. They launched their first tech suit in 2012, called the Stealth. Over the past four years they feel they have really honed their craft and believe their newest innovation, the “Powerback,” is going to “fit the masses” very well. I was really excited to finally get to test one of their suits because I have heard great feedback for several years. Sizing was a big issue for me with this suit though because it is a difficult suit to get in to. The Legend was designed for optimal compression throughout the upper body and lats, combine that with the new, Powerback design and you get a tedious suit to put on. I tried on three sizes: 28, 30 and 32. The size 28 didn’t go past my hips. Next, I decided to play it safe and just get into the 32. The size 32 was still challenging to get on, which is a testament to the compressive A3 fabric around the chest, back and hips but once I dove in the water, I knew it wasn’t the right size for me. The 32 was too big for me in the chest allowing some unwanted water to flow in and out of the suit. After slowly and patiently putting on size 30, it fit perfectly. The Legend Powerback is the best of both worlds, it’s not a full closed back, but it’s not a full open back either. It is a 70% closed back design. I loved the added lat and upper back compression, and the always-important chest compression. The Powerback gave me the desired coverage from a full closed back yet the flexibility of movement you get from an open back. The Legend also has thin shoulder straps that sit lower down on your back not creating any unwanted tension in your shoulders. This suit is well-designed for comfort and compression.  

    Material
    A3’s G2 compression tech fabric has been an evolutionary process over the past four years. They explained that they have tried many different water repellents, fabric splices and bonding processes in order to get to the Legend. The G2 fabric is definitely durable and holds its shape, I can attest to that after trying to get in to all three suits multiple times. This gives you piece of mind that the suit won't wear out after just one meet.

    Performance
    The Legend helped me to feel very hydrodynamic in the water. I not only felt compression throughout my upper body but also throughout my legs. The thinner G2 compression fabric and the vertical seams down the sides of my body gave me a great range of motion in my hips and legs for all four strokes. This is definitely a suit you can comfortably wear for longer races and longer meet sessions.

    Summary
    Pros: It’s all about that Powerback.
    Cons: Getting the Legend on is a task.
    Grade: A (on the cusp of A+)
     

    FUNKITA APEX STEALTH ($310)
    Size 28 (open & closed back)

    Size/Fit
    Funkita is an Australian company that is best known for their colorful swimwear, activewear and underwear. This is their first-ever technical racing suit and they designed not only an open back option, but also a closed back race suit. The Apex Stealth in the open version fit very well, but I would have preferred a size 26 in the closed back option. I could have used a smaller size in the closed back suit because the material covering the back is a thinner single layer of fabric with more give. The Apex Stealth material reminds me a lot of a marriage between last year’s Carbon Air and the TYR Avictor. It is thinner like the Carbon Air yet more compressive like the TYR Avictor. Getting into the open back was no problem, but putting on the closed back is a little trickier because you have to be careful when tugging at the thinner fabric. Both suits have great length in the legs and a very comfortable back and shoulder strap design. There is one feature of the Apex Stealth I really dislike and it is the uncomfortable midsection seam found in both suits. The midsection seam runs horizontally across the body just below the belly button but above the hips. It is not only unflattering by creating a sort of muffin top effect, but it also cuts into your stomach after wearing the suit for longer periods of time.

    Material
    The Apex Stealth in the open back version is double lined throughout the body, but just single lined in the legs. This double lining gives you the desired compression throughout the suit, while the single lined legs allow for a little more freedom of movement. The closed back suit is single lined throughout the midsection and the back to again give you a little extra flexibility while swimming, yet covering more of your body with the high tech fabric. Funkita has designed a fabric with a “gridlocking” technology in order to provide swimmers with maximum compression. Funkita did a great job treating their fabric with a high-quality hydrophobic spray. Both suits had water beading off of the material after multiple wear tests. 

    Performance
    Both of the Apex Stealth suits performed very well in the water. The gridlocking fabric helped me to feel water resistance and compression while swimming fast, but I did have some unwanted water flowing in and out of the front of the closed back suit because it was a size too big. On the other hand I felt especially hydrodynamic while swimming butterfly and breaststroke simply because the material fully covered my back.

    Summary
    Pros: Funkita’s first ever tech suit offers swimmers a great closed back suit option.
    Cons: The midsection seam; fix that and this suit would hit that A- range.
    Grade: B+
     

    JAKED JKEEL ($292)
    Size 26

    Size/Fit
    The Jaked JKeel was another tough suit to get on because of its sturdy fabric. It took me some time to get it over my hips, but from there it was no problem. I am glad that the Jaked reps suggested I go down one size in the JKeel because the size 26 suit fit me extremely well, but take note: this is definitely a more compressive suit. The JKeel’s long leg cut combined with their new three seam glute construction really helped the suit to hug and compress my lower body. The three seams start at the base of the low back and run vertically down the suit. Two of the seams run down the center of the hamstrings and the other over the butt. Jaked has also created a new sort of rubber shoulder and back strap connector that is very durable and very comfortable. I had plenty of flexibility in my back and shoulders in and out of the pool.

    Unfortunately, on the front of the suit there is a seam where the shoulder strap material is bonded to the JKeel fabric that sits right on top of my collarbone and irritated my skin. It’s kind of rough to the touch so swimming in it for long periods of time gave me an old school, “rubby.” The double fabric lining throughout the chest created an awesome feeling of compression and the single fabric lining over the ribs and belly gave me the added stretch to breathe and rotate while racing. The only other con to this suit is the midsection seam: it is tight, uncomfortable and unflattering.

    Material
    You can always expect great high quality fabric from Jaked and the JKeel is no exception. The JKeel fabric is well-treated with a high quality hydrophobic coating that showed sheen underwater and tons of beading water once I jumped out of the pool. The suit’s fabric is very durable which makes it more time consuming to put on, but means that the suit will last for more than just one swim meet.     

    Performance
    Diving in the pool I felt very secured and buoyant because of the compressive fabric and the three-seam glute design. My hips felt lifted and I felt like I was swimming right on top of the water. I loved swimming all four strokes in this suit because the JKeel design didn’t constrict any of my movements throughout my hips, shoulders or my back.

    Summary
    Pros: The high quality, durable fabric and the new glute seams were perfectly compressive, yet made me feel extra buoyant while swimming.
    Cons: The unfortunate midsection seam and the shoulder seams on the front of the suit that rubbed on my collarbones.
    Grade: A
     

    FINIS FUSE ($169.99)
    Size 28

    Size/Fit
    The Fuse was a breeze to get on with its more stretchy fabric and flexible compression. To me, this suit seemed like a combination of the Blueseventy NeroFit and the Carbon Air, two lower cost elite suits relatively speaking. Think comfort over compression for a more versatile fitting suit. The Fuse fit me really nicely and was super-comfortable, but I could easily go down a size in this suit. I could wear the Fuse for an all day swim meet because of the awesome back and shoulder strap construction. It has the perfect amount of tension so that water doesn’t seep in the suit while you are racing, but is flexible enough to not strain any of your muscles while you are waiting on an event. The downside to the fit of the Fuse is that the legs of the suit were quite short on me and cut into my muscles about mid-quad and hamstring. So going down a size in the suit would most likely make the legs even a bit shorter.

    Material
    FINIS has chosen a really cool fabric for the Fuse. Not only is it very comfortable and fast but it also has a UVA and UVB protective layer built in to the fabric. This unique textile is a major plus for any outdoor swim meets. Not only can you wear a tech suit, but you can have piece of mind that you are protecting your skin from the suns harmful rays.   

    Performance
    The Fuse has fully bonded seams, which helped me to feel secure while swimming in the suit. It performed well in every stroke and especially on the starts and turns because of its more flexible fabric. The suit was treated with a hydrophobic coating, but it didn’t show as much of the beading water effect after several wear-tests.  If you factor in the price, I could even consider this an A- but keeping price out of the equation, it’s a solid B+, a good grade for this general price point.

    Summary
    Pros: The back and shoulder strap construction along with UVA and UVB protective textile makes the Fuse the perfect summer swim meet tech suit.
    Cons: The short fit of the legs became uncomfortable around my quads and hamstrings after wearing the suit for a longer period of time.
    Grade: B+

     

     

     

    TOP 2015 TECH SUITS REVIEWED (all prices subject to change at any time)

    2015 Men's Elite Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
    *NEW* MP Michael Phelps Xpresso - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Speedo LZR Racer X - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Arena Carbon Flex WC Edition - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    TYR Avictor - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Hammerhead Silver Armor - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Dolfin Titanium - Gangloff Review | Product Page 
    Arena Carbon Air - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Rocket Science LIGHT2 - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Jaked Jkatana - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Blueseventy neroFIT - Gangloff Review | Product Page
     

    2015 Women's Elite Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
    *NEW* MP Michael Phelps Xpresso - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Speedo LZR Racer X - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Arena Carbon Flex WC Edition- Stupp Review | Product Page
    TYR Avictor - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Hammerhead Silver Armor - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Dolfin Titanium - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Arena Carbon Air - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Rocket Science LIGHT2 - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Jaked Jkatana - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Blueseventy neroFIT - Stupp Review | Product Page


    Visit our New 2015/2016 Official Racing Suit Technology Guide for more information on tech suit technologies, Tech Talk interviews, and our discussion forum.

    2015 Men's Tech Suit Reviews
    by Mark Gangloff

    The countdown is on…Rio 2016 is right around the corner! Some of you may even have your eyes on Tokyo 2020. The rest of us feel our hearts pounding as we look forward to our state meets, sectional meets, junior nationals, senior nationals, and a slew of U.S. Masters meets in which we have the opportunity to race. Wherever your swimming takes you in the coming year, SwimOutlet.com and I want you to feel your very best from the moment your feet leave the blocks until the moment you feel the wall on your fingertips.

    Your swimming is all about you. You spend your time in the pool. You exert your effort in each training session. Your passion drives you to push a little harder. Tech suits have become a crucial part of our swimming, too. Tech suits do not change the time the swimmer puts in, the effort the swimmer exerts, or the passion the swimmer brings to the pool. However, there are tech suits that can complement each of us. There are tech suits compatible with our goals. There are tech suits that highlight our strengths as we strive to be our best. With innovations, changes, and refinements in the tech suit industry each year, it is important to educate yourself on the variety of options when it comes to tech suits and choosing the best one for you (or your favorite swimmer).

    Like in years past, I have tested and reviewed several tech suits to offer you a comprehensive outline of the tech suit options available to you. In my testing and review, I break it down into three elements of the suit: 1.) size/fit, 2.) material, and 3.) performance.

    As I tested and reviewed tech suits over the last several weeks, I noticed the quality across multiple brands and styles. There no longer appears to be ‘front runner’ or ‘best of the best.’ Instead, all eight suits (10 total styles) that I tested and review here have something special to offer. Additionally, I noticed each manufacture is stepping up their styling and color options. You are no longer confined to just wearing the ‘same old’ black suit, go ahead and make a statement with the color of your suit.

    Below, are the summaries of the suits that I tested and this year, they are in listed in descending order of price. The sizes I tried on were mostly size 28 and are listed for each suit.

     

    MP MICHAEL PHELPS XPRESSO JAMMER ($299.99)
    Size: 28

    Late last summer, Michael Phelps partnered with the Aqua Sphere brand and announced that they would be introducing a new tech suit and other performance accessories for 2015. This partnership is unique because Phelps has long been associated with Speedo; he endorsed Speedo products and sported Speedo gear in and out of the pool. However, Phelps’ relationship with Aqua Sphere moves beyond a simple endorsement. Phelps is involved in the development of products and, specifically, the Xpresso tech suit. His involvement with the company has evolved in parallel with the company expanding their product mix to include competitive swimwear and equipment beyond the recreational swimwear and equipment for which Aqua Sphere has been known. Needless to say, I am really looking forward to seeing how this partnership develops and the innovations that are bound to be a byproduct of their relationship.

    Size/Fit
    I wore a size 28 for this review and it was a good fit for me-what I would consider a “true-to size” fit. This suit provides a lot of compression in my hips and legs. When designing the suit, I know Phelps researched many high compression suits and liked how they felt, but did not like that they limited his range of motion. As a result, his design, the Xpresso, moves with your body as you move through the water. My only complaint is that suit was a little short (too high above my knees) for my liking. I prefer my suits to hit lower on the knee and higher on the hips.

