Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Xterra vrs Orca Wetsuit Review

Before I purchased my first wetsuit I asked a lot of people, and read a bunch of articles, and pretty much unanimously everyone recommended, "Sleeveless"

So my first wetsuit was an Xterra Vortex 3 Sleeveless suit for <$99. However, when I arrived at my first meeting with the OC Tri Meetup group for my first Ocean Swimming session, I noticed that everyone in the group had Full Sleeve wetsuits. After my first few swims, it was so COLD. My hands and arms would be so numb from the 55-60 degree water, so I went to buy for a Full Sleeve suit. Then everyone I talked to, started recommending, "Full sleeve suit" oh, the irony.. I ended up with the Orca S3. A very good beginner wet suit because it is reasonably priced around $160 ish (on sale usually) and it has good reviews. Also, its easier to put on than the Xterra suit because parts of the suit are neoprene (see the black parts in the photos) and the zebra striped areas on the Orca suit are thinner than the rest of the suit to allow better movement of the arms.

So my advice if you're new and looking for full sleeve vs sleeveless.

1 - Temperature - What is the Temperature of the water you will be swimming in?
If its less than 70 degrees, I say go with Full Sleeves. If its warmer water - go with sleeveless.

2 - Brands - The beginner suits for Xterra and Orca are around the same price, so its up to comfort for you.
Xterra Vortex 3 (sleeveless) is all 1 soild material (that rubbery stuff). Where Orca (Full and sleeveless) has a parts (near the ankle and under the shoulder blades and arms with a more flexible neoprene (kinda like a denser surfer wetsuit material) because of that, it makes the suit easier to put on and more flexible when you're swimming.

Overall, I felt the entire neoprene of the Orca suit is more flexible than the Xterra suit.

3 - Performance - Full sleeves will help you swim better because more suit = more buoyancy.
Most people have told me that the full sleeves prohibit the full movement of their arm when they swim, but I really didn't have any problems with it.

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