Training for a triathlon is daunting in and of itself—and that's before you realize all the gear you need for the months of training leading up to race day and, oh yeah, race day too.
What's the best type of wetsuit for your tri and does the climate/water temperature differ between where you're training and competing? (Short answer: yes.) What are the most effective gadgets and accessories to keep your workouts on track so you're constantly improving but not overtraining? What clothing will keep you most comfortable transitioning from swim to bike to run? And how do you even begin to find the right bike?
Don't sweat it. Save that for your workouts instead. We've compiled everything you need, regardless of whether you're training for your first tri or your tenth.
The Must Haves: These are the essentials you'll need regardless of distance and destination. Note: You won't need all of these items. For example, if you're swimming in cold water, you'll wear just a full wetsuit; if you're swimming in warm water, you'll wear a swimskin—not both. Keep an eye out for our notes throughout! (They begin on slide 2 with the Speedo Elastomeric Solid Silicone.)
The Extras: These are the products you only need for long-distance triathlons or if you’re prone to muscle cramping and joint pain, and any exercise-related discomfort. (They begin on slide 25 with Muscle Cramp Pre-Treat: HOTSHOT.)
This best-selling cap is a classic for a reason. The super-soft silicone is crafted with a gridded texture that keeps your hair from snagging when you pull it on or off (even if you have medium to long hair). Comfortable and durable, this cap will go the distance.
ROKA has rethought and reimagined goggle design. They've drastically opened up the main field of view when you're in the head-down swim position by reducing the architecture along the top frame of the goggle to make room for a retroscopic lens angle that tilts away from your cheek. You've now got a competitive edge during open water swims; it's easier for lead swimmers to locate buoys and for middle-of-the-pack swimmers to track those in front of them. What's more, the R1 comes in 10 different lens tints: They've got options for swimming in low light, if you need to transition from cloudy to bright, even one best suited for mist and fog. Plus, they partially filter out UVA and UVB rays to help reduce glare and protect your eyes.
If you're competing in a warm-weather location for your triathlon, consider a swimskin. They lack buoyancy, but are very snug and compress your body. The Men's Torque Pro Swimskin from TYR has a super low drag (.021—lowest in its class), meaning the force of the water won't slow you down or hold you back. It's constructed with a slick, hydrophilic (water-loving) outer layer that lets your body move with the water, not against it, and a hydrophobic (water-repelling) inner layer that has an ultra low water absorption rate (.5% ). In short, the swimskin repels water to keep you light and dry on the inside and keeps you from feeling weighed down. The fit is designed for superior flexibility and you don't have to worry about being disqualified (some races deem sleeves on swimskins can’t legally be worn in a non-wetsuit swim): The suit is legal and equipped with a coil zipper for a fast transition to the biking portion.
Note: You'll wear this for warm-water swims without a traditional full-length wetsuit. If you're swimming in the ocean or a cold body of water, opt for the ROKA Maverick X Wetsuit on the next slide.
The problem with most wetsuits is the arms are crafted in a vertical up-and-down pattern that locks your limbs inside. Now, this is fine for walking, running, surfing and scuba diving, but swimming? That's problematic. You can't move freely—especially in a freestyle stroke. ROKA honed in on flexibility with the Maverick X wetsuit and designed it with the arms up for zero restriction, complete mobility, and faster swimming mechanics (sans the shoulder strain). Strategically placed buoyancy zones keep up your speed and give you that additional support where you need it most, while neoprene-lined panels (8 total, crafted with different materials) enhance your performance by providing compression, flexibility, form enhancement, thermodynamics, core connection, and transition benefits.
Bike for Elite-Level Triathletes: Cervelo P5 Series
Cervelo P5 Di2 9070
If a bike’s aerodynamics are tested (and proven!) in a wind tunnel, you know it has to be top notch. The Cervélo P5 is no exception. The frameset is the company's most aerodynamic, best-fitting, and highest-quality (when comparing stiffness and ride experience) option that's elite enough for professional cyclists, Ironman champions, and triathletes and user-friendly enough for everyday use. The bike's deep rims have superb stability and they're hungry for speed. Note: The brakes are very responsive and may require even less pressure than you’re used to.
Note: If you're a triathlon novice, you may want to opt for a road bike (not a tri bike) that works for casual rides as well as competitions and races. Check out the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Tiagra on the following slide.
Bike for Beginners: Cannondale SuperSix Evo Tiagra
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Tiagra
This isn't a tri bike; it's a road bike for cyclists new to triathlons who want a bonafide speed machine that can do double duty. This road-specific rig is meant for fast-paced cycling. Log the long training miles, then pop on some aero bars (go to the next slide) for race day. The flat back rider position will deliver a speedier, more aerodynamic ride. And, as you can tell, it's far cheaper than a triathlon bike.
