Gear Review: Xterra Vortex 3 John (Sleeveless)

(Add 30 or so pounds and this basically is what I look like in the wetsuit.)

Double celebration today: first Open Water Swim of the season (and first in a LONG time) and first swim in my Xterra Vortex 3 John, which I purchased last fall and never tried out until today. I got the size Large and, at 6′, 208 lbs, this was a bit of a squeeze, but comfortable once on.

They say that a good wetsuit can do the swim for you and, while that might not be entirely true, I definitely felt the additional buoyancy. Plus, Lake Michigan was around 58 degrees Fahrenheit this morning and I didn’t feel even the slightest chill with the wetsuit on. I also wore a swim cap, hate them hate them hate them, which kept my head warm as well. So just the feet and arms a bit chilled, but no problems as I swam for a bit.

I opted for the Vortex 3 John, as I don’t really like to be confined by sleeves, but at some point I’ll probably do a swim that will require a full suit. At that point, I will definitely consider another Xterra Wetsuit, as this John is extremely comfortable, seems well-made, and the prices are really good as well. Xterra no longer makes the Vortex series, but the new intro line, the Volt, is reputed to be very similar and the prices are good as well. Xterra has a 3 year warranty, 30 day money back guarantee, correct size guarantee and, if you aren’t sure you want to buy yet, a rental program.

Xterra often has sales on their website and if you follow them on Twitter, you can occasionally get free shipping or another discount as well. Their Facebook page is fun as well, with photos of people wearing their wetsuits at a variety of events.

6 thoughts on “Gear Review: Xterra Vortex 3 John (Sleeveless)

  1. I have a Vortex 3 full and it has been great. The Vortex has 5mm of panel in the front which is the maximum allowed by USTA and WTC. This is noteworthy b/c the thicker the panel the more buoyant the suit. So for us bad swimmers thicker is better! Also they still make the Vortex series, they just added the Volt as more of an introductory wetsuit – this way they don't have to discount the Vortex as much as they have in the past. Xterra has excellent customer service as well!

    Glad you enjoyed your swim and that 58 degrees sounds brutal to this TX boy!

  2. In need of a wetsuit…and not looking forward to that purchase / shopping / trying on, etc etc.

    Def will look at getting this one you mention, cant imagine I need sleeves for a summer Tri in MN

  3. I use a sleeveless too prefer having the free rams. As far as colder water (and noted you hate swim caps), the cap probably keeps you warmer than the sleeves do since you loose so much heat out of your head.

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