Triathlon Gear: What do You Really Need ?

Triathletes belong to a unique group of individuals almost like a club. This club invites anyone to join regardless of ability or access to expensive race gear. Desire to work through swim, bike and run stages is the only requirement.

Those new to the sport of triathlon should focus on proper training technique, hydration and energy source in preparation for the first race. Expensive high-tech equipment is not necessary or even recommended. It is better to gain race experience first before investing in expensive gear.

Here is the equipment triathletes need to win the finish line.


Required Gear

  1. Swimsuit: Men could use swim trunks, cut offs or Speedo-style swimsuit. Women should use a one-piece swimsuit. Form fitting suits are advantageous because bike and running shorts could be worn over-top saving time in transition.
  2. Goggles: TYR, Speedo and other companies provide inexpensive goggles for swimming. Goggles should fit comfortably and seal well against water leakage. Goggles used the day of the race should first be tested for fit in training.
  3. Swim Cap: race organizers provide Swim caps. Swim caps are brightly colored for safety to help follow swimmers in the water.
  4. Towel: A towel in the transition area will help remove sand and dirt from the feet before wearing shoes.
  5. Sun Screen: Sunscreen protects against sunburn, a potential risk in longer races.
  6. Wetsuit: Many races have wetsuits as mandatory, often depending on the water temperature. A wetsuit can help your buoyancy but you don’t need to rush and buy an expensive one. There are plenty of season hires or you can get by with a borrowed surf suit.



  1. Bicycle: Triathletes could use any style bicycle including mountain bike, touring bike or road bike. The bicycle must be in good working condition. Tires, brakes and inner tubes with excess wear should be replaced. A Multiple-geared bike is recommended to help maintain the 80 peddle-per-minute speed cadence during uphill and downhill regions on the course. This will help save leg strength for the run stage.
  2. Cycling Helmet: Helmets are required to be worn before mounting the bike and throughout the cycling stage. The helmet must be ANSI or Snell certified and labeled to show certification.
  3. Cycling Pants: Short pants could suffice for the bicycle stage of the race. Cycling shorts provide better padding under the seat and prevent saddle soreness. Cycling shorts could be used for the swim and run stages of the race and save time in transition.
  4. Cycling Shirt: Triathlon rules require chest cover for men and women. Any non-cotton shirt provides applicable cover. A cycling jersey could be inexpensive and form fitting to prevent wind resistance.
  5. Shoes and Socks: The type of shoes used during the cycling stage depends on the style of bicycle. Racing bikes have clipless pedals and specifically require cycling shoes with cleats. Touring bikes could have regular pedals and running shoes could be worn.


  1. Water Bottle and Cage: A water bottle and cage provides hydration during the ride. Dehydration is always a risk when racing in hot weather.
  2. Equipment Bag, Tubes, Levers and Pump: Spare inner tubes and tire levers could be stored in a small equipment bag behind the saddle. A frame mounted pump will allow triathletes to change a flat tire and continue the race. There will be traveling assistance on the bike course. However, assistance covers the entire course and the wait could be long.



  1. Running Shoes: A quality pair of running shoes could be the best investment for the first triathlon. The shoes should fit comfortably and used in training long before race day. Socks are optional but add shock absorbance and moisture protection.
  2. Running Shorts: The shorts used for the bike stage could be used for the run stage. Running shorts should not be cotton, which absorbs moisture and causing chafing.
  3. Running Shirt: Mesh shirts or the shirt used during the cycling stage provide necessary cover for running. Cotton is not recommended as with running shorts.


  1. Billed Cap: Triathletes often wear a lightweight cap or visor. The bill shades the face from sunlight and helps prevent overheating.

The road to finish a first triathlon does not require expensive gear. Only well planned training, desire and the necessary equipment are needed to compete. It is better to gain experience before investing in expensive lightweight race bikes and wetsuits. Understanding the race first brings better insight to high-tech equipment needs. It is important to remember every triathlete including the professionals had a first race.

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