2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Gear Essentials Checklist

The basic must-haves to get started in the sport of triathlon, as featured in the 2013 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.

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The basic must-haves to get started in the sport of triathlon, as featured in the 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide. Pick up the guide on newsstands now, or check out the online version. See the page numbers listed throughout the article for an idea of where to find more information about the essentials.1. Wetsuit: Not just for warmth, a triathlon-specific wetsuit (page 18) will also help you stay afloat while swimming. Make sure to test it out a few times in open water before your race to get used to the tightness.

2. Wetsuit lubricant: Swimming in a wetsuit can easily cause chafing on your neck or under your arms, so make sure you lubricate these areas with a product like BodyGlide or TriSlide.

3. Goggles: Clear and comfortable vision during racing is critical, so try out goggles (page 16) at the store to make sure they fit your face and offer a tight seal. Ideally, you should have two pairs—one with clear or light tint for swimming indoors or in cloudy conditions, and one with a smoke tint for sunny days.

4. Tri kit: Designed to be worn for swim, bike and run, a one- or two-piece tri kit (page 104) saves valuable time in transition on race day. Kits are made for smooth layering under a wetsuit, dry quickly on the bike, and have a thin chamois to make the ride more comfortable but not feel bulky on the run.

5. Bike: If you’re new to the sport and preparing for a local sprint race, your beach cruiser or mountain bike will work. If you’re getting serious about racing triathlon, start thinking about adding clip-on aero- bars to a road bike (page 60) before stepping up to a triathlon bike (page 30). Whether you borrow or buy, make sure your ride visits a local bike shop for a tune- up before race day.

RELATED – 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Bikes

6. Helmet: There’s nothing more important than protecting your noggin on the bike, and aero helmets (page 56), while faster in the aero position, protect your head just as well as any typical lid. Make sure it fits well: It should sit level on your head and line up with the middle of your forehead, without wiggling.

7. Bike shorts: While a tri kit is great for race day, you’ll want a thicker chamois for long training rides—not only for the extra padding, but also for the microfiber material that prevents chafing.

8. Tool kit: Installed underneath your saddle, a basic tool kit should contain a spare tube, tire levers (to remove your tire), a patch kit and a mini-pump or CO2 inflator. Flat tires are inevitable, so always be prepared!

9. Sunglasses: Important for both the bike and run, a pair of sunglasses will not only protect your eyes from the sun, but also from wind, rain and the way- ward insect. Look for UVA and UVB protection, and make sure they’re shatterproof.

10. Run shoes: Worn-out shoes can cause injury, so new shoes are worth the investment when the time comes. Visit a running specialty store for a gait analysis, then invest in some appropriate footwear (page 86). Most standard training shoes are good for 300-500 miles.

11. Socks: Unless you already run blister-free with- out socks, don’t try it at a race. Splurge on some wool or synthetic socks so you don’t limp across the finish line with burning heels.

12. Water bottles: For short-course racing, don’t overthink nutrition—the on-course stuff, plus a bottle of water and a bottle of your favorite sports drink on the bike, will get you to the finish line.

RELATED – 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Running Shoes

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