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Sleeveless Versus Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuits

Sleeveless Versus Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuits

Deciding between a Sleeveless Triathlon Wetsuit and a Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit is one of the first decisions a triathlete or open water swimmer must make when shopping for a tri wetsuit. The primary factors to consider are water temperature, intended use, budget, and fit.

Water Temperature

Fullsleeve wetsuits are warmer than sleeveless wetsuits. The primary reason for this is that the additional neoprene covering the shoulders, underarms and arms traps significantly more body heat than a sleeveless suit. Conversely, in warmer waters, overheating is less likely with a Sleeveless suit.

Intended Use

The additional neoprene and resulting body coverage provided by Fullsleeve wetsuits make them more buoyant and hydrodynamic. If the primary intended use is racing longer distances, a Fullsleeve suit will result in faster times. For shorter distance racing, the benefit of a fullsleeve suit is diminished especially since shortsleeve suits are easier to take off during transition.


A Sleeveless wetsuit is 10% - 30% less expensive than the equivalent fullsleeve wetsuit depending on the brand and style.


A Sleeveless wetsuit may offer a better fit for swimmers who have disproportionally larger shoulders, upper back and/or arms. A full sleeve suit that is too tight in the shoulders or upper back may inhibit range of motion and result in muscle fatigue.

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