    Materials
    Two different materials make up the Xpresso. The first is called Exo Foil; it is a 3-D stretch woven fabric. Like the Dolfin suit I reviewed previously, at rest this suit has small contours and raised edges. This design is made to provide compression while giving you good range of motion. Once you put the suit on those contours disappear, giving you a nice tight fit. This idea of 3-D stretch woven fabric is relatively new in swimwear but I anticipate it becoming a trend. It works! It provides good compression and range of motion at the same time. The Xpresso also includes a material called the Aqua Core. This is the black stripes in the front of the blue suit. This material also provides a lot of compression, but does not have a lot of flexibility. It assists the Exo Foil for overall compression. To me, they’ve put together a winning combination – which is tough to do with a first product launch!

    Performance
    I give this suit a B+ for overall performance. So close to an A, but slightly less than perfect fit knocked this suit into the B+ range for me. The fit may be better for a swimmer with smaller hips or great for someone looking for "mid-level" compression. They could comfortably wear this suit for an hour without becoming fatigued from the compression.

    Aqua Sphere wanted to start with a really great baseline suit for the MP line and I think they did that. For the next generation, they should consider playing with half sizes for the next level of customization, and also having a high-waisted option for those that want it.

    Summary
    Grade: B+
    Pros: Good compression; good price and a well-known name to go with it
    Cons: Too short for my own personal liking and not quite in that top tier of compression
     

    SPEEDO LZR RACER X ($349-$359.00)
    Size: 27

    As we all might expect, Speedo has stepped up its game leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Since its last tech suit models, Speedo has made some considerable adjustments and spent a lot of time on development. The new Speedo LZR Racer X proves to be a clear improvement on its prior editions and I was really excited for the chance to swim with this latest model and have the opportunity to see all the new features directly from a Speedo rep.

    Size/Fit
    I wear a size 28, but I size down in a Speedo suit (27) in order to reap the benefit of more compression. In the past, doing this provided more compression. However, it wasn’t always as much compression as I prefer. In the Speedo LZR Racer X, however, I could feel the compression giving me more confidence in the water. Based on my experience, I recommend sizing down ½ size. Unfortunately, I was not able to try the high-waisted version (my personal preference) but it is nice to know that that it is an option especially with the increased compression. I recommend the high-waisted option for the athlete that is more developed in the legs and hips. The suit provides more coverage making the water flow over your body more efficiently. Athletes that are super skinny may prefer the low-waisted suit because it looks and fits more like a "normal" suit.

    Materials
    Speedo is touting is newest elite fabric for this suit called CompreX. According to Speedo directly, “[the] LZR Racer CompreX uses one way stretch technology, stretching vertically, allowing swimmers freedom of movement during their stroke. It is resistant to horizontal stretch providing high compression and reducing drag, but increasing the muscles' efficiency.” What does this mean? While I could feel the additional compression, I could not tell whether it was vertical or horizontal compression. But, the good news is that even with the additional compression, the suit did not limit my ability to move through each of my strokes (including my breaststroke kick)! For me, this is terrific evolution if you know the compression is there but it doesn’t hinder you in anyway.

    The taping on the sides doesn’t just look cool, but it also gives the suit additional support for the larger muscles in your legs. I consider the combination of material and taping a win-win! Like other Speedo suits, this suit repels water as good as or better than other suits on the market.

    Performance
    Overall, I give this suit an A. With improvements to the fit coupled with the reliability of the Speedo brand, you can count on this suit for high performance. Offering high- and low-waisted options as well as half sizes, Speedo has given us the ability to customize this suit to whatever gives you the most confidence. Thank you, Speedo for this latest elite tech suit!

    Summary
    Grade: A
    Pros: Great improvement in compression. Options for ½ sizes and high- and low-waisted suits really are icing on the cake for Speedo’s newest suit.
    Cons: Pricey $$$
     

    ARENA CARBON FLEX WC EDITION ($370)
    Size: 28

    Rather than a brand new suit, Arena is refining a previous design with the Arena Carbon Flex WC Edition, which stands for World Championship in honor of the 2015 Worlds. This is a limited edition suit, so you get it now if you want it ever. You can read more about Arena’s carbon technology here as they now have a full range of products within the Carbon Series.

    Size/Fit
    Again, rather than a complete innovation, the refinement of previous designs allows Arena to consider consumer feedback and make improvements. For instance, this WC Edition is improved with respect to comfort. The compression of this suit is still strong—it locks your muscles in all the right places, yet allows plenty of movement due to its flexible seeming. 

    Like the predecessor, this suit hits higher on the hips, but the taping in the back is a little different allowing the suit to move with your body better.

    Additionally, the fit is the same as the previous design and is seemingly “true to size.” While it is a little difficult to get over the hips, but once it is on, the suit fits exactly as it should.

    Material
    Given the price, this suit is not the best at repelling the water, but what it lacks in being water repellent, it absolutely makes up for in compression. This suit is made of 52% nylon, 47% elastane, and 1% carbon fiber (exact same recipe as the original Carbon Flex & Carbon Pro).

    Performance
    A limited edition suit, you will not see every swimmer wearing this suit. However, it is a fantastic suit earning an A+ from me!

    Summary
    Grade: A+
    Pros: good combination of compression and flexibility; cut of the suit (i.e., it hits in the right place on the hips); wide range of bright color choices; limited edition desirability
    Cons: this suit is pricey in comparison to others here; lacks some water repellency 
     

    TYR AVICTOR ($349.99)
    Size: 27 & 28

    Just like brands such as Speedo or Arena, TYR has been a mainstay in swimming in the USA for quite some time. I heard some rumbling through the grapevine about the ‘new’ TYR suit and some of you may have read about it yourself last fall. Needless to say, I was very excited to try out the new TYR Avictor.

    Size/Fit
    Yes! Yes! Yes! TYR is offering ½ sizes in this suit. Instead of jumping 2 sizes (e.g, 24, 26, 28, 30…), the TYR Avictor offers sizes 24, 25, 26, 27, 28…. this provides us all the opportunity for a perfect fit. I give them huge credit here. This suit was not only comfortable, but also provided enough compression. Unfortunately, I thought it could have been a little tighter in the hips for optimal fit.

    You actually have two options with this suit (Avictor High Short Jammer & the Avictor Short Jammer), which differ in its rise (on your hips). I prefer the high-rise suit for multiple reasons. In this particular case, my concern with the lower-rise option reflects my experience getting water down the back of the suit on my dive. However, this could always be due to my particular build (i.e., big rear).

    Material
    This suit feels light. It is very hydrophobic taking on very little water. This suit is made of 70% nylon and 30% lycra spandex. The taping (how they ‘glue’ or ‘bond’ the panels of fabric together) of this suit has a little flex in it allowing the suit move with my body as I moved which I really like.

    Performance
    The performance of this suit is top notch. It’s tight, it’s light and it moves with your body. Having tried both a size 27 and 28, I prefer the size 27 Avictor High Short Jammer. Depending how tight you like your suit you can consider sizing down half size.

    Summary
    Grade: A
    Pros: light; good compression; sizing and cut options
    Cons: You do have to pay $$$ for top-notch performance with the Avictor.
     

    HAMMERHEAD SILVER ARMOR ($306)
    Size: 28

    Hammerhead is one of several new companies to the U.S. swimwear market recently! Hammerhead originated in Brazil by Olympic bronze medalist Fernando Scherer and his brother, Eduardo. While the company is relatively new—this was my first time wearing a Hammerhead—knowing the extensive swimming background of the suit maker gives me confidence in this company. I was excited to try on this suit!

    Size/Fit
    When I tried on this suit, I couldn’t help but notice similarities between this suit and the Arena Carbon Series. They share a similar square grid on the suit. It also has silver running through the suit creating the square grid —the purpose of this silver is to limit over-stretching of fabric in order to prevent it from wearing out. I never thought I’d wear a silver-laced suit to improve my swimming performance, but with every new year comes new technology!

    This suit has great compression. I like the way the suit “locks in” my muscles. I had some concern over the tightness of the band (see photo) in the leg holes. Therefore, those of you with big quads may want to size up.

    Material
    This suit is very water repellent. It’s made of 58% polyamide, 39% elastane, and 3% silver. The lining is 65% polyamide and 35% elastane. While this is not the most hydrophobic suit in the review it has enough to be confident in your performance.

    Performance
    Being a “compression guy,” my performance grade of the Hammerhead Silver Armor reflects its compression. However, I had enough trouble with the tightness of the leg holes to hold back a solid A. The slight discomfort I felt in my quads forced me to knock this suit down just a bit to an A-. But, overall—this is a great suit. 

    Summary
    Grade: A-
    Pros: great compression and fantastic elite tech suit debut
    Cons: fit of the bands around the leg holes
     

    DOLFIN TITANIUM ($300)
    Size: 26 & 28

    Dolfin has been a mainstay in the swimming industry for decades. Remember the colorful practice suits? Well, Dolfin, with the help of long-time swim product guru Matt Zimmer, is developing new products and expanding its presence into the tech suit market. You can read more about the technology in the Dolfin Titanium on their website. But here are my thoughts on the suit.

    Size/Fit
    During testing I tried both a size 26 and 28 and I preferred the size 26. Consider sizing down.

    Once I got the sizing correct, putting the suit on was no problem. It put the right amount of pressure on my muscles. While wearing this suit, I was able to move the way I wanted (and needed) to move—I could do a full breaststroke kick and the suit returned to a ‘compressed state.’ I would not consider this suit high-waisted, but it is slightly higher (see photo) in the back covering my hips and butt. For those not comfortable in high-waisted suits, the Titanium may provide you with an ideal fit. Benefits of a high-waisted suit? More of your skin is covered by a fast material. It also comes in handy when you’ve got a sizable booty and lower-waisted suits allow a rush of water down your backside.

    Material
    I took notice of the material of the Titanium immediately while pulling it on. I could see that parts of the fabric were raised creating a wave or “S” pattern on the fabric. Dolfin refers to this pattern as the “Hydrolock Weave.” This fabric is similar to other tech suits, but provides a little more compression. The suit is made of 56% polyamide and 44% elastane. As such, it repelled water and remained hydrophobic for the entire training session in which I tested the suit. The bonding of the fabric panels is inside the suit leaving the suit without any exposed taping. 

    Performance
    I felt great compression in this suit without feeling restricted. I give this suit an A for performance!

    Summary
    Grade: A
    Pros: This suit has great compression in the legs and is extremely hydrophobic.
    Cons: I would like to see the same amount of compression in the hips that was in the legs.
     

    ARENA CARBON AIR ($250)
    Size: 28

    This is Arena’s latest addition to the Carbon Series really providing the customer a lot of options to choose from. This suit gets its name from its weight as it is much lighter than the others in the Arena Carbon series. When you take this suit out of the box it is much thinner than the others in the Carbon Series, hence the name Carbon Air.

    Size/Fit
    This suit is tight. In fact, I had trouble bending my legs beyond 90 degrees—it restricted my movements making my legs feel fatigued from the extra effort. Additionally, because I was stretching the suit, the suit was quite transparent. Even the “modesty panels” were not providing much modesty. For all of these reasons, I would size up in this suit. Even though the Carbon bands created too much compression I think many of you will really like this suit. In fact, I really like the idea of this suit, but I don’t think it fits my body type as well as some of the other suits. If you have smaller hips and legs, this suit might be the suit for you!

    Material
    The material of this suit makes it feel “airy” and light. The seaming is completely within the suit rather than appearing on the outside of the suit. This tech suit is comprised of 65% nylon and 35% elastane. The Arena Carbon Air seems to be the most water repellent of all of the Arena suits I tested.

    Performance
    While I had some difficult with sizing and fit, this suit rocks in the water! I felt as though I was sliding through the water—exactly what I want to feel as I push off the walls. With a slight penalty for its sizing/fit, this suit earns an A in my book (with better sizing, I’d give this suit an A+).

    Summary
    Grade: A
    Pros: light; great compression if the sizing is right; cut; water repellency; reasonably priced
    Cons: sizing; not-so-modest fabric
     

    ROCKET SCIENCE ROCKET LIGHT2 ($227.95) 
    Size: 28

    While not the most visible brand on the market (yet), this Austin-based company is trying to put its stamp in the U.S. swimming market. Coming right from their website, Rocket Science claims that its suits are designed based on “detailed scientific research and the application of engineering concepts.” Here is how the Rocket Science LIGHT2 holds up.

    Size/Fit
    This suit is so easy to get on—it’s super stretchy! However, what we gain in comfort and ease with the Rocket Science LIGHT2, we give up in compression. During my first wear the inseam was a little short but on wearing the suit the second time, I did not have this problem.

