Open Water Swimming swimming wetsuits

10 Best Wetsuits For Open Water Swimming- Expert Guide

Best wetsuits for open water swimming

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Are you in search of an open water swimming wetsuit to give you a boost in the water while providing some added warmth and insulation? Well, in that case, you’ve come to the right place because in today’s article we’ll be taking a look at the 10 best wetsuits for open water swimming.

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Wetsuits designed for open water swimming are vastly different from traditional surfing or diving wetsuits. Open water wetsuits are made specifically for swimmers and triathletes needs with a lot of the suits having added performance features packed in providing added buoyancy, compression, and flexibility to help you to swim faster. 

There are lots of different open water and triathlon wetsuits available which can make it very frustrating for choosing the best option for your needs. That’s why I’ve put together this article to help you make the best decision possible.

We’ll be covering a lot of performance open water wetsuits, but please note that if you’re looking for a training or just swimming open water wetsuit, then we recommend going with the mid-range or budget options in this article since they will provide adequate insulation and performance and aren’t as expensive.

Why wear an open water wetsuit?

Staying warm- Wetsuits are designed using insulation fabrics to keep you warm. Neoprene is by far the most common fabric used thanks to its lightweight, buoyant and insulation characteristics. 

Neoprene allows a tiny amount of water to enter the wetsuit and then traps it inside, allowing it to warm up using your body heat and in doing so keeps you insulated in cold temperatures.

Wearing a wetsuit will keep your body temperature much warmer and will reduce cold shock when swimming in cold water. For a lot of open water swimmers, warmth isn’t necessarily the driving factor behind wearing a wetsuit, but in some cases it’s necessary. 

If you are, however, going to swim in cold water I recommend gradually getting acclimated to colder water temperatures and having someone there who knows what they are doing to avoid any possibly fatal incidents.

Added buoyancy- the more buoyant you are, the higher you will sit in the water, and thus the better your body position will be. If you have a good body position while swimming you’ll be able to swim with far less drag and much more efficiency helping you to swim faster and lower your open water swimming times. 

The top-range wetsuits usually have a sort of golf ball effect, engineered to trap air inside and aid in making you more buoyant while swimming, whilst other wetsuits have foam strips inserted into their design.

More flexibility and range of motion- Unlike traditional wetsuits such as plain surfing wetsuits, open water wetsuits are designed to allow for more flexibility and range of motion in the water. This helps you to swim without feeling restricted in any way possible. And if you are able to complete a full range of motion on every stroke and kick, you’ll be able to generate more propulsion and power which will lead to faster swimming times.

Compression- Similar to tech suits used by competitive swimmers for added performance benefits, open water wetsuits also provide compression. Compression helps to keep your muscles activated and primed for fast swimming while also increasing your blood circulation to allow for more oxygen uptake and the removal of toxins like lactic acid which can slow you down while swimming due to the added fatigue.

Protection- Wetsuits are also a vital form of protection with open water swims taking place in rivers, lakes, and the sea. Wetsuits help to protect your body from things in the water such as debris, birds like swans, and even your fellow competitors that might be trying to take a jab at you.

What is the best wetsuit for open water swimming?

Here are the best wetsuits for open water swimming-

  • Roka Maverick X Open Water Wetsuit
  • Zone 3 Aspire Open Water Wetsuit
  • TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Open Water Wetsuit 
  • Zone 3 Vanquish Open Water Wetsuit
  • Roka Maverick Pro II Open Water Wetsuit
  • Orca Alpha Open Water Swimming Wetsuit
  • Arena R-Evo One Open Water Wetsuit Sleeveless
  • Xterra Vortex Open Water Wetsuit
  • Xterra Volt Sleeveless Open Water Wetsuit 
  • Orca RS1 Open Water Sleeveless Wetsuit 

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Open Water WetsuitTypesThicknessMaterialPrice rangeOur ratingView latest price on SwimOutlet
Roka Maverick X WetsuitFullsuit1.5/5mmYamamoto #40, #39 Cell and Aerodome neoprene Top-range10/10>View price
Zone 3 Aspire WetsuitSleeveless/ fullsuit1.5/5mmYamamoto #39 Cell neopreneMid-range9/10>View price
TYR Hurricane Cat 1 WetsuitSleeveless/ fullsuit1.5/5mmYamamoto #39 Cell neopreneBudget-ragne8/10>View price
Zone 3 Vanquish WetsuitFullsuit1/5mmYamamoto #40 Cell neopreneTop-range10/10>View price
Roka Maverick Pro II WetsuitSleeveless/fullsuit1/5mmYamamoto #40 Cell neopreneTop-range10/10>View price
Orca Alpha Wetsuitfullsuit1/5mmYamamoto #40 Cell neopreneTop-range10/10>View price
Arena R-Evo One WetsuitSleevelessN/A; not designed for cold water65% polyamide, 35% elastaneMid-range9/10>View price
Xterra Vortex WetsuitSleeveless/fullsuit1.5/5mmYamamoto #39 Cell neopreneMid-range9/10>View price
Xterra Volt WetsuitSleeveless/ fullsuit1/3mmYamamoto limestone neopreneBudget-range8/10>View price
Orca RS1 WetsuitSleeveless1.5/2mmYamamoto Hydrolite #39 Cell neopreneBudget -range8/10>View price

