Triathlon Vs Surfing Vs Diving Wetsuit; Can They All Be Used in Triathlon? How To Pick One

A wetsuit is identified as a garment that is worn for the purpose of providing thermal protection, and it is made of foamed neoprene to be worn by surfers, divers, and other persons engaging in sports.

But How are Triathlon Wet Suites different from Surfing and Diving WetSuit? A triathlon wetsuit is designed to provide warmth while adapting optimal criteria for competitive swimming. On the other hand, the Surfing suit is designed to keep people afloat and warm without so much effort from their side and usually comes with a thicker layer than the triathlon suit. The diving wetsuits use a thicker and denser material to withstand deep water pressure, however, this results in higher movement restriction.

So, can one use a Surfing or Diving Wetsuit in Triathlons? It is possible to use Surfing or Diving wetsuits in triathlon, however, their thickness should not exceed 5 millimeters, or else the participant would be violating Triathlon rules and will be subject to disqualification. It is also to be noted that using other wetsuits is not the most speed or energy-efficient strategy as they are not designed for racing.

Also, check out Why Does Triathlon Start With Swimming? How Risky Is It!

How Are Triathlon Wetsuits Different?

Triathlon wetsuits are the most popular since they are not exclusive to the professional sphere. Like other suits, triathlon wetsuits are designed in such a way as to allow a layer of water between the skin and the wetsuit to warm with the body temperature, thus providing a blanket-like coating that maintains the body temperature.

However, the Triathlon wetsuit differs from the regular wetsuit with four major differences:

  • They are designed for comfortable swimming,
  • They are designed for a smoother transition,
  • They keep the body temperature optimal while exercising, and ;
  • They are designed to provide optimal swimming dynamics/speed.

Triathlon wetsuits are designed to provide flexibility, especially when the arms are above the water and pointing forward.

The suit’s user appreciates this difference, mainly when it is on an open swim and one needs to reach over the heed severally.

Triathlon wetsuits are planned to serve several purposes, such as quick transition. Transition time is vital, and the wetsuit should be easier to remove to add on the overall score.

It is made from neoprene, made thinner since the thinner one provides flexibility. Neoprene is made in a way such that it is resistant to water. Also, check out How Thick Should a Triathlon Wetsuit Be? Why You Need (A New) One!

They have a slippery outer coating that allows one to glide faster in the water. The surface assists in the reduction of drag force; this speed increases, and therefore a lot of energy is conserved.

They also have air pockets for the purpose of increasing buoyance and posture in the water.

Consequently, it is important to use a triathlon suit while in the swimming competition for better outcomes. Check out theORCA Openwater Core Hi-Vis” Triathlon wet suit we use and recommended (Amazon link)

Also, check our post on Why Are Swimming Tech Suits Expensive? Is It Faster Than A Tri-Suit!

Can Triathlon Wetsuit Be Used for Surfing?

A triathlon wetsuit can be used for surfing, but there is a disadvantage. The more one uses a triathlon wetsuit for surfing, and the more likely the suit will be damaged. Therefore, it is recommendable that when one is using a triathlon wetsuit for surfing, be careful with the surf because the outer layer of the triathlon is more fragile.

The main difference between the surfing wetsuit and the triathlon wetsuit is that the surfing wetsuit is for warmth, durability, and flexibility while the triathlon wetsuit is for minimizing drag while a person is swimming for more accessible exits and entry in the water together with providing stable swimming position.

How To Pick a Triathlon Wetsuit?

The suit should fit a person like the second skin; thus, it should not be loose in any case. It should provide ranges of motion in the shoulder. A triathlon suit should be one that provides comfort while in it. Size and fitness are the main features that a person should consider since some work and do not work irrespective of the style of the suit.

Specific characteristics help one to distinguish between the working suit and unworking one. The features include fitness, the thickness of the material, the cut, and the bottom line.

For more, check out our post on What To Wear For Any Triathlon? A Brief & Complete Guide

The proper fitness

The paramount feature to consider when picking a triathlon wetsuit is fitness. The unfit suit will affect individual satisfaction, and it will be difficult for one to perform appropriately.

A wetsuit should be fit when snug and not tight, with no substantial excess added, and there is a variety of motion on the shoulder.

The neckline provides contentment to prevent suffocation, and leg and arm holes should be snug to prevent water from getting through the body.

In addition, for proper fitness, the suit should be flexible, provide warmth, and be hydrodynamic.

The wetsuit should be fitting but not tight. If it allows for pain in the restriction area, the suit is tight and should be avoided.

The suit should move with the individual pace and should provide a certain level of comfort to allow optimum performance but not too much comfort to the extent that it outdoes the purpose of the performance characteristics of the suit.

Thickness, material, cut, and bottom line.

Triathlon thickness should range from 1mm to 5mm. It should easily stretch, and a thinner flexible material should be around the shoulder for more effortless movement.

Full sleeve or sleeveless wetsuit goes with the preference of the user. A full sleeve wetsuit covers the whole body, providing the required buoyance. It is perfect during the colder swim, but they are harder to get.

The sleeveless covers the leg but does not cover the arms to offer the required motion. They are easier to get, and one finds most people being comfortable with the sleeveless.

Therefore, when searching for an ideal triathlon wetsuit, pick the most comfortable one that feels right for you.

Can One Wear a Shorty Wetsuit for Triathlon?

A shorty wetsuit is fine for a triathlon. A Shorty wetsuit does not provide complete coverage of the body. It has short legs and a sleeve and is suitable for swimming for the person who wants the knees and the elbow to be mobile. They are the option for a person who does not require full-body coverage.

During hot days, someone may feel warmer while in a full-body coverage suit and thus opt to wear a shorty wetsuit to reduce the warmth.

When picking a short wetsuit for a triathlon, it is essential to consider the thickness of the suit, the style of the suit, and how the shorty wetsuit protects from the sun.

The thicker the suit, the more warmth it provides, but it cannot exceed 5mm as it goes against triathlon rules (Source), and the more time one can stay in cold water.

One should think of the temperature of the water that one is likely to be in and then vary the thickness.

Check out the Triathlon wet suit we use and recommended (Amazon link)

Check the video below for a more comprehensive guide on how to pick a triathlon wetsuit,

Should One Wear a Wetsuit for the First Triathlon Race ?

Should is a big word here. The only time one should wear a wetsuit in a triathlon is when in some cases, the organizers mandate it in the event the water temperature is too low. Also, wetsuits are not allowed in races where the water temperature exceeds 25.5-degree celsius (Source)

While a wetsuit does make the swim leg a bit easier by providing warmth and buoyancy, every individual will have to make their own choice based on their preference and budget.

It would be a waste to buy a wetsuit for just one triathlon race if one may ditch the sport after this one event.

Also, note that one should never “Ever” test new gear on race day. Also, check my post on What To And Not To Wear Under A Triathlon Wetsuit? Compatible Triathlon Suits


In conclusion, one may wear a surfing or diving wetsuit in the triathlon but it is not the most optimal option.

The surfing and diving suits are designed differently from the triathlon wetsuit for their own purposes.

Surfing and Diving suit do not provide buoyance, flexibility, and comfortability for the purpose of competitive swimming like a Triathlon wetsuit .


An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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