In April 2019, 8 experienced swimrunners from 7 nations travelled to Lake Orta, Italy, as part of the World of Swimrun gear test. Amongst the products being tested were 16 new to market, swimrun specific wetsuits from 10 different brands. Over 4 days, the team swam, ran and repeatedly tested the wetsuits on a fixed loop swimrun course, which included open water swimming, entries and exits and running both up and down-hill. The team reviewed each wetsuit on fit, functionality on the swim and run, appearance, storage pockets, flotation and swimrun features such as having a whistle. In addition, each wetsuit was tested for the following; dry weight, buoyancy and how quickly they drained post swim.
The full results can be found in the table below.
Short leg wetsuits with options for customisation – removable sleeves, interchangeable flotation and base layers with pockets are the key wetsuit trends for 2019. Whilst many shared features such as short legs, outer storage pockets and back zips in addition to front zips, it was encouraging to see designs incorporating newer, less common ideas such as fixed tow line loops, emergency whistles and faster, more flexible neoprene materials. A lot has changed since the launch of the 1st original swimrun wetsuit Head Base in 2015. The wetsuits tested in 2019 ranged in price from 187 Euro to 499 Euro and from 270 – 990g in weight.
Features rated highly by the team of testers included:
- short leg wetsuits – all the wetsuits provided by brands were short leg
- both a front and back zip to allow ease of removal during runs – over 1/2 of wetsuits tested had this feature
- sleeves which could be removed or used depending on swimrunner preference and conditions – ⅓ of wetsuits tested had this feature
- whistle built into wetsuit – over ⅓ of wetsuits tested had this feature
- good storage pockets – nearly all wetsuits had a minimum of 1 outer pocket and ½ of wetsuits tested had inner storage pockets.
- customisable flotation – ⅕ of the 16 wetsuits offered this feature
- fit in line with sizing given
- fixed loops for tow line attachment – ¼ of the 16 wetsuits offered this feature
- the lightweight construction of some wetsuits.
Room for improvement:
Despite being marketed as swimrun specific, the testers felt some wetsuits needed a little more thought in their design. For example, some storage pockets were too small to store gels or to get fingers / hands in to retrieve items and some front zips were a bit small or did not extend far enough down to “cab-down” (taking the top wetsuit off) mid run easy. Whilst it is encouraging to see more women specific swimrun clothing being produced, for example bra tops with storage for gels etc. we look forward to seeing more in the future. A new market for consideration could be the availability of swimrun wetsuits for children.
General remarks for all types of swimrun wetsuits:
Even though the swimrun wetsuit market is developing fast, with choice increasing year on year, there are some basic features in all swimrun wetsuits, regardless of brand, that it is worth remembering:
- The more black you have on a wetsuit, the less visible you will be in the water. If you want to be visible opt for a brand that has colour on it and of course wear a bright swim hat.
- The more black neoprene a wetsuit has the more it insulates the wearer and of course black absorbs heat. Think about the conditions you will be swimrunning in and be prepared to wear less or more.
- All neoprene wetsuits (not the textile featured ones) are more difficult to put back on after having cabbed it down for a run and when they are wet. When trying on a wetsuit, practise taking them off and on. The tighter the fit, the harder to put back on. 2-zipper wetsuits are always easier to cab-down compared to 1-zipper wetsuits.
- Most swimrun events ask people to carry mandatory equipment such as a whistle and compass. Try out the storage when trying on a wetsuit.
- Flexible material around the shoulders and thighs to aid swimming and running.
- Each brand of wetsuit has a different shape and sizing. Find one that suits your body shape.
- Most wetsuits use the Yamamoto neoprene which has different features that you can read up on here or here.
* Take note that some prices originate from local currency e.g. SEK why they might fluctuate in EUR or USD.