For open water swimming, you’re going to want to go with a triathlon or open water wetsuit since these provide the best performance and insulation for swimming in open water conditions. All of the options listed below fall in this range and can support a wide variety of water temperatures, from cold all the way to normal water temperatures.

1. Roka Maverick X  Open Water Wetsuit- Our top performance pick

If you are looking for the ultimate performance-orientated wetsuit, then look no further than the Roka Maverick X Open Water Swimming Wetsuit- the fastest wetsuit ever made. The Roka Maverick X is by far the most innovative wetsuit ever designed and it’s absolutely packed to the brim with performance features to help you swim as fast as possible.ROKA Maverick X Fullsleeve Open Water Swimming Wetsuit

The Maverick X wetsuit features support taping and compression liner technology, this improves your rotation and body alignment while swimming which then allows for added power, reduced fatigue, and added core compression and stabilization throughout your entire open water swim.

The wetsuit also features intelligent area-specific buoyancy technology which optimizes your body position so that you’ll be able to swim as fast and efficiently as possible. 

Further, the suit is made using a multi-textile construction. This creates the perfect balance between stretching, water absorption, and muscle support all without compromising your flexibility or comfort in the slightest.

Additionally, The Roka Maverick X open water wetsuit utilizes an arms-up construction allowing the suit to offer maximum upper body efficiency while reducing shoulder strain and fatigue.

With the premium price of the suit, you’ll also receive premium materials and fabrics that will allow for a very durable open water wetsuit that’ll last you a very long time. The Roka Maverick X wetsuit has a smart YKK zipper, it’s heat taped and then finished with proprietary stretch inks which will resist cracking and environmental degradation.

Pros:

  • Support taping and liner technology increases your swimming efficiency and power while reducing your fatigue.
  • Smart buoyancy technology allows you to swim with a perfect body position for reduced drag in the water.
  • The suit allows for unrestricted movement and range of motion in all directions, allowing you to swim with perfect technique and maximum propulsion.
  • Supports upper body swimming efficiency and reduced shoulder strain for maximized open water swimming performances.
  • Very durable construction, this suit will last you a long, long time.

Cons:

  • Highly expensive, one of the most expensive swimming wetsuits available.

2. Zone 3 Aspire Open Water Wetsuit- Our best value for money pick

The Zone 3 Aspire Open Water Wetsuit is a great value for money option. This wetsuit is significantly less expensive than the Roka Maverick X and it still packs some solid performance-enhancing features in its design- call it the perfect balance between performance and pricing if you will. Zone 3 Aspire Open Water Swimming Wetsuit

The Zone 3 Aspire Open Water Wetsuit features a new and innovative one-piece shoulder and chest panel, specifically engineered to enhance your flexibility and distance per stroke, allowing you to swim faster and more efficiently. 

It’s designed using 100% Yamamoto materials to ensure a much lighter, more flexible, and comfortable open water wetsuit that will provide excellent performance and insulation in the water.

The suit also features some great buoyancy with the buoyancy panels strategically placed on the legs and hips of the suit allowing for 30% more buoyancy than standard neoprene while guaranteeing an optimized body position by creating a hip-lifting effect.

Next, we have a feature I really like, namely the laser-cut collar. This is great since it allows for a really comfortable and soft seal around your neck that won’t cause any chaffing to occur. 

Further, the suit utilizes an SCS nano coating which greatly reduces water friction and drag, allowing you to swim as fast as possible. 

All in all, this is a really solid suit coming in at a great price point. The Zone 3 Aspire Open Water Wetsuit is also available in a full sleeve and sleeveless option depending on the water temperature you swim in.

