Gear- What do I need?

One of the biggest questions I often get asked is “What gear do I need as a triathlete DSCF4290getting started?”. This is a great question to ask as our sport has a lot of gear that you can buy, but do you really need it to get started?  You’ll need a few basic items such as goggles, tri clothes ( you can’t race naked, the raced directions frown upon that idea) and a bike. Once you have those, you’ll want to look into a few other basics to make your training and racing more enjoyable and successful.


  • Goggles- I don’t have a favorite brand, but fit is very important.  Make sure they are comfortable and have a tight seal around the eye socket.  You don’t want them to leak.  It’s also a good idea to have at least 2 pairs and bring that backup pair to every race.
  • Swim cap- Latex is the cheapest and works very well.  If you don’t like how it feels, you can get a silicone can.  These are very comfortable and easier to put on.
  • Westuit-If you’re racing in early or late season, you’ll need a wetsuit.  Before you invest in one, look to see if you can rent one or borrow one from a friend.  Make sure it is a snug fit or you’ll be dragging a lot of water along with you on your swim.


  • Bike- You don’t need a triathlon specific bike, but you do need a bike that fits you well.  Invest in a bike fit by a professional bike fitter.  A professional bike fit can make a world of difference in making you more comfortable and powerful on your bike. I don’t recommend using a mountain or hybrid bike, you can find a decent road bike that won’t break the bank.
  • Bike shoes and clip pedals- To get the most out of every pedal stroke, you’ll want to invest in these.  There are lots of different styles so take some time chatting with the bike shop staff to see which one might be best for you.  You do need the shoe cleats and pedals to match up or they won’t work together.  I personally like Speedplay pedals.  They have a lot of float and I like being able to have some play in my foot position.
  • Helmet- Absolutely required at all times! Not only do you need to have a helmet for races, but you want to protect your noggin on every training ride outside.  You don’t need an aero helmet, just make sure it is a US CPSC approved helmet.


  • Shoes- Go to a running shoe store and have them fit you.  You’ll want a good pair that fits your needs.
  • Racebelt- Forget the safety pins.  A racebelt will only cost you about $10 and can allow you to quickly put your race number on for the run.

Other Gear

  • Electronics- A device such as a Garmin 920XT can really help you track your progress.  It is very helpful to monitor pace, hear rate, and distance to be able to see improvements.
  • Tri kit- While you can race in a t-shirt and shorts, you will find a tri kit much more comfortable and it will allow you to transition from swim to bike to run without needing to make any adjustments to your clothing.
  • A coach and a plan- Training for a sport that has 3 disciplines can be overwhelming. A coach can help structure a solid training plan that will help you with time management and get you to the finish line with a smile on your face.

For more information on gear, check out Triathlete Magaizine’s Buyer’s Guide.


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