The tri-suit is a fundamental piece of triathlon gear as it is the only piece of apparel that is with you for every step of the race.
It is specifically designed for all three disciplines of triathlon, so is made of quick-drying fabric, and is hydrodynamic for swimming, has a pad/chamois for comfortable cycling, as well as aerodynamic for cycling and running.
Since your tri-suit will be with you from when you hit the water to when you cross the finish line, it is one of the most important purchases you can make ahead of race day.
A low-quality suit that is too tight, baggy, or slow-drying will make it all the more difficult for you to reach your personal best, or worse yet, could result in a DNF.
So below, we have the best ironman suits on the market right now. If you’re racing sprint or Ironman, looking for a budget-friendly suit, or are willing to splash out for aerodynamic gains then we’re sure to have the suit for you.
Other factors also come into play of course, such as what distance you’re planning to race if you’re looking for something to increase your speed, something comfortable, and the race conditions.
In our buyer’s guide, we go into more detail about the importance comfort plays in a successful triathlon, and in our FAQs, you will also find information on additional apparel to invest in for each leg of the triathlon.
So to cross the finish line with a smile on your face read on!
OUR TOP PICK
The USP of the 2XU Compression suit is its compressive legs.
The 105D power mesh PWX compression provides muscle stabilization for greater power output and reduces fatigue, while there is no need to worry about soreness with the quadriceps mapping, which supports key upper leg muscles.
What’s more, the 2XU also has a full-length zip with garage, a spongy pad, and lean fabric that the brand is known for. The internal flatlock seams also make this suit ideal for a long-course race day.
However, some may find the design of the 2XU Compression a bit dated, especially in comparison to the modern designs of other brands.
Meanwhile, as effective as this suit is, it's not as aero-dynamic as others but this may partially be because it is a very affordable suit, meaning you are getting what you paid for.
So while this suit is appealing and is a great budget-friendly pick, it is not the most modern suit out there.
- 105D Power Mesh PWX Compression: Not only does this make for a more powerful performance, but keeps you from succumbing to fatigue.
- Quadriceps Mapping: Say goodbye to soreness with this technology designed for a more comfortable race.
- High-filament, low-gauge fabric: This suit is sure to keep you cool even in the hottest conditions thanks to its Swiss coldback finish.
- Affordable: This is one of the more affordable suits on the market.
- Dated design: When compared to other suits on the market, the design of this suit is a bit dated.
Santini is an official Ironman sponsor and this is evidenced by its distinctive M-Dot branding.
Some customers have not been fans of the large cycling-esque pads, but Santini heard these complaints and has now updated the suit with slimmer pads with gel inserts more suited to Ironman.
This lightweight, lean suit is also breathable and comes with easy-to-access rear pockets, high-quality grippers, and the Japanese-influenced design is definitely aesthetically pleasing.
Unfortunately, the aero appeal of this suit is a slight letdown.
We could recommend it slightly above the 2XU, but considering how much more expensive it is than the 2XU that isn’t exactly a compliment.
While there is a smart zipper garage this does not open for any pre/mid-race toilet stops. For this reason, we believe it may be more suitable for 70.3.
- Stylish design: The sleek and stylish design is sure to turn heads.
- Updated pads: When the rather large pads were not working, Santini updated the design with slimmer pads more suited to Ironman.
- Breathable: There is nothing worse than unnecessary discomfort, but Santini has eliminated that with its breathable suit.
- Pockets: This suit comes with easy-to-access rear pockets for everything you need.
- Not that aerodynamic: For the price, the lacking aerodynamic quality of this suit is a bit of a disappointment.
Zone3 has outdone themselves with their Aereoforce speedsuit that holds up as well in the wind tunnel as it does on the road.
The input from aero specialists Nopinzs definitely shows, making for a suit that is aerodynamic as well as relatively affordable.
Their long ribbed sleeves, full-length-zip, and supportive Cytech pad hit the sweet spot between performance and practicality.
However, the only downside is the pockets. They are small, shallow, and also difficult to access on the move, and not able to store sizable OTE gels.
