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  • Mar

    Top 2015 Tech Suits Compared - The Expert Review

    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. 

     

    View the 2014 Tech Suit Review here 

     

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    Carter
    3 years ago.
    Hi Mark. I recently purchased the Carbon Air jammer and I really liked the sizing and fit. Although I love the Carbon Air, I was looking for the one of the suits with the top notch performance and compression. I looked at the new Carbon Ultra and Carbon Flex VX. Which one would you recommend? Thanks.
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