Gear Review: Rocket Science Sports Elite Wetsuit

author : DominiqueL
comments : 0

Introduction
As you would expect from a company with the word “rocket” in their name, Rocket Science Sports puts a premium on speed. True to the second half of their name, they aim to create speed scientifically. Case in point: the Elite wetsuit was redesigned four times before going to the market in order to maximize its benefits. Does all this speed come at the expense of comfort? I had to find out.

First Impressions
The Elite wetsuit is available in a long john (sleeveless) or a full (long-sleeved) version. I tested the long-sleeved version. Coming out of its package, I was amazed at its lack of weight. At around 3 pounds (for the Large-Tall size), the suit is lighter than the long-john style wetsuit I currently use.

I also immediately noticed that it was very flexible. It felt less like a hunk of spongy neoprene and more like a suit of rubber. I liken it to how I’d imagine the Batsuit feels. Not the 1960’s Adam West pajamas version, but the 2005 Christain Bale version. You know…without the cape and the fake chest.

The wetsuit came folded up in a little package (it was a heavily used demo model). Now, “they” tell you not to fold up your wetsuit because it will get creases, which will ruin the suit and reduce your speed. This suit, which had been sent all over the U.S. and been used by who knows how many others, was still completely unmarred and very nimble.

The Product

Elite Wetsuit

 

The Maker

Rocket Science Sports (www.rocketsciencesports.com)

The Price

$399.99

The Rating

  (4.5/5)

The Skinny

Highly recommended. Feels like a second skin in the water, but shedding that skin could be easier.

 

Can this guy save
Katie Holmes?


Components

I don’t think that RSS has come up with a trademark name for their version, but the exterior of the suit gets the standard slick rubber treatment to help water slide off of you. The interior is Yamamoto Neoprene, which is an industry leader. The two main components are well mated and showed no signs of coming apart.

The neckline on the suit is much lower than you may be used to. It’s more like a t-shirt and less like a turtleneck. I liked the feeling. I don’t think my neck has ever been cold in my life and I appreciated the freedom around the Adam’s Apple. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a neck that would challenge Willem Dafoe or anything, but I liked not having the compression around my throat. Around the top of the collar is a strip of rubber to keep the water from getting in. The collar is closed with a band of Velcro.

The inside of the suit’s forearms get a panel of grooved rubber to help you better grab the water. It’s not so rough that it would scratch the suit (or your skin), but it’s got more texture to it than the rest of the suit. At the wrists is a tight band of double-sided neoprene that RSS calls their “NoH2O Seal.”

No water allowed

From afar, nothing about the suit is visually unique. It’s black with white and red logos. It’s a classic look. You do feel a bit like a walking billboard for RSS because there isn’t an angle where you can’t see a logo or a company name, but that’s pretty standard stuff, and the rocket logo is cool. Where you notice the difference in the suit is when you get up close. You have to get really close. Once you’re close enough, you can see that there are several small panels sewn in where other companies use a single sheet. This is supposed to make the suit fit and move better, and I think it works.

Getting Into The Suit
Getting into any wetsuit can be an ordeal. An ideal fit is a snug fit. That means that, even with lubricants in the right places, it takes some time to get it on. The Elite wetsuit is no different in this area. Fortunately, they don’t time you on getting the suit on. The zipper goes a bit further down your backside than other suits I’ve tried, which makes getting the thing over your thighs and rear end a bit easier.

Every time I put the suit on, I had some trouble getting the zipper up (no “getting it up” jokes please). Usually, it was just a matter of a tug on the sleeve to straighten things out or an exhale and an arch of my back to relieve some pressure somewhere. However, the worst of it came on a race day, when I ultimately had to ask a fellow racer to zip me up (which he did with no effort whatsoever). This isn’t a fatal flaw, or even a big one, but the zipper can be difficult to raise all the way.

Once it’s on you, the wetsuit feels like a giant body wrap. It is in no way constricting. Rather, it feels one with you, like there’s no way any water could get in. In order to get this one-ness, you need the neoprene to stretch a bit. I think that this is what can make the zipper hard to work.

This may look ill fitting here,
but in the water, it feels great

The other thing you notice when on land is that the material around the arms bunches a bit. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the area to sit smoothly. It took me about a nanosecond in the water to realize that this “design flaw” was probably intentional.

In The Water
Obviously, a wetsuit’s natural environment is in the water. What feels bunched and awkward on land can feel fluid and amazing in the water. Such is the case with the Elite wetsuit. On land, the point where the arms meet the torso gathered weirdly. In the water, I felt as free as if I had no sleeves on. RSS puts a special neoprene in this area that they say is the most flexible available. I believe them. They call it their “Feel Free And Move Your Arms” panel. After swimming a bit, I really enjoyed this feature.

