KIT ZONE

Does this ther­mal tri-suit cut it for cold-weather rac­ing?

220 Triathlon Magazine - - Contents - MB hu­ub­de­sign.com

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.

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