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Product reviews

Our experiences and opinions after testing the newest triathlon products out there.

Orca S2 Sleeveless Wetsuit

  • Reviewed by: Cid Cardoso Jr.
  • Reviewed on: January 1, 2012
  • Category: ,

If you’re looking for your first wetsuit or just a good suit to get you through the early season cold water races, the Orca S2 is the wetsuit for you. Orca is probably better known for their high end wetsuits offering suits selling for well over $500. Based in New Zealand, they have traditionally focused their sponsorship on ITU and Olympic Triathletes, most of them Australians, Kiwis and European. It is not surprising then that in the US Orca is not as much a household name as Blue Seventy or QR. However, their experience in making wetsuits dates back to the mid nineties and they successfully sponsor athletes like Craig Alexander who won the world 70.3 distance title, using an Orca wetsuit during the swim

Orca actually hit the US market more than 10 years ago, with sleek looking black wetsuits with some white patterns that resembled those of the killer whale by the same name. The suits performed well but sizing and fitting were an issue: they seemed to be made only for the lean athlete with 3% body fat. The average age group athlete had a horrible time getting one of those suits on.  Distribution was also a problem as the suits came from Southeast Asia and the US distributor never seemed to be able to full fill orders timely. Better knowledge of the US market and new relationships has changed all that. The current Orca wetsuit sizes now fit age group athletes even better than some US competitors and a distribution partnership with Orbea bikes have ensured prompt availability in the US.

The S2 builds on the success of Orca’s S1 wetsuit but uses a lighter more flexible neoprene. It is a no frills type of suit but incredibly functional. It offers all the basic features that are necessary for a swimming wetsuit to work without the gimmicks that are often found in other wetsuits.

The material used is a water resistant neoprene with a smoothskin outer layer, that is durable and yet flexible. Orca uses varying thicknesses in different parts of the suit to achieve the perfect balance between buoyancy and flexibility. Generally, the thicker the material, the more buoyancy it will provide. In turn, the thinner the material, the more flexible it will be. The 5 mm “HydroLift” panels are strategically used on the front and back of the legs, as well as front torso to provide outstanding buoyancy and warmth. The 3 mm back offers more flexibility and helps prevent overheating. The 3 mm “Flexiseal” Neck provides flexibility and comfort in an area that can be troublesome for a lot of athletes. Finally, the 3 mm Speed Transition Calf Panel ensures a fast wetsuit removal in transition. This is a nice touch for an entry level suit. Anyone who has ever watched a triathlon transition knows that it is the novices that have most trouble getting off their wetsuits.

I found the S2 to be just what it claims to be…a good wetsuit for those looking at not spending too much money. Getting the wetsuit on was easier than usual. The durable material and more generous fit will definitely help avoid a traumatic experience of putting on a wetsuit for some.