Jim is an accomplished triathlete and endurance cyclist, and has raced in more than 35 USAT-certified races. He is also an avid trail runner and endurance gravel bike rider. Jim is a founder of Complete Tri and frequent writer on triathlon and cycling.
The Volt from Xterra is an absolute steal at an MSRP of $99, which is not much more than what you can rent a wetsuit for these days. The Volt is a sleeveless suit that debuted in 2010 and has quickly become a favorite of triathletes looking for performance on a budget. It’s also filling a niche as the low-cost training suit that more serious athletes are wearing to keep from abusing that ultra-expensive race suit. While perhaps not a suit you would buy for years of use or an Ironman, this suit has its place for the budget-minded.
One of the first things that you notice about the Volt is the sleek fit – not what you’d typically expect from a $99 suit. This is probably the key difference between the Volt and entry-level suits from other brands. Instead of adding expense with the latest technical fabrics, Xterra has put fit front and center with the Volt, striving to provide a high end racing fit on an entry-level wetsuit. Where other suits use 5mm Yamamoto neoprene, the Volt uses thinner GKA Neoprene – 3mm in the front and 2mm in the back. The thinner material gives it a sleek fit, although the compromise is reduced buoyancy. That trade-off may not be right for every athlete- however, if you are a strong swimmer or compete in shorter distances, you might not notice or care about the difference.
The Volt uses Xterra’s stretchy X-flex liner throughout to provide maximum movement in the suit, which means it’s actually pretty comfortable. The sleeveless design also means that you don’t have to worry about how the suit changes your stroke – always a hot-button issue with full sleeve models. The collar is generous and cut lower than most wetsuits, making it really comfortable as well, at least as far as wetsuits go. While some of the other Xterra wetsuits have a reputation for snug fitting collars, the collar on the Volt sits low enough that it’s not a problem for the majority of neck sizes.
All of the Xterra wetsuits, including the Volt, have X-Max Seam Seal technology. Joining fabric panels are glued together end-to-end and then blind stitched from the inside. Xterra claims this produces a more durable seam because the stitch never penetrates through the top layer of neoprene, eliminating the possibility of thread snagging or unraveling. These types of claims are always hard the judge, but it seems to make sense, and this type of flat seam stitching is definitely more comfortable against the skin.
The Volt is also coated with Xterra’s X-Slice coating. This is supposed to provide reduced drag in the water. I don’t expect that it’s going to be as slick as the latest SCS coatings from Yamamoto, but then again, it’s a $99 suit. It’s actually pretty amazing that you can even get a coated suit at this pricing, period.
All in all, the Volt really looks like a suit to check out, whether as your first suit or as a practice suit. The $99 price point is something new in triathlon specific wetsuits. Early race reviews have been positive, and the Volt as gotten some nice industry press as well. Expect to see a lot more of these coming to a race near you in the upcoming season.