I often say to people who are new to triathlon that they should consider borrowing equipment, or buying it second hand, simply because how will they know they will enjoy it? If you find that triathlon isn’t for you at the first attempt, you will be left with expensive items that just gather dust. When I started triathlon in 2013 I bought most equipment I needed second hand which served me well for the first couple of years. However, after a few races I was ready to upgrade. First port of call was a new bike quickly followed by a new wetsuit. My first wetsuit was by 2XU and one of their entry level suits purchased from eBay for £50. To be fair it was an excellent suit that fitted well and allowed me to glide through the water with the right level of buoyancy.
However, as the 2XU suit was a few years old I was ready to purchase a new suit that would be the next step up in performance. I knew the top end suits would be out of my price range because I wanted to spend circa £200, so I started researching the mid entry suits, examining the usual brands of 2XU, Blueseventy, HUUB and so on. While I was undertaking this research I came across an article from 220 triathlon magazine which examined the entry, mid and top level suits, and Zone3’s Advance (2016) favoured well despite being classed as an entry level wetsuit (RRP £159.99).
I already owned a Zone3 trisuit and although the fit isn’t perfect, the actual quality of the item was very good. I expected the Advance wetsuit to be similar; well constructed and affordable. When I received the wetsuit I was really impressed with the quality of the item which has a combination of 70% Speedflo neoprene and 30% smooth-skin rubber. While the Advance isn’t as supple as some £400-plus suits, it wouldn’t feel out of place against many mid-range products costing twice the price. According to Zone3, they have added new “Extreme Flex Materials” to the underarms, increasing stroke efficiency by improving flexibility. I did seem to have a greater range of moment with this suit, compared to my last, and I did feel slicker through the water. I will admit though that I am on my second Advance suit because the first had a fault with the fabric in the underarm area, but customer service at Zone3 was excellent, and a new suit (from a different batch) sent out to me.
There is a coated section (known as Pro-speed Cuffs) at each of the wrists and ankles, which aids removal of the suit, always handy in transition. The neck is lower than my old 2XU wetsuit but I still had a small amount of chafing. However, I get this with most wetsuits. Nothing an application of Body Glide won’t solve!
The design of the main body of the suit is unfussy and smooth, probably to aid glide, and was a pleasure to swim in. The buoyancy was well balanced especially around the torso and hips, positioning them higher for an optimal swimming position. Core support buoyancy panels help make swimming feel more effortless because of this improved position. The suits thickness is 2mm around the shoulders and arms, 3mm on the chest and upper back, 4mm on the torso, legs and side panels. This will ensure warmth but you won’t bake from the inside out.
All the research I had read prior to purchase indicated the Advance wetsuit is recognised as the best entry level suit on the market, and I will admit that Zone3 have done a cracking job with this wetsuit. Despite being on the more affordable end of the pricing scale, it punches above its weight rivalling more expensive suits. The Advance has a good fit with lower neckline and is one of the most comfortable entry level wetsuits I have tried.
The Advance is the perfect suit for anybody just starting out in triathlon because I guarantee you won’t feel the need to upgrade for a while.
Performance 4/5 Value 5/5 Overall 4/5
Zone3 Advance can be produced from Amazon