    While for me, this suit did not provide an amazing fit, it’s great for athletes looking to stay in the suit for longer periods of time; they should really consider this.

    Material
    This suit is very lightweight, which made me feel like I was traveling through the water faster. Though thin, this suit has a good coating, which contributes to its great hydrophobic quality. It is made of 65% polymide and 35% elastane.

    Performance
    Despite my personal preference to have more compression, I like this suit. It feels good against my skin. As we all know, when we feel good, we swim well. Overall, I give this suit a B.

    Summary
    Grade: B
    Pros: reasonable price; easy on and off; comfortable
    Cons: lack of compression
     

    JAKED JKATANA ($193.95)
    Size: 28

    Jaked, a European brand, is another suit in this year’s review that is new to the U.S. Jaked gained momentum in 2009 around the World Championships that year, like several other tech suit brands, with its J01. This was one of the many ‘super suits’ that changed our sport forever. Since the ‘super suit’ era, Jaked has continued to refine its craft. I was curious to review the Jkatana as much as any other suit. 

    Size/Fit
    At first glance, I was nervous—this suit looked tiny! But, the fabric is quite stretchy, so I was able to slip it on with ease. In fact, I think that I could size down (wear a size smaller than I typically wear). The issue with sizing down would be that the fabric could lose its hydrophobic quality when it is overstretched. Hydrophobic quality is the suits ability to “scare water away,” thus having less drag (we can also use the term ‘water repellent’ here). But, the stretch does offer comfort and good coverage of any unmentionables.

    While I typically look for more compression (uniform pressure across the fabric, not just around the leg- or waistbands), the Jkatana still had enough for high performance.

    Material
    As I mention above, this suit is stretchy. It is made of 48% polyamide, 40% elastane, and 12% polyester – an interesting mix. Getting the right amount of stretch is important, so I recommend trying this suit out with stretch in mind—too much stretch can affect its permeability.

    Performance
    The Jkatana is a good quality suit. It is very comfortable and is a great option for a competition in which you do not have time to change in and out of your suit between races. It may also be a great option for open water events – something worth thinking about. Overall, I give this suit a B+.

    Summary
    Grade: B+
    Pros: easy to put on (i.e., you don’t look like a fool in the locker room) and also comfortable; it is very water repellent; and, you get all of this at a reasonable price.
    Cons: this suit may lack some compression you’ll find in other high-end products. 
     

    BLUESEVENTY NEROFIT ($129)
    Size: 28

    Like Jaked, Blueseventy got a lot of traction during the ‘super suit’ era and has been a consistent player in the tech suit industry. After speaking with Roque Santos of Blueseventy, it is my understanding that Blueseventy is especially interested in providing a quality product for age group athletes and Masters swimmers. This suit is really by itself in this group in terms of its price point, but the Blueseventy folks were confident it would review well.

    Size/Fit
    Boy, did this suit go on easy! It is also very comfortable. Both of these elements makes it easy to recommend for swimmers sitting around a swim meet all day in their suits. I found the inseam to be a little short, which sacrifices maximum tech suit coverage. However, the suit moved very well with my body as I dove into the water and pushed off the walls.

    Material
    Again, this suit is comfortable stemming from its stretchiness. Though stretchy, it maintained some compression across my muscles as I swam. This suit is made of 80% polyamide and 20% elastane. 

    Performance
    This suit performed well in the water—better than I expected given its comfort (and price!). This suit is not quite in the same league as an “elite” tech suit, but you will get great use out of it without comprising performance. Overall, I give this suit a B for performance. 

    Summary
    Grade: B
    Pros: comfort; price
    Cons: short inseam

    2015 Women's Tech Suit Reviews
    by Julie Stupp

    The devil is in the details. This phrase defines my 2015 tech suit review experience. Last year Mark and I thought we had a tough time detecting any major differences in the suits, but this year has truly proved to be our most difficult year yet. Difficult in a good way because every single suit company has made an exceptional product. Choosing a suit boils down to which details you like more than others. Many of the companies have made minor alterations that have resulted in major improvements, while some have done a complete overhaul and have created a completely new suit.

    Mark and I are very grateful to be a part of the annual SwimOutlet.com Tech Suit Review and because the blog allows for so many consumers to ask us questions and voice their own opinions about the suits, it’s made feedback readily available for the brands. The suit companies gain insight, ideas and knowledge about how they can make their products even better. The people have spoken and the companies have listened, because the most talked about change for the 2015 vs. the 2014 tech suit is the fact that a majority of swimmers value comfort just as much, if not more than compression.

    The major trends of 2015: Some of the buzz words or phrases we heard from the brands this year included, “resizing”, “color emphasis”, “flexible yet durable welded seams” and most importantly, “comfort before compression”. After testing the suits this year I felt that all of those changes were successfully addressed.

    The drawbacks of 2015: FINA ruled several years ago that no suits can be double lined in the legs. Unfortunately this ruling combined with the new “comfort before compression,” trend means that many of the suits fabrics are much thinner and more lightweight. This thinner fabric leaves many of the suits see-through in the legs and midsection. I am not a huge fan of this new trend, not only because you can see my belly button in many of the suits but also because that leaves the suit much more susceptible to ripping. The thinner fabrics are also not as durable over time.

    The 2015 Testing Process: Each of the suit companies have a team of experts that have spent countless hours and resources pouring over every high tech suit feature in order to manufacture the perfect product. Trust me those details matter. If the suit is off by even an inch it can make a world of difference in feel and therefore performance. In return for their attentiveness to detail Mark and I have spent three years coming up with the perfect wear testing process in order to fairly review each tech suit. In my third year of reviews, I finally feel like I have the most effective system. We began receiving the suits at the beginning of the year and we had the opportunity to set up informational calls to speak with several of the different brands. Each brand has a unique approach and direction for their suit. While they explain where their brand originated from, what their vision for this year’s tech suit is and how they have made a product that will enhance your speed, we take comprehensive notes. We also ask questions such as, “why they have used a specific pattern or if their sizing has been altered from the previous year.” Mark and I have learned from the past several years that sizing is the most commonly asked question or biggest concern from our SwimOutlet.com blog readers. After gathering all of the information from the brands we set out on our own to see how each suit performs.

    I try on every tech suit twice. In my initial test I put the suit on and immediately take note of how long it took me to get the suit on, how it feels dry and if there are any obvious sizing changes. Before I hop in the water I awkwardly ask another pool patron to take my picture. Most just give me strange looks and ask me what I am wearing. It was much easier when Mark and I took glamour shots of one another because we had the luxury of easily deleting and redoing bad pictures! Once the photoshoot is complete I jump in and swim about 1,000m mixing up my strokes, turns and speed all while taking mental notes of how each suit feels. I hop out of the pool to scribble some of my thoughts about how the suit felt while swimming each stroke, how it performed once it was wet and if the sizing changed at all in the water. The most important part of the initial test is the fast 100IM. I make sure to simulate a race effort because after all these are high performance technical suits. After trying on all of the suits once, I go back for round two of testing. In the second wear test, I see if the suit has retained its shape, if it got any easier to put on and if it seems just as durable in the pool. I hope my 2015 tech suit reviews help you find the best suit possible for your next race!  I tried on mostly size 28 except for a few suits where noted.
     

    MP MICHAEL PHELPS XPRESSO KNEESKIN ($449.99)
    Size: 28

    Ever since the MP line was announced last year, I’ve been excited to get my hands on the new Xpresso women’s suit and try it out. The men’s suit was out in June but I had to be extra patient before I could pull on the women’s kneeskin and give it a full round of testing. It did not disappoint, reminding me of the idiom: all good things come to those who wait.

    Size/Fit
    Getting in to the Xpresso was not overly-exhausting. Like most tech suits it was harder to get over my hips, but because of the new Exo Foil fabric technology once the suit was on I was completely mobile and comfortable throughout my hips and legs. This is by far the best combination of materials and suit construction for hip mobility and leg comfort in the 2015 tech suit bunch! The suit also features long leg coverage and a higher neck cut, which is great for tall swimmers. The Xpresso has a has a very low back strap fit and shoulder cut which was great for my shoulder flexibility and comfort. I really like the way the suit is designed to give the swimmers the ultimate flexibility and movement while racing. There is one long seam that runs along the side of the suit and the modesty panels connect to it from the front and back separately. This is great because there aren’t any impeding hip or core seams that cut off circulation or inhibit my movement in any way. Having freedom to move in a tech suit is key for swimming fast. I tested out a size 28, but I wish I could have tried on the 27. I think it would have fit me better in the chest. After both of my wear tests the grey Exo Foil material above my chest had stretched out and made the top portion of the suit too loose for my liking, allowing water to flow in and out a bit while racing. A 27 would most likely have alleviated this.

    Material
    The MP Xpresso is a made from the combination of two materials the Exo Foil (grey-colored material) and the Aqua Core (black-colored material). This combination of high-tech materials makes up the brand’s new Exo Core technology, aimed to incorporate high-level compression with added flexibility for a better range of motion. I would say their design was a success, I definitely felt the proper amount of compression throughout the core and legs while swimming and I also had the added mobility in my hips. The only major downside to this suit was the Exo Foil above my chest stretched out too much after the second test. It may have been a sizing issue, but I think the material’s flexibility lends to it stretching too much in this section of the suit. The Xpresso did have a high-quality hydrophobic coating that didn’t seem to wear off after my initial wear tests. The suit had plenty of water beading even after I jumped out of the pool multiple times.

    Performance
    The performance of the MP Michael Phelps Xpresso was all-around great. The suit’s combination of fabrics, seam construction and thoughtful cut around the core, hips and in the legs gave me the most flexibility of any of the 2015 elite tech suits. I think this suit is perfectly made for breaststrokers and IM’ers because of the extra mobility. I would expect nothing less from the reigning world record holder in the IM races. It is definitely not the most compressive suit on the market, but it has plenty of compression, I felt very hydrodynamic when starting and turning in the pool. It is great for shoulder flexibility and wearing the suit at a longer swim meet session, but just a bit too much stretch above and around my chest.

    Summary
    Grade: A (size 27 might have been an A+)
    Pros: The suit’s combination of construction and flexibility in the hips is a game-changer for breaststrokers and IM’ers.
    Cons: The suit’s thinner material above the chest creates too much movement and stretch after several wears for me. That was the only downside.
     

    SPEEDO LZR RACER X ($479-$489.00)
    Size 26 and 27 open back & Size 27 closed back

    Size/Fit
    Speedo has always been known for a very well fitting women’s tech suit and the LZR Racer X is no different. Slow and steady wins the race, a good mantra to remember when putting on any tech suit, especially the LZR Racer X. Both the open and closed back options were quite a challenge to get on due to the sturdy hip seams surrounded by a thinner more delicate material that I was afraid of ripping. The real struggle came when trying to get the comfort straps over my shoulders. I tried for several minutes to get them on by myself and eventually caved and asked a fellow locker room patron for some help. I tried on a size 26 and size 27 in the open back and the 27 definitely had more of a vertical give. The new comfort straps are a bit thicker, so I think it just takes some time for them to have a little more stretch. Once the suit was on it felt great! The construction and cut of the LZR Racer X is one of the best I have ever put on, especially the new closed back option. Kudos to the development team. Both suit hugs and compresses your body in all the essential places to make a swimmer more hydrodynamic in the bust, hips, glutes, core and now back in the closed back option.

    Material
    The new construction of the LZR Racer X combined with some of Speedo’s new technology makes the suit not only comfortable and fast, but much more durable than some of their previous LZR Racer suits. The blend of thicker and thinner materials gives the suit the proper feeling of compression yet enough stretch in key areas including the core, chest and back. The suit’s core has two small cut outs made of the thinner material and this gives just the right amount of stretch, while you’re racing. The new construction and fit make for very comfortable compression. Speedo has introduced a new K-Tape technology on the inside of the suit that acts much like the Carbon Flex taping found on the outside of the Arena suit. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that these are the two best suits out there, along with the Hammerhead suit that I really liked. It stretches with the body and then retains the suits shape giving you a spring like feeling. The K Tape and welded seems on the outside of the suit give both styles more structure, stability and durabilty over time. Previous LZR Racer suits lacked durability, they would lose their shape and compression after a few swim meets. The suit is also treated with a high quality hydrophobic coating that was seen after multiple wear tests. The more material on your skin, the faster you are in the water making the closed back suit a very fast option.