Swimrun Wetsuit Results
The Colting Go comes prepared for tough conditions with durable material which is resistant to scratches. It features flexible Yamamoto material for better mobility and reduced fatigue in the shoulders, a panel with extra buoyancy on the stomach for better position in the water and thinner material on the legs for optimal freedom of movement during running. Other aspects are bright colours for better visibility, an emergency whistle and fitted seals at the arms and legs to keep water out. It’s created with an extra front long zipper for easy cabbing-down and equipped with 2 pockets on the back of the wetsuit. The team quickly came to like the Colting Go. It fits very well, provides great flexibility for both swimming and running and has much nicer material in the arms and legs compared to last year’s version. It also retained heat really well in the cold Italian mountain lake and it felt fast in the water. The extra-long front zip meant that it was fairly easy to take it off alone even without having a back zip and the pockets on the back were large and you could fit your whole hand inside. Even though whistles attached to the zip cord at the front can be a hassle when running, this was one was short enough not to hit you in the face running at high speeds. Compared to last year the testing team found the design to be better but missed the bright colours on the shoulders of the older model which gave greater visibility in the water. This wetsuit is the second cheapest in the test and the best value for money wetsuit suitable for both beginners and advanced swimrunners.
The Arena brand was created in early 1970 by the son of the Adidas founder and today is well-known within the swimming community. This swimrun wetsuit, is the company’s first swimrun specific wetsuit and it comes which comes with many features to make swimrunning easy and comfortable on both land and water. It has front and rear zips to make cabbing down and cooling off simple. It’s constructed from glideskin neoprene for good performance in the water, with clear green high stretch shoulder panels for good flexibility and visibility in the swim and a free range of motion when running. Hardened fabric-neoprene has been added to the rear of the suit, for better durability when navigating rough terrain and there is a leg pocket for easy storage access which drained easily. It was comfortable to both swim and run in and handled well in the transitions. The outside pocket on the thigh was easy to access for easy storage things like gel or a whistle. Knowing it was bright green added a sense of safety when being in the water with boats passing by. The material is durable and we would expect many to keep this wetsuit as a “second option” in the wardrobe. It’s a great option for the beginner swimrunner not wanting to spend that much money but who still wants a good performing swimrun wetsuit.
This swimrun wetsuit is great for both swimming and running. Made from super stretch neoprene it has 5 mm panels on thighs for increased buoyancy and super stretch neoprene, 1.5 mm on both the shoulders and armpits to make swimming easier. Two zippers on the front and back are designed to make cabbing down easy, although some of the testers found the back zip difficult to use due to the short strap. Removable sleeves mean the swimrunner can choose to wear them or not depending on conditions but the team found the sleeves provided for the test were too wide and would loosen on the swim. Inside pockets on the torso give good storage for snacks and gear. The team felt the wetsuit kept them warm all over but some found that it could have been more flexible around the shoulders, while others found the fit of the wetsuit didn’t work as well for them around the chest and was a little short in the body. The Limitless offers a good wetsuit for swimrun at good value but it would benefit from a few improvements in the future.
Ark Korp 01
The ARK wetsuits are one of the newest brands to enter the swimrun market. ARK Korp is marketed as the all-round durable and scratch-resistant ARK-model to fit all types of swimrun races. It has a ”Master Belt” of 3 mm Yamamoto panels on the chest providing thermal protection with reduced drag, centre mounted zipper back-pocket and taped seams. Legs and arms (removable) are made of 1 mm double-lined neoprene making it smooth to both run and swim in given the flexible ultra-stretch liner. Ark uses a limestone-based neoprene in all their wetsuits which has 30% more air bubble inside making it very lightweight, soft and warmer than regular oil-based neoprene with similar thickness. Ark especially highlights their work on producing ECO friendly products. The ARK Korp is intended for those new to swimrun. It has a bit less flexibility than the Ornö model but still provides a really good feeling when swimrunning. Take time to make sure you have a good fit when buying this wetsuit as it is intended to sit tight to the body. As one of the lighter wetsuits in the test, it provides less buoyancy compared to others which is good for experienced swimmers or pull-buoy users. It has a long front zipper which makes cabbing down relatively easy although some testers found they needed a bit of help and the bi-directional back pocket has good volume and is easy to navigate with both hands given its centre position. This wetsuit, as the other models, is great for running with providing very little resistance on the legs and torso and the rubber seals keep them in position and keep water out. If you are cold by nature you might want to add a layer of insulation if using this wetsuit in colder conditions or for longer swimrun races. As with all black wetsuits they provide less visibility in the water.
