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Gear

2014 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Women’s-Specific Gear

Made-for-women gear with thoughtful design details can make a difference in comfort and performance.

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Made-for-women gear with thoughtful design details can make a difference in comfort and performance.

Run kit

Oiselle’s Lux Layer Top ($78, Oiselle.com) feels like a second skin, thanks to the super-soft blend fabric that hugs the arms and upper torso but flares slightly for a forgiving tummy fit. The top feels breathable but still protects against the early-spring chill. The Stride compression short ($35) is designed to fit snugly yet flatter, and the wide yoga-pants-style waistband won’t pinch your midsection. A small zip pocket lets you stash a key or gel and forget about it.

Sports Bra

The Lululemon Energy Bra ($48, Lululemon.com) offers light to moderate support, making it a good option for smaller-to-average builds or for cycling and lower-impact cross-training activities like yoga. (Our tester put this bra through the paces in run training as well, and felt it offered sufficient support for her B-cup size.) The technical fabric is soft and moisture wicking, and the crisscross back straps—and colorful print options—make a fun fashion statement.

Run Shoes

Not for the color-shy, the Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 9 (page 82) are packed with tri-specific features such as a mesh upper and perforated sock liner for fast drying and breathability, seamless construction to minimize chafing hot spots, and elastic laces for quick transitions. These shoes are designed to enhance the runner’s natural gait, and offer solid stability and support while being lightweight enough to function as a racing shoe.

Swimsuit

A whimsical print, a flattering cut that covers just enough backside, and a UV-ray-blocking nylon/spandex material makes the Coeur Sports Sea Glass Bikini ($60, Coeursports.com) an attractive choice with an affordable price tag. The suit is anti-microbial (a nice feature if you ever toss it wet into your swim bag), and a black liner prevents any transparency.

Triathlon kit

Women’s-specific brand SOAS Racing offers a variety of prints, from playful polka dot to sleek all-black to retro cool, as shown in the Vintage Tank and Shorts ($180). But the cut of this race apparel is what really flatters—a longer tank length means you stay fully covered and aren’t tugging at your hemline during a race, and the elastic-free waistband doesn’t put the squeeze on your midsection. Altogether there are five pockets to stash your essentials.

Cycling kit

If you’re looking to invest in staple pieces that will wear and keep beautifully, Rapha is a worthy buy. The ¾ Bib Shorts ($245, Rapha.cc) are fleece-lined for added comfort and warmth, and the bib mesh feels silky-soft against the skin. Details like flatlock stitching (no seams to create chafing) and a female-specific chamois create greater comfort in the saddle. The lightweight Souplesse Jersey ($205) with a classic racing-stripe design can be layered beneath a windbreaker on colder days or worn alone in warm conditions.