The spirit of endurance sports resides in the dedication to the hundreds of hours of training that goes into an event, and the mental fortitude required to push the body past what the average person considers possible.
That being said, many of these sports require equipment to undertake, and when it comes to gear, not all sports are created equal.
Triathlon is a sport that even at the complete beginner level requires a considerable amount of gear for competition. It is possible (and highly recommended!) to compete in your first triathlon - especially a shorter distance event like a Super Sprint Tri - with gear you probably already have around the house.
You’ve completed your first couple of events, and decided that triathlons are something you’re serious about improving and competing. Now, there is almost no limit to the range (and price!) of gear you can acquire to improve your performance to make what can be a gruelling sport as ‘comfortable’ as possible.
This article will go through triathlon essentials, a triathlon packing list in terms of what to bring to a triathlon event, as well as some next-level gear that will take your triathlon performance to new heights.
Triathlon Gear Checklist for Training
This first section will cover what you need for a triathlon at the absolute base level to complete each leg of the event.
For the first leg of the event, all you need is:
- Swim Cap
These can all be as cheap or as expensive as you’d like. Go with whatever is comfortable, and make sure your goggles (and all your gear for that matter) are well worn-in before any race.
For those training or competing in waters cold enough to impede performance, a good wetsuit would also count as essential.
Later in this article, we will cover the accessory items needed for the swim leg in an actual event.
For this section of the triathlon, you’ll need (get ready for it):
- Triathlon Bike
Of course, the bike (and the 101 accessories available for it) is the piece of equipment with the highest cost, but also the highest potential to improve your times for the effort you put in.
If you already own a bike, and you’re not concerned about winning your first triathlon, really consider just using that for anything less than a half Ironman distance before breaking out the wallet.
When you’re ready to invest in a quality bike for a triathlon, check out our article on how to choose the right triathlon bike.
Again, this is the absolute minimum equipment you need; there is a lot more you can add to your biking gear, and we’ll cover that shortly.
For the final leg of the race, there’s only a couple of essential things you need:
- Running Shoes
- Hat / Sunscreen
Your running shoes are second only to your bike in terms of the effect they can have on your performance and comfort during a triathlon.
Check out our article on how to choose the best running shoes, and prioritise getting a good pair even before you upgrade your bike. A better bike can save you time, but better shoes can protect you from an injury.
Now we’ve covered the absolute essential gear needed to do your training. Bellow, we will go over the general equipment you’ll need to compete in a triathlon event.
General Triathlon Race Gear
The following gear includes necessities that aren’t necessarily required during training, but that will be needed during a race - especially at the longer distances - to save you time and to help prepare yourself for the inevitable mishaps along the way.
A tri suit is a one-piece garment that you can wear throughout the full triathlon, without the need for changing clothes during your transitions. They are made from a variety of materials which provide cushioning for the bike leg while being subtle and aerodynamic.
If anything happens to your bike during a race, you’ll want to be prepared with a small bag attached to your bike with the necessary repair items such as spare tubes, patch kit, multi-tool, etc.
Hydration & Nutrition
Triathlon events have hydration stations, and nutrition and aid stations in longer races, providing things such as Gatorade, water, bananas, and energy gels. Besides, you may want to store your hydration or nutrition on your bike or in your suit. Check out our article on triathlon nutrition for tips.
Triathlon Race Day Checklist
With everything you need to compete, there is also a list of general things you’ll want to have access to as required before, during, and after your race:
Triathlon Gear for the Next Level
We have covered the basics of what is needed to train for and compete in your first triathlon. The range and quality of gear available for this sport is immense.
As mentioned, your bike and your running shoes are two areas worth investing in first. After that, here are a few categories of gear to get you started looking at some options for improving your triathlon.
You can invest in specialized bike shoes, that either clip and lock into your pedals, or that strap in and provide a more technical option for the bike leg rather than riding in your runners.
Bike shoes can allow you to get a lot more power out of your pedalling, so the trade-off in terms of changing shoes twice can be worth it.
Watch / HR Monitor
A device which allows you to monitor your pace, split times, and heart rate can make it much easier to stick to your race plan and goals, which is especially important in more extended events to last the distance.
Respiratory Muscle Trainer
An addition to your training regimen that will improve your performance drastically is a training device that strengthens your breathing muscles. A tool such as the Airofit device allows you to reduce fatigue significantly in your respiratory muscles, increasing your intake and delivery of oxygen during your races.
We hope this article has helped you consider all the equipment you’ll need for your triathlon - and maybe some gear you won’t need - at least to start.
Let us know your must-have triathlon gear in the comments below!