Triathlon Gear Guide: – What You Need and (What You Don’t Need)

New To Triathlon or Thinking of Taking Up The Sport

If you are new to Triathlon or thinking of taking up the sport, triathlon gear can quickly add up. Invest in quality pieces that will make racing and training more comfortable, and you’ll see faster results.

A helmet is an essential triathlon race-day piece of equipment that must meet certain safety standards. Many athletes also purchase bike-specific bags with compartments to help organize and protect their gear.

Specific Items

There are some pieces of triathlon gear that you absolutely need to have to participate. These include a bicycle, cycle helmet (the helmet is mandatory for all triathlons) swimwear, and running shoes. You will also want to have some specific triathlon accessories such as a water bottle, sunglasses, and a race number belt. Depending on the temperature of your local waters you may also need a wetsuit and a pair of swimming goggles.

A bicycle is perhaps the most important and expensive piece of gear you will need for a triathlon. You will need a bike that is comfortable to ride and fits you well. If you are just starting out, it is best to try some bikes out before you make a purchase. Many shops have bike-fitting stations where you can try out a variety of bikes to see which one suits you but get fitted for your bike, don’t just jump on and think it’s great. If you can’t get a professional fit there are apps online which will guide you.

In addition to a properly fitted bike, you will need to have the necessary accessories for your bike ride. A water bottle is a necessity to ensure you are constantly replenishing your fluids as you ride. Some water bottles are designed specifically for triathlons and will fit into the standard water-bottle cages on your bicycle. Other triathlon-specific bottles have a straw that allows you to drink without taking off your helmet.

How do I choose the right bike helmet?
Best road bike helmets 2023 | 30 top-rated cycle helmets - BikeRadar
If you’re buying a new helmet and want to find the correct size, it’s advisable to measure your head and check it against the brand’s size chart. Helmets are designed to fit just above your eyebrows and ears, and as such this is the best place to measure your head to guarantee a proper fit.

Sunglasses are a must-have for the bike and run stages of a triathlon. They will not only protect you from the sun, but they can also help you see better when there is glare or debris on the road. Some sunglasses are available with photochromic lenses that will automatically adjust to light conditions as they change.


Race number belts are an inexpensive piece of triathlon gear that can make the transition process at a race much faster and more convenient. Rather than having to use safety pins to attach your race number to your clothing, the race number belt will simply snap on in place of your shirt or shorts.

It is a good idea to carry a multi-tool with you on the bike leg of your triathlon in case you get a flat tire or another minor mechanical issue while on the road. Having to end your race due to a technical breakdown is not something you want to experience!

What You Don’t Need

Buying the equipment for a triathlon can be expensive. A newcomer to the sport needs to prioritize the items that are most crucial to the race. It is also a good idea to make the equipment choices within your budget. Once you are a more experienced triathlete, you can gradually increase the quality of your gear to improve your performance and race results.

One of the most important pieces of gear for a triathlon is a bicycle. While it is nice to have a lightweight carbon racing bike, it is not necessary for an entry-level triathlete. When choosing a bicycle, it is best to get a durable, comfortable bike that fits you well. The bicycle should be compatible with your bike helmet and have functional brakes and tyres. Sunglasses are a great addition to your biking gear, providing protection from wind, debris and UV rays while making it easier to see on the bike. Some sunglasses are designed with different lenses for different light conditions and some even have photochromatic technology to automatically change tint depending on the lighting.

Other triathlon equipment includes a swim cap and swimming goggles for the swim leg of the race. Goggles are useful to have for triathlons because they provide physical and UV rays protection while you are swimming. For the open water swim, a pair of hybrid or mask-style goggles that are comfortable and have a wide field of vision is recommended.

For the cycling portion of a triathlon, a good quality road or racing bike is required. Most triathlons require a quick check of your bike in transition to ensure that the brakes work and that you have the correct pedals attached. A hydration pack is a must-have for all distances of triathlons and is available in a variety of sizes and styles. Some hydration packs feature built-in sweatbands and are made of breathable cooling fabric to help keep you cool while you race.

Most running events have several aid stations along the course where you can refill your hydration or energy gels. However, it is a good idea to bring your own hydration bottle or running pack for more control over what and when you drink. You will want to have sunscreen with you to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, especially since it may need to be re-applied during the run.

Where to Find Items

When you begin to look at the gear needed for a triathlon, it can be overwhelming. It’s important to start out with what you already have and only purchase what is necessary. It’s also important to remember that skill development is more important in the beginning than having high-end equipment.

A bike is a necessity, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a special triathlon bike. A regular road or mountain bike will work fine, especially if you’re just diving into the sport and racing local sprint events. As you get more into the sport and race in long-distance races, it may be time to invest in a more specialized bike with clip-on aero bars and other features for optimal performance.


Running shoes created specifically for triathlons will help you maintain a smooth, efficient stride while giving your feet the support they need to prevent premature muscle fatigue. For the run, it’s also good to have a few key accessories like running socks that provide cushioning for your feet and are moisture-wicking to keep you cool and dry. Also consider a pair of sunglasses that will protect your eyes from the sun, glare, and potential flying debris. Some have photochromatic lenses that change tint based on light conditions.

For the bike, make sure to have a helmet that fits well and is comfortable to wear during the long cycling segment of the race. If you plan to spend a lot of time on the road in an aero position, it’s worth investing in a more specialized helmet that is designed for this type of ride.

Elastic laces can be a huge time saver during transitions, and a pair of shoes that can easily slip on without tying will come in handy. For the swim, you’ll want a wetsuit that will be comfortable and allow for easy movement while still providing protection from waves and other rough water conditions.

A towel can be used for a variety of purposes in triathlons, from drying off after the swim to cleaning off at the finish line. For the run, consider a small hydration vest that can hold gels and other food for quick access and is lightweight and runner-friendly.

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