Pros:

  • It allows for unrestricted flexibility and range of motion while swimming.
  • Comfortable and lightweight design.
  • Very comfortable collar reduces chafing around your neck.
  • Excellent buoyancy enhances your performance by optimizing your body-positon which then reduces your drag.
  • SCS Nano coating reduces water friction and drag allowing you to swim faster.
  • Great price for an excellent suit.

3. TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Open Water Wetsuit- Our top budget pick

If you are looking for a great open water wetsuit coming in at a budget price point then look no further than the TYR Hurricane Cat 1 wetsuit. The suit comes in at a great budget price point and packs some good performance features. It’s also available in a full sleeve and sleeveless option so that you can pick the model that’s suited to your open water swimming needs.TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Open Water Swimming Wetsuit

The TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Open Water Wetsuit features speed wrap paneling technology which is a lightweight neoprene material that improves your buoyancy, optimizes your body position and ultimately reduces drag while you are swimming.

The suit also has free-range-of-motion zones that create a perfect balance between flexibility and buoyancy to allow for unrestricted swimming and maximal power with each stroke and kick. 

Further, the suit is designed using an ultra-durable and coated neoprene that will allow for a long lasting open water wetsuit.

All in all, this is a great option if you’re looking for some good performance features at a lower price point.

Pros:

  • Speed wrap paneling provides a lightweight and buoyant design that will optimize your body position in the water, reduce drag, and maximize your swimming speed.
  • The wetsuit allows for maximal range of motion with every stroke and kick so that you can generate maximum power and propulsion and power to first place.
  • Durable design provides a long-lasting open water wetsuit.
  • Great budget price saves you money.

Cons:

  • Can be a bit tight around the neck area, consider using a rash guard with this wetsuit.

Also looking for a pair of open water swimming goggles? Well, you’re in luck! Consider checking out our article on the 10 best goggles for open water swimming.

4. Zone 3 Vanquish Open Water Wetsuit- Best premium value for money option

Looking for a really lightweight performance open water wetsuit? Then consider picking up the Zone 3 Vanquish Open Water Wetsuit. This suit has some great features and its ultra-light design will make it feel like the suit is barely there, allowing you to concentrate on swimming as fast as possible. Don’t worry about warmth though, this suit still provides some great isolation and will keep you cozy in cold waters.Zone 3 Vanquish Open Water Swimming Wetsuit

The Zone 3 Vanquish wetsuit provides great flexibility and will allow you to execute every kick and stroke with maximum range of motion, so that you can generate as much speed and propulsion as possible.

The wetsuit is very buoyant in the water and will optimize your body position, allowing you to swim with less resistance and more speed while the thin material on the arms will allow for reduced arm and shoulder fatigue over the course of your open water swim.

Something that I really like about this suit is the fact that it comes with a premium vanquish dry bag so that you always have somewhere to store your suit and prevent it from getting damaged.

All in all, this is a really solid open water swimming wetsuit with some great features. This suit has won multiple prizes for its design and performance including the Plethora award for the best performance, comfort, and innovation, as well as the Triathlete Plus Gold Award.

Pros:

  • Super lightweight design allows you to focus on swimming as fast as possible.
  • Allows for complete range of motion while you are swimming.
  • Highly buoyant design optimizes your body-position in the water.
  • Thin material on the arms allow for reduced shoulder and arm fatigue while you’re swimming.
  • Comes with a vanquish dry-bag to store your wetsuit in.

Cons:

  • Quite pricey.

5. Roka Maverick Pro II Open Water Swimming Wetsuit- A “cheaper” and excellent performance option.

Next, we have another Roka wetsuit, namely the Roka Maverick Pro II Open Water Swimming Wetsuit. Similar to the Roka Maverick X, this suit comes with a ton of awesome features while still packing a slightly lower price than the expensive Roka Maverick X wetsuit, which is always great.Roka Maverick Pro II Open Water Swimming Wetsuit

The Roka Maverick Pro II packs intelligent area-optimized buoyancy technology to ensure you maintain the best body-position possible, allowing you to swim as fast as possible. The suit has slightly thicker neoprene in the core and leg areas which will allow for added support and stability when you swim, helping you to swim faster and with better technique.

Further, we’ll find that the patent-pending RS2 technology increases your buoyancy even further, specifically in the center areas of the suit, while reducing the mass on the sides of the suit helping to optimize your body rotation while cutting down on drag as you’re swimming.

The wetsuit also features a low-cut neck design with a suspension panel added in. This is going to completely seal out water while providing a comfortable fit and stopping any feelings of choking.

Likewise to the Roka Maverick X, this suit presents a multi-textile design which is going to balance stretching, water absorption and support without restricting your range of motion or compromising your comfort while wearing the wetsuit. 

