Blue Seventy (branded as “blueseventy”) has been making some of our favorite wetsuits lately. The Blue Seventy Helix just might be in the running our favorite wetsuit on the market, and the entire lineup is well thought-out and made with top engineering. Sitting firmly in the $400-$500 price point is the Blue Seventy Reaction. The Reaction is intended to be a mid-range wetsuit, perhaps with some higher-end features, that can be used by experienced triathletes and beginners alike. It is a suit that features some of the high-end benefits of the Helix while staying more affordable than many suits. Note that the Reaction has seen significant advances in the past year or two, so be wary of the carryover suits you will find on the market at a deep discount — they really are not the same wetsuit as today’s Reaction.
Features: The 2016 Reaction is a total redesign of the same model from years past. We like the 4-5-4 paneling for triathletes and swimmers who spend a lot of time in colder waters. 4-5-4 simply means that the thicknesses of the Neoprene are 4mm in the chest, 5mm in the torso where you want the warmth, and then back to 4mm in the leg. This is a good overall combination for your typical competitive triathlete who is as concerned about warmth and buoyancy as they are about speed. The 39-cell Yamamoto is flexible and features the material used in some of the highest-end wetsuits on the market just a couple years ago. In fact, when you compare this wetsuit against more expensive ones, the only main differences are that the thin paneling of 4mm isn’t quite as thin as some others (that get down to 3mm or even 2mm).
The VO2 design on the chest is a really winner. It basically splits the chest panel in two, so you have better expansion ability when taking deep breaths. Anyone who has ever felt constricted while breathing in a wetsuit will immediately understand why this is a important and a nice feature to have.
We have become fans of the Blue Seventy construction which features A-Flex lining for maximum comfort against the skin, as well as the tube design on the legs which minimizes leg seams. This allows the swimmer to remove the wetsuit faster, and also creates one less point of worry if you need to cut the legs down for size – seams are typically where you will have an issue. Blue Seventy reinforces the leg seam with liquid glue, further hedging against damage from cutting. This makes the Reaction a great choice if you are a stout and muscular body type who may need to order a larger wetsuit and cut the limb lengths down to the right sizing.
While we have heard of some slightly negative durability reviews of the Reaction when used in salt water, this is likely not unique to the Blue Seventy line. Salt water is highly destructive to neoprene, and your wetsuit should be thoroughly soaked by freshwater after any saltwater use. Overall, we have been happy with the durability of Blue Seventy products, and the Reaction is no exception.
Pricing: The Reaction lists for just above $450. While you might be able to find them discounted on line, make sure you are looking at the same model year. This wetsuit changed from 38-cell neoprene to 39-cell neoprene with its last redesign. That change alone is worth at least another $100 of market value, when comparing this to other suits on the market. Note that if you go with a sleeveless Reaction, your price will drop to under $300, but you will also give up some of the warmth and buoyancy benefits.
Comparisons: The Reaction occupies a price point at the $400 range, along with such suits as the Orca Sonar and the Xterra Vortex. The Reaction uses 39-cell neoprene, similar to the Sonar which uses 39-cell in its Aerodome. On the flip side, the Reaction gets up to 5mm thickness in key panels, whereas the Sonar maxes out at 4mm. The Vortex also gets up to 5mm. What do all of these numbers mean? The Reaction is a very solid wetsuit and may be the best of the bunch in extreme cold water. If flexibility on long swims is important to you, you may want to compare it to the Sonar. Pricing-wise, expect to pay around $450 for the new Reaction. If you can find it on our site for less than $400, consider it a good deal.