Does this thermal tri-suit cut it for cold-weather racing?
Creating a suit for a race in the Norwegian fjords capped at 305 entries may seem like an exercise in niche branding. Yet, as anyone who has raced Celtman, the Brutal, Ironman Wales, pretty much any UK duathlon and even ‘summer’ short-course triathlons (Windsor 2011, anyone?) will testify, sometimes a conventional tri-suit just isn’t enough to prevent race chills.
Following Blueseventy’s thermal Helix wetsuit, step forward Huub’s thermal tri-suit, the latest evidence of the Derby-based brand pushing the parameters of tri-suit design, following 2017’s long-sleeved Core tri-suit. And like that duathlonfriendly offering, the X-Treme Norseman is built on the chassis of Huub’s reliable mid-level vested Core tri-suit (£119). We’re still not fully sold on the slightly timid leg grippers and have always found the pockets – located under the arms – positioned too high, but the X-Treme Norseman has partially remedied this by adding two rear pockets on the back for access mid ride and run (although the underarm pockets remain).
The key innovation here, though, is the windproof chest and torso panelling located under the striking topographic visual design. Research by Huub during the Norseman has shown that the body is most susceptible to the cold straight after the swim, with the cold air temperatures combined with the biting winds significantly increasing the risk of hypothermia.
We soaked the suit in cold water and tested this on a number of rides, including a long early stint in 6°C conditions, and can report it holds its own at deflecting winds from the chest.
The unique mid-length sleeves meant we didn’t need to bother with arm warmers and that windproofing ability ensures you don’t need to worry about an overlayer on the bike come race day. We had worries it would stay wet for longer but these were unfounded, and it dried quicker than a normal tri-suit with a lightweight jacket over the top.
So, is it worth adding to your tri-suit collection? If you have the funds and it can provide the difference between a DNF and finishing, we’d say an emphatic yes, especially if you’re planning to spend hours on a bike in Scotland, Snowdonia or Scandinavia this summer. There’s also appeal for athletes who feel the cold and, as our introduction and shivery racing CV highlights, we’ll be using it for duathlons and early-summer tri racing if the conditions are grim. The motivational surge come exiting T1 on race day is worth much of the spend alone.