The super-light Ark Vigg swimrun wetsuit, probably the world’s lightest and jokingly nicked-named the “Comfy Pyjamas” in the team, was a welcome change to the more traditional thicker swimrun wetsuits. It’s a wetsuit which suits both the professional and recreational swimrunner. It features a combination of ultra-thin neoprene and woven textile with more or less unrestricted mobility and a long front zip. It breathes well which is suitable when running. As with the Korp and Ornö models it also comes with a ”Masterbelt”, a belt of thicker 1 mm neoprene and anti-leak neck construction. It features a dual (split) back pocket covered with an overlapping flap. The Ark Vigg is probably the world’s lightest swimrun wetsuit and a great option for short sprint races or general swimrun racing in warmer climates. This is a wetsuit which is thin enough potentially to avoid having to cab down but on trying some of the testers did need help. Whilst everyone found it great to run in, you get very little buoyancy in the water and the back pocket was hard to access depending on what was stored in it during the test. Larger objects you could feel through the material but smaller and several objects were hard to identify and pull-out. Those used to tri-suits or swimrunning with the jammer and top combination will recognise this fit quite well.
Ark Ornö 02
ARK Ornö 02 (version 2) is the ARK swimrun wetsuit worn with success in the 2018 ÖTILLÖ main championship. If features a minimalistic design with low weight using Yamamoto limestone based glide skin neoprene combined with UltraFlex inner liner. The wetsuit is flexible and durable and features anti-leak construction around the neck and through the sleeves to keep water out. The removable sleeves are made of 1 mm glide skin neoprene. This model features ARK’s thickest “Masterbelt” with 4 mm panels and its zipper length has been increased with 2.5 cm compared to version 1. This wetsuit is really flexible around the shoulders and provides a tight fit and a great choice for the top athlete. As with the other ARK models it’s important to get the right fit. It provides a little bit more warmth compared to the Korp and the price difference between the 2 models can be felt in both comfort and speed. This is the wetsuit you race in, preferably short races or not so cold conditions. It was surprisingly not so hard to cab-down given the extra-long front zipper. But do note that if you’re not that flexible around the shoulders, you’ll probably need help to cab-down. It’s fast in the water, very easy to swim with given the materials flexibility, and the less strong swimmer will probably have to add extra buoyancy. Running in it was very comfortable as the material provided very little resistance. It comes without pockets which is great for short races however if you’re doing a long race you will have to find alternative ways to store mandatory equipment, energy or water.
