A tri suit is a single article of clothing you can wear throughout an entire triathlon, and it can give you the advantages you need for a great race. When you are choosing a tri suit (short for triathlon suit), there are a few basic things that you should keep in mind. And to help you find the best tri suit for your needs, this guide will answer any questions you might have.
If the triathlon you are doing has a cold water portion, you may need to get a wetsuit. If so, your tri suit may not need to have special features for buoyance and speed in the water.
If the water is warm, look into some of the special features available in tri suits, such as:
- Drag reduction
If it will be a hot and/or sunny day, get a tri suit that has cooling features and sun protection factor (SPF), ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) protection. Look for materials/keywords like:
- Mesh: Improves breathability and increases ventilation.
- Moisture transfer/management: Moves sweat to the outside of your tri suit where it dries quickly.
- Anti-bacterial: Protects you from bacterial and fungal growth.
Certain tri suits come with built-in sports bras. If you have a flatter chest, this feature might not be necessary. If you are a bustier woman, having a sports bra included in the tri suit can give you one less thing to worry about. If you have a particularly large chest, the built-in sports bra may not give enough support and you may need to get a more supportive one to wear underneath.
Extra Padding for the Bike Portion
Some tri suits come with a chamois (pronounced shammy) or a tri pad which is extra padding. The chamois is sown into the tri suit at the crotch area: Where your body meets the bicycle saddle. Some are more discreet than others so the padding isn't obvious while running or swimming. Also, many chamois sections are designed specifically for male or female bodies, and would be uncomfortable if worn by the wrong gender.
Do You Need Pockets?
Do you need three pockets in the back for your gels and MP3 player, or is one pocket enough? If you can attach things to your bike or prefer an arm band, the number of pockets on a tri suit won't be a deal breaker.
Compression properties can support your muscles and reduce your recovery time. If certain parts of your body take a beating after a race, look into compression tri suits to help your muscles. Look for materials like nylon, spandex and LYCRA® for compression and stretch.
Tri Suit Fit
Once you have your tri suit, try it on properly to make sure it fits. If the tri suit is too small it could cause:
- Chaffing and skin irritation
- Circulation problems
- Constricted range of motion
- Takes longer to put on and take off
If the tri suit is too big and there are bulges, they will slow you down in the water. Tri suits are supposed to be snug and fit closely to your body (like a rash guard or competition swimwear), so don't expect a lose fit.
If you feel like the tri suit fits well, mime swim strokes to make sure your shoulders are comfortable. Then jog in place to make sure your skin isn't being pinched anywhere.
The Perfect Tri Suit
What's the difference between try and triumph? A little "umph"! The same goes for finding your perfect tri suit. There are so many different options and features, the best way to find the ideal tri suit for you is to know yourself and your race. The more knowledge you have — from the water temperature to your bust size and how much support you need — will bring you closer to tri suit triumph.