The full suit supported me in the water nicely. Not only was I fully buoyant, but I felt completely balanced. Oftentimes, my legs feel lighter than my torso with a suit on, giving me a feeling of actually swimming downhill. With this suit, I was perfectly level in the water.

It fits like a glove but
likes to stay on you.
 

Now, of course, you can’t actually feel the textured arm panels grabbing the water and you can’t tell if one company’s smooth rubber is making you faster than another’s. What you can measure is the result of all that technology. In this suit I swam faster than I ever had. While I usually swim nowhere near the front of the pack, with the Elite suit on, I got out of the water in the top 10 of my wave. In the pool, my times improved nicely over my normal lap times. The whole time I wore this, it felt like a second skin on me – an incredibly buoyant second skin, but a second skin nonetheless.

Taking It Off
Exiting the water and heading to the transition area, your body is tired, your lungs are weak, and your arms are rubbery. This is the time to have a wetsuit that works with you. Running on land in the Elite suit was very easy. It moves with you nicely. Unfortunately, it also kind of likes to stay on you.

First of all, the zipper leash does not have a retention device, so it hangs down somewhere behind you. While running in sand, up a hill, in front of a crowd, it’s pretty difficult to find. A little piece of Velcro at the end of the strap that would attach to the neckline would solve this problem.

Your next challenge is to get the suit off your upper body. This is where the NoH2O seals are a bit of a hindrance. The seals are tight, which keeps the water out. They also keep the suit from coming off your wrists. I wear a watch in the water with me. Every time I tried to get the suit off, the wrist of the suit stuck on the watch and would not let go without some special attention. Even the arm without the watch didn’t like coming out of the suit. To be fair, I’ve had this problem with all full wetsuits I’ve had on, which is why I prefer a long john. Ultimately, this “flaw” was more annoying than anything. It’s not like you’re going to lose at Kona because of it.

Clear enough for you?

Thanks to its incredibly nimble neoprene, the suit turns inside out very easily and comes off your torso with a flick of your now-freed wrists. Getting the legs off was easy as a store-bought pie thanks to the high and wide leg openings. And, yes, for the fashion conscious out there, the suit does have a logo on it that appears when the upper part of the suit is hanging off of you inside out. If I had a better body, I’d have taken a picture of it for you (the logo, not my body). The inside of the suit also has bright red panels where the arms are for a little extra pizzazz while you’re doing your best Baywatch impression on the sand.

Final Thoughts
When all was said and done, the Elite wetsuit certainly did not trade speed for comfort. In fact, I was sorry to send this suit off to the next reviewer. The Rocket Science Sports Elite Wetsuit fit well, was completely comfortable in the water, and it improved my swim results nicely. You can’t ask for more than that. Yes, it was a bit hard to get off, but, unless you’re competing in a race where a second will be the difference maker, the added time required getting out of this suit is more than made up for by the gains achieved while the suit is on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocket Science Sports Elite Wetsuit 

Category

Score

Notes

Fit

 

A bit tricky to get on, but fits like a glove when it all gets situated.

Ease of Exit

 

Wrist openings hold on a bit too much. Leash should have a retention device. Slides off the rest of you nicely, including your feet.

Results

 

Significantly improved my lackluster swim times.

Cosmo Factor

 

Nice fit contributes to an attractive suit. Logos are large, but not overwhelming. I especially liked the little hip logo.

Overall

  An excellent suit to have in the water. Getting out of it could be better.

 *based on the fashion magazine, not the sitcom character

 

Random Thoughts That My Only Interest Me

  • Since companies have started cutting the leg openings on a bias (oval) to improve exits, why don’t they do the same for wrist openings?

Technical Data:

 

Feel Free And Move Your Arms™ Panels - using the most flexible neoprene available -- strategically placed to provide flexibility and comfort NO H20™ Seals
panels made from double-sided neoprene around the wrists to create a tight seal.

Materials - 100% Yamamoto neoprene Super Flexible Ankle Panels easier and faster exit from the suit.

Above Ankle Design - promotes easier exit from the suit Low Neckline Design comfort and flexibility.

Adjustable Neckline Seal - promotes ease of movement Textured Panels helps to generate more speed with every stroke.

Sizes
Mens XS, S, M, M-Tall, L, L-Tall, XL
Womens XS, S, M, L, XL

 

Weight - 3 pounds for the L-Tall (tested)

 



A Note on the Author: Dominic Lazzaretto has completed twelve triathlons (kind of near the front of the age grouper pack) and has competed in dozens of road running races, mountain bike races, and road cycling events. He is one of the official gear reviewers for BeginnerTriathlete.com.

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date: June 6, 2006

Author


DominiqueL