Colting SR 03
The Colting SR 03 (version 3) features 1.5 mm thickness wetsuit panels except for the sides which are 0.8 mm to give extra stretch, making this wetsuit one of the thinnest options out there. The Yamamoto neoprene (39 & 40) is used for maximum flexibility, durability and retention of heat, and is 99.7% impervious to water. The extra thin outer side panels of the legs increase mobility both running and getting in and out of the water and different textile on the front, back and between the legs makes it more durable. New for this year’s model is the adjustable “Power thigh”, which is a mesh pocket on the inside where you can insert different size extra-buoyancy panels (small, medium and large versions) according to individual needs. The SR 03 is equipped with a large pocket on the lower back with entries from both directions and two pockets on the inside front for smaller equipment. The wetsuit features 2 zips; a long front zip and a shorter back zip making it easy to cab down and ventilate and “All Seal” for a tighter fit around the legs and arms to keep water out. This wetsuit was well liked by the test team, especially in the cool northern Italian waters. The SR 03, as with previous versions, is a really fast wetsuit in the water and flexible in the material when swimming, especially around the shoulders. The option to add extra buoyancy panels is a great feature meaning that a good swimmer can opt not to use a pull-buoy. The several pockets allow for great storage meaning you don’t need to use a layer with pockets underneath the wetsuit compared to those wetsuits without storage capacity. It was also surprisingly easy to run in the wetsuit even with the addition of the thick extra buoyancy panels on the thighs. Compared to other wetsuits it comes with fixed long arms which is great for cooler conditions, whereas if you are swimrunning in hot conditions you might want to cut them off. As with all wetsuits, it important to find a good size fit as some of the shorter team members found the material in the neck to be excessive. All in all the SR 03 is a great all-round option for both short and long swimrun training and racing, for beginners and experienced or top athlete swimrunners, and especially those who want to limit the use of extra equipment.
Head My Boost Pro
The My Boost Pro features 4 mm air cell neoprene, with a “glideskin” surface on the chest and quad area for greater buoyancy to offer good positioning in the water, whilst the 1.5 mm glideskin neoprene on the arms and shoulders offers maximum flexibility. The removable sleeves are made from 1.5 mm extra-elastic neoprene with a 2.5 mm cuff, and both arms and legs have the same neoprene cuff which closes tightly to create an anti-leak effect, minimizing drag in the water. 2 mm double face flex neoprene on the hips and thighs offers flexibility for running. A multifunctional pocket system can be used to customize your wetsuit, for adding extra buoyancy to the chest and thigh area or for carrying extra equipment. This wetsuit has numerous pockets for storage including a back pocket with zip and nylon tow loops on the front and back enable you to easily fasten a tow line and accessories. This wetsuit fits well but it felt tight to some. A front and back zip make cabbing down easy but the testers felt the cord on the back zip was too short to be grabbed easily and the front zip could be improved by making it longer to allow more room for bigger paddles to be stored down the wetsuit. The performance while swimming was also comfortable offering good shoulder mobility and for the testing team enough buoyancy even without the additional flotation pads. The red material on the back thigh makes the front person running or swimming easy to spot. One of the heaviest wetsuits in the test, the team liked this wetsuit a lot and in particular for colder temperatures.
Huub Auron 3:5
The Huub Swimrun wetsuit Auron comes with all the key features, quality and performance a swimrunner would expect and at a reasonable price. It features flexible, double-faced nylon with an abrasion resistant rear panel for rock slide durability, front zip access and storage pockets in the front and back. All with their exclusive Huub 3:5 buoyancy trademark. The Huub Auron is a wetsuit in the lower price segment. The shoulder flexibility is really good but the rest of the wetsuit feels rather stiff. While swimming the arms and legs opened and let some water in and during the leg area was not as flexible expected. The back pocket is easy to reach but for those with bigger hands hard to use. The red material provided very good visibility in the water. The testing team found the sizing to be confusing and in particular the women versions was a very different size in comparison to similarly described wetsuits. The team felt this wetsuit would be suitable for lightweight training or a racing wetsuit for mid temperatures.
The Orca Perform is a high-quality Yamamoto wetsuit which features adjustable buoyancy using additional flotation pads, both front and back zips and multiple pockets for storage both on the inside and outside of the wetsuit. With the option of removable sleeves, this wetsuit allows the user to adapt to changing conditions and preferences. The testing team found this wetsuit to be very comfortable and flexible on both the swim and runs, although some commented on a tight fit. The second zipper on the back allows to cab it down easily. The ability to combine the Swimrun Pads on the inner and outer legs with an extra pair to get more buoyancy or remove them for more freedom of movement could be particularly useful for people wishing to customise their buoyancy. The pocket on the back comes with good zipper length however it opens upwards which is the opposite of most brands and so may confuse some users. Different pockets on the front and the back gives you enough easy accessible storage. The little upper front pocket can be hard to navigate at first but very good for emergency energy. The team was particularly impressed with the whistle on this wetsuit. The flexibility in the upper body gives you a good swimming performance with great shoulder movement while the material in the legs is elastic enough for a good run. The wetsuit given its thin material could be a bit cold to some swimrunners and if this is the case we recommend wearing an additional under layer. This is a great all-purpose wetsuit for swimrunners.
