It’s no secret that triathlon is an expensive sport. The amount of equipment, nutrition, apparel, etc. required to get to the start of a triathlon can feel overwhelming. So how do you decide where to cut corners, and where to spend a few extra dollars? Here, Triathlete.com contributor AJ Johnson shares seven triathlon products worth spending your hard-earned money on.
The Feed Athlete Box – $32 and up
Nutrition is a key element for every athlete. To help really dial in what works best for you and stay fueled for every session try the nutrition boxes from The Feed. Simply choose your sport—triathlon, cycling, running or others like skiing and strength training—and The Feed will send you a mix of products designed to help you excel. Each box can be customized so you can try new things, but also continue getting items you like.
The Feed has several partnerships that will help triathletes fuel better. Got an Ironman 70.3 on your schedule this year? Try the Fuel 70.3 Box that features only products you’ll find on the course on race day. Or, try our staff favorites with the Triathlete magazine Box. Thefeed.com
FuelBelt Helium 4 Bottle – $49.95
Staying hydrated on your run is critically important to consistent training. Take plenty of water with you using the new Helium 4 Bottle from FuelBelt. The waterproof and lightweight hex foam used for the belt keeps it flexible so it moves with you. Fully loaded with four bottles, it is easy to find the right mix between being tight enough not to move but still comfortable. The front closure velcro is very soft and doesn’t catch your shirt and tear it up. The single zipper pocket is large enough to hold an iPod, your phone or keys and can be removed if needed. The 7 ounce bottles are BPA free and use a soft top closure that pops up easily. Fuelbelt.com
Rapha Merino Wool Base Layers – $85
Base layers are one of those pieces of apparel that you may not give much thought to, until you find one that feels great on your skin. The Merino Base Layer from Rapha is one of those pieces. The merino wool is great at moving moisture and controlling odor, but it also has a soft, supple feel to it. The seams are strategically placed so that it moves with you and the longer back keeps you covered when on the road. Don’t think that merino is only for colder temperatures either, it performed well during trainer sessions where my sweat rate was at it’s highest. If you do want a lighter version, try the Merino Mesh Base Layer that uses a mesh construction for a lighter weight and improved breathability. While just a style point, it’s also nice to see other colors offered besides white, gray and black. Rapha.cc
Zoot Ultra Tri Bag 2.0 – $125
The perfect bag for traveling—either to a daily workout or to your big race. There are several compartments that will help you stay organized. One side of the main compartment features a removable wet bag to keep it separate from the rest of your gear. The other side has two large zipper compartments for other bits like your shoes, race belt, and other necessities. The outside features a hard case helmet pod, though it won’t fit a full aero lid. There are also other smaller pockets for the smaller items you want. The two water bottle pockets help you to stay hydrated on the way. The shaped shoulder straps and hipbelt help carry the load comfortably. Zootsports.com
Suunto Ambit3 Peak with Heart Rate Strap – $650
The Ambit3 Peak from Suunto is a do-it-all watch for triathletes. Of course it has all the standards like heart rate, speed, GPS, pace, and more. But it goes further than that. It has swim functions like recorded heart rate, open-water pace and distance, stroke efficiency, and more. Record your power on the bike from any Bluetooth Smart device. For the run, it tracks pace, distance, cadence and more. Other features like weather and navigation help you stay safe. Altitude is incredibly accurate since it uses both GPS and barometric pressure.
For those long training sessions and race day, set it on 5 second recording and the Ambit3 will last for 30 hours. All of this is put in a fairly small package on your wrist. The wristband is soft, flexible and comfortable. On four hour rides and long runs I never noticed it, which is a good thing. Usability is simple with five buttons. Navigation can be a bit complex, but the screen is clear and easy to read. Suunto.com
Profile Design 58/78 TwentyFour Wheelset – $2000
While $2000 is not a small amount of money, when it comes to deep section carbon wheels, it does run near the lesser expensive options on the market. That doesn’t mean you don’t get what you pay for with the TwentyFour series from Profile Design. They partnered with Computational Fluid Dynamic experts, modeled wind angles from various courses, and used their own knowledge of aerodynamics to create what they felt was the best rim shape for a variety of yaw angles. A 24.5mm wide rim (hence the name) is used for better aerodynamics and increased comfort. The 58mm front offers aerodynamics and control, while the 78mm is focused on wind-cheating speed. Both have a full carbon rim to keep weight down. The freehubs are machined from 7001-T6 aluminum, use sealed bearing and spin very smoothly. Both rims are laced to the hub using Sapim CX-Ray spokes.
At speed, these wheels hold their momentum and feel very smooth. One aspect that can’t be overlooked is the brake feel. Used with the supplied brake pads, the feel was solid and consistent with no sudden gripping. Cornering was solid and predictable. While I can’t speak fully to their durability, over my couple hundred of miles I have yet to have any issues. A great bang-for-your-buck product, these are also available as a tubular and disc brake compatible set. Profile-design.com
CycleOps Silencer – $659.00
If you have to go indoors, it’s worth upgrading to a trainer that will let you get the most from every session. The Silencer from CycleOps is a great option, combining a solid platform and easy bike mounting with a smooth feel and adjustable level of resistance. Using a magnetic resistance unit, there are 5 levels of resistance to choose from. In my use, level 4 was enough for me, so for those that want to do a lot of maximal efforts should have no worries. It is great for steady efforts with a smooth feel that mimics the road very well.
At over 40 pounds and with a stout base, the Silencer doesn’t wobble under power. Getting your bike on is easy with the two large cam handles to secure it down. The Silencer accepts 10 and 11 speed cassettes, and can be used with a tri, road, or even mountain bike. As the name implies, the Silencer is one of the quieter trainers on the market. At no time did I have to crank up my music to drown out the slight whir of the trainer. The Silencer proves that riding inside doesn’t have to be a loud, shaky experience. Cycleops.com