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ZONE3 Vanquish X wetsuit vs Sumarpo Vanguard wetsuit – how do these triathlon wetsuits match up?

After testing out the Sumarpo Vanguard wetsuit, long distance triathlete Jenny Lucas-Hill compares it with her previous triathlon wetsuit of choice - the ZONE3 Vanquish X - to see how the two compare. And to try and decide which of these wetsuits will be her go-to this race season. Read on to get the verdict!

Writer & Long Course Triathlete
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Up until the Sumarpo Vanguard triathlon wetsuit landed on my desk for review, the ZONE3 Vanquish X wetsuit had been my suit of choice for training and for my ‘A’ race (Challenge Almere-Amsterdam) last season – ticking all the boxes I was after in terms of buoyancy and flexibility around the shoulders. But what struck me about the Sumarpo Vanguard, was how similar it felt to my ZONE3 suit to swim in.

While these wetsuits are pretty different in terms of design, style and price point. They actually share quite a few similarities. From the buoyancy profiles, to the use of Aerodome technology and ultra-flexible linings. To the point where I’ve been struggling to decide which suit I prefer – and therefore which one I’ll use at Challenge Roth this year. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to do a side by side comparison of both wetsuits to see which one comes out on top.

Features, tech and pricing

Before we dive into how these two wetsuits have performed out in the real world. Let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of the tech they come loaded with, key features and how they compare in terms of RRP.

Sumarpo Vanguard open water swimming wetsuit
Sumarpo Vanguard open water swimming and triathlon wetsuit

RRP: $559.99 USD / £459.95 GBP / €527.95 EUR

Buoyancy profile: 5mm core and upper legs, 3mm lower legs, 1.5mm shoulders

Yamamoto neoprene

Aerodome cell technology for added warmth and buoyancy

Super Composite Skin coating to reduce drag

SQ Flex Stretch lining for enhanced flexibility and fast removal

Grooved forearm panels for better catch

‘Low Modulus Tech’ said to reduce required effort per arm stroke

Quick-release ankle cuffs

Eco-friendly materials with non-benzene adhesives

ZONE3 Vanquish X wetsuit comparison
ZONE3 Vanquish X triathlon wetsuit

RRP: £699 / $995 USD / €849 EUR

Buoyancy profile: 5mm core and upper legs, 2mm lower legs, 1-1.5mm shoulders, 0.3mm arms

Yamamoto Bio-Rubber – emits infrared rays and said to enhance blood flow

Alpha Titanium lining on the upper body to improve warmth

Aerodome cell technology on the legs

NBR (used in lifejackets) material for added buoyancy

Body rotation enhancement on the chest for better distance per stroke

Ultra-thin 0.3mm sleeves

Cool-spot forearm panels for better feel and catch

Silk X lining for fast removal

Fit and comfort

Both the Sumarpo Vanguard and the ZONE3 Vanquish X feel true to size, with the size small fitting me pretty well in both wetsuits. At 5ft 4”/163cm, the ZONE3 is a touch long in the arms for me meaning I can get some wrinkling around the elbows. I could probably do with cutting it down a bit. Whereas the Sumarpo is the ideal length in the arms and legs for me right out of the box.

Both wetsuits are fairly easy to get on – as far as wetsuits go – as they both have flexible ‘easy on’ linings. I’d say the ZONE3 Vanquish X does feel a little more arduous to pull into place, with the Aerodome technology sitting in the legs it makes them feel a bit less flexible than the Sumarpo. For me, I’ve also noticed the thicker-feeling legs on the ZONE3 feel a bit restrictive – particularly around the back of my knees. Whereas the Sumarpo feels a lot more flexible to move around in.

The material on the arms on the ZONE3 is incredibly thin – I’ve never seen a wetsuit like it. In fact, around the forearms it’s closer to a swimskin type material than the usual thick neoprene. It’s listed as having a similar neoprene thickness around the shoulders as the Sumarpo (1-1.5mm) but like for like, the ZONE3 feels thinner. This means it’s really easy to get the ZONE3 Vanquish X wetsuit sitting in place around your shoulders and armpits. But it does take a bit of extra care to make sure you don’t put a nail through the ultra-thin material. I also find the mish-mash of materials in the arms of the ZONE3 Vanquish X can feel a bit scratchy against the skin compared to the Sumarpo.

