What to Wear for a Triathlon

author : Amy Kuitse
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Do you have your first triathlon coming up? This article will give you a few tips on what to wear for your triathlon.

As the big day for our key race approaches we find ourselves focusing in on more details of the race day.   One of those focuses does end up on what we will wear and how important is the gear that we are wearing.  Depending on who you ask you are likely to get a number of different answers, but the important thing to take from any of the responses you get is...MAKE SURE WHAT YOU ARE WEARING IS COMFORTABLE TO YOU!!!!

You can go to your computer to search various types of triathlon gear and you will find hundreds of items available to you in all sizes and colors.  Pictures of the gear look appealing, it looks great on the model wearing it, but will it be comfortable on you?  How do you know what brand(s) to consider and determine what options will be best for you?  These are some of the questions I find myself responding to and continue hearing myself say, "Make sure it is comfortable to you."

How do we determine if something is going to be comfortable to us and is it really possible to go through a trial/error with all the gear that is available to us??  It is not possible to buy everything on the market, but there are certainly ways to put in some trial/error situations without blowing our budget and making this more complicated than it needs to be.  

One way to do this is to purchase gear you will use for training as well as racing.  This way it becomes a multi-use item and if it does not work for long race days you may find yourself able to use it for shorter training days.  Another consideration is to buy items at the end of the season that are on sale and do some trial/error training through the winter months with this gear.  Definitely ask other triathletes for their recommendations and talk to triathletes who are racing the same distances and are similar in size.  This is not to say if one athlete is racing a sprint and is 110lbs and you are racing a ½ iron distance and are 125lbs that the gear will not be comfortable.  It is meant to acknowledge previous conversations with other athletes that have commented on finding their race distance and size has factored into what they find most comfortable.  

'Snug' clothing

Another thing to consider with the comfort factor is the actual types of gear.  Not from a brand perspective but from the clothing type itself.  This clothing is meant to be snug, it’s made from a technical fabric so it helps to keep you cool, dry and it “moves" with you while swim, bike, and running. 

Tri shorts come in various inseam lengths, lower waistbands, various width waistbands, and different types of band around the leg to keep the short snuggly around the thigh. 

Tri Tops are generally sleeveless, have pockets on the side or back and can have a loose or snug fit along the waist line.  

One piece tri suits usually have a zipper in the front, have different inseam lengths, and can have various sleeve “cuts.” 

Bathing suits are also available and can be found as a one or two piece combination.  There are triathlon specific suits that will have a thin lining in the crotch of the suit to help with comfort on the bike. 

Sock brands can have slightly different feels based on the fabric, thickness of the fabric, and the seams in the sock themselves.

All in all, what you wear is really a matter of personal preference. The gear discussed in this article can be purchased specifically made for men and women to help address the differences in our body types. 


The most popular
of the list above is the combination of tri tops and shorts.  This gives the triathlete the flexibility to combine different brands and replace part of the gear if one piece is damaged or wears out.  

Before you race

1.  Wash your new gear before training or racing in it.  This will help soften the fabrics, wear down any rough pieces of fabric, and simply help to “break-in” the new gear. 

2.  Wear the new gear at least once during a big training day just to make sure it is set and ready to go for race day. 

3.  After you have determined what is best for you, consider having a separate set of gear for race day.  There is this little added extra “zing” that goes along with putting on your race day uniform, racing shoes, race wheels, etc, that adds to the excitement of race day.

Below is a small list of the various brands and websites that carry triathlon gear.  This is a very small list as compared to what you will find on a quick Google search.
    Sugoi                  triathletesports.com
    DeSoto                trisports.com
    2XU                     onetri.com
    SheBeest             all3sports.com
    Speedo                nytro.com
    Louis Garneau      tyr.com
    Title 9                 pearlizumi.com

All the best to everyone as you head into your final races of the season.  Be comfortable as you PR to finish up the 2010 season.


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date: October 19, 2010

Amy Kuitse