Complete Tri

Desoto Wetsuit Brand Review

DeSoto’s T1 Wetsuits are known above all else for one feature: their innovative 2-piece construction.  DeSoto is the only brand to feature a 2-piece wetsuit, and the small but passionate company claims several performance advantages to the design.   For one, it separates leg motion from arm motion to eliminate torso stretch in the suit and subsequently reduce shoulder fatigue.  However, perhaps the best feature of the two –piece design is versatility: tops and bottoms can be sized independently for a custom fit, and equally important is the option to mix and match components throughout the DeSoto line up, which allows you to upgrade your suit as you grow with the sport.

Top End

The First Wave is an elite wetsuit – claimed by DeSoto to be the fastest suit on the market, and priced accordingly to match.  It features Yamamoto #39 neoprene construction with super-slick SCS (Super Composite Skin) coating.  Inside, it’s lined with a 4-way stretch Lycra that’s designed to move with you and reduce chafing.  There are actually two versions of the First Wave pullover available: the regular First Wave pullover uses 2mm thick neoprene throughout, but the First Wave Concept 5 pullover is upgraded with 5mm neoprene in the arms for increased buoyancy.  The First Wave bibjohn has 5mm thick neoprene in the legs with thinner 3mm racerback straps that fit slightly closer to the neck then other bibjohns so as not to restrict shoulder rotation during the stroke.

Mid Range

The Black Pearl is built to the same specifications as the First Wave, with one exception:  it uses Yamamoto #38 neoprene in place of the more buoyant #39 rubber.  Accordingly, it has at a much more approachable price point.


The Smart 1 wetsuits are DeSoto’s entry level suits.  Both the pullover and the bibshort feature a 2mm neoprene construction with a nylon/spandex woven shell.  Unlike other bibjohns, the bibshorts end just above the knees, make them easier to get in and out off while still insulating a swimmer’s core.

Warm Water

The Speed wetsuits are built with Yamamoto #38 rubber, but they’re designed for warm water swimming.  The Speed Vest is a thin 2mm sleeveless vest with zipper.  The Speed Tube uses thicker 5mm neoprene for increased buoyancy in the lower body but does away with bibjohn straps and ties snuggly at the waist.

Water Rover*

Its also worth briefly mentioning the most notorious DeSoto suit – the Water Rover.  Perhaps the fastest wetsuit on the market, it uses 10mm thick #39 neoprene in the arms and legs for ultimate buoyancy.  That’s double the thickness of any other suit on the market!  Its also double the thickness of what is allowed under current WTC rules.  While you can still use this suit in USAT events, its days are numbered when the new USAT rules take effect in 2013.