We got our first glimpse of the new Rogue wetsuit from Nineteen at Interbike back in September, with a first hand introduction from Nineteen President Steve Fleck. We were told that the new Rogue was the company's attempt to break out of the "value" brand wetsuit category and produce a high end suit to compete with the elite suits of the triathlon world.
Nineteen hired former pro triathlete and fast as hell swimmer Wolfgang Guembel to help create the new Rogue. We were very intrigued by the suit and it seemed to have an abundance of features that would translate into real world benefits. We are one of the lucky ones who actually have this new wetsuit in hand. We'll touch on some of the unique features of the Rogue later.
While the Rogue is certainly not the most hyped wetsuit released this year, it very well may be one of the best. Some of the latest and greatest suits out there are boasting flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Don't get us wrong, we love a flexible, comfortable suit as much as anyone out there. But is flexibility alone enough for you to pull the trigger on a wetsuit costing 600.00, 700.00, 1000.00 or more? In reality no, in fact flexibility alone, as in a completely flexible, super thin suit will probably do the average age group athlete less good than a suit that balances buoyancy and flexibility. If you're one of the few sub 50 minute Ironman swim kind of people, then yes, a suit consisting of the thinnest, most flexible materials available may be your best friend. However, if you are a normal age group triathlete who doesn't come from a swimming background, you will probably benefit from a suit that offers a combination of flexibility and buoyancy.
Let's face it, high end wetsuits these days are not all that different from one brand to the next, at least from a material standpoint. If you have shopped for a wetsuit at all you have no doubt come across the Yamamoto name. This Japanese company produces the materials used in about 90% of the wetsuits worn in triathlon today, regardless of what brand is printed on the outside, there's a very strong likelihood there's Yamamoto material "under the hood" so to speak. Whether it's Yamamoto #39 or #40 or some combination, pretty much any quality suit utilizes the same outer skin.
Yamamoto #39 is less flexible than #40, so an entire suit made out of #40 has to be better right? Not necessarily, Nineteen found that a suit made up entirely of Yamamoto #40 can actually be too flexible. In fact Nineteen has experience with that type of suit as well, they found that the super thin, extremely flexible suits come with their own set of problems, durability suffers, these suits have a difficult time maintaining their shape, and due to the extreme flexibility the suit can be susceptible to areas of ballooning making a proper fit difficult at best. So the Nineteen answer was to focus on an optimal mix of neoprene types and thicknesses.
The new Rogue has been five years in the making, building off the experience of other suits and finding what works in a wetsuit in terms of balancing the flexibility factor with a suit that can be beneficial to the age grouper. One of the areas that Nineteen concentrated on with the new Rogue was the liner or jersey that makes up the backing of the suit. So who gives a rip about the liner of a wetsuit? Well, you do...or at least you should. Why? Because it's the liner that ultimately determines many of the fit and stretch characteristics of a wetsuit. The suit's flexibility and its ability to maintain it's shape is largely a result of the material that is bonded to the inside of the outer rubber of the suit.
The guys at Nineteen have taken this approach a step further, or actually three steps further. The new Rogue wetsuit uses three different jersey materials to "customize" or mold the fit and flexibility characteristics of the suit in a very deliberate fashion. Flexibility is great, and very important, but just as important are the specific areas where a wetsuit is flexible in our opinion.
As you can see in the pictures below with the Rogue inside out, each section has a corresponding liner that is strategically placed to make the suit more/less flexible.
The idea here is to provide less stretch and more stability to the core of the wetsuit. Nineteen's research showed them that there's really no need for much flexibility in this area, they feel it's more important to provide core stability and a compression fabric for the lining. Plus, by using a thicker panel in the torso you also get more buoyancy in an area that's under the water's surface for the most part anyway.
Unlike many gimicky looking "catch panels" that are made up of some kind of rough or dimpled material of some sort (that some research has shown to actually slow you down) the Rogue has developed a clever set of paddles into the arms of the suit.
You can just make out the outline of the paddle in the picture below.
There are two paddles on each sleeve that run on the sides of the forearm. Nineteen has placed what are basically neoprene inserts that increase this area to the maximum allowed 5mm thickness.
A view from the inside
The paddles essentially present a wider surface area to the water in the catch phase of the stroke.
We'd call it a very creative use of the rules, and it seems to us at least, the best attempt at gaining an edge with that part of the suit. Will it make you swim like a fish? Probably not, but it's certainly one of the better ideas we have come across. Much more testing in that area is needed and we'll give you our opinion in the final review.
Designed to form a tight seam free seal to keep water from entering the suit at the neck.
Another nice touch on the Rogue is the reverse pull zipper, if it gets pulled in the craziness of a mass swim start, there's no worries with the suit getting unzipped.
The Elbow Elevator
Another neoprene insert that is designed to promote a high elbow catch by adding a bit of buoyancy.
The Elbow Elevator from the inside.
The extremely stretchy shoulders of the Rogue are some of the most flexible we've seen.
Another good example of the varying thickness of the Rogue. You can see the thicker section which runs up the front of the leg, and the super thin section the the back of the leg from the calf down to the ankle designed to make for an easy entry and more importantly a speedy exit.
The inside view of the calf section
The contrasting very thin material of the sleeves shown next to the thicker front portion of the leg.
We will be putting the Rogue to the test as our race season starts in just 2 weeks with a nice 1.2 mile swim in balmy 64F water. Stay tuned for the final review. As always, if you have any specific questions on this product, submit them below and we will do our best to address them.