This is the third-generation Orca RS1 wetsuit featured with removable sleeves, a lightweight construction aimed at offering maximum flexibility for the fastest swimrunners. It’s designed with the Yamamoto (44) material in the shoulders which the test team found great flexibility during swimming. The innovative design of the RS1, means you can fully open the front, like a jacket, allowing you to cool down but without having to remove it fully during runs. Some of the test team liked this new approach whilst others found doing the 2 jacket halves up again during transition fiddly, especially while running on technical terrain or holding paddles. It means cooling down is easier but on hot days you still have neoprene on your back. The concept looks new for experienced swimrunners but for beginners it could be a big plus. The Orca RS1 also comes with elastic material in the lower body which means greater stretch around the legs on the run but some of the team found the legs a little too baggy around the waist. The elastic mesh interior pockets allows you to pair this wetsuit with the Orca Swimrun Pad in order to gain a boost in buoyancy according to your individual needs. But the team found that if you added too much extra buoyancy padding on the thighs then there was a loss of flexibility during the run especially if you have well-developed thigh muscles. In general this is a wetsuit definetly worth trying.
NU Triton 2.0
Triton 2.0 (version 2) from NU Complements is made of durable and fast Yamamoto (38 & 39) neoprene. 1.5 mm under the arms and between the legs, provides great flexibility while swimming and running, 2 mm on the sleeves prevents water from getting under the wetsuit and up to 8 mm thick panels on the legs and stomach provides flotation. The Triton 2.0 has a special stability panel on the back, which helps you to keep an upright position in the water. This is NU’s second version of the Triton wetsuit and was well liked by all the testers. It’s well thought through and tailored for almost all body types given its material and disposition, i.e. very flexible that it even can pass as a 1-size-fit-all wetsuit on the unisex size table. The great fit means nearly no water entered inside it during the swimming test and it provided very good buoyancy. Thin 1.5 mm yellow neoprene under arms and flexibility around the shoulders provides a comfortable almost seamless feeling in the rotation around the shoulders and the thicker 8 mm panels on legs and stomach put the swimmer in a high and stable position in the water. This led to some of the testers preferring not to use a pull buoy with it. The material did give good thermal protection however as with all 1-zip wetsuits, it was difficult to cab it down without the help of a partner. The test team thought the legs were great for running. Compared to the previous version (1.0) this model has a bigger back pocket meaning it will store most of what people want but some of the team with larger hands found it was hard to get things in and out. This wetsuit has added sleeves which big-arm testers found a bit tricky to put back on after being wet. Overall this is a really good wetsuit.
Having started out knitting swimwear in 1914, Speedo has waited until 2019 to produce its first swimrun wetsuit. The Speedo Light is designed as an entry level product aimed at attracting new customers into the range forswimrun training and racing. It features 3 mm Yamamoto (39) cell neoprene thick panels on the front of the thighs to aid buoyancy and 2 mm panels on the shoulder for lightness and flexibility, an anti-abrasion panel on the bottom, an outside pocket with drainage holes and has bright yellow sleeves, side and hem panels. The wetsuit provides a ight fit and is very flexible, especially around the shoulders. Its relatively easy to run in. The jersey material is not so warm and the wetsuit is not as hydrodynamic in the water as more neoprene oriented ones and the not so strong swimmer will proably top-up with a pull-bouy. The mall pocket on the thigh is acessible but stuffed fully it is not as hydrodynamic as one can wish. Given its tight fit its tricky to cab-down but overall this is a decent swimrun wetsuit for training and shorter racing in warmer weather. A plus is the bright yellow colour easy to spot in the water.