    Performance
    The suit performed very well in the water by making my body feel very hydrodynamic especially on my starts, turns and push-offs. The sturdy new construction combined with Speedo’s new technology made me feel fast with a good amount of compression. This comfortable compression made swimming all four strokes feel seamless but I definitely couldn’t wear this suit for long distance race because the leg seams and shoulder straps were quite tight. They didn’t have much give after my two wear tests but it is possible that over time they would stretch out a bit more.

    Summary
    Grade: A+ for the closed-back, A for the open back
    Pros: The closed back suit option and the core and chest compression in both styles are simply one of the best on the tech suit market.
    Cons: The comfort shoulder straps and leg seams have very little give.
     

    ARENA CARBON FLEX WC EDITION 2015 ($500)
    Size: 28

    Size/Fit
    The minor adjustments that Arena made to the Carbon Flex WC Edition made all the difference in this suit’s fit, feel and performance for me. The repositioned front seam and eliminated side seam made the suit feel much more mobile in the core and hips. Not to mention making it easier to get on and in the right places. I also had a lot more range of motion with the adjustments made to the shoulder and back straps. The suit comes to a wide deep V and sits comfortably on my back. The Carbon Flex WC Edition is just as compressive as the Carbon Flex, there have been no alterations to the fabric. The overall compression throughout the core, chest, hips and legs of the suit is excellent. The only downside to the fit is the tightness of the bottom leg seam. This is not a suit I can wear for an entire session. Arena has proven time and time again that they can make a great fitting compressive tech suit and this WC Edition is no different.

    Material
    The carbon cage fabric design is exactly the same as previous Carbon suits. The fabric is also treated with the same high quality hydrophobic coating. Nothing about the material has changed except for the limited edition colors.

    Performance
    The Carbon Flex WC Edition performed very well while swimming all four strokes. The new taping system allowed me the additional hip mobility I felt I lacked in the previous Carbon Flex design. Swimming breaststroke and IM felt unrestricted and explosive with the “stretch and return” from the flex taping. The overall compression combined with the new and improved WC Edition fit helped me feel hydrodynamic yet very comfortable. I give the Carbon Flex WC Edition an A+ for overall performance and originality.

    Summary
    Grade: A+
    Pros: Readjusted seams and limited edition colors, get one while they last!
    Cons: The leg seam tightness and overall compression may be hard for some swimmers to wear for a longer swim meet session.
     

    TYR AVICTOR ($479.99)
    Size: 28 Open Back & Size 27 Closed Back

    Size/Fit
    The Avictor open and closed back both proved to be rather difficult to get on and then into the right place because of some of the suit’s new high-tech features. TYR has come up with a new “Supersonic Flex Bonding,” technique that creates a really smooth seam. They are essentially unnoticeable once the suit is on. The new welding that they use also makes the seams more flexible, so that once you’re wearing the Avictor it stretches with your body’s movements. Because the seams are so well-bonded and the material is much thinner than before there isn’t much to grip when pulling the suit on. The most tedious part is getting the suit over your hips, once this is done, the suit slides on no problem. The closed back is especially hard to move over your hips because there aren’t any straps to grab a hold of but this suit has more skin covered with fabric, which equals more speed! Finding the right size is very important because a size too small may result in a ripped suit. I tested a 27 and a 28 in each of the suits and found that the 27 closed back and the 28 open back were the best fit for me. I suggest going down one size in the closed back because there is more stretchy fabric on your back. Unfortunately on the second wear test the 27 closed back ripped at the hip seam. Slow and steady wins the race while trying on all tech suits.

    Material
    The TYR Avictor is a made from a new lightweight technical fabric that feels much like a paper suit. The suit is the epitome of the new trend, comfort and compression combined. Both suits have a very comfortable shoulder and back strap construction, there aren’t any seams to pull or irritate your skin. The Avictor modesty panels double as extra compression in the core, chest and glutes, which is a major advantage. Unfortunately neither suit has panels covering the stomach, which leaves the black suit very see-through in the mid section.

    Performance
    The Avictor open and closed back suits moves very well with the body allowing you to maintain your everyday technique in a high tech suit. The high neck cut and long leg coverage in both styles give you the advantage of having “faster than skin,” fabric on more of your body. The closed back option made me feel like I was effortlessly slipping through the water especially on my push-offs and my dive. The tighter hip seams in both suits leave you feeling a little immobile while swimming breaststroke. This suit might be better for a non-breaststroke specialist. I give the TYR Avictor closed back an A for overall performance, and the open back an A-. Limiting factor was the challenge of getting the suits in the right places.

    Summary
    Grade: A / A-
    Pros: closed back suit options are comfortable and compressive, more fabric is better especially in the TYR Avictor!
    Cons: the suit is tedious to put on and to get positioned in to the right places.
     

    HAMMERHEAD SILVER ARMOR ($423)
    Size: 28

    Size/Fit
    Out of all the tech suits I have ever worn, this was by far one of the hardest to put on. But the struggle was worth it in the end because the sizing and fit of the suit were perfect for me. The construction of the upper body is unique in that the suit cuts in a bit on the chest and then connects to very comfortable shoulder straps. The high scoop neck combined with the thin shoulder straps made me feel secure and compressed in my upper body. The suit is seamless which makes it not only comfortable to wear but gives you unobstructed feeling of compression. The only downside to the fit of the Silver Armor is the tightness of the bottom leg seam. It was very tight on my quads and is not a suit I would want to wear for a long swim meet session.

    Material
    The Silver Armor Elite fabric proved to be very durable because to get this suit on for the first time I really had to tug at the material. It reminds me a lot of the original carbon fabric and design because of the exact same square shape. Where the Silver Armor differs is the single lined fabric in the legs. This makes the suit compressive yet comfortable to wear in any race distance. The suit has excellent hydrophobic qualities with a noticeable sheen in and out of the pool and a great deal of water beading off the fabric.

    Performance
    Swimming in the Silver Armor was very comfortable for fly, back and free especially. I got uncomfortable after swimming a lot of breaststroke in this suit because the bottom leg strap was too tight on my quads. For a younger swimmer with less developed muscles or someone with smaller quads they wouldn’t have the same problem. Because the Silver Armor has a minimal amount of seams in the suit it allowed me to swim each stroke without any restriction of movement or alteration to my technique. The comfortable compression helped me to feel hydrodynamic especially on starts, turns and push-offs. I give the Hammerhead Silver Armor an A- for overall performance given the challenge of getting the suit on for the first time

    Summary
    Grade: A-
    Pros: Comfortable compression throughout the entirety of the suit and highly durable fabric.
    Cons: Getting in to the suit for the first time is exhausting.
     

    DOLFIN TITANIUM ($400)
    Size: 28

    Size/Fit
    The Dolfin brand has been best known for its training suits called the Uglies. The last tech suit the company released was the Platinum2 in 2013 and since then they have developed their newest high tech suit called the Titanium. The Titanium size 28 was a little too loose for me in the upper body, I would suggest going down a size if you are looking for a little tighter fit. Mark seemed to have the same “downsizing” experience. Because this suit was a little too big for me in the upper body, I could feel some water rushing in and out of the neck hole especially on starts, turns and push-offs. Sizing for this suit is really important to get the right. The suit has very comfortable shoulder straps that are thin and flexible, so they don't put too much strain on your shoulder muscles. The back strap also has plenty of give and the suit sits low on your backside. The Titanium has a shorter leg cut than some of the other suits but the compression they provide is excellent.

    Material
    The Titanium fabric is made from a unique, “honeycomb woven pattern.” This honeycomb shape gives the fabric its strength and compressive qualities while your muscles move and contract. The strong yet flexible material was not only comfortable, but durable after multiple in water tests. The suit is also treated with a high quality hydrophobic coating that could be identified by the sheen seen under water and the beading seen out of the pool. The titanium has two larger modesty panels that are separated by a small, uncovered section. The thinner uncovered section sits awkwardly over the belly button leaving the portion of the suit that covers your stomach see-through.

    Performance
    The Titanium performed very well in the water. The high tech fabric has equal parts comfort, mobility and compression. I felt great swimming any stroke and any distance. This suit is a great option for a long distance swimmer or an IM’er. I give the Dolfin Titanium a A- for overall performance. The sizing was the limited factor.

    Summary
    Grade: A-
    Pros: great leg compression and shoulder strap flexibility
    Cons: sizing, the upper body of the 28 was too loose, water rushed in and out of the neck hole during starts and turns so I needed to size down to the 26. 
     

    ARENA CARBON AIR ($350)
    Size 28

    Size/Fit
    The Carbon Air was much easier to put on time and time again than its Carbon family predecessors. The suit is more lightweight and made of a much thinner fabric than the Carbon Flex. The suit is true to size and the cut and construction of the suit is exactly the same as the Carbon Flex. The difference is all in the material making it feels completely different when it is on. The suit feels much more like a “second skin” than it does an overtly compressive tech suit.

    Material
    Arena did a complete overhaul with the design of the new Carbon Air fabric. With this new suit they have emphasized “comfort before compression” moving away from the ultra compression and taping found with the Carbon Flex series. The “Carbon Cage” design seen on the Carbon Flex has equal amounts of “stretch and return” in all directions due to the square shape. The new “Carbon Band” design gives you a greater “stretch and return” feeling horizontally. This means that the horizontal bands give you more lateral compression for expanding muscles. The elimination of the vertical bands, gives the suit more mobility and the desired less compressive sensation. The Carbon Air fabric is chemically treated exactly the same as all of the other Arena suits with a high quality hydrophobic coating. The thinner, more lightweight material is a major improvement in many ways for those swimmers looking for a more comfortable and less compressive tech suit. Unfortunately the thinner fabric, smaller modesty panels and some of the suit colors leave parts of the front of the suit see-through.

    Performance
    The added flexion from the new Carbon Air fabric gave me the extra mobility I lack in an ultra compressive suit. All four strokes felt great in the Carbon Air, the biggest improvement being in the ability to freely move my hips while swimming breaststroke. This suit is a great option for any stroke or distance, especially an IM’er. I give the Carbon Air an A for performance, the see through sections being the limiting factor that knocks it down a touch.

    Summary
    Grade: A
    Pros: enhanced mobility, comfortable compression and a bright color selection.
    Cons: I didn’t love the see-through sections on the front of the suit.
     

    JAKED JKATANA ($278.95)
    Size: 28

    Size/Fit The Jaked Jkatana was one of the best fitting suits I have ever tried on. Not only did it have extremely long legs, but it has a really comfortable shoulder strap construction. The shoulder straps come together in a deep V on your back giving you enough stretch to move while on the deck waiting for a race and while competing in the pool. The seams are also very well made throughout the entirety of suit, especially in the crotch. They sit perfectly flat on the skin without causing any rubbing or pulling on your shoulders or back. They have plenty of give in order to make moving and stretching in the water effortless. The only downside to the fit is that the suit drops pretty low on your back.

    Material
    Historically, the Jaked brand has produced some of the most high quality suit fabrics in the world and the Jkatana fabric is no exception. It has the perfect blend of compression and comfort. The Jkatana fabric feels thicker to the touch than most of the other brands I tested out this year. Once in the suit, I felt very secure and compressed yet comfortable and mobile. The sturdy fabric also made the suit very durable, it didn’t lose any compression on the second wear test. I also liked the size and look of the modesty panels because there weren’t any noticeable see-through sections when I had the suit on.

    Performance
    Because the Jkatana is a comfortable yet compressive suit it performed very well in the water. I felt especially mobile while swimming backstroke and freestyle because the deep V shoulder strap construction gave me plenty of flexibility in my shoulders. The Jkatana doesn’t have any seams near the hips, which is a major advantage for swimming breaststroke. Hip seams can sometimes alter your breaststroke kick or technique but the Jkatana's lack of seams did nothing of the sort. The low-cut of the back of the suit unfortunately means that some water flows in and out while you are swimming. It is most noticeable on push-offs, starts and turns. This suit is overall a great option for all distances and all strokes. I give the Jaked Jkatana an A for overall comfort and compression.

    Summary
    Grade: A
    Pros: Overall suit construction and value. The Jkatana is made with high quality fabric and minimal seams.
    Cons: The low-cut back and fit of the Jkatana causes some water movement in and out of the suit, while you are swimming.
     

