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XTERRA Vortex wetsuit review

By the time my new 2015 XTERRA wetsuit arrived over the weekend, it had been a bit of an ordeal. They're renown in triathlon circles for having the very generous 30 day test period for returns. You can swim in it (even in the pool--though certain warnings apply to that idea) and either return it or exchange it for a different size. Plus, they're a sponsor of my triathlon club--in addition to frequent sales, I have an ongoing, significant discount to use. 

So I'd had my eye on prices for awhile, but finally jumped when I saw a slightly-used Vortex for just a bit over $100. I already swim in a sleeveless, older Profile Design. It just seemed like a good opportunity to get a full sleeve suit to go along with that one. Almost all of my open water swimming would either be in Lake Michigan--cold all the time--or during a fall race where the sleeves would be appreciated. 

The next morning, I got a phone call from XTERRA...somehow between the time I purchased and opening for business they had run out of the size I wanted in their inventory. But the customer service woman was happy to help me figure something else out. The best option, it seemed, was to charge me the small $40 difference between the one I bought and the drastic sale they were having on the new 2015 Vortex model which hadn't even arrived yet. More of a pre-sale. Even comparing my tri club discount, it was still about $10 cheaper so I let her charge my card again. 

And waited. 

The new suits were due into the West Coast but we all know about the overseas shipping problems with port strikes and delays. One e-mail promised they'd be in by one date. Another e-mail promised they were shipping earlier and we'd have a tracking number soon. But the tracking number never came. Instead, the flat, large box simply arrived outside my door this weekend. Thus, the purchasing experience gets a bit of a thumbs down.  

Opening the box to see the suit inside changed my tune a bit though. It's beautiful. It was well-wrapped in multiple layers of foam and inside a plastic bag. So some unpacking was needed. 

I've previously worn Blue Seventy and found that to be a much shorter fit--especially in the upper body. Even when you've put it on correctly on the bottom, the arm situation made it tough to swim and left the neck pulling downward. The XTERRA, on the other hand, has a great fit--I recommend that if you're between sizes you go up for a little more room. You shouldn't have any problems. The suit fits (me, at least) exactly how a wetsuit should. Arms, shoulders, neck, in the legs. 

My one complaint and word of warning would maybe be that it's very tight around the wrists. Not so tight that it's going to be a problem. But I have small wrists and if you're a guy with normal-to-large wrists you're going to get your circulation cut off. Now, I'll see if some use stretches the material and report back. Overall, that's my only point of concern though. It's comfortable and well-made. Love the color pattern. The zipper is high quality with a good length of pull cord. It looks sleek. 

I'll go ahead and even say that my pleasant surprise at the construction, look, fit, and feel of the 2015 Vortex makes up for the minor hiccups in ordering. I'm pleased with the purchase and can't wait to take it out in the lake later this month. Especially if you can get yours on a similar (and possible) discount it's well worth a look if you're in the market for a triathlon wetsuit. 


  1. Funny... Found this looking for a review of the vortex full... about exactly a year later, I had almost same story of going back and forth with xterra that the suit I ordered didn't exist (backorder). I have a race coming up so they sent the full instead of the sleeveless to take care of matter.

    1. Having raced and trained in it, I still like the wetsuit. That's curious you went through something similar from the customer service angle.


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