You’ll also notice that this suit is constructed using premium materials, taping, and glues while being finished off with proprietary inks that will allow for a super durable wetsuit that will last you a long time and save you money in the long run.

Pros:

  • Area-optimized buoyancy technology allows for an optimized and fast body-position while you’re swimming.
  • The wetsuit allows for added support and stability to improve your speed and swim technique.
  • RS2 technology further increases buoyancy, cuts down on drag, and allows for optimal body-rotation.
  • Comfortable and watertight neck panel.
  • Multi-textile design creates the perfect performance balance and enhances comfort and range of motion.
  • Premium fabrics and finishes allow for a highly durable wetsuit.

Cons:

  • High price point.

6. Orca Alpha Open Water Wetsuit- Ideal for regular swimmers

The Orca Alpha Open Water Wetsuit is another great premium performance wetsuit packed with excellent features. What’s great about this suit is that the price point is really good and competitive for a suit in this performance range.Orca Alpha Fullsleeve Open Water Wetsuit

Like most of the other suits, this wetsuit is designed using Yamamoto neoprene as its main fabric, allowing for a great range of motion in the water. On top of that, the wetsuit also features a reverse zipper system that won’t interfere with your stroke, helping you to focus on swimming as fast as possible with the best possible technique.

The suit is one of the thinnest available on the market, making it a great option if you’re looking for a lightweight suit with good performance. You don’t have to worry about warmth though, since the suit will still keep you insulated and warm by utilizing its internal titanium layer.

The Orca Alpha wetsuit offers great buoyancy and will keep you in an optimal body-position so that you’re able to swim as fast as possible with minimum drag. 

Further, the suit utilizes an SCS (super composite skin) coating to enhance your speed and to avoid the suit from rubbing against your skin. The suit also has hydrolite panels in the legs which will allow for maximal power and range of motion from your hips and legs.

Overall, this is a really solid wetsuit. I think this is probably one of the best options if you are a regular pool swimmer that places a lot of emphasis on stroke technique since the suit will allow for a really natural feel while still providing you with good performance features and of course insulation and warmth.

Pros:

  • Allows for full range of motion and complete freedom of movement allowing you to swim with maximal power and perfect technique.
  • The thin construction allows for a really lightweight suit that won’t slow you down and will keep you agile and fast.
  • Titanium layer ensures you stay warm, despite a thin fabric layering.
  • Allows for good buoyancy to optimize your body-position and speed while swimming.
  • SCS coating reduces skin friction and lowers your drag while swimming.

Cons:

  • Still relatively pricey.

7. Arena R-Evo One Open Water Wetsuit Sleeveless- Excellent performance option for competitive open water swimmers

The Arena R-Evo One Open Water Sleeveless Wetsuit is the ideal wetsuit for swimmers who are looking to train or race in warmer open water temperatures. The suit has a material composition of 65% polyamide and 35% elastane while packing features very similar to that of the performance tech suits used by competitive swimmers.Arena Powerskin R-EVO Open Water WetSuit

As mentioned, this suit isn’t ideal for cold water temperatures. It doesn’t have any direct insulation technology, nor is it constructed with neoprene. This wetsuit is best for normal water temperatures.

The suit is one of the few open water wetsuits approved by FINA, which is the international swimming committee. For the most part, you don’t have to worry about your wetsuit being approved by them or not, this is just for those of you who are participating in competitions where it’s required.

Getting to the performance of this suit, you’ll notice that the Arena R-Evo One allows for unrestricted range of motion and elasticity while swimming. This is going to help you to generate maximal power and swim as fast as possible.

The exterior of the suit is coated in teflon and has an optimized stitching pattern to reduce drag and to maximize your speed while swimming. The wetsuit is also really lightweight, allowing you to stay agile and fast in the water while the grip strips keep the suit securely set in place.

The wetsuit also offers strong compression which is going to allow for optimized muscle activation and blood circulation to maximize your open water swimming performances.

Overall, this is a really solid open water wetsuit. I’d recommend this suit for competitive swimmers who are looking for a good open water racing suit. This suit will also make a great fit for anyone else looking to train or race in standard water temperatures.

Pros:

  • FINA Approved.
  • It allows for unrestricted range of motion and provides a comfortable fit.
  • Coated in Teflon and has an optimized stitching pattern to reduce your drag in the water.
  • Grip strips keep your wetsuit positioned in place.
  • Strong compression allows for optimized muscle activation and blood circulation while you’re swimming.

Cons:

  • Not ideal for cold water temperatures.

