This weeks triathlon insight comes from another epic real triathlete who has provided this awesome article. Phil is a regular early riser to squeeze in Ironman training before most of us have had our Cornflakes. You will know if you follow him on Twitter and see the number of 5am posts he regularly submits. Below he shares his thoughts with the Orca Equip Triathlon Wetsuit Review. This is the latest in our encyclopedia of triathlon wetsuit reviews by real athletes with real reviews. Over to Phil.

Reviewing triathlon wetsuits

Being asked to write a review of a wetsuit was a little intimidating, truth be told. I’m not a technician when it comes to wetsuits. I put it on. Swim in it. Take it back off. For the bit in the middle, I’m vaguely aware of it being made of neoprene. But that’s about it.

Selecting your triathlon wetsuit

Or so I thought! It turns out that quite a lot goes on in my head that I only consciously realised when I set about writing this. And that’s the first thing I’ll say about my wetsuit. An Orca Equip. It very much is a wetsuit
you can put on, swim in, and take back off. All without really troubling yourself with any nitty gritty “understanding” of what you’re up to. So, from that point of view, I am forced to conclude that it would make a good choice for someone just starting out in the bewildering world of open water swimming. That’s not to say that it’s a “beginner’s” wetsuit though. I was far from a beginner when I bought it, after all.

Orca Equip swimming wetsuit

Why buy the Orca Equip?

So; why did I buy it? I’d spent a few years with my previous wetsuit (an Orca S5). To be honest, it was getting a little tired. For context; it had two round repair patches in an area where, let’s be delicate about this, you don’t really want to have two round repair patches. Plus I’d always found getting out of my Orca S5 a bit of a chore. Stumbling around at the end of a swim, trying to extricate myself from it. All the while trying to look cool, calm and collected. This tended to “take the edge off” my enjoyment of the swim itself. I’d looked at a few alternatives but the Orca Equip I ended up buying. When I was trying it on in the shop at least, seemed to marry value for money with ease of “getting it on and off”.

Comfort of the Orca Equip wetsuit

Squeezing myself into the Orca Equip, and out of it. The wetsuit is greatly helped by the extra bits of elasticated fabric around my ankles and wrists. This is something I’d not had before but which I won’t do without, now. It was also super-comfy! It was as if someone had dipped me in liquid rubber and just let it bond with my skin. Now there’s a mental image I never wanted to give anyone. It felt part of me – rather than something I was wearing.

Orca Equip wetsuit

Thin Neoprene Wetsuit

So far so good, it seems. However, even as I was walking out of the shop with it, I remember having reservations. I was used to the warmth and buoyancy of 5mm thickness neoprene. This new Orca Equip was predominantly 2mm thick. That’s at the thickest parts!

I worried how cooler temperatures feel? Would buoyancy and, therefore, speed be noticeably worse? I’m not going to say that it’s as warm or as buoyant as the wetsuit I’d had previously. That would be ridiculous. But take it from someone who is a proficient, but not an expert swimmer. And someone who isn’t particularly fond of temperature lower than 12°c – it has adequately fended off any cold that I’ve tested it against. In terms of buoyancy and speed, my feet don’t drag along beneath me. I’m comfortably able to hold the most desirable of body positions in the water.

Open Water Swimming in the Orca Equip

Negatives of the Orca Equip

This all sounds great, right? It should! Because it is! I’m really very happy with the wetsuit. But it wouldn’t be much of a review without at least a couple of negatives.

So; whilst it fits like a glove when it’s on I find myself having to do a little dance to get it “just so”. If I’m in a rush and just throw it on before jumping into the water, I find that the chafing around my neck can be quite bad if I’m swimming more than a couple of miles. No amount of body-glide lube can counter it.

The only other negative I can think of might actually be more a problem with me than the wetsuit. I find the zip a little stiff to pull up/pull down. I have this odd issue with zips anyway so you might be best to make up your own mind on this one!

Summary of the Orca Equip Review

The Orca Equip comes highly recommended if you want a comfy, easy to put on and remove, speedy to swim in wetsuit. As long as you don’t mind striking some interesting poses to manoeuvre it into the perfect position before you get in the water. And you aren’t paranoid that the entire zip population has some kind of vendetta against you, personally!

Huge thanks to Phil. If you have a wetsuit that you love let us know and leave a comment to add your wetsuit review to our list.

Best current price for the Orca Equip triathlon wetsuit – £190 from Sigma Sports

If you are looking for a wetsuit and want another great review check our review of the Orca 3.8 swimming wetsuit.


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