These quick-release aerobars let you transform your bike in seconds so you optimize your setup for the job at hand. The clamp offers a huge range of adjustability, but locks the base in the same position every time so you can find and keep your perfect fit. You’ll have a super-fast aero setup that shaves minutes off your time.
Do you want a functional suit with greater ventilation? (Rhetorical question; of course you do.) The Perform Full Front Zip Tri Suit from 2XU gives you both with ergonomic (read: max comfort) fabric panelling to support your muscles, offers breathability, and flatlock stitching to limit chafing. Crafted from a nylon-LYCRA fiber combo, the suit is meant for high-heat conditions. The quick-drying chamois (padding that protects your skin against repetitive friction while cycling) is fused onto a water-repelling foam base for optimal comfort during long-course triathlons. The chamois is discreet enough for the run, too. No one wants to feel like they're running in a diaper, after all.
Note: If you opt for this trisuit, you won't need the separates on the following slides. However, if you don't want to wear a trisuit and feel more comfortable in separates (i.e. a jersey and shorts), opt for the Cannondale Elite Nano S/S Jersey and Sugoi RS Tri Short on the next two slides.
If you're looking for a high-performance road jersey with superior fit and comfort, you'll find it in Cannondale's Elite Nano S/S. The jersey has a full mesh front panel for tons of breathability. The sleeves are longer than a traditional jersey to prevent ride-up. There are even three mesh-backed rear pockets to store gels and chews, and a media pocket for a race radio.
Sugoi has managed to merge comfort, support, and aerodynamic efficiency into their RS Tri Short. The fabric on the outer thighs is designed for maximum speed and minimal air resistance. The chamois is triple-density padded to reduce discomfort and pressure without adding any bulk. Plus, there are fuel pockets for the bike and run crafted so they won't hold you back during the swim.
These cycling gloves have a unique pad system based on your hand's geometry to protect sensitive nerves, and are scientifically tested to help reduce hand numbness by improving circulation and equalizing pressure in your soft tissue. They're ergonomically crafted for the best possible fit and the mesh top is breathable. Plus, there's absorbent material on the thumb so you can wipe away sweat.
Light and breezy, the Giro Aeon has all the best features you can find in a helmet. The shape itself makes the helmet 28 percent lighter than its predecessor. Massive vents and interior channeling offer major cooling power and aerodynamics.
Put the finishing touches on your road or tri bike with this saddle from Bontrager. The sleek design is efficient enough for a race but comfortable enough for logging hundreds of miles. There are specialized relief and padding zones strategically placed for optimal comfort and performance, as well as a recessed cavity that puts you further onto the saddle to eliminate stress and ease pressure on soft tissue.
Tursted by professional triathletes, the Cosmic Ultimate Tri has a heel lock that enables you to transfer power from your legs through to the pedals without moving your feet in the shoes. The lightweight tri shoe also has a large Velcro strap and oversized heel loop that makes transitions a breeze. You can quickly secure the shoe as you jump on the bike. Plus, the lightweight mesh upper and soft interior quickly wicks wet, sockless feet dry so you're comfortable throughout the entire cycle.
Cycling Water Bottle: ZipStream™ Breakaway Blue 24oz Polar Bottle
ZipStream™ Breakaway Blue 24oz Polar Bottle
The self-sealing valve is clutch during intense training sessions and race day: Simply squeeze the bottle for a strong burst of water to keep you hydrated without any leaking mess. Two walls of plastic encapsulate an insulated layer to keep your water or sport drink cold for twice as long as competitive bottles. The bottle fits standard bike cages and comes with a convenient, removable carrying strap. It's also BPA-free and Phthalate-free.
In the pool, Garmin's multisport wearable can track swimming metrics and measure your heart rate with the water-specific monitor. On land, it can capture your metrics for running, cycling, strength training, hiking, sports (including water sports), even cross-country skiing. And we're not just talking calories burned. The advanced tracking system can measure your VO2 max, lactate threshold, and stress score (with added Recovery Advisor and Race Predictor features), in addition to running/cycling stride length, vertical ratio, ground contact time, power output, platform center offset, and more. Let Garmin serve as your tri trainer—it seamlessly transitions among the sports when put in triathlon mode—so it can expose your weaknesses and keep you on track to blast past personal bests.
Give yourself a range of hydration options with FuelBelt's 3-bottle belt; fill two with water and one with an electrolyte sport beverage to keep you strong from bike to run. The belt itself has an adjustable waistband with soft-to-the-touch Velcro to minimize rubbing, a removable storage pocket (big enough for chapstick, chews, and/or gels), breathable foam padding, and molded holsters for the bottles. Speaking of which, the BPA-free bottles are ergonomically designed to fit your hand comfortably and made from soft silicone.
ASICS' new DynaFlyte™ shoe is the brand's lightest-ever cushioned sneaker—meant for long distance runners who need the speed and lightweight feel of a minimalist shoe but the support of a full-cushioned model. A foam midsole, with grooves that flex, runs the entire length of the shoe to give you responsive bounce-back, surprising flexibility, and feel-good stability that can take you all the way to the finishline without feeling fatigued (okay, *less* fatigued; you are still completing a triathlon after all).