The neckline is at a lower profile on the ZONE3 Vanquish X compared to the Sumarpo Vanguard, which means is does feel less restrictive on dry land where the Sumarpo can feel borderline uncomfortable. With both wetsuits, I forget about the neckline as soon as I get into the water.

Fit and comfort rating

Sumarpo Vanguard: 75%
ZONE3 Vanquish X: 70%

Verdict

It’s a close call. But because of the restrictive feeling around the legs and the scratchy material on the arms. Plus the fact that the ZONE3 is a little long in the limb for me in the size S, but would be too tight everywhere else if I were to size down. The Sumarpo Vanguard just about beats the ZONE3 Vanquish X for fit and comfort.

Performance

Once in the water, that ultra-thin arm material in the ZONE3 Vanquish X comes into its own. The Sumarpo Vanguard is really flexible in the shoulders, but the Vanquish X does out perform it ever so slightly.

That does come at the cost of warmth, though. The cold spot panels, the thin construction around the arms, and the thinner neoprene either side of your core in the ZONE3 suit  does mean I notice the cold a bit more in the Vanquish X compared to the Sumarpo. This played a role in deciding to race in the Sumarpo Vanguard at Challenge The Championship recently, known for its lower water temperatures, rather than going with my previous race suit of choice – the ZONE3.

Both of these wetsuits make use of Aerodome technology – essentially honeycomb like air pockets which help to enhance buoyancy. They both have a very similar feel in the water in terms of buoyancy and body position. Though ZONE3 have used the Aerodome tech in the legs of the suit, where Sumarpo have used it in the core. This means you get slightly more leg lift from the ZONE3 Vanquish X. I actually prefer the more natural feel of swimming in the Sumarpo, but if you have particularly sinky legs – that might swing you towards the ZONE3.

Performance rating

Sumarpo Vanguard: 80%
ZONE3 Vanquish X: 80%

Verdict

Overall, these wetsuits actually feel very similar to swim in both in terms of buoyancy and also freedom of movement. But I’ve found myself reaching for the Sumarpo more often, because it keeps me a bit warmer and I also find the restrictive feeling around my legs in the ZONE3 Vanquish X starts to bug me after about 40 minutes in the water.

Design/style

There’s no denying it. The Sumarpo Vanguard looks pretty retro. And that throwback styling has grown on me, I must admit. But compared to the superhero look of the ZONE3 Vanquish X, it’s just not winning any style points.

Jenny Lucas-Hill wearing the Sumarpo vanguard triathlon wetsuit
TRI247’s Jenny Lucas-Hill wearing the Sumarpo vanguard triathlon wetsuit

In fact, to look at it – I don’t think you’d believe the Sumarpo Vanguard has quite so many forward-thinking features in common with the ZONE3 Vanquish X as it does. And while the Sumarpo certainly isn’t so unstylish that it puts me off wearing it. If I were to pick a wetsuit based purely on looks – the ZONE3 Vanquish X would have me swiping right.

Style rating

Sumarpo Vanguard: 65%
ZONE3 Vanquish X: 80%

Verdict

If it’s style points you’re after, the ZONE3 Vanquish X has to be the winner. But there is something about the throwback, retro look of the Sumarpo that’s grown on me. Everyone loves an underdog.

ZONE3 Vanquish X vs Sumarpo Vanguard – who wins?

The Sumarpo Vanguard and the ZONE3 Vanquish X are closely matched. Surprisingly so, given the difference in price point. They both offer a good level of buoyancy and flexibility around the shoulders. And they both have something innovative to offer on the wetsuit tech front. With the Sumarpo making use of Aerodome technology in the core, an ultra-flexible lining and 3D catch panels. And the ZONE3 using infrared bio rubber for improved circulation and that same Aerodome technology – albeit in the legs rather than the core.

While I like that the ZONE3 does offer more flexibility in the arms and a lower profile neckline. I find the restriction around the legs a bit off putting and it’s just not as comfortable to wear for a longer swim as the Sumarpo Vanguard is. Factor in the lower price point of the Sumarpo Vanguard, and it just about gets my vote over the ZONE3 Vanquish X. Tough call!

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Jenny Lucas-Hill
Written by
Jenny Lucas-Hill
Jenny Lucas-Hill is a writer, content creator and communications professional. A long-distance triathlon enthusiast, she has three full Iron-distance finishes to date & also loves watching the sport.
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