It didn’t take me long after getting into triathlon to realize I had chosen an expensive hobby. I was amazed when I first looked at triathlon wetsuits and saw them going for well over $600. I mean, it’s just a bunch of foam rubber glued together, right? Plus they weren’t exactly flattering to my body shape. I looked like I was well prepared for swimming around the Arctic ocean and catching krill in my mouth, but not so much for gliding quickly through the water, although I guess penguins move pretty fast, and my shape wasn’t all that different than that of a very large penguin…anyway, at first I was kept away from buying a triathlon wetsuit because they were so expensive. But now it’s not so much a matter of cost as it is cost-benefit.
Wetsuit rental generally runs about $30, but let’s say it’s $40 after tax, just to be conservative. If it costs you $40 to rent a wetsuit each time, then in order to break even on a $600 triathlon wetsuit you’d have to wear the wetsuit to 15 triathlons. In the past three years I’ve done exactly 5 triathlons. At that rate, it’s going to take me three years to break even, or if I step it up, maybe two years. And what if I lose a lot of weight (which I am in the process of doing), then my wetsuit won’t fit right in two years!
Now, this is assuming that I never use a wetsuit in my training but only for events. If you are going to use a wetsuit for training then that changes everything, because if you did an open water swim once each week, then you’d break even on the cost in one season, plus you wouldn’t have to keep driving back and forth to wherever you rented the thing from.
For me, given my evolving body shape, my lack of open water training, and the number of triathlons I do per year, buying a triathlon wetsuit doesn’t seem to make sense. If you have a different perspective, let me know. On the other hand, once I get down to my target weight, and if I start doing more open water swims, then buying a triathlon wetsuit is going to start making a lot more sense.