Saturday, May 27, 2017

10 Tips for Purchasing a New Triathlon Wetsuit

My BlueSeventy Helix
Photo Cred: Tim Hughes
With triathlon wetsuit season quickly approaching I thought I would highlight a few things to think about when purchasing a wetsuit.

You can save 25% on a new suit or anything else at BlueSeventy.com using coupon code b70ThomasGerlach17 (good anytime in 2017)

Wetsuit Buying Tips:


1) It is all about fit - a proper fitting wetsuit is the most important thing when buying a wetsuit. A wetsuit should be snug when putting it on. It will loosen up when you get water in. It will loosen up over time as you use it. Keep this in mind when trying on a new wetsuit. If it is a breeze to get into and zip up then it is probably too big.

2) Features, Features, Features - The wetsuit industry has endless marketing terms for various "features". The majority of these features are worthless. I don't blame the manufacturers as each one does it.

The reality is that some users may like some features. An example for me with my BlueSeventy Helix is that I like the top-zip option. It gives me peace of mind in the water that another competitor isn't going to "accidentally" pull down my zipper in the middle of the race. They simply can't.

While some features offer minor benefits, the reality is that most features are over-blown. Don't get buried in features.

3) Return policy is key - You want to be able try out your wetsuit in the water to make sure it truly fits and will work for you. BlueSeventy has an awesome return policy and they let you try the wetsuit for 30 days. Here is their full policy. Also, if you are borderline in the sizing, you can always buy two suits and return the one that doesn't fit as well.

4) Low vs mid vs top-tier wetuits - Typically top-tier wetsuits offer the best rubber, that is the thickest to lift your body and legs out of the water for reduced drag. They also have really thin arms and shoulders so you don't feel restricted while swimming.

Lower to mid-tier wetsuits usually have thinner rubber in places you want thicker, thicker rubber in places you want thinner, and that rubber is usually less buoyant, more rigid, and often lacking a special coating to help you cut thru the water faster.

Sighting Open Water
Personally I do like the top-tier wetsuits and even when I was age-grouper, beyond my first wetsuit, I always bought top-tier wetsuits. If you can afford them I say get them. If you can't then I often suggest getting a sleeveless.

5) Sleeveless vs sleeved - If the water is 68 and above I much prefer sleeveless wetsuits than sleeved. The only time I prefer sleeves is if the water is cold enough to be uncomfortable, 55-64 for me. Even in 65-68 water I will often swim in a sleeveless depending on other race factors.

The reality is everyone's temperature gauge is different. I generate a ton of body heat swimming hard and easily overheat in sleeved suits. If I overheat I am far slower than I would have been with a sleeveless. From a feel perspective there is nothing more enjoyable than swimming in the freedom and flexibility of a sleeveless suit.

Keep in mind, a poorly fitting sleeved suit, or a sleeved-suit that doesn't have super flexible shoulders, is going to be slower than a sleeveless. Personally, my best swims in relation to my peers have always been in situations where I have worn sleeveless. If you aren't worried about water temperature I have no problems recommending sleeveless. This is especially so if you come from a swim background.

6) Look used if buying top-tier - Buying used can be a great option, especially if you trying to get a top-tier wetsuit on the cheap. You can often find $800 top-tier wetsuits for under $300. Check eBay for great deals. Look for wetsuits with fingernail tears that can be easily repaired to save even more.

Wetsuit cement for repairing fingernails tears in 10 minutes or less
Wetsuit tears happen to everyone and it is better to buy a $150 suit that is already torn, versus the feeling you get when you put the first fingernail tear into that new $800 suit. The reality is that wetsuit tears are common and can easily be repaired with wetsuit cement. Don't sweat them.

7) Buying used from a friend or Facebook groups - chances are the suit is way overpriced.
Look at past sales of wetsuits on eBay to get an idea of what suits go for.The reality is if you buy their used wetsuit then you are doing THEM a favor. Negotiation power is all in your favor.

8) Buying if you are an odd size, say Women's XS - Believe me, selling overstock wetsuits one summer, I realized just how hard it was to sell even a brand new $800 suit if it is an odd size like Women's XS. If you are at the far end of the sizing spectrum look for blow-out deals or check eBay. You might be surprised.

9) Xterra - Don't fall victim to Xterra pricing. Similar to Rudy Project in helmets and sunglasses, Xterra's whole business model is to take the Kohl's approach. Nobody pays more than 50% off for Xterra. You aren't getting a deal if you get 50%-60% off you just think you are getting a deal.

10) Two-piece vs one-piece - As someone who is 5 feet 8 but has a 33.63 inseam, I am the perfect candidate for a two-piece. The reality is that I owned one and I hated it. They are heavier and more complicated to put on and take off (the manufacturers claim they are less). It is just one more thing to lose too!! While a two-piece sounds like a nice idea, and I can understand why some think it might be great, the reality is that two-pieces for me was a huge let down.

Regardless of whether this is your first wetsuit or you are a seasoned pro, here a few reminders about getting that wetsuit on:

1) Make sure to apply Body Glide to your legs, arms, and back of neck.

2) Use plastic bags on your feet or socks to help get the wetsuit on.

3) Wear gloves so your fingernails don't tear the wetsuit. Wetsuits are very easy to tear with your fingernails. Usually the nicer the wetsuit the more easy it is to tear.

4) Pull from the inside of the suit, in small sections, working from bottom to top.

5) Pro tip - Once the wetsuit is on over your shoulders, you can bend over at the waist and that creates excess material which then you can pull further up to give more breathing room and space.

Links:
BlueSeventy.com - save 25% on a wetsuit, goggles, speedsuit, whatever, in 2017, using coupon code: b70ThomasGerlach17

Body Glide on Amazon

- Wetsuit Cement on Amazon

- Completed Sales of BlueSeventy Wetsuits on eBay

- BlueSeventy Wetsuits on eBay

Lastly if you are triathlete, endurance athlete, or marathoner, I have set up a FREE Q&A group on Facebook. It will always be FREE. As a long-time age-grouper I spent way too long determining what information I could trust and what I couldn't. As a TRUE student of the sport I have learned a lot, remain open-minded, and realize that so many people disseminate information blindly and then bad myths become lore. I am hoping to shed some light and simplify things for people. Feedback is always appreciated.


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