8. Xterra Vortex Open Water Wetsuit

The Xterra Vortex Open Water Wetsuit is a really solid wetsuit coming in at a good and affordable price point. I really like this suit due to the fact that it’s a great suit for both training and racing. Xterra Vortex Open Water Sleeveless Wetsuit

Like most of the other suits, it is designed using neoprene to keep you nice and insulated when swimming in cold water. The wetsuit has a low-profile collar which allows for added comfort and durability.

Further, the suit features X-Max seam-seal technology allowing for durable waterproof seams that’ll stand the test of time. 

The wetsuit is available in both a full suit and sleeveless option, allowing you to choose the suit that meets your needs. I recommend using the sleeveless option if the water isn’t too cold since it provides more range of motion, but if you’re swimming in colder water, it would be best to go with the fullsuit variation.

Additionally, the suit also allows for full range of motion and even has scale-like forearm catch panels which allows for an effective stroke that generates more propulsion. The X-Flex liner also allows for added durability and a 4-way stretch.

All in all, a really solid wetsuit that’ll make a great fit for open water swimming.

Pros:

  • Low-profile collar allows for a comfortable fit around your neck.
  • Durable seams will keep the suit in good condition for a long time and will save you money in the long-run.
  • Available in a full suit and sleeveless variation.
  • Allows for maximal range of motion so that you’re able to swim as fast and efficiently as possible.
  • Great buoyancy in the water for added performance.
  • Ideal for training and racing.

Cons:

  • A bit tight around the neck.

9. Xterra Volt Sleeveless Open Water Wetsuit- awesome budget performance option

The Xterra Volt is one of the best budget open water wetsuits available. The suit has a great affordable price point and provides some good features to ensure a successful open water racing or training experience.Xterra Volt Open Water Swimming Wetsuit

The Xterra Volt Open Water Wetsuit features an X-slice coating. This reduces drag and increases your swimming speed in the water. The X-Flex liner technology in the suit increases the durability and also allows for great range of motion in the water so that you’re able to swim without feeling restricted or limited in terms of performance.

Further, the seam-seal technology in the suit adds a triple layer of glue and double-bind stiching to ensure that no unnecessary water enters or exits your wetsuit and slows you down.

Overall, this is a great wetsuit coming in at a nice and affordable budget price. It packs some good features and will allow for enhanced open water swimming performance.

Pros:

  • Excellent budget price point.
  • Ideal for training and racing.
  • Good buoyancy
  • X-Slice coating reduces your drag and maximizes your swimming speed.
  • X-Flex Liner technology allows for added durability and maximal range of motion.

Cons:

  • The sizing seems to be a bit off.

10. Orca RS1 Open Water Sleeveless Wetsuit- great budget performance option

The Orca RS1 Open Water Sleeveless Wetsuit is another great budget open water wetsuit packed with some solid features. The suit is constructed using neoprene and will allow for ideal insulation in cold water if needed. Orca RS1 Open Water Wetsuit

The SCS coating on the fabric helps to reduce water friction and increases your swimming speed as a result. The wetsuit also features a micro-cellular structure which is great for repelling water and reducing drag while you’re swimming.

The suit offers great buoyancy and will allow for an optimized body-position, allowing you to swim faster and more efficiently. Additionally, the wetsuit also allows for great freedom of movement and will allow you to swim with a full range of motion on every stroke and kick. 

I also really like the fact that the lining in the neck area is designed to reduce chafing. The material is soft and will allow for a comfortable fit while swimming. 

Overall, this is a great wetsuit with some nice performance features and an excellent price range.

Pros:

  • Affordable budget price point saves you money.
  • SCS coating reduces water friction and enhances your swimming performance.
  • The wetsuit allows for good buoyancy which will optimize your body-position and increase your speed.
  • Ideal for training and racing.
  • Good insulation for when you are swimming in cold water.
  • Allows for maximal range of motion on every stroke and kick.
  • Comfortable fit and neck lining.

Conclusion

A good wetsuit will play an important role in a successful open water swim. The wetsuit will allow you to swim without feeling restricted and will allow for good range of motion. It’ll also provide you with other performance features and will keep you insulated and cosy when swimming in cold water temperatures.

I hope that this article helped you to find the right wetsuit for your open water swim. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, consider checking out my blog for more articles on how to become a better swimmer. See you there!

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About the author

Benjamin

Benjamin

I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with many years of experience in the sport of swimming. I am very passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing everything I have learned about the sport. I specialize in swimming butterfly and my favorite event is the 100m butterfly with the 50m and 200m fly closely following.

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