Triathlon wetsuits provide a competitive edge by reducing swimming drag. Wetsuits also help triathletes stay warm while swimming in cool waters. When preparing for a triathlon should you buy or rent a wetsuit for competition?
Why might an athlete rent?
If you are a beginning triathlete and have never completed a triathlon you may consider renting a wetsuit. There are definitive benefits to renting a wetsuit.
• You are able to use a brand name wetsuit for a fraction of the purchase cost.
• Rental costs can be as low as $45usd for a week long wetsuit rental.
• Most companies that rent allow you to extend the rental period for additional fees.
• Most companies also allow you to apply the rental fee to the purchase of your wetsuit if you wish to buy it after using it.
Why might renting not be beneficial?
• You often cannot try on the wetsuit ahead of time.
• Renting a wetsuit requires a security deposit.
• After your race you are responsible to mail the wetsuit back on time and pay for the shipping.
• You will be limited in the amount of time you have to practice with your wetsuit.
• A few rentals will quickly add up to the cost of a new or used wetsuit.
How often will I use the wetsuit?
If you are planning to compete in triathlons over an extended period into the future, buying a wetsuit would probably make the most sense. New, entry-level wetsuits can run from $250- $300usd. Though the initial investment is substantial, over time it will pay for itself, if you are planning to use the wetsuit multiple times.
Where will I be racing?
The USAT regulations for using a wetsuit are as follows:
• 78 degrees or lower and you may wear a wetsuit.
• 78.1-83.9 you may wear a wetsuit, but you would not be eligible for prizes.
• 84 degrees or higher and you may not wear a wetsuit.
If you are planning to race predominately where the open water swim will take place in considerably warm temperatures, buying a wetsuit would not make sense.
Achieving the proper wetsuit fit is critical in benefiting from your wetsuit on race day. Even if you are considering renting, you should definitely head to a store and be fitted. Then, when you rent, you will have the measurements and information you need to have the best chance of a good fit.
Wearing a wetsuit in your open water swim will take practice to feel comfortable, not only swimming in the wetsuit, but also learning to put on and remove it quickly for transitions. Renting a wetsuit may not afford you the proper time to feel at ease.
Still on the Fence
If you are not sure about whether you want to use a wetsuit during a triathlon at all, renting may be a great way to try it out and see if you like using one. The option of applying your rental fee to buy the wetsuit makes that decision no risk. Just remember it only takes a few rentals to pay the complete cost of a new or used wetsuit.