Determining whether to go with a sleeved versus sleeveless wetsuit is a dilemma new triathletes face. Both styles of wetsuits will undoubtedly provide a better swimming time than not having one. This is because triathlon wetsuit, both sleeved and sleeveless, have buoyancy panels strategically located throughout the suit that “lift” a swimmer up in the water thus decreasing the resistance. Below we will look at both the sleeved and sleeveless wetsuits pros and cons.


The majority of our customers go with the sleeved wetsuit. Sleeved wetsuits are full body wetsuits that cover your arms all the way to your lower calf. They are a bit harder to get on and off compared to the sleeveless wetsuit but offer a bit more buoyancy because of the extra rubber in the arms. During races where water temperatures are cold, they are preferred since they will keep you warmer than a sleeveless wetsuit. Full sleeved wetsuits are faster because less water will enter the suit compared to the sleeveless. This is why when an event is wetsuit legal, pros tend to use a sleeved wetsuit.


Although the majority of our wetsuit rental customers choose sleeved suits, sleeveless wetsuits are not without their advantages. They are easier to get on and off and allow for a faster transition time. With a little bit of practice in a sleeved suit, this can be improved. Some triathletes find the sleeved suits too confining and prefer the sleeveless wetsuit, even in colder conditions. We have had customers go with a sleeveless wetsuit when water temperatures were in the low 60’s. We think they’re crazy but they just like the sensation of feeling the water during their stroke. For longer distance races, where the water temperatures are not too chilly, a sleeveless suit would be recommended due to the possibility of overheating in a sleeved wetsuit. Since it is impossible to seal the arm cusps on a sleeveless wetsuit more water will enter your suit and create a bit more drag than a sleeved suit. Some customers who come from a swimming background and are new to triathlons like the sleeveless wetsuits because they feel the sleeved wetsuits restrict their swim stroke. If a person is hesitant about going with a sleeved wetsuit because they are worried about being fully enclosed, we try to steer them in the direction of the sleeveless. What tends to happen is people make up their mind before they receive the suit that it will be too tight.

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