A good Tri Suit is a must for any triathlete. Designed with speed and performance in mind it’s a fundamental item that can make or break your Triathlon . With this in mind, new Belgian brand endurance Junkie has stepped up to the pontoon with a range of tri gear aimed at long distance and Ironman triathletes. Using patented Sportwool material they have produced a tri suit that is not only functional and well fitting but aesthetically pleasing as well.
The use of Sportwool is unique in a tri suit. Due to it’s construction the wearer stays cooler when exercising and formation of liquid sweat is delayed. When formed, the liquid sweat is carried away from the skin to the outside of the fabric, leaving the inside dry and resulting in less ‘clammy’ garment cling.
The Sportwool Tri Suit looks superb. Not only is it stylish but with the culmination of quality fabric and modern design on looks alone it’s a winner. I especially liked the understated look. Their logo down the left hand side and a signature band of orange round the right leg cuff makes it stand out from the crowd.
Brainchild of current MD Peter Brees multiple Ironman and long time triathlete, it’s full of clever design features to help your day go as smoothly as possible. ¾ length zip with soft zip guard to prevent chafing , high density foam chamois and, unlike most suits, short sleeves to protect you from the sun.
The leg construction area has been manufactured in Carbon (yes carbon!) Power Lycra for maximum compression and an extra panel in the lower back provides extra support. My favourite feature? The two pockets either side which are ideally placed to store gels, perfect for the run.
The only fault I could find with the design/construction was after a few days the stitching in the zip guard started to come undone.
Whilst the use of wool and polyester has many advantages, don’t expect to set a P.R in this suit. It’s best worn under a wetsuit which the majority of Ironman swims are. Comfort and performance have given way to slickness though the water. Remember, you’re going to be out there for 8-17 hours.
The first thing you notice when you put the suit on is how comfortable it feels against your skin, warm almost snug not thin and “shiny” like some suits I’ve worn. Great for those early morning swim starts, but would it be too warm under a wetsuit?
4k’ s of swimming later and I was fine, not hot at all. Shoulder flexibility wasn’t compromised by the short sleeves and there was no underarm chafing. After a few minutes the suit and pad felt dry and I was ready to bike.
This is where for me the suit comes into it’s own. Although a one piece suits it feels like a two piece due to the different materials used in the upper and lower construction. The shorts feel tight and that panel in the back area provides welcome support on long rides. The leg grippers prevent movement when riding and the cooling white mesh panel running from the legs to the underarms provide plenty of ventilation.
The Cytech chamois (which is used by major brands in their dedicated cycling products) is extremely comfortable, flexible and has just the right amount of padding under the tail bones and smooth seams that don’t irritate. Any concerns that the color scheme may not be best suited for hot days (endurance Junkie do a Hot Ice Tri Suit for racing in hot climates) were dispelled when I rode 60 miles on a day in 30+ degrees. The properties of the wool mean once warmed up they work to regulate your body temperature.
Once open the zip allows a good flow of air and any sweat was wicked away well leaving the skin feeling dry. In the shade you can just pull up the zipper to feel the warmth and comfort benefits of the wool.
Although you can feel it, the slim design of the padding wasn’t uncomfortable or intrusive and didn’t feel like you were running “with a diaper on.” The compression provided by the lycra aid those aching quad muscles as you start out on your run but doesn’t feel over tight.
The storage pockets eliminate the need for a gel belt and are easy to access on the go. Again the zipper allows you to better regulate your body temperature and when fully open you still feel the back panel support and protection around the shoulders.
An 8 mile run at IM pace saw no discomfort, chafing or restriction in movement. On a hot day the suit dried really quickly and the natural fibres of the wool construction means it does not retain odors as much as synthetic garments so you do not cross the finish line “smelly” which is always a good thing!
I liked this suit....a lot! Whilst it’s not the cheapest tri suit around ($183 / 126 EUR) by using sport wool endurance Junkie are doing something unique, bringing high performance technology to the triathlon market. Is it worth the money? Definitely, innovation doesn’t come cheap.
This is a tri suit specifically designed for long distance athletes and is of the highest quality. The one piece sleeved design may not be to everyone’s taste (endurance Junkie are working on a race short/race singlet combo, the shorts are already in) but every design feature is there for a reason. If you can see beyond the big brand loyalty and logos and want a tri suit that will enhance your performance you should look at endurance Junkie.
* Editor's Note: Manufacturer supplied the product for review. Our British Bureau Chief Danny Ward wrote the review and modeled the tri suit.
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