    ROCKET SCIENCE ROCKET LIGHT2 ($265.95)
    Size: 28 & 30

    Size/Fit 
    The Rocket LIGHT2 is a very comfortable fitting tech suit. The challenge is picking the right size and carefully getting it on. It took me quite a while to get into the size 28 and before I hit the pool one of the seams in the shoulder straps ripped. I requested a size 30 to see if that would alleviate the extra shoulder strap tension and it did the trick. Unfortunately, I think it might have been something else – a defect, bad seam or bad luck, because after trying both sizes on, the 28 was actually a better overall fit for me. The 28 was a bit snug around my hips and quads but I believe it would have loosened up after getting in the water. The 30 was perfect in the legs but got a little stretched out in the neck hole after my second in water test. The suit’s downside was an awkward looking modesty panel. The panel placement combined with the very thin and see-through leg fabric created an uncomfortable look.

    Material 
    The LIGHT2 fabric is lightweight and compressive just like all of the other 2015 suits we reviewed but where they differ is their panel placement. The paneling in the LIGHT2 gives you the same sensation as the core, chest and hip compression from the 2008-2012 era suits. This security of compression is really important for making your body more hydrodynamic during a race. The fabric is also well treated with a high quality hydrophobic coating. I could not only see a thick chemical sheen, but also water beading off the suit after multiple wear tests.

    Performance 
    The LIGHT2 fabric molds very well to the body once in the water. Getting the right size is key because the size 30 neck hole stretched out a bit after the second wear test. The suit was also a bit constrictive around the hips, which made fully bending my knees for breaststroke a little bit challenging. On the other hand this suit was excellent while swimming freestyle, backstroke and butterfly for any distance. I give the Rocket Science LIGHT2 an A- for overall performance. The suit's hip construction is the limiting factor.

    Summary
    Grade: A-
    Pros: The LIGHT2 suit construction; the fabric’s high tech qualities including hydrophobic coating, paneling and compression were winning features.
    Cons: The cut of the modesty panel combined with the thin see-through material on the legs makes for an awkward look.
     

    BLUESEVENTY NEROFIT ($179)
    Size: 28

    Size/Fit
    The neroFIT is a very comfortable tech suit that was made with the masses in mind and is lucky to be included with the excellent crop of suits in this year’s review. Blueseventy has created a lower price suit that still has all of the high tech qualities aimed mainly for master’s and age group swimmers. The size 28 suit fits very well, especially in the upper body. The upper body of the suit has excellent core and chest compression, but I could definitely go down a size to a 27, if I wanted to achieve a tighter more compressive fit. A thin shoulder and back strap construction also makes the fit even more comfortable for longer races. The neroFIT’s sizing makes it an easy choice for swimmers looking to wear a tech suit for longer sessions and more races. 

    Material
    The NeroFIT is made from a more stretchy fabric and it should be noted that this suit will not provide excessive amounts of compression. The more flexible material makes it very easy to put the suit on in very little time. Be careful of rushing though the process though because the legs have only one thin layer of fabric and a sharp nail could easily rip the suit. The suits best high tech feature is the hydrophobic coating. You could see plenty of beading after hopping out of the pool even after several wear tests.

    Performance
    The neroFIT performed very well in the water in all four strokes. My major complaint with Blueseventy tech suits for the past few years has been their uncomfortable crotch seam. The seam made it difficult to wear the suit for longer distance races. They have changed the shape and construction for the neroFIT and it is now a suit you can comfortably wear for any stroke or any distance. The leg material is long and covers my major leg muscles, but it is very thin which means it lacks a bit of the same upper body compression. I give the Blueseventy Nero-Fit a B+ for overall performance, the suit lacks the same overall compression as the top tier Tech Suits.

    Summary
    Grade: B+
    Pros: The upper body coverage and compression along with the new crotch seam construction are this suit’s best qualities.
    Cons: Some of the neroFIT colors may be see-through after a couple of meets. Lacks compression of the elite big guns. 

     

     

     

    TOP 2014 TECH SUITS REVIEWED:

    2014 Men's High End Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
    Arena Carbon Pro - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Blueseventy Nero 14 - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Speedo LZR Racer Elite 2 - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Engine Armour Wingskin - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Nike NG-1 - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    FINIS Vapor - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    TYR Tracer Light - Gangloff Review | Product Page
    Arena Carbon Flex - Gangloff Review | Product Page

    2014 Women's High End Technical Suits - Jump to Reviews | Visit Category Page
    Arena Carbon Pro - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Blueseventy Nero 14 - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Speedo LZR Racer Elite 2 - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Engine Armour Wingskin - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Nike NG-1 - Stupp Review | Product Page
    FINIS Vapor - Stupp Review | Product Page
    TYR Tracer Light - Stupp Review | Product Page
    Arena Carbon Flex - Stupp Review | Product Page

    2014 Men's Tech Suit Reviews
    by Mark Gangloff

    Like at the start of every new year, the swimming community is in anticipation of the first big break out race of 2014, the next barrier to be broken as we inch closer to Rio 2016, and the new face on the national or international scene.

    Much like this anticipation, we also anticipate the new series of tech suits hitting the market. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that it is the swimmer wearing the suit that wins the race, but tech suits have become a part of the business of fast swimming.

    Each year tech suit manufacturers are refining their trade and finding new and better ways to equip their swimmers with state-of-the-art suits. The number of tech suit options on the market continues to increase, so to help you navigate the waters, I’ve tested and reviewed several of them to follow up on the first-ever reviews I did for SwimOutlet.com in February 2013.

    For the newcomers, check out that original post about what I look for in a tech suit. Simply, I look for three things: (1) size/fit, (2) material, and (3) performance.

    Similar to my most recent tech suit review, I have teamed up with a Julie Stupp to provide a review that includes both men’s and women’s tech suit styles. See what she had to say about the last round of women’s suits here.

    This round of testing was particularly fun for me to do. Last time I tested and reviewed products, I noticed quite a bit of variation between brands; it was evident which suit(s) I would chose for myself. Now, the performance gap between brands and styles seems to have closed.

    A lot of tech suit manufacturers are making a lot of fast suits. This makes my job of comparing the suits more difficult, but should bring swimmers ease, as they choose the suit that is best for them. The tech suit standards set by swimmers appear to be tightening up, forcing manufacturers to up their game.

    While fast suits have always been a trend, I’d like to point out another trend I’m seeing on the pool deck and from many of the tech suit manufacturers: high-waisted suits. Maybe they look silly, but they’re fast! If there is one thing we learned from the tech suits of 2008 and 2009: more material equals faster suits.

    Below, I have summarized the suits that I tested and reviewed in detail. Detailed reviews of the sizing/fit, material, and performance of each product follow.


    ARENA POWERSKIN CARBON PRO ($249.00- $350.00)

    Size/Fit
    The size and fit of this suit is almost exactly the same as its predecessor, the original Arena Carbon Pro, which was removed from inventory by Arena last spring and not allowed for competitions after issues with suit approvals from the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA), our international aquatics sports federation.

    I did notice that this suit is quite a bit tighter than the original Arena Carbon Pro (or, perhaps, my waist is expanding). Originally, I ordered a size 28, my typical size. I managed to get into the suit and give it a test swim. It felt good, but over time it really made my legs tired because of the compression. This feeling indicated that I was wearing it too tight. So, I ordered the next size up (30). This size, too, was tight, but I did not get the same tired feeling that I got by wearing the size 28. This experiment leads me to suggest that if/when purchasing Arena, consider sizing up.

    Arena does not appear to be following the trend of high-waisted jammers. We’ll see if they follow suit (pun totally intended) in upcoming designs.

    Material
    The material of this suit reminds me of Arena’s previous design, Arena Carbon Pro, however the Second Edition Arena Carbon Pro (MK 2) is FINA-approved. The material is listed as 52% Nylon, 47% Elastane and 1% Carbon Fiber. I don’t feel as though this suit is as water repellant as others, but its compression is top notch. Depending on your budget and personal preference you can also select different colors to fit your wants/ needs.

    Performance
    I predict that you’ll be seeing a lot of top swimmers around the world racing in these suits. It's still a great suit and its compression is second to none. I would give this suit a solid A for performance.

    Summary
    Pros: Compression, you are locked and loaded for performance. Need some style? You can pick your suit color.
    Cons: You might have to try on multiple sizes to find your perfect fit. This suit is more expensive than other suits on the market.

    BLUESEVENTY NERO 14 ($285.00)

    Size/Fit
    This suit fits great! It has good compression and gives you the coverage you need down to your knees and up over your hips. Technically, this suit is not cut to be a high-waisted suit, but you can pull it up if you want more coverage. This suit fits consistently with other Blueseventy suits; meaning you are going to get great coverage where you need it and great compression on your muscles. I think this suit compresses better than previous Blueseventy suits, so a nice improvement from the folks at Blueseventy.

    Material
    This suit is made up of 53% Polyamide and 47% Elastane. Having a higher percentage of Elastane gives this suit good compression, but does not repel the water as well as some of

    the other suits. After being in the water for a few minutes this suit begins to absorb the water. So, for better repellency, wear this suit for your race only and warm up/warm down in another suit.

    Performance
    This is the best performing Blueseventy that I have worn. I would give this suit a B+ for performance. You get a good amount of "glide" when pushing off the walls. I would feel very confident racing in this suit.

    Summary
    Pros: Fit and compression.
    Cons: Does not repel the water as well as some of the other top notch suits.

    SPEEDO LZR RACER ELITE 2 HIGH WAIST JAMMER ($329.00)

    Size/Fit
    Like the name says, this suit is almost exactly the same as its previous model, Speedo LZR Elite, except it is high-waisted. This new element, alone, is a big improvement. One of my biggest concerns about the previous LZR Elite was the lack of compression. This issue is still not completely resolved, as the compression is still not that of some of its competitors. However, this high-waisted version does a better job. Speedo also offers an additional in-between sizing option. Typically, I wear a size 28 and I doubt I could go down to a 26, but Speedo offers a 27. For those of us that are in between sizes and looking for a better fit, Speedo might be the right solution.

    Material
    This suit is made of 65% Nylon and 35% Lycra Spandex.

    Though the suit lacks some of the compression that I like, it does effectively repel water; the water beads right off the suit even after extended and multiple use.

    Performance
    Because of the suits ability to repel water and new high-waisted design, I give this suit an A. This is an improved version of the LZR Elite so you can’t go wrong. I also find comfort in choosing a well-known brand with a history of performance.

    Summary
    Pros: Repels water and is high-waisted.
    Cons: Lacks compression and is more expensive than some of its competitors.

    ENGINE ARMOUR WINGSKIN ($269.00)

    Size/Fit
    I had never worn an Engine tech suit before from this newcomer on the scene, so was really impressed when I swam in this particular suit. This suit has many of the same properties as the Blueseventy NERO 14 that I wrote about in that review. This suit has very good compression and your muscles feel locked in when wearing this suit. What I mean by that is, your muscles will not shake or move when moving through the water. My only concern with this suit is its coverage in the rear. Remember, I have a slightly larger rump than the average swimmer so this could be an individual thing, but I had to do quite a bit of tugging and pulling to ensure that I wasn’t exposed.

    Material
    This suit is comprised of 53% Polyamide and 47% Elastane. This fabric blend give the suit great compressive quality, but not quite as water repellent.

    Because this suit is the exact same make up as the Blueseventy it reacts the same way in the water, after a few minutes in the water it begins to absorb it. For better repellency, wear this suit for your race only and warm up/warm down in another suit.

    Performance
    I would feel very comfortable wearing this suit in a race because even though the fit is a little off, this suit still allows your body to move fast through the water. Overall, I give this suit a solid B. The fabric quality and compression are on par with the Blueseventy, but the size/fit was not perfect for me. That being said, I predict that Engine could be a major player in the tech suit competition in the years to come based on this first experience.

    Summary
    Pros: Compression and nice price point relative to the performance it provides.
    Cons: Not great sizing in the hips/ butt for my body type.

    NIKE NG-1 JAMMER ($300)

    Size/Fit
    Being a professional swimmer, it was a big help for me to be able to speak directly with the manufactures on this suit. Like I have said in the past, I wear a size 28, but after giving Nike my waist and thigh measurements, Nike suggested I try a size 26. I loved getting this brand recommendation and nice service.

    If I were giving a “Most Improved” award, this suit would be the winner! Now I know this is not the same exact style of suit that Nike introduced in the past, but Nike stepped up their game in terms of fit. Bravo to the folks at Nike Swim!

    I like the compression that this suit offers. I feel tight, but not constricted. Nike is also going with a higher-waisted suit.

    Material
    This suit has two different layers to it. The outer shell is comprised of 61% Polyamide and 39% Elastane. The inner liner (like a brief) is made of 68% Polyamide and 32% Elastane.

