Should I wear a sleeved or sleeveless jumpsuit? – Triathlete

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Wetsuits fall into two broad categories: long-sleeved and sleeveless. A long-sleeved wetsuit has neoprene sleeves that go all the way to the wrist, while a sleeveless wetsuit stops at the shoulders like a tank top. Both styles have full legs and a back zipper and are very similar in all other aspects. Determining which style of costume suits you best may not be a clear answer. And sometimes owning one of each kind is a very (really) good idea.

Benefits of Long Sleeve Suits

The benefits of a long sleeve wetsuit are extra warmth, increased buoyancy, increased hydrodynamics and protection from the elements.

More heat is retained when wearing a suit that covers more body surface area. By limiting the amount of cold water flowing over the skin, body heat is stored inside the suit. Removing sleeves, especially in the armpits, where much of your heat may be stored or lost, can make a big difference in core temperature, for better or worse. Additionally, the small amount of water that enters the suit through the neck hole is warmed by the body and provides a more comfortable experience in cold water.

The extra neoprene in the sleeves also provides extra lift and flotation in the water. Even though the sleeves are usually made from a thinner and more flexible layer of neoprene, they still provide buoyancy for the arms and upper body.

A long sleeve wetsuit also gives the wearer a sleeker fit in the water. Much like the way Olympic swimmers wear skin-tight wetsuits or how Spanks smoothes out all the wrinkles, the wetsuit sleeves keep the wearer’s arms silky smooth and streamlined for less drag and more speed through the water. Full sleeves also provide extra protection from the elements. Some ocean swims are notorious for jellyfish, sea lice, or other uncomfortable marine life. With a bike and a run to follow, protecting the skin as much as possible from unwanted pitting and irritation can be a smart advantage.

RELATED: The best triathlon wetsuits

Advantages of sleeveless costumes

A sleeveless wetsuit also has many benefits, including less insulation, better fit, and less constriction.

The legal wetsuit temperature limit for triathlons in the United States is 78 degrees F (or 25.5 degrees C), which can be quite hot on a hot summer day. Athletes can avoid overheating in the water by choosing a sleeveless wetsuit for hot waters while enjoying the buoyancy and speed benefits provided by the rest of the suit. Instead of trapping body heat, open arms allow the wearer to cool down and better regulate body temperature without exposed sleeves or armpits.

Sleeveless suits are also generally a better choice for triathletes with a bulky upper body. This includes any athlete with very muscular shoulders and arms who would struggle to fit and function in tight runs. Maintaining maximum shoulder range of motion is a high priority when trying to swim fast. Athletes with large chests may have difficulty breathing in a full suit due to torso constriction. A sleeveless wetsuit gives more freedom to fit, breathe and move while swimming.

RELATED: The best sleeveless wetsuits for triathlon

Which costume should I choose?

Consider these five questions when choosing between a sleeveless or long-sleeved suit:

  1. What kind of swimming conditions should I expect during my races?
  2. What is my morphology?
  3. Is my priority speed or comfort?
  4. What is my budget?

Today, there are sleeveless or long-sleeved wetsuits for every budget. The more expensive wetsuits will include more technology designed for speed like more flexible neoprene, fewer seams to cause chafing, neutralized buoyancy, etc. Higher range wetsuits are only produced with full sleeves as the main focus is speed.

RELATED: What matters (and what doesn’t) when buying a wetsuit

Get one of each

Owning a wetsuit of each type is a smart move for the invested triathlete. Make a big purchase on a well-fitting, high-quality long sleeve wetsuit and keep it safe for the big races. Then buy a mid to low level sleeveless wetsuit to use for weekly training purposes like pool workouts, low priority runs, transition workouts, summer open water swims, swims holidays, and more.

Choosing to wear a sleeveless or long-sleeved jumpsuit is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Don’t choose to wear a particular suit just because someone you know or an athlete you admire has made the same choice. Give an honest answer to the questions above, consider all of your race day conditions and choose the combination that will give you you the best results.

Below we’ve rounded up two of our favorite sleeveless wetsuits and two of our favorite sleeved wetsuits for 2022, but be sure to check out our full roundups for full reviews of this year’s sleeved and sleeveless wetsuits.

Our favorite sleeved suits for 2022

The pinnacle of HUUB


The Huub Pinnacle is a new wetsuit for 2022 designed alongside tri super swimmer and Olympian Andy Potts. Huub is already well known for his previous pro/suit collaborations (like the Brownlee-based super-floating Aegis), but this suit is oddly exceptional for helping swimmers who struggle with form – very very different from Potts himself . This suit uses slightly stiff neoprene panels along the hips, torso and upper legs to help connect and structure the junction between the upper body and lower body. For those who notoriously “snake” through the water – creating inefficient drag as they go – the Pinnacle is completely new in its efficiency. The structure provided by this wetsuit helps swimmers with this particular condition more than any other wetsuit on the market, and the flexible shoulders and moderately buoyant legs also help.

RELATED: In-Depth Review: Huub Pinnacle Wetsuit

Roka Maverick


A black Roka Maverick wetsuit, reviewed for a list of the best triathlon wetsuits

For years Roka was known only as a premium brand, and if you wanted their logo on your wetsuit, you had to be prepared to shell out at least $500. With the introduction of Roka’s first economy wetsuit, triathletes can get the same innovative raised arm design that helps balance the cheaper neoprene they use to save money. Plus, the Maverick comes with Roka’s unmatched return policy (30 days, 100% satisfaction guaranteed, even second-hand) and is available in 10 sizes, when in stock. More sizes and a good return policy mean you’ll get a costume with the most important thing you need: a good fit. For less than $300, it’s amazing.

RELATED: In-Depth Review: Roka Maverick Wetsuit

Our Favorite Sleeveless Suits for 2022

Synergy Hybrid EFX3 Sleeveless


In our extensive roundup of sleeveless wetsuits, the HYBRID EFX3 was the only wetsuit to receive five stars from our testers – and there’s a reason for that. Rather than cost an arm and a leg, this sleeveless version of Synergy’s ultra-premium wetsuit ticks all the boxes of a $500+ wetsuit, but is a better solution than most for warmer swims, triathletes with a larger upper body or swimmers who simply want zero shoulder restriction when swimming. Our testers rated a super important “thin, soft 2mm hiflex neoprene” as a huge plus for being secure yet soft around the neckline – huge for sleeveless wetsuits. Our testers also loved the minimal cut around the armholes to provide upper back protection, warmth, flotation and hydrodynamics.

Blueseventy Sleeveless Reaction


The BlueSeventy Sleeveless Reaction, reviewed

Coming second only to the Synergy Suit, BlueSeventy’s Sleeveless Reaction is the result of a newly redesigned reaction model for less than half the price of its sleeved sibling. Multiple panels on the upper and lower body meant a tighter fit with less risk of leaks or chafing. The only downside to the Sleeveless Reaction’s premium neoprene is how delicate it is for those looking for a second training suit to throw on or keep in the car, but the flip side is that the delicate neoprene is super soft and flexible. .

RELATED: Ask a Gear Guru: How to Put on a Triathlon Wetsuit?

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