Once you’ve gotten a few races under your belt, you inevitably begin to trade up your gear to increase your advantage. And while you certainly can purchase a litany of items to make you faster on the bike, the swim is another story. So for those looking to edge out their competitors in the water, a high-end wetsuit is a great investment.
We recently had the opportunity to test Profile Design’s top-of-the-line wetsuit, the M:2. And while each of us here at AG have donned a wetsuit at one point or another, we now understand why pushing your budget when it comes to suiting up for the swim really matters (to the tune of $524.99 for the M:2).
The M:2 features top-of-the-line, 100% Yamamoto #40 and #39 SCS-Nano Neoprene. In the wetsuit world, Yamamoto neoprene is the gold standard. But in order to truly understand why, you need a little history lesson. Yamamoto first began producing wetsuits in 1961, offering the very first wetsuit material in Japan that combined both high functionality and flexibility at a time when wetsuits were primarily composed of heavy, stiff rubber—like that used in tires. Yes, that’s right, tires. Yamamoto set out to develop a wetsuit that allowed for greater mobility underwater, improved heat retention and a better wearing experience overall. Particularly well-suited for the needs of triathletes, Yamamoto neoprene is used in more than 70% of the world’s highest quality wetsuit brands today.
Now let’s revisit those numbers. As Yamamoto releases a new neoprene, they assign it the next number available. So therefore the higher you go, the better the rubber. Therefore when you look at wetsuit levels, you’ll typically see #38 rubber used in the lower-end wetsuits. As for #39, it’s been utilized in high-end wetsuits for a while and is well regarded as a premium rubber. However, for those of our readers familiar with this numbering scheme, you’ll know that #40 is now considered to be the cream of the crop in the rubber world. This material is touted as being both more flexible and more buoyant than #39.
Now with this flexibility comes a concern—durability. Fortunately Yamamoto offers a solution with its Super Composite Skin (SCS), which is also utilized in the M:2. In addition to serving as water repellent, the SCS surface adds a significant amount of protection from fingernail and overstretch tears. What’s more, #40 is typically only used in select portions of suits where flexibility is essential and durability is less of a concern. Profile Design utilizes the coveted #40 SCS-Nano material (1.5mm) in the M:2’s sleeves, shoulders, and underarms to allow for unrestricted movement, promoting the most efficient swim stroke. The M:2 also makes use of #40 (1.0mm) in its shaped collar. Here it features two layers of SCS Nano inside and out for a watertight seal and maximum comfort.
From the moment we took our first few strokes in the M:2, we knew that this wetsuit had put this high-end materials to good use. While other suits can leave you feeling claustrophobic and restricted, the M:2 never made us feel squeezed or limited in any way. We were actually quite surprised with just how well this suit allowed for full range of motion.
Any athlete that’s ever entered the water with a wetsuit knows that one of its main benefits—aside from warmth for those of our readers training and racing in cooler climates—is buoyancy. A properly fitting suit will allow you to glide faster through the water with less energy. And when it comes to buoyancy, full-sleeved suits are typically going to excel when compared with the sleeveless variety. Therefore, in a full-sleeved suit, the legs and sleeves should be snug enough to keep the water out. And of course the collar must also fit in a way that doesn’t allow water to spill into the suit’s torso area since water flowing here will serve no purpose but to drag you down. Again, we felt that the M:2’s design and fit shined in all of these areas. Whether we were training in the suit in the pool or racing with it in rough open water, we barely could feel any water entering the suit at all. At the very most we noticed an occasional trickle through a sleeve as our hand broke through the water mid-stroke, that’s it. What’s more, the M:2 features a 4.0mm Air Dome SCS-Nano chest/torso. The makeup of this technology is as follows: 2.0mm SCS-Nano outside layer, .5mm perforated cell middle, and 1.5mm jersey lining inside. The air trapped inside that perforated middle layer noticeably improved the suit’s buoyancy overall.
Aside from the possibility of overheating, one of the main downfalls of wearing a wetsuit on race day is the time it takes to get out of it. In fact, most athletes that we’ve spoken with who don’t wear wetsuits report this as being the reason why they’ve stayed away. And sure, we’ve all seen the wetsuit struggles some triathletes go through after exiting the water. They grab blindly to find the suit’s zipper and then pull, tug, and wrestle with the rubber all the way down their legs—all the while seconds are ticking away in T1. We’re not going to lie, this is also one of our biggest hesitations with donning a wetsuit on race day. So we practice getting out of our suits—a lot.
Throughout our time with the M:2, we never once felt like we were clumsily struggling to get out of the suit—even while wearing a watch, Road ID, and timing chip. To be honest, we were expecting to have difficulties. So this was a very pleasant surprise. While researching the M:2, we did notice that Profile Design had added ribbed back knee panels as well as ribbed calf “speed slice” panels. Based on our experiences with the suit, we’d say the tech works!
Now one thing that really did throw us for a loop with this suit was the zipper placement. The M:2 utilizes a YKK reverse zipper, which according to Profile Design, allows for a quicker transition. This sounded like a great feature in theory, so we were curious to try it. And after using this zipper design for a couple months now, we have a few thoughts. First, the zipper does indeed allow you to get out of your suit faster. We simply reached to our lower back, found the zipper pull, and pulled up—done! However, having the zipper pull/strap at your lower back did create a bit of a mystery for us. What do you do with it? Usually when the pull/strap is at your neck you can tuck it neatly out of the way. However, we couldn’t really find a way to do this with the M:2 since the pull/strap dangled at our backs. We ended up tucking it up by our necks anyway (the strap was long enough to reach), which did just fine. But we would love to see Profile Design provide another cleaner option to tuck the pull/strap out of the way in a future design. Also, we usually had to have a training buddy zip us up since the reverse zipper was a little tough to thread at the neck.
Overall, we were very pleased with our experience in the M:2. The materials are high-quality, lightweight, and appear to be durable after a few months of use. In fact, even after being trampled in transition at our last race, the rubber remained unscathed. While the M:2 may push your gear budget a bit, many athletes would agree that flexibility and added buoyancy are great reasons to splurge on a top-of-the-line suit. And after several swims with the M:2, we couldn’t agree more.