The abundance of wetsuit options available today can make picking the right suit a laborious process. There are just so many options, it’s tough to cut through the fat and find a suit at a good value that meets all your needs. Most of the high-end suits are extremely well equipped to make you fly through the water, but you have to be willing to spend some serious dough. In other words, if you’re spending over $500, chances are, you’re going to like what you get.
It’s actually a lot tougher to find an adequate entry-level wetsuit that performs above its price range. I had a chance to test the 2010 Profile Wahoo and was blown away by the level of performance in this entry-level suit. The new suits from Profile are a vast improvement over previous versions, thanks largely in part to Profile’s new wetsuit designer, Karen Sing. Sing started with Quintana Roo in the early days of triathlon, and was the product manager at Zoot before going to Profile Design.
We’ll start with first impressions out of the box. Graphically, this wetsuit looks cooler than its big brother, the Marlin, which retails for $400, and is definitely flashier than any other suit I’ve seen at this price. Orca makes some visually stimulating suits, but the lower end model lacks the same technical features you’ll find on the Wahoo. The logos on the chest and arms are subtle, and the neon blue strips pop without being too distracting.
The fit and cut on the suit is perfect. I slipped into a size medium and it felt tight, but not restrictive. I’m 5’9″ and 155 lbs. Shorter cut sleeves allow you to view your watch or heart rate monitor and pre-curved knees makes wearing this suit feel natural. The pre-curved knees is especially noticeable while walking around, a feature you’ll appreciate if you have a long run from the water into T1.
As I first started swimming, I instantly noticed the increased buoyancy of the 4mm torso. My position felt improved in the water, with my legs and core elevated. I have always struggled with body position, as my legs tend to sink. While swimming in this suit, I felt I barely had to kick, as if I had a pull buoy between my legs.
My arms felt unrestricted and I achieved full rotation on every stroke. The extra stretchy neoprene under the arms allows this flexibility. Grip panels on the forearms allow you to “grab” more water through the pull phase of your stroke.
One feature that sets the Wahoo apart from other sub $250 suits is the hydrodynamic coating that allows you to glide through the water. The Yamamoto SCS (Super Composite Skin) coating dramatically improves the suit’s ability to cut through the water for increased sped. Traditionally, the presence of this coating significantly increases price.
Out of all the wetsuits I’ve tried on in my 10-year triathlon career, this was by far the easiest to take off. I yanked the zipper down, ripped the arms off, pulled the rest of the suit down to my ankles and was able to stomp the suit off using my feet without bending down to use my hands to get the ankles off. I was completely out in less than 30 seconds!
Summary: The Profile Design Men’s Wahoo Wetsuit has more than enough performance for the beginner or intermediate level triathlete without the expensive price tag. Well-conceived features like the short cut sleeves, pre-curved knees and stretch underarm panels make this a user-friendly suit that is incredibly easy to take on and off. With the hydrodynamic SCS coating and 4mm torso thickness, this suit will propel you through the water faster than any other suit under $250. The suit is also available in a Sleeveless model and a women’s-specific model.
For more info on wetsuit construction and terminology, check out this link from the Profile Design website.