The pocket covers do come in handy when it comes to swimming, but trying to stuff empty gel packets in them during cycling will be difficult.
- Stylish: The sublimation printed side panels make this suit aesthetically pleasing.
- Lightweight: The high waffle back panels make for a lightweight suit.
- Affordable: This suite combines great value with high performance, quality, and style.
- Top-class features: Not only is this suit affordable but packed with features you normally find on top-level tri-suits.
- Small pockets: These small, shallow pockets are difficult to use on the go
Zoot is known for its innovative design, and this may be the most technologically advanced suit on this list.
Zoot’s USP is its new Aero ‘wind-cheating’ fabric, which allows you to travel faster by reducing wind resistance and drag through the air.
After extensive testing in a wind tunnel, it was found that athletes could travel much more efficiently and this is thanks to the placement of the fabric at critical points in the suit.
But this suit isn’t just aerodynamic. It is also made from premium Italian materials designed to manage moisture.
This means you won’t be soaked in sweat, and also you can dry off quickly after coming out of water.
But this suit doesn’t just protect you from sweat and the sea, it also has UPF sun protection of 50+, and the fabric moderates your body temperature. This can be a life-saver in long-distance races.
If that wasn’t enough, you won’t have to worry about chafing with this suit either as it is skin-tight.
Zoot really does want you to have the most comfortable race possible! And the most convenient race, as it also has large pockets in the back for snacks and energy gels, as well as two smaller pockets on the side.
But these pockets don’t come at the expense of a less aerodynamic suit, as they are completely streamlined.
What’s more, this suit also has some reflective elements, keeping you visible and safe for nighttime training.
Unsurprisingly, Zoot is the best suit on our list, as it is scientifically designed to guarantee optimal performance.
- Impressive features: With 3 storage pockets, a dropped back hem for the best coverage, UPF 50+ sun protection, and reflective details, Zoot thought of everything to guarantee your best possible performance.
- Updated fabric: The polyester, spandex, and carbon fabric of this suit reduces heat build-up and regulates body temperature, while the exciting ‘wind-cheating’ textile with a woven 3D jacquard design makes this suit extremely aerodynamic.
- Race fit: This suit is designed to be race fit with integrated compression to maximize performance. However, if you’re looking for a less compressive fit or are between sizes, we recommend sizing up.
- Comfortable: The aero-cut sleeve design with textured fabric and exclusive Italian gripper make for a secure, breathable fit on the bicep.
- Seamlink stitch and cam lock zipper: The seamlink stitch minimizes chafing with its skin-tight comfort and is also flexible, stretching as you move. Meanwhile, the full-length cam-lock zipper provides ventilation with a soft-finish zipper binding to keep you comfortable.
Best Ironman Suit Buying Guide
As you may have noticed from our above picks, triathlon bands are realising the aero-dynamic benefits of tri-suits.
After all, 80% of drag is caused by the rider, not the bike, and with fabric boasting dimples, ribs, and more the suits on the market today are the most technologically focused yet.
But the perfect Ironman suit isn’t just aerodynamic, so what other features are important? And how do you choose the best suit for you?
Well, firstly, it’s important to determine what kind of Ironman athlete you are.
An aerodynamic suit is great but may be hard to find on a budget and if computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and velodrome action aren’t a deal breaker for you then it’s not completely necessary.
Or maybe you’re just interested in something comfortable and capable of carrying up to 17 hours worth of fuel and getting you to the finish line.
It’s also important that your suit fits properly.
You’ll be spending long, gruelling hours in your suit and if something is annoying you during practice, then it’s going to annoy you even more when you’re racing and turn into a bigger problem than it needs to be.
Comfort is probably the most important aspect to an Ironman suit, especially as you will be wearing it for 12 hours or more.
Chafing is a big problem you should look to avoid. Obviously, this is hard to spot without trying the suit out but below we’ll go over some details to look out for so you can avoid dreaded chafing.
Firstly, avoid suits that have a lot of seams, or seams that are in uncomfortable places as they will most likely rub.
Pay particular attention too to the fabric and how well it wicks sweat away. Also note that light, breathable materials will usually require hand washing.
