Given many long course triathlons take place in warmer parts of the world it’s not surprising that we often get asked questions along the lines of: - What should I wear for a hot race? - What’s important when it comes to kit and racing in the heat? In summary there are three key considerations, or criteria, we suggest you should consider when evaluating what you will wear when racing in the heat.
Being based in Australia, where currently 2 out of every 3 will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, we are acutely aware of the risks associated with sun exposure. Especially when you think of endurance racing and the significant exposure time. In regard to sun protection consider two aspects: - Firstly does the kit have a SPF / UV rating, verifying protection? - Secondly, think about coverage i.e. how much skin am I covering / protecting?
Traditionally triathlon suits and 2 piece options have been sleeveless, and while much of the talk around the evolution of the sleeved tri suits (e.g. Fusion Speed Suit) and tops (e.g. Fusion Speed Top) has been around the aerodynamic advantages, the benefits associated with additional sun protection are terrific and should not be undervalued.
Additionally most athletes train with sleeved cycling jerseys, running t-shirts, etc. so day to day sun exposure around the shoulders is limited. We have all no doubt seen pictures of athletes getting incredibly burnt in races such as Kona where the shoulders in particular get significant sun exposure. The development of the Fusion Speed Top several years ago was a specific design solution to help elite athletes heading to Kona. Specifically with the objectives of providing sun protection, maximising cooling and being aero (refer Speed Top blog post for further details).
Firstly, Fabric Colour and Heat Absorption. In short White reflects the most heat while Black absorbs the most. So while black from head to toe may look stealth, if racing in the blazing sun it may not be the best choice. On the other hand I’m not suggesting you need to go white from head to toe, but perhaps consider something like white, or lighter colours on top, and darker on bottom.
Secondly, how well the Fabric Breathes and in turn promotes the body’s natural cooling mechanism. As we sweat this evaporates and has a cooling effect, known as the evaporative cooling effect. A fabric which is highly breathable promotes, or facilitates, this cooling effect.
Fusion developed the ICE fabric as part of the development process referenced in the previous section i.e. a package for elite athletes racing in Kona which provides sun protection, maximising cooling and is aero. Designed to maximise cooling the fabric is white and super breathable. Actually, putting water on it at aid stations helps promote cooling further. Check out some of the customer reviews on the ICE Top re its performance in the heat (click here). The same ICE fabric is used in the Speed Suit (the top half) and the Speed Top.
With increased heat and moisture when racing in warm conditions, the risks around chafing, rubbing, etc. only become greater. A good overall fit is important, as always. However the breathability of the fabric referenced above once again becomes super important as it promotes moisture transfer, keeping you dry, which in turn contributes significantly to providing sustained comfort.
FUSION kit designed for the heat
As referenced above Fusion has invested significant R&D on developing race kit which provides protection, cooling & aerodynamics, not only in cool to mild conditions but particularly when racing in the heat. The Fusion ICE Fabric and the associated garments (as shown below) have a strong track record of providing performance and comfort over a number of years. Click through to see more details on each, as well as customer reviews.