    More so than its competitors, this suit takes on water fairly quickly. While better than previous jammers, this suit still under performs when it comes to its ability to repel water.

    Performance
    This suit made the biggest jump in performance from the improvements made in the fit of the suit. I liked the way my body was able to move in this suit, but its inability to repel water keeps it slightly lower on my list. I give Nike a B- for this particular suit, but I would keep my eye on Nike. I think Nike will be a major player in the tech suit industry if they continue this trajectory.

    Summary
    Pros: Nice balance of good fit and compression. High waisted.
    Cons: Takes on a little too much water. Do not feel the "glide" as much.

    FINIS VAPOR ($279.95)

    Size/Fit
    Overall, Finis did a much better job with the sizing of this suit for my taste in comparison to their last version: Finis Hydrospeed Velo. Being that they are still relatively new to tech suit production, I was very impressed with this suit. This suit is on the smaller/ shorter side of a typical size 28, but still within the range of what is typical.

    Typically, you want your suit to hit about 1 to 2 inches above your knee caps and this one hits slightly higher. A person not racing breaststroke may not notice this, but when you spread your legs for a breaststroke kick the inseam does have a little pull because it is a little short. Notable: the drawstring was a little short which can make you a little nervous at your championship meet, but is consistent with this suit running just a touch small for me.

    Material
    The material in this suit is similar to the Speedo LZR; it is made of 65% Nylon and 35% Elastane. This make up allows the suit to repel water very well.

    On the flip side, the compression of the suit is not among the very best. But lack of compression can also allow you to wear this suit for a longer period of time (e.g., a long meet session) so that’s something to consider as a major positive.

    Performance
    I give this suit a B for performance. The higher percentage of nylon allows the suit to glide through the water very well, but lacks some compression. I also found myself pulling the suit up a few time trying to get the inseam in the right spot. The drawstring was a little concerning, too. I could tie it, but if you were taking this suit on and off a lot you could potentially lose it within the waist band.

    Summary
    Pros: Repels water nicely. Good all-around suit.
    Cons: Runs small and short drawstring.


    Size/Fit

    At this price point, this suit goes on pretty quickly and fits pretty well. It does hit the thighs a little high, which makes the seams feel, perhaps, too tight. This suit does provides less overall compression than several of its competitors, which means wearing it for a long meet would be more comfortable than the others.

    Material
    The suit is comprised of 70% Nylon and 30% Lycra Spandex, which allows it to effectively repel water. This is the only suit in this review that has stitched seams and smaller panels, which can be a deterrent for some.

    Smaller panels and more seams create more drag than a suit with larger panels and bonded seams. For a visual of what I mean, check out the “Material” section of this article. The stitching and paneling is in line with other suits of this price point across brands.

    Performance
    Though this suit is, perhaps, in a different category than the others I’ve reviewed here because of its price point. TYR still has the AP 12 which is its top-of-the-line tech suit. I think this is a very effective tech suit. Highlights of this suit include its ability to repel water. I always associate water repellency with "gliding" or "sliding" in the water.

    Summary
    Pros: performance is very good; great compression
    Cons: inseam is too short; drawstring difficult to stay in place


    Size/Fit

    The Arena Carbon Flex is a new suit designed to sit alongside the new second-edition Arena Carbon Pro, also reviewed here. What I mean by that is most of the time suit manufacturers design new suits to replace old suits. This suit is not a replacement but is designed for people that want a different product, while keeping a very successful “older” model.

    As you may have read, I had to size up to a 30 when wearing an Arena Carbon Pro. What I learned during my conversation with a representative from Arena is that carbon fiber that is threaded through the Carbon Pro was wound in a way to make the suit tighter. What they have done with the Arena Carbon Flex is to make the carbon fiber have more “flex/give” to it, meaning the suit stretches a little more. I tried both a size 30 and a size 28 and I found the size 28 was the better fit in the Arena Carbon Flex - so given my normal sizing, it’s fair to say the Carbon Flex runs true to size.

    Even though this suit is slightly more elastic, it holds your muscles in perfectly. I felt secure every time I pushed off the wall and the suit has enough flexibility to allow my legs to have maximum mobility. I could move and kick exactly how I needed to. Arena has also made some adjustments in the cut of the suit. Typically, Arena suits are cut to hit you lower on the waist, but they have allowed more fabric on the top end so you can pull this suit up higher on your waist. To me, this is a big plus.

    The last thing that is unique about the fit of this suit is the seaming. Traditionally, suit manufactures have the seams bonded along the inside and outside of the leg, but not with this suit. The seams run up the front of the quad and attach on the sides of your hips. They also have a seam that runs up the hamstrings and attaches above each glute. The seam that runs up the back of the suit does an amazing job of flattening out those of us that have some rounder parts. Anything that makes your body more streamline makes you a faster and happier swimmer.

    Material
    The material is listed as 52% Nylon, 47% Elastane and 1% Carbon Fiber, which is the exact makeup of the Arena Carbon Pro.

    Like I mentioned above, the carbon fiber in this suit is not wound as tight, giving the suit more elasticity. I don’t feel as though this suit is as water repellant as others, but its compression is top notch.

    Performance
    Mark my words, you will be seeing a lot of great swimmers wearing this suit at future meets. This is the best-fitting Arena suit I have ever tried on. I think it has the perfect mix of flexibility and compression. I give this suit an A+.

    Remember, I am speaking from a perspective of a breaststroker that has larger legs and hips. I need the extra flexibility in order to perform my kick properly and slightly more give in the suit because my personal build. Skinnier athletes with smaller butts may want to check out an Arena Carbon Pro, while breaststrokers and IMer’s should give the Arena Carbon Flex a closer look.

    Summary
    Pros: Compression - you are locked and loaded for performance while having all the mobility you need. The seaming is designed to make you more streamlined. Lastly, this suit just looks cool.
    Cons: This suit has quite the price tag, but you are paying for the best.

     

    2014 Women's Tech Suit Reviews
    by Julie Stupp

    The evolution of the technical suit began in 2000 with the unveiling of the Speedo Fastskin at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. The Fastskin was made of material that was supposed to mimic sharkskin; it was a genius marketing ploy and the beginning of a swimsuit revolution. It seemed to be that every four years following the 2000 Olympic Trials, new styles, models, materials and cuts were launched as the “fastest” suit in the pool. The technical suit market began to boom, new companies were created and the marketing behind each brand became very competitive.

    Now, 14 years later, I’ve found that every suit company has made a very comparable and competitive technical suit. The quality is terrific across the board. There doesn’t seem to be any glaring differences between suits or a major edge that one brand has over another. The technical market has evened out and the difference is in the details. This is, in fact, great for the consumer, because it means that every suit is fast and your choice boils down to fit, feel and – as we always emphasize – personal preference.

    For Mark and I doing the suit reviews, this makes our job a little harder; we have to look at the smaller details of what makes one suit slightly different than another. In fact, most of today’s suits are made of material that reminds me of the “paper suit.” If I were smart, I would have listened to my very close friend who worked in fashion for over a decade and is now a successful swim coach.

    She once told me that belts and scarves have a seven-year cycle, “The same style always comes back around,” she would say. I always laughed at her and her over-stuffed closet, but who is laughing now? Sure enough the same phenomena seems to be happening in technical suits. If only I were the same size as I was when I was 10 years old and the suit material lasted forever, I could have recycled my paper suit for the year 2014.

    ARENA CARBON PRO ($349.00)

    Size/Fit
    The Arena Carbon definitely takes the cake for being the most difficult and taxing suit to put on. I ordered a 28 without checking the size chart and merely trusting what I wore in 2012. Big mistake! I struggled for nearly 30 minutes in the locker room the first time I got it on. Needless to say I could barely breathe, or move. The second time I tried to put the suit on, it ripped. Take two; I ordered a size 32 after checking out the size chart, looking specifically at my height as the determining factor. The bigger size still took time and finesse to get on but was much more comfortable. Unfortunately I think that a size 30 would be the best fit for me to race in, but it would definitely be too short in the legs and torso, and uncomfortable to wear for more than an hour. The Carbon isn’t well-sized for a taller athlete with longer legs. The legs are the shortest cut of all the tech suits I tried on. This made for some loss of circulation in my quads over time. The suit’s shoulder and back strap construction are very comfortable. The chest coverage and high back are also great features of the carbon.

    Material
    The Carbon Pro’s best attribute is its cross-stitch design. The material pulls equally from all angles giving it strength or compression, yet flexibility or comfort for the athlete. The suit is double-lined in the torso and butt, adding another layer of durability in the water. The outer seams on the shoulders, back and chest of the suit are thicker than the rest of the suit’s material, but these seams stretch enough to keep the suit comfortable while swimming or racing. The suit’s complete body compression created by the high-quality material and design is its best feature. This overall compression could become uncomfortable for an athlete if left on for too long.

    Performance
    The Carbon Pro’s performance in the water makes up for the size and fit struggle in the locker room. The suit definitely molds to your body better after getting wet. The material naturally stretches with the cross-stitch design and adjusts even better in the water. The suit was excellent at repelling the water in and out of the pool. You could see the water beading off of the suit once you got out of the pool, as well as the initial bubble layer or seal when diving in. Unfortunately the crotch seam in this suit is also a bit uncomfortable, but could be mostly due to the suit having a shorter torso cut.

    Summary
    Pros: The cross-stitch construction creates the best overall compression from shoulders to legs of any suit.
    Cons: Sizing for the Carbon Pro is very tricky. Finding the right fit could cost you a ripped suit.

    BLUESEVENTY NERO 14 ($375)

    Size/Fit
    The Nero 14 is nearly perfect when it comes to fit! It has every quality I look for in a race suit: long legs, core and chest compression, as well as comfortable back and shoulder straps. The extra long leg fabric is a bonus that ensures enough material for tall athletes. The suit is well made with a high-waisted boy short like compression panel for the stomach and butt, and two chest compression panels. These compression panels make the suit fit tight enough for competition, yet most likely uncomfortable if left on for a long meet session. The panels in the chest are great for compression, but unfortunately don’t go all the way to the edge or seam of the suit. The change in material causes the seam to be loosened over time and use, which could result in some slight chest exposure issues.

    Material
    Blueseventy’s suit fabric quality has been excellent for many years and the Nero 14 is no different. Don’t let the suit’s light material deceive you; it is very durable and very tight. These qualities coupled with its seamless construction make the Nero 14 completely built for speed. The shoulder and back straps are made with the necessary amount of flex, so that they are taut but not constricting while swimming. I would not suggest sitting around in this suit for too long before a big race because its compression could become constricting after some time. The sticky seams around the quads are especially confining and could definitely alter blood flow throughout your legs and lower body.

    Performance
    The Nero 14 performed well in the pool especially with its most notable attribute being the high quality compression panels. The suit was comfortable and effective while swimming, turning and diving due to the material’s elasticity and compression combination. I was also impressed by the Nero 14’s evidence of high water resistance. The suit had water beading off of it for a long period of time after I got out of the pool. Unfortunately, the Nero 14 has a poor crotch seam construction that could feel awkward for some breaststrokers. No matter how you adjust the suit, it never seems to quite fix the fit problem.

    Summary

    Pros: Amazing overall body fit, and highest quality compression panels on the market.
    Cons: Awkward crotch seam construction and loose chest seams.

    SPEEDO FASTSKIN LZR RACER ELITE 2 ($429.00)

    Size/Fit
    The LZR’s sizing hasn’t changed much over the past several years, which is a great thing because the suit’s cut fits very well. I always order a 27L (for long) and I can always count on a long torso and leg with this suit. I like having the 27 option. One of the LZR’s new features is the “comfort strap,” and it is without a doubt a winning adjustment. I would be very comfortable wearing this suit for a long period of time or during a longer race without the fear of tiring my shoulders out. The flexible seams around the back and chest also make this a very comfortable fitting suit.

    Material
    The LZR’s material is very thin which is good for getting in and out of the suit and for comfort, but could be a deterrent for durability.

    Performance
    The suit performed very well in the water with its excellent water repellant and beading qualities. Water was still beading off of the suit even 10 minutes after I was done testing it out; this definitely impressed me. The LZR also has great compression in the chest, torso and hips due to its bonded seams and extra lining. While the suit had great compression it was still very comfortable and easy to move in, in the pool making any stroke or turn easy to do. The only downside was that some water seemed to seep through the top part of my suit during my start, which was most likely due to the flexibility of the comfort straps.

    Summary
    Pros: The LZR’s biggest upside is its new comfort straps, as well as its compression quality, which is a mainstay for the Speedo brand.
    Cons: Unfortunately the thin single layer areas of the suit seem less durable and could be a concern for multiple wears.