Secondly, check if the chamois is comfortable on the bike. The comfort will be determined by the size and positioning of the padding.
Big doesn’t necessarily mean better, as padding can make you feel like you’re wearing a diaper and will make no difference to your performance.
Pockets are also important to consider, as you will need a safe, suitable place to store fuel and snacks for the bike ride and keep you energized.
Bathroom breaks are probably the most pressing concern for athletes, and if you experience slight bladder problems then a two-piece suit is sure to put your worries at ease before a race.
One-piece suits are beneficial however in that they are more streamlined and they will stay up throughout the race.
But whatever suit you choose, make sure to practice in it lots before race day!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to wear underwear under a tri-suit?
A tri-suit is a one-piece garment that is specifically designed for all three events in a triathlon.
They have quick-drying features, rear padding, and zippers. Tri-suits are really do-it-all suits that you can wear to swim, cycle, and run in.
Women have a few more things to take into consideration when buying a tri-suit, but many options on the market have an integral bra that many women will find beneficial.
Still, the suits that don’t have a built-in bra will still be close-fitting, so should provide adequate support.
However, if you are looking for extra support then wearing a good-quality sports bra underneath your suit is also an option.
Some triathletes may also opt to wear tri-specific shorts and top (also known as a singlet) instead of a tri-suit.
While most people do prefer a one-piece suit, an obvious benefit of a two-piece suit is that it’s much easier to go to the bathroom.
If your budget allows various pieces of tri-kit, then maybe pick a one-piece tri-suit for shorter races, as well as a pair of tri-shirts and a top for longer races.
What do I wear for a triathlon?
As a triathlon is a competition with three different disciplines then you will naturally need different pieces of kit for each - as well as a good quality tri-suit of course.
For swimming, you will need goggles and a swim hat. It’s important that you’ve trained in these a few times, as you don’t want ill-fitting goggles on race day.
There are plenty of goggles on the market in all shapes and sizes, with lenses designed for different types of environments, weather, and lighting.
Also, open water swim triathlons state that you must wear a wetsuit.
A wetsuit that has been specifically designed for triathlons is recommended, as they have been designed to be flexible, as well as have hydrodynamic resistance, and importantly are easy to remove during the transition.
Wetsuits will keep you warm in the water, but if you are swimming in very cold water then it is worth investing in a neoprene skull cap, swimming gloves, and a pair of swimming socks too.
For the cycling portion, we recommend wearing layers in the transition period as the cycling leg of the race is the longest and this will come in handy in cold conditions.
Gloves or arm and leg sleeves are easy and quick to put on, as are cycling jackets and windbreakers. These will also protect you from harsh weather conditions.
A cycling helmet is also a compulsory item. As always, make sure you practice ahead of race day to ensure you have the right fit.
The optimal footwear for triathlon races is triathlon bike shoes.
These have purpose-built features that help you stay comfortable and also aid speedy transitions.
Cycling shoes usually have a stiff outsole and are compatible with cleats.
However, unlike a helmet cycling shoes are not compulsory and while they are the recommended footwear, road bike shoes, mountain bike shoes, or even sneakers are acceptable.
The issue of wearing socks is also hotly debated. Putting socks on wet feet can be tricky, and it does take up time during the transition.
But socks do give you extra comfort and - most importantly - prevent blisters while running. There is no right or wrong answer, as everybody is different, and people’s preferences change with experience.
So now it’s time to get your running shoes on! And you may be dragging your heavy, exhausted legs behind you. For this reason, a lot of triathletes choose more lightweight sneakers to help with that final push.
As with the sock debate, there is no right or wrong answer and it’s all down to personal preference.
If this is your first triathlon, wear the running shoes you feel the most comfortable with and make amendments to your kit afterward.
However, you can make a small adjustment to your running shoes in the form of elastic shoelaces.
This unassuming addition could be invaluable during the transition, as they can be fitted to any sneaker and reduce the time it takes to put your shoes on as you don’t need to worry about tying standard laces.
However, we suggest avoiding these during practice as they can lessen the shoe’s support, which may put you at risk of injury if worn for an extended period.