A handy guide to building out your triathlon quiver. Lay your base, then learn how to (wisely) move up the gear food chain as you grow your collection.
As you go further down the list, the dollars spent per time saved/training efficacy ratio gets lower. Also bear in mind that gear isn’t always about raw speed, sometimes comfort, ease-of-use, and organization can be worth its weight in gold. Start at Tier 5 and work your way up!
Our beginner guide assumes you have the basics to complete a triathlon and train safely: goggles, cap, swimsuit, bike, helmet, bike shoes and clothing, running shoes and clothing, sunglasses, and necessary nutrition.
Aerobars: Faster with a more powerful and comfortable position when adjusted properly; great for road bikes.
We Recommend: Profile Legacy II | $90
Why? They’re simple, inexpensive, and adjustable.
Clip-In Pedals: The best way to get increased power, a better fit, and prevent injury; requires compatible cycling shoes.
Tri Shorts: Go from start to finish without changing; a thin pad prevents butt soreness and chafing.
Body Lube: Triathlon is all about chafing (and preventing it). Trust us.
Race Belt: Easily put on your required number on the bike or run.
Tri Bag: Dry stuff won’t get wet; all your gear stays organized.
We Recommend: BlueSeventy Transition Bag | $100
Why? Top loading for easy packing, plus a large wet compartment.
Wetsuit: Warmer? Yes. But also faster—floaty neoprene helps sinking bodies improve buoyancy, body position, and become more hydrodynamic.
Foam Roller: Helps get out 90% of the knots you can treat at home.
Quick Laces: Elastics or otherwise, get your running shoes on in a flash.
Tri Bike: More aerodynamic for sure, but also more comfortable for long rides; unseen tri-geometry puts you in a more powerful position, ready to run off the bike.
We Recommend: Kestrel Talon X | $1,700
Why? Has Heritage carbon, a smooth ride, and a low price.
Heart Rate Monitor: Know how hard to go for workouts and racing, but also when to back off.
Indoor Cycling Trainer: Even if you don’t need to train indoors, mount your existing bike on one for more controlled workouts.
GPS Bike Computer: Know speed, distance, and more without needing external sensors; get cadence for even more effective training and racing info.
We Recommend: Lezyne Macro Plus GPS | $100
Why? It’s compact and expandable.
Lightweight Trainers/Race Shoes: Use these on race day or on shorter training days for a speed boost in terms of weight and proprioception.
Aero Helmet: Race-day time savings (when worn properly) are great compared to dollars spent.
We Recommend: Giro Aerohead MIPS | $300
Why? It’s super fast, comes with a removable visor, and is vented.
Our advanced guide assumes you have (most of) the gear in the beginner section.
GPS Smartwatch: Gives you distance, mile pace, wrist-based heart rate, and way more.
We Recommend: Polar Vantage M | $280
Why? Relatively inexpensive with tons of features.
Tri Cycling Shoes: Have water drainage, outward-opening straps, heel tabs, and more neat multisport features.
Aero Water Bottle: Make refilling easier and more aero-efficient.
Bike Fitting: Be faster, more efficient, more comfortable, and less likely to get injured. Just do it.
Tri-Specific Saddle: Built for the aero position, keeps your sensitive parts intact and allows more power with less shifting.
Mid- to High-End Wetsuit: Thinner neoprene means less restriction and more flexibility in the shoulders.
We Recommend: Quintana Roo HydroFive | $480
Why? Comes at a good price, with great flexibility and floatation.
Deep-Section Carbon Wheels: Wheels deeper than 30 mm are faster in most conditions; stay below 55 mm for heavy crosswinds. Carbon helps with lightness and speed, and comfort on rough roads.
Cycling Power Meter: Removes subjective forces like physiological effects, weather conditions, terrain, and more; also helps with race pacing.
Smart Trainer: Train better indoors with built-in power (see above). Most have virtual training environment compatibility (like Zwift), and much more.
“Carbon-Plated” Race Shoes: Cutting-edge tech may make you faster and claims to make you more efficient.
We Recommend: HOKA Carbon X | $180
Why? HOKA is tri-friendly, has a big rocker, and will cost you less $$.
Running Power Meter: Essential for anyone who wants to do effective workouts on trails or mete out their effort on race day.
Disc Wheel: Best on flat or rolling courses with low-to-moderate wind; get tubeless ready for comfort, and prepare for a huge boost at speeds above 20 mph.
We Recommend: Ron AeronX | ~$800
Why? It’s lightweight, can be tubeless ready, and has ceramic bearings.
HUD Goggles: This new tech makes a huge difference in how you train by giving real-time data as you swim.
Ceramic Bearing Bits: Think: bottom bracket, wheel hubs, and derailleur pulleys. You’ll get some free watts, and they’ll last longer (assuming you take care of them).
We Recommend: CeramicSpeed Bottom Bracket | Starting at $360
Why? Industry standard design and super well-made.