    Size/Fit

    The Engine Wingskin was the second-most challenging suit of the bunch to get on behind the Arena Carbon Pro, but it was worth the struggle. The fit of the suit was amazing because of its seamless construction. The suit has a high-waisted back, comfortable shoulder straps and long leg coverage. The V-shape construction of the back strap has only a little give and is very tight so it could get uncomfortable if worn for long periods at a time. The best part about the fit is the complete chest coverage and comfortable shoulder strap combination.

    Material
    The Wingskin’s unique seamless and double-lined construction creates serious compression felt in and out of the water. The compression is felt everywhere but the quads which is made up of only a single lining. The leg construction is thin, but not so thin that I am afraid to tug at it and get the suit in the right position.

    Performance
    The Wingskin had an amazing compression feel throughout my wear test. The suit was the perfect fit, except for in the strap across my back. It did not flex or loosen at all once in the water. Because of the Wingskin’s amazing fit across my chest, the suit molded the best to my body and at no point did I feel water go in to the top of my suit. The Wingskin also had all the right water-repelling capabilities and a lot of beading once hopping out of the pool. The downside to this suit would be the tight strap across the back and a poorly placed crotch seam, which became very uncomfortable after multiple flip turns.

    Summary

    Pros: The torso construction of the Wingskin created the best compression and water seal out of all the suits I reviewed.
    Cons: The crotch seam could be a problem that some long distance swimmers might struggle with.

    NIKE NG-1 WOMEN'S NECK TO KNEE ($450)

    Size/Fit
    Just as Mark noted in his review of the men’s Nike suit, the women’s Nike also improved greatly from its predecessor, most notably in the cut and fit of the suit. The NG-1 was not only comfortable with complete chest coverage, but it also had flexible shoulder and back straps. The Nike has a high back and average leg length nothing too short or overly lengthy.

    Material
    The Nike material is very comfortable and molds well to the body due to its new construction. The suit has a thick double lining throughout the chest, torso, hips and butt. This creates a great feeling of compression. While the suit has a lot of seams it is not constricting and is easy to move in or adjust once on.

    Performance
    Once I dove in the water, I immediately felt the compression in the torso, hips and rear. The compression coupled with the improved fit meant the suit was well-molded to my body. That combination made for some quick turns and smooth underwater transitions. Unfortunately, the suit missed the boat on a quality water repellant. There were very few water beads to be seen after I finished testing out the suit. And the suit had several sticky seams on the inner lining that felt constricting during flip some of my turns and strokes.

    Summary

    Pros: Most improved fit and high-quality torso, hip and butt compression.
    Cons: Sticky seams and lack of water repellent for its price point.

    FINIS VAPOR ($368.95)

    Size/Fit
    To put the Vapor on, it took me time, patience and gentle hands. The size of the suit was not the issue, it was the very thin material and awkward fit that made me afraid I would rip it when tugging to get the suit to fit comfortably. The suit did stretch out at the seams after getting wet. I would suggest ordering a size smaller than you think is necessary but because of the tight seams, it might not feel great at first. Specifically the chest and shoulder strap areas were too loose after one use. The Vapor has a nice low back and a long-legged fit which is great for taller athletes. Overall the Vapor’s fit is tight and a bit off for me.

    Material
    The Vapor has a double lining throughout the torso and butt. Unfortunately, the material is very thin and seemed to wear out quite quickly.

    The initial on land compression felt good, but once the suit was worn it seemed to lose some elasticity.

    Performance
    In the water the suit was very flexible and easy to move in while swimming all four strokes. During some of the first turns the seams pulled at my skin but as the suit loosened up they felt more comfortable. The Vapor was fantastic in repelling water and had a ton of beading when I exited the pool. This is definitely the suit’s most redeeming quality.

    Summary

    Pros: The water-resistant quality of the suit is simply top notch.
    Cons: The suit significantly stretched out after just one use throughout the chest and in the shoulder straps. Sizing could be the key here.

    TYR TRACER ($191.99)

    Size/Fit
    The Tracer was one of the easier suits to get on which is always a bonus. I don’t like to be exhausted or stressed for time when putting on a suit. The Tracer also fit very well. The suit hugged my hips, sat low on my back and had long legs. The more material covering your body, the better due solely to the fact that the suit’s material is faster than your skin.

    I always order a long leg option, if available, and with the Tracer it seemed this option was already built in to the suit's cut. The shoulder straps on the Tracer were comfortable due to the flexibility and give with which they were made; on the downside the seam that cuts across the back is not comfortable, because it is tight and doesn’t stretch much with time.

    Material
    The construction of the suit with the double lining and cross-stitch in the chest and torso is its best quality. This combination of lining and stitch created a great feeling of compression and comfort while on land. The suit was easy to move in and did not feel constricting, I would assume if you had to sit in it for several hours at a long meet it would remain rather comfortable.

    Performance
    In the water the Tracer performed pretty well. The suit has a definite water-repellent quality that could be seen as soon and you dove in the pool, as well as when out of the water after a swim by the constant water beading. The Tracer performed very well when molding to my body in and out of turns and throughout each of the four strokes. The suit unfortunately lost some of its compression quality when it got wet. The Tracer lacked some core and leg compression compared to some of the other suits in this review and a big reason for that is the price point. You might also want to check out TYR’s top of the line tech suit from last year, the AP12.

    Summary

    Pros: The Tracer is a very comfortable suit that felt good on land and in the water due to its excellent fit.
    Cons: It lacked some key compression components in comparison to the other suits in this review but this difference can very much be attributed to its lower price point.

     

    ARENA CARBON FLEX ($475)

    Size/Fit
    Arena has designed and released a number of suits since 2012, the Carbon Pro MK 1, MK 2 and now the Flex. All three have fit very differently, which can be frustrating for the consumer to know which size is best to purchase, but great because each athlete has a very different body and suit preference when it comes to racing. It is important to try these suits on or at least speak to someone who has worn the suit before purchasing. The Flex was not as tight or as much of a challenge to get on as the Second-edition Carbon Pro due to the new “taping” or seams that are incorporated in the suit. Given my experience with the Pro, I ordered a size 30 in the Flex and it was definitely too big. The new seams create more give, but it was too much for me in the upper body.

    Unfortunately, I think that a size 28 would be the best fit for me to race in, but I don’t know how it would feel or stretch in the water. The leg length seemed to be longer than the Carbon Pro’s length, which was a welcome change for me, and the back had a lower scooping design. Every female swimmer has their own preference when it comes to the cut and design of the back of the suit, the low-cut fit and feel were great, but in my opinion the more material covering your body, the better. The suit’s shoulder and back strap construction are very comfortable, but too loose on land and especially once they got wet.

    Material
    The Carbon’s waffle or, as I like to call it, cross-stitch design has not changed. The material is made to give you an equal and all over feeling of compression, which is the Carbon’s greatest feature -- but this suit was not as “tight” or compressing as the Carbon Pro due to the added flex that gives the suit its name. The Flex like the Pro is double-lined in the torso and read, adding a layer of durability and compression in the water.

    There is a lot more “flex” in this suit due to the taping. The taping begins under the armpit and runs vertically down the front and back of the suit. The best feature of the flex is the glute and hamstring taping. This seam definitely gives you extra flex while swimming, and an added sense of how your muscles are firing or moving in the water. The suit is definitely more forgiving or comfortable over a long period of time, but personally I prefer the tighter suit knowing I am getting a little extra full body compression while racing.

    Performance
    The Flex’s performance in the pool left me with mixed reviews -- all based on the same new feature of the material’s flexibility. The Flex downside was due to the size. While the Flex upside was due to the taping. The well-known high-quality compression design coupled with the new flex taping performed very well in the water. The glute and hamstring taping give you that little extra flection you need in your lower body while starting, turning or swimming without sacrificing the suit’s compression or structure. The taping also gives you a new sensation in the water: I became very aware of how my legs were reacting to each stroke and turn.

    The cross-stitch material created the same great water resistance and beading, but the loose fit in the chest caused major water drag negating the upper body compression. This could have been an issue with my sizing. Make sure you are fitted properly. As soon as I got in the pool there was water getting in through the top of the suit. I could feel it especially on a dive and turns. I think had I had a smaller suit it would be less noticeable but the upper body “flex” might just be too much for some athletes who will prefer the tightness of the Pro.

    Summary

    Pros: The glute and hamstring taping is a winning feature that gives an athlete a new muscular sensation while racing.
    Cons: Sizing. The Flex’s loose fitting upper body sacrifices compression.
     

     

    About Mark Gangloff

    Mark Gangloff is a two-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist in the 4x100 meter medley relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He is the U.S. Open national record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke set in July 2009 in Indianapolis and attended Auburn University. He now works as an Assistant Swimming Coach at the University of Missouri. His large hand size is 8.5 inches from wrist to the top of his middle finger and 10.5 inches spread across from his thumb to pinkie.

    About Julie Stupp

    Julie Stupp is the first athlete in NCAA history to qualify for the NCAA's in both swimming and track & field. She first competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials as a 14-year-old in 2000 and made the final of the 400m IM at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. She is an IM and breaststroke specialist and competed for Auburn University from 2004-2007, where she was an 11-time All-American. She is now an assistant swimming coach at the University of Missouri.

    NOTE: Please note that reviews are the opinions of Mark Gangloff and Julie Stupp -- not those of SwimOutlet.com. They are offered only as general information to customers. Size and fit are unique to each person’s body type and every swimmer has different suit needs. For specific questions about a tech suit, customers are encouraged to contact SwimOutlet.com customer service. For more information about “How to Choose a Men’s Tech Suit” go here and for info on "How to Choose a Women's Tech Suit" go here.

    Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: xx@yy.zz
    Emma
    4 weeks ago.
    Hello,

    I want to buy an arena carbon pro closed back or an arena carbon flex closed back. I now wear a speedo lzr elite 2 closed back, size 22. The lzr fits perfect, which size do I have to order if I buy an arena carbon?

    Thank you in advance!

    Kind regards,
    Emma
    Garrett
    2 months ago.
    Mr. Gangloff,
    Thank you for your great reviews, they have been very helpful in the past. I am on the brink of biting the bullet and buying the Head Liquid fire, or the Liquidfire pro jammer. Do you have any experience with them? I normally swim the 200 free and the 100 breast. Would you recommend them?
    Thanks again.
    Mark Gangloff
    1 month ago.
    Garrett,

    Thanks for your question. I would not feel comfortable at this moment talking about the Head suits. It has been a couple of years since I wore a Head suit and I am sure they have made adjustments to the suits. My suggestion would be to look on the comments sections to try and see other opinions on the suits. Good luck!

    Mark
    jamenes
    3 months ago.
    Hey Mark,

    How does the compression of the carbon air jammer compare to the that seen in the carbon flex jammer? is the carbon air a good suit for a breaststroker?

    Thanks
    Mark Gangloff
    1 month ago.
    Hey,

    The Carbon Air has less give than the Carbon Flex. With that said, if your body type fits into the Carbon Air that may be a very good thing. The problem for me because of the size of my legs, I need the suit to be able to stretch a little more. I think the Carbon Air is a great suit for all the stroke. I would base your decision on your particular body type instead.

    I hope this helps.
    Mark
    pascal
    7 months ago.
    Hello,
    Thanks, great reviews !
    Will be useful
    I see that adidas adizero GLD20 price is interesting (70€), have you had the oportunity to try it ?
    Regards from a french master swimmer
    Pascal
    SwimOutlet.com
    7 months ago.
    Hi Pascal,
    Thanks for your inquiry and reading our expert reviews but since adidas does not distribute its performance suits with SwimOutlet.com at this time, our reviewers did not test the GLD20. Perhaps in the 2016 Tech Suit Review. Please check back in March!
    -- SwimOutlet.com Blog
    Katie
    7 months ago.
    Hi Julie!
    Thanks so much for all your helpful reviews! I was hoping you could give me some advice on the Speedo LZR Racer X sizing. I noticed that you wore a 27L in the LZR Elite 2 and a 27 closed back in the lzr x. However, by the size charts, it tells you that the lzr x is around 3 sizes smaller. I can't try a suit on because I don't have any swimwear retailers around me, so I don't know if I should buy a 20 closed back or a 23 closed back. I wear a 23 in the elite 2. So, do you think I should do what you did and order the same size as the lzr elite 2 or follow the size charts? Thanks so much!
    Julie Stupp
    1 month ago.
    Hi Katie,

    Thank you, I am so glad you found them helpful! I found both suits to fit very well, I know the size charts can sometimes be hard to read but I think you will be comfortable in the 23. If you are feeling like you should size down, maybe go down one size and not three to be safe.

