We put the 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit through its paces to see how it performs in swimming, cycling and running.
Known best for its compression wear, 2XU has been combining sports science with fabric technology for 15 years and its Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit is the pinnacle of its research and development for triathletes.
Upper and Sleeves
With 2XU’s self-imposed remit to be the world’s most technical sportswear company, it’s no surprise that the Australian brand’s top-end Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit is packed with an array of features.
From the choice of materials to detailing, it seems 2XU has left nothing to chance when it comes to providing athletes with the tools for outstanding triathlon performances.
The tri suit utilises Swiss Vent fabric, which is designed to beat the heat and was created in accordance with 2XU’s testing by RMIT University. The material’s matrix knit means it breathes exceptionally well but it also boasts Coldblack heat-blocking treatment and sun protection.
Meanwhile, the brand’s Italian SBR Vent fabric is used on the suit’s arms and chest, designed to provide cooling and an aerodynamic boost, enhanced by the elbow-length sleeves that also give extra UV protection. There are two open pockets on the rear that will hold a couple of gels each at a squeeze.
Merely touching the fabrics makes the quality clear and things only improve once the suit’s on. It feels instantly comfortable thanks to its panelled, form-fitting cut and flatlock stitching. It’s supportive without being constrictive and offers more freedom of movement than you might expect from a brand so associated with compression wear.
The upper is connected to the shorts section from the sides of the hips and around the back. This gives a full-length zip for additional cooling if required and also makes nature breaks a whole lot easier.
Shorts and Pad
As if all that fabric innovation in the upper wasn’t enough, the real cutting-edge technology – and 2XU’s main point of difference – is in the shorts. Combining its expertise in compression with breathable, aerodynamic material selection, the shorts offer exceptional support for swim, bike and run.
The brand’s latest 105D Power Mesh fabric provides compressive stabilisation of the muscles while ‘muscle mapping’ patterned gripper lines on the inside hold the shorts perfectly in place. 2XU’s assertion is that this compression technology allows for greater power output and less muscle oscillation for reduced muscle fatigue.
The fabric also benefits from increased ventilation and moisture management as well as a dimpled air flow finish that’s designed to reduce aerodynamic drag.
This attention to detail can also be seen on the comfy, laser-cut bands at the ends of the legs as well as in the extra breathable material across the waist where the upper overlaps the shorts.
As always, the tri suit pad is a very personal choice, but for long-course racing especially, a little more cushioning goes a long way. Being 2XU’s top-end suit, the brand has included its PRO LD (Long Distance) chamois. Made in Italy exclusively for 2XU, it’s a multi-layered design with ‘80 density’ low-water absorption foam.
While it’s certainly incredibly soft and smooth to the touch, it’s also firm enough to give that bit of extra support in the aero position and flexes well thanks to its segmented shape.
Swimming, biking, running
When worn under a wetsuit, we were surprised at what little difference it made to our stroke with no discernible pulling on the shoulders while chafing was non-existent.
Where the suit really stands out in the water, though, was the legs. We expected the compression to have an effect on the bike and run, but it felt great in the water too, hugging and supporting the legs while allowing a powerful-feeling kick.
If racing in an event with temperate enough water to prohibit wetsuits, the 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit will perform admirably. There’s no sense of lost speed or feeling of being dragged back.
On the bike, the aero fit feels fast with no flapping while the clever cut and panelling keeps things comfy and in place. We can also attest to the airiness of the suit – we rarely felt the need to compromise aerodynamics in favour of unzipped ventilation.
On first wearing the suit on the bike, the leg compression felt a little restrictive around the hips while in the aero position. Don’t let this put you off, however, as within the first ride this eased off – leaving just the sensation of support that makes the legs feel more adept at producing a powerful piston action.
Long-ride comfort is also enhanced thanks to the Pro LD pad, which is thick and firm enough to go the distance. The soft edges meant no chafing and while the coverage is more limited than the average pair of bib shorts, the reduction in road buzz wasn’t actually too dissimilar. In terms of tri pads, there’s no question it’s a king amongst the svelte, fleecy competition.
Having previously completed Ironman events wearing 2XU quad compression, we know first-hand the benefits that reduced muscle oscillation can have in terms of staving off fatigue in the back half of the marathon.
In this regard, the Compression Full Zip suit excels beyond anything we’ve tried before. The whole upper leg is wrapped firmly yet comfortably and it’s amazing what a difference it makes when muscles aren’t juddering around on every impact. The quads, in particular, felt more powerful and certainly suffered less fatigue – both during long runs and after them.
The upper maintained its chafe-free credentials throughout testing and the Pro LD pad, so luxurious on the bike, seems to do a disappearing act on the run. In fact, the only bit of nit-picking we can really level at 2XU’s top suit is that the pockets could be deeper – a pair of our go-to High5 Aquagels squeezed in saw one jettison on a steep downhill while running. It’d also be nice to have a bit more storage for increased self-sufficiency in longer events or training sessions.
Considering the technical and protective fabrics, the swim, bike and run comfort and its outstanding compression performance, the 2XU Compression Full Zip Sleeved Trisuit is one of the finest tri suits out there. Designed to take long-course racing in its stride, it’ll be equally at home for shorter distances.
For fans of compression wear or those curious enough to give it a go, you’ll struggle to find a better option.