Enjoy optimal ventilation thanks to cushioning enhanced with air channels and a network of mesh vents that wrap around the top of your foot down to the arch. For added breathability, the Trends Tab is crafted with a blend of moisture-wicking fibers. There's also an "articulated footbed" with added cushioning for more padding and better airflow. The socks are tight (there's 200 needle count stitching) and have a reinforced heel and toe for durability. And with anatomically correct designs for both your feet, rest assured the Trends Tab socks will cradle your heels, arches, and toes, and offer loads of support.
Oakley’s lightest sport performance sunglasses (they're also 15 percent lighter than most sport shield sunglasses), the EVZero Path is absolutely perfect for training, cycling, running, and practically anything else you're doing in the great outdoors. Built for speed, the sleek, rimless shield delivers sweeping peripheral fields of view and can be enhanced with Oakley's impressive Prizm lens technology that fine-tunes vision, enhancing colors where your eye is most sensitive to detail. The fit minimizes discomfort: The sunglasses don't press on common pressure points, and they're designed to be flexible so they're comfotable for many face shapes.
Surprisingly lightweight, the durable backpack opens up like a duffel. There's a molded helmet protection compartment, a removable sealed compartment for your dirty laundry and/or wetsuit, an exterior water bottle pocket and small item zippered pocket for valuables, and a fleece-lined top pocket to keep your goggles, sunglasses, mp3 player, and phone. There's even a divided mesh interior storage pockets to keep your gear organized. Basically, storage options are endless. Plus, this bag is airline carry-on compatible so you can travel to any race, fully prepared.
Sunscreen: CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50
CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Neutrogena® CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray offers protection even during the most intense conditions and training sessions. Their new technology allows sweat to pass through and evaporate away while clinically proven, durable protection SPF stays right where it should. Your skin will stay cool and you'll stay more comfortable. The spray offers broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, is sweat resistant for 80 minutes, and is oil free. Just make sure you re-apply!
Drinking one of these 1.7oz HOTSHOTs 15-30 minutes before training can prevent muscle cramping and actually boost your neuromuscular performance by stimulating your nervous system, letting you push harder, train longer, and finish stronger, according to its creators—Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Rod Mackinnon and Harvard neurobiology professor Bruce Bean. HOTSHOT is the only scientifically-proven formula to prevent and treat muscle cramps on the market.
Fair warning: This drink definitely has the kick the bottle alludes to. Albeit sweet, the spices really knock your senses awake.
Chafing is the unbearable, unfortunate side effect of endurance races—whether you're running a marathon or completing a triathlon. Use Body Glide's original anti-chafing, anti-blister balm on your chest to keep your nipples from bleeding (hey it happens—wet fabrics, repetitive motions), along the seams of your shorts to keep the fabric from irritating your skin, or apply it to your feet to keep them from getting rubbed raw. Best for feet, thighs, and upper body.
Cycle Glide Apply the cycle-specific body glide along the seams of your shorts to prevent your bike frame, seat, or shorts from irritating your skin and, well, protecting your junk from getting saddle sores. This will keep you on the bike longer, deliver a more comfortable ride on the saddle, and let your skin breathe. The main difference between these two is Cycle Glide has more allantoin, a plant extract used in cosmetics, toiletries, and pharmaceuticals that moisturizes, increases the water content of skin cells, promotes cell growth, which is crucial to wound healing; acts as an anti-irritant. Best for saddle sores.
Knee braces aren't practical for triathlons. They're not flexible, they're useless in water, and can get in your way when you bike. KT TAPE® PRO EXTREME™ can provide extra support to worn-down joints, relieve pain from muscle strain, and keep your ligaments, joints, and bones exactly where they should be. The elastic sports tape is made from a synthetic material and the company's strongest adhesive. You get maximum durability that feels as fresh as when you first applied it. It can last 4-7 days at a time. This variety is meant to provide support and pain relief during strenuous activity in extreme conditions: wet weather, high heat, intense humidity (or oily skin).
Created for daily training and competition, GU Energy Gel packs are portable fuel. The energy-dense 100-calorie gel can sustain the energy demands of any activity and duration. It contains carbs (maltodextrin and fructose) that help maximize carbohydrate absorption and utilization throughout the body while limiting stomach distress. The gel also has sodium, the primary electrolyte lost in sweat, which aids in maintaining your water balance and keeping you hydrated, as well as branched-chain amino acids (leucine, valine, and isoleucine) that may reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. Oh, and the 20mg of caffeine doesn't hurt either.
Don't like gels? No problem. During your bike or run, pop a Clif SHOT Blok Chew in your mouth for a quick burst of energy. Each individual cube has 33 carb-dense calories and 50 mg of caffeine, making it simple to customize and track your caloric and electrolyte intake.