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Should You Wear a Tri Suit or Wetsuit for a Triathlon? 

Should You Wear a Tri Suit or Wetsuit for a Triathlon?

Training is only part of the battle as you’re preparing for a triathlon. You also have to figure out what you can wear that’ll get you through the biking, running, and swimming. 

Does that mean you should wear wetsuits for a triathlon? Or is there something better?

Well, a tri suit may be a better choice, but it depends on several factors. We’ve put together this guide to help you learn the difference between wetsuits and tri suits and which you should choose. 

So let’s get started!

What’s the Difference?

Before you can pick whether you should wear a tri suit or a wetsuit for a triathlon, you have to understand the difference between the two. Here’s what you need to know. 

Tri Suit 

Unlike wetsuits, tri suits aren’t made of neoprene. Instead, they are made of a lightweight and breathable material, which makes them more comfortable to wear (for most people). 

These suits are often sleeveless on the top, and they resemble biker shorts on the bottom. However, you can also buy a two-piece tri suit that looks more like a pair of shorts and a shirt. 


Wetsuits are much thicker than tri suits. They’re also made of neoprene, meaning they’re buoyant. This will help you float while you’re swimming. 

They also have better insulation than tri suits. If you’re going to be swimming in cold waters, a wetsuit will help keep you warm while a tri suit won’t offer much protection from the temperature. 

You can also find short-sleeved wetsuit options if you’re worried about getting too hot. 

What Is the Best Choice for Your Triathlon?

So what’s the best choice for your triathlon?

Before you can answer that question, you have to consider several factors. Make sure you think about these things before you start shopping for a suit. 

Water Temperature 

What type of water will you be swimming in?

If you’ll be swimming in an open-source of water, such as the ocean or a lake, you might want to choose a wetsuit. Since these waters are often cold, a wetsuit can keep you warm and safe while you’re swimming. 

However, if you’ll be swimming in warm (or at least warmer) water, a tri suit should be all you need. 

Your Swimming Experience 

Beginner swimmers may want to stick with a full wetsuit, especially for their first triathlon. This suit will give you a bit of extra help while you’re swimming.

Experienced swimmers might find the extra buoyancy of the wetsuit more harmful than helpful. 

Drying Time 

Since tri suits are thin and breathable, they dry much faster than wetsuits. This allows you to complete the rest of the race without feeling like a soggy mess. 

If you wear a wetsuit, you’ll need to be prepared to run or bike with a bit of extra water weight. 

The Rest of the Race 

What will you feel comfortable wearing?

A wetsuit is thick, which can make it hard to stay cool during the rest of the race. Wetsuits are also thicker than tri suits, so you might find it cumbersome or restrictive during your biking or running portion of the race. 

Tri suits, on the other hand, don’t have as much padding as normal biker shorts. Because of this, you might like the added thickness of a normal wetsuit. 

If You Do Choose a Wetsuit… 

Are you leaning toward picking a wetsuit? Don’t rush into this decision. Before you spend your money on wetsuits triathlons, make sure you do the following. 

Make Sure It Fits 

If you do choose to wear a wetsuit, it’s important to get one that fits you properly. 

Wearing a wetsuit that’s too small may feel restrictive. This is especially true if it’s too small in the collar or around the chests. It can even make your race more difficult. 

However, you don’t want to choose a suit that’s too big either. Otherwise, too much water will get trapped between the suit and your skin. This will make the suit feel heavy and keep you wet for longer. 

If you aren’t sure what size you need, make sure you talk to a professional. They’ll be able to help you find the best wetsuit for your body type. 

Check the Thickness 

You should also check the thickness of your wetsuit. Some triathlons won’t allow you to wear wetsuits if they’re thicker than 5 mm. Make sure you read the triathlon rules before you start shopping. 

Make Sure It’s Allowed 

There are some triathlons that won’t allow you to wear a wetsuit during the race at all. If the water you’ll be swimming in is warm, a wetsuit may cause you to overheat. 

Other races allow wetsuits, but if you wear one, you won’t be eligible for any awards. If you are a beginner, this may not be a problem, but it is something to be aware of before you buy anything. 

Make sure the triathlon allows wetsuits, and if they don’t, stick with a tri suit instead. 

Tri Suits vs Wetsuits for a Triathlon: Which Should You Wear?

So should you choose tri suits or wetsuits for a triathlon?

That all depends on your experience, your personal preference, and the rules of the race. If you’re a beginner, you might benefit from a wetsuit, but for most people, a tri suit will probably be a better option. 

Do you want to learn other helpful tips about races and exercise?

Make sure you check out the rest of our blog!

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