    Good Luck this season,

    Julie Stupp
    Alex
    9 months ago.
    Hey I was just wondering as to how the TYR Avictor compares with its predecessor, the AP12. I really was really a fan of the AP12's "lift" and feel in the water, but the suit's compression around the waist and legs was almost unbearable, to the point where it was near impossible to have full range of motion. Is the Avictor similar in that regard?
    Jarren
    9 months ago.
    Hi,

    Does the jaked jkatana or the lzr elite 2 have more compression? For a men's jammer. Also, will you be reviewing the new Jaked Jrush jammer that came out?

    Thanks

    Jay
    Mark Gangloff
    9 months ago.
    Jarren,

    The compression in those suits are very similar. The Jaked will be a little longer and the Speedo a little shorter. I have not tried the Jaked Jrush and not sure that I will in time to help you out. Good luck!

    Mark
    Jarren
    9 months ago.
    So would you say they preform about the same? Which would you give the slight edge to??

    Thanks
    SwimOutlet.com
    9 months ago.
    Hi Jarren, we try not to have our expert reviewers specifically suggest one suit over another. Their job is to provide characteristics of each to meet your needs -- everyone is different -- and to review them as a whole in an unbiased manner. You should check out our racing tech page for more info! http://www.swimoutlet.com/racingtechnologies
    -- SwimOutlet.com
    Rob
    9 months ago.
    Hi Jarren, the JRush will likely be included in our next review in February 2016 but not for this year. You can certainly call our customer service team and talk to them about the suit. Hope you find what you are looking for and a suit that fits your needs!
    Andrew Garcia
    9 months ago.
    Hi,
    I was wondering what size to get for the Arena carbon flex WC edition, I am 14 years old 6'1 180 pounds, I'm a sprinter for every stroke but mainly freestyle, in the Speedo LZR I'm a size 28 and I really have no Idea what to get since the sizing chart says I would be a 34, and most people say true to size
    Mark Gangloff
    8 months ago.
    Andrew,

    I know I am late on this reply but I would go for a size 28 or 30. The 28 will be a lot of compression and the 30 will not be as much but both will fit well. It all depends on how tight you like your suit. If you like it tight go for the 28.
    Swimmom
    9 months ago.
    My daughter is 5'6" 125lbs and has been wearing the lzr elite 2 in an 18. The blueseventy tx in a 24 is too loose on her, but the 22 is too small. She would like to try the carbon air, what size do you think? She can get into a size 24 carbon pro, but it's uncomfortable on her shoulders and she is a butterflier. Thanks for your help!
    SwimOutlet.com
    9 months ago.
    By all accounts, both expert reviews and public comments, the Carbon Air is fitting true to size. Based on Arena's sizing chart, your daughter would be either a 24 or a 26. The Carbon Pro was notorious for being tight and tough to put on. Julie even sized up quite a bit during her test. Make sure to check the other body measurements and reference the sizing chart, then make your decision accordingly: http://www.swimoutlet.com/sizing_chart_detail.asp?manufacturer=Arena&brand=Arena&cat=9259,9326,9327,9331,9333&productcode=8127911
    We hope this helps! -- SwimOutlet.com Team
    Lisa
    9 months ago.
    Should the women's LZR Elite 2 Closed Back lay on the spine? Given the natural curve in my daugher's back, the back seam of the suit does not lay on the spine .... it is suspended (I hope that makes sense) .... like a bridge between her upper back and lower back. Is that how it is supposed to fit? Will it catch water?
    sue
    9 months ago.
    Hi Lisa,
    I noticed your post and my daughter had the same issue--it was not a problem because it was tight enough at the neckline, armpits, etc She wears her LZR elite 2 closed back TIGHT---size 16. She is 5 foot 1 and 95 lbs.
    Dedee
    9 months ago.
    My teenager wears a 26 for normal practice suits and has a 24 fastskin (not kneeskin). I want a kneeskin online, but am unsure what size. Her coach says size 23 for Speedo, but what about Jaked or Rocket Science or Blueseventy?
    SwimOutlet.com
    9 months ago.
    Hi Dedee,
    The Jaked fits very true to size so you should probably look at the Size 26 for the Jaked. Rocket Science and blueseventy have a touch less compression then the Jaked but you should be able to use the sizing charts for both to make the proper selection: http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/blueseventy/Tech_Suits_s_9331
    http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/rocket-science-sports/Tech_Suits_s_9331
    Hope this helps! You can always contact Customer Service!
    Eben zekarias
    9 months ago.
    im a 13 yr old 6foot 150 pound breastroker I have the ap 12 but what is the best tech suit for breastwork
    Taka Khoo
    10 months ago.
    To whom it may concern,
    I wear a size 30 and I CAN fit into a size 28 Arena Carbon Flex World Kazan edition. I was debating on whether to purchase the TYR Avictor or another Carbkn flex again. I am a breast and IMer. If you think the Acixtor would be good for me, what size should I purchase if I wear a 30 in the flex? Thanks!
    SwimOutlet.com
    10 months ago.
    Hi Taka, the nice thing about the Avictor is that TYR have come out with half-sizes so you have the option of the 29 for the TYR Avictor. Both our experts tried one size down during their tests and liked that although our online feedback is that it runs true to size. In that case, you'd be a 30. But if you want it tight and don't mind the time to pull it on, you may want to try the size 29 (since you are normally the 30). Hope this helps. You can also check TYR's sizing charts for more info and our Racing Tech Suit page for questions to the public: http://www.swimoutlet.com/racingtechnologies
    Austin
    10 months ago.
    Hi,
    I borrowed a suit from my friend, it was either a speedo lzr elite or elite 2.
    There was a red taping inside of the suit and the color was completely black. Can you tell if this is a speedo lzr racer elite or elite 2?
    Garrett
    10 months ago.
    I own the original speedo lzr elite and the taping on the inside of my suit was grey. With that in mind it sounds to me like you borrowed a lzr elite 2 but I could be wrong. I hope this helps
    Sam
    10 months ago.
    Hi Mark,

    I bought the Dolfin Platinum 2 and thought it was a great suit. I loved how hydrophobic it was. Does the Dolfin Titanium have the same water beading and shimmer effect when getting out of the water/while in the water? How long would you say the Titanium will keep its hydrophobic properties? Did you notice absorption in any specific areas?
    Thanks!
    Mark Gangloff
    9 months ago.
    Sam,
    Thanks for your questions. I have never tried the Dolfin Platinum so I cannot compare it to the Titanium. All I know is the Titanium has great water beading and the shimmer you describe. I cannot specifically speak to how long it lasts but I did wear it several times and it performed well every time.

    Thanks,
    Mark
    Jack Forde
    10 months ago.
    Hi Mark,
    I am a 14 year old boy and I am interested in the speedo lzr elite 2. I am 5 10 and 150 lbs. I wear a size 26 speedo brief and I was wondering what size lzr elite 2 i should buy. (note not the high waist suit)
    SwimOutlet.com
    10 months ago.
    Hi Jack - the best place to start is the Speedo sizing chart. Key is also knowing your waist size. We hope this helps! http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts/speedo/Tech_Suits_s_9265.
    mariana
    10 months ago.
    Hi, I am trying to buy a swim suit for my 9 year old daughter end of season meets, I was browsing and found the jaked j-storm at 149.00 from 329.00 but can't find any reviews about this suit, have you tried it? is it confortable?
    SwimOutlet.com
    10 months ago.
    We've only reviewed the J-Katana on our Tech Suit Reviews since we usually only cover the top of the line suits in a specific category. Jaked is a terrific brand and they have also come out with the J-Rush elite suit this summer. We don't have the J-Storm among our collection right now: http://www.swimoutlet.com/jaked/ but if comfort and price are important to you, you could check out the J-11 Water Zero. Otherwise, you can be confident the J Katana is a top suit. Our review testers really liked it: http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/jaked-jkatana-womens-open-back-tech-suit-8124615/?color=14689
    Patrick Shutt
    11 months ago.
    Will you be doing the MP Xpresso yet? Like to see if it's as good as it sounds.
    SwimOutlet.com
    11 months ago.
    Hi Patrick,
    We hope to have an MP XPresso expert review up in early June. Keep checking back or follow us on social media. We'll let people know on twitter, as soon as its up.
    -SwimOutlet.com
    Kyle S.
    11 months ago.
    Hi Mark, I'm looking into getting a tech-suit that is around the $200 to $225 range. I've narrowed my choices down to the TYR AP12 and the Jaked JKatana. I know that the AP12 has better compression, but I'm wondering which suit has better water repellency, and which one holds up better? I mainly swim butterfly and freestyle sprints. Thanks for the advice.
    Mark Gangloff
    10 months ago.
    Kyle,
    Thanks for your question. I would say that you will get more uses out of the AP 12 but the JKatana is more hydrophobic (repels water). JKatana will be more comfortable and give you better range of motion.AP 12 will be tight. Just depends on what you want.

    Good luck,
    Mark
    Helen
    11 months ago.
    Hello Julie,
    I'm looking at the Dolfin Titanium for my daughter, however confused about the sizing. My daughter is 4'11" and weighs 87lbs. According to the website measurement chart( dolfinswimwear.com), she falls under size 28. I know you're suppose to buy 1 or 2 sizes smaller. But when I read your review, you said you normally wear 28 but for this suit you would go down a size. And I know you and my daughter could not wear the same size. Help?
    Julie Stupp
    10 months ago.
    Hi Helen,

    I agree we cannot wear the same size, I am only a foot taller than you daughter :). The sizing chart does seem a bit off to me. I wear a 28 and I would guess that your daughter should wear a 22-24 in the tech suit. If you can try the suit on at a local swim shop.

    Best of luck!

    Julie Stupp
    Joseph
    11 months ago.
    do you really think that the lzr x is really worth that kind of money for a guy?!?!?!?!?
    Mark Gangloff
    10 months ago.
    Joseph,
    If you are concerned about your budget then explore the other options. Going to a lower price point will not hurt you very much in terms of performance. The nice thing is the playing field is pretty level right now in terms of overall performance.
    Good luck,
    Mark
    Hunter
    12 months ago.
    Mr. Gangloff,
    I am looking forward to starting the long course season and was lookinf into getting a tech suit for some fast meets later in the season. I am 6'2" and 155, i swim mainly the 200 backstroke and was wondering what suit wounf allow me to perform to the best of my ability.
    Thank you,
    Hunter
    Mark Gangloff
    12 months ago.
    Hunter,
    Thanks for your question. My suggestion for your body type and event is an Arena Carbon Pro. Good luck and swim fast!
    Mark
    Hunter
    1 year ago.
    Mark,
    I am getting ready for the start of long course, and was wondering what tech suit I should buy. I am 6 foot 2 155 and swim the 200 backstroke. What suit do you think will help me to perform the best?
    Thank you.
    Austin Wittig
    1 year ago.
    I recently used the LZR Tech Suit in my City Swim Meet. I have heard a lot of things before I used it like it was just mental or that it had no effect at all. I am going to say those people are wrong.
    I came into the City Swim Meet with a 1:11 in my 100 breast; the first time I used the suit was in my 100 breast and I got a 1:10.23. I dropped a second, which is a lot of time.
    Make sure before you swim with the suit that you are comfortable with it. Before I swam with the Tech Suit I went into the warm up pool 15-20 minutes before I swam to see how it felt. It felt like I was flying through the water. I had a lot more distance per stroke and the glid on my breaststroke was amazing.
    On the second day I warmed up with my Tech Suit and used it the whole day. I dropped time in my 200 medley relay, in which I swim the breaststroke, by a few tenths of a second, and I dropped 3 seconds in my 200 IM. Then it came to my 100 breast and I got my state cut with a 1:08.53! I dropped a little more than a second and a half. The Tech Suit is a must buy if you are a few seconds away from the time you want or if you just want to drop time. It may cost 100 bucks at the least but it is completely worth it. #techsuitreview
    jacob
    1 year ago.
    Hello! I see all of the reviews on the LZR Racer X and none have comparison to the LZR Elite 2. Is the water repellency of the LZR Racer X as good as the Elite 2?
    albert
    1 year ago.
    which suit-the tyr avictor or speedo lzr racer x is faster in the water? Or are they both the same?
    Displaying   1 - 25 of 147
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