The LOMO Challenger wetsuit claims to be good quality yet very good value for money.
Open water swimming is hugely popular right now but to stay safe and warm in our Scottish waters most people require a wetsuit. The cost of a good quality swimming wetsuit is often at least Â£150, with some top-end brands selling for Â£350 or more.
So the outlay for a wetsuit can be high and once you have worn it once you canâ€™t send it back, so the choice of what suit to buy is important.
This is where LOMO, a Glasgow-based watersports kit retailer, saw a gap in the market. They took a look at higher end wetsuits and decided that they could make a wetsuit of similar quality but for less than Â£100.
LOMO Challenger wetsuit
The features are as you would expect for a swimming wetsuit but impressive given the price tag. LOMO reckons a similar suit by another brand would cost around Â£250.
The features include:
- 3mm Matsuda Neoprene Core
- 2mm Matsuda Neoprene Arms and Legs
- 1.5mm Matsuda Megastretch Underarm Reach Panel
- 2mm Matsuda Aquagrip Traction Panel
- Glued Seams
- Internally blind stitched seams
- Anatomical cut for great fit to your body
- YKK Zipper
In addition, LOMO report that they have â€œtrialled countless materials to find a grade of neoprene that will give us the degree of flexibility we required for triathlonâ€. They finally settled on the Matsuda range of neoprenes.
The main body area of the wetsuit, which requires warmth and buoyancy, is made from 3mm neoprene. The arms and legs, which still require buoyancy but also need higher flexibility, are made from 2mm neoprene and the underarm area is made from 1.5mm Matsuda Megastretch neoprene.
The underarm area is where most flexibility is required in a swimming wetsuit because you overstretch this panel while extending your arm at the top of your swim stroke.
The wrist area traction panels of the suit are made from Matsuda Aquagrip Neoprene, which helps to increase the amount of propulsive force transferred from your arms to the water.
On test: LOMO Challenger swimming wetsuit
Itâ€™s important that the wetsuit fits snugly. If itâ€™s snug there will fewer air pockets and gaps, which will eliminate the chance of the wetsuit filling with water and slowing down swimmers.
Getting into a tight-fitting wetsuit can be tricky but with patience and time, youâ€™ll find that itâ€™s worth it. Ensure that the neoprene is fully pulled up along the arms and legs and fits neatly around the torso and shoulders.
Be careful not to dig your nails into the neoprene because it will mark and tear. Most people do end up with small tears and larger ones can be fixed with Blackwitch Neoprene Adhesive but itâ€™s best to try to avoid the worst of this damage.
The flexible neoprene area around the underarms on the Challenger is perfect because it allows for a good, neat fit while also giving freedom of movement.
If you havenâ€™t tried open water swimming you will be surprised by the additional buoyancy offered by a wetsuit.Â In the Challenger, or any wetsuit of good quality, you feel your legs are raised higher in the water and this makes for a quicker and more efficient swimming stroke.
In the waters of lochs Lomond, Ard and Tay the 3mm neoprene was plenty insulated enough to keep out the cold. The small amount of water that is allowed into a wetsuit quickly heats with your own body temperature and remains warm enough for most people.
If you have a tendency to be really cold in water then choose a 4mm or 5mm wetsuit, but always make sure it is suitable for swimming, rather than surfing. See the LOMO 4/5mm triathlon wetsuit.
The Challenger wetsuit is easy to get into and simple to get out of, especially with the long back zip. It does up securely and has a strong Velcro fastener at the zip top, as well as a longÂ strap for easier solo undoing of the zip.
The arm and leg length of the wetsuit are good. If youâ€™re of average height youâ€™ll be fine in a Challenger. Taller people will end up with shorter arms and legs of the wetsuit, but this isn’t really a problem. If the wetsuit is too long, simply cut off the ends of the legs and arms.
A womenâ€™s Challenger wetsuit also gives a better fit for female physiques.
When swimming in the Challenger there is no drag and the flexibility around the shoulders is excellent. This is a comfortable and well fitting wetsuit that has a surprisingly reasonable price tag.
See LOMO wetsuits. Their shop is in Glasgow but they also sell on-line.