The Fastskin has been specifically engineered for swimrun races and whilst the features are similar to that of the Speedo Light (Yamamoto, SCS), it has more flexible panels on the shoulders and legs to ease movement on the swim and run. It’s designed with a front and back zip design to make cabbing down easier and with strategially places 4.5 mm panels for higher buoyancy for an improved body position when swimming. The forearms come featured with a “Vortex Stroke System” which is designed to ppen up during a swim stroke to “catch” more water. There are also reinforced belt loops at the front and back meaning that tow lines can be connected directly to the suit, an anti-abrasion panel on bottom and outside pocket with drainage holes. The wetsuit is inteded as the “second skin” for competitions in cold waters, matching the needs of a swim competitor, along with incorporating flexible arm and leg panels for the run. Super sealed ciffs prevent water from entering the wetsuit when swimming. Some team members found it not so easy to get into due to the tight fit of the legs compared to the upper part of the wetsuit. It did however provid good rotation in the shoulders when swimming and a decent position in the water given its thicker panels. It was hard to evaluate how much assistance you get from the enginered Vortex system, especially in rough waters, but the logic is there, with good technique and matching strenght, the more water you catch the faster you should be able to go. It was easy to cab-down when running but difficult to mount back on given the thight fit around the forearms. Make sure you try a decent fit before you buy. The material around the neck caused shafing for some of the team members. As with the light model, the FastSkins yellow panels made it easy to spot in the water.
The French brand Utter has released a new colourful swimrun wetsuit featuring front and back zippers to allow for easy cabbing-down or ventilation. The stretchy material means it is comfortable in both running and swimming and durable to wear and tear. To provide extra buoyancy it comes with a large 5 mm neoprene panel on the torso and stomach and 8 mm panels on the thighs which are ideally placed for good buoyancy and position in the water. It has 3 pockets, 2 inside at the front and a large outer back pocket. This wetsuit also comes featuring the “Ti & Seal” function. The Utter was a nice wetsuit to swim in and easy and smooth in the shoulder rotation. The red/blue panels also provided good visibility in the water. It was easy to run in and is a good swimrun wetsuit option for a fair price. As with all wetsuits, ensure the fit is a good one to avoid water coming in around the arms or thighs.
Utter Vassiviere Sleeveless
The Utter Vassiviere sleeveless swimrun wetsuit comes in 4 mm Yamamoto neoprene with increased glide in the water (SCS, Super Composite Skin), intended for swimrun training and racing in warmer conditions. To compensate for no sleeves it comes featuring a large Aerodome neoprene panel on the front, and lightweight textile and neoprene on the back with the aim of improving warmth and flotation. The legs have a Jersey liner and 7.5 mm Aerodome panels on the thighs for flexibility and durability. It also comes with the “Ti & Seal” function which is there to help arms and legs not to take in any water, with the possibility of custom cutting it to fit any persons arm or leg size. The testing team felt this wetsuit would be well suited to warmer conditions especially due to the freedom of movement it gives when swimming. The panels added great buoyancy and position in the water and running in it felt nice. Cabbing down this wetsuit was easy and the pockets were easily accessible although the back pocket was a bit hard to use if you had big hands. It is worth noting that without material covering the armpits or around the shoulders some body shapes may experience chafing on longer runs or when swimrunning in saltier water. We recommend that you try this type of swimrun wetsuit before you buy it.
Thank you for all the support and good luck swimrunning this season!
/The WoS Team, Swimrun Germany, Swimrun UK, Swimrun France, Swimrun Sweden, GoSwimrunPoland, Swimrun Croatia
Don’t forget to check out last year’s test as many of these wetsuits can be found at affordable prices.