For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
The necessities you’ll need to get through the swim and first transition of a triathlon are on this list, featured in the 2014 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide. If you’re just getting started, be sure to also check out the beginner kits for the bike (page 24 in the BG) and run and T2.
Racing in a tri kit is ideal—you wear it under your wetsuit, it dries quickly and it has a built-in chamois (pad) for the bike that doesn’t feel bulky on the run. While some athletes are more comfortable in a one-piece kit, two-piece kits make bathroom breaks easier. The Louis Garneau Pro Top and Pro 6 Shorts are a great option because the cut isn’t too tight, there are ample pockets for storage, and a substantial chamois provides support during the bike leg.
A well-sealing goggle with a good field of vision is critical for getting through the swim leg. The Tyr Special Ops 2.0 has a soft gasket yet provides a reliable seal for a variety of face shapes. Always remember to bring a backup pair on race day.
Bring a brightly colored towel or mat to a race to help you more easily identify your transition area spot in the chaos of T1. It also serves as a clean, dry place to stand (or sit) when removing your wetsuit or putting on your run shoes.
Protect your neck and other potential hotspots with an anti-chafe lubricant such as Mission Athletecare Five-Hour Anti-Chafe Stick ($10, Missionathletecare.com), which is water- and sweat-resistant, and won’t harm your wetsuit like petroleum-based products can.
Protection from sun exposure during training and racing is a must. A sunscreen like Solbar Shield SPF40 ($14, Personandcovey.com), which contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, is ideal for triathlon because it provides maximum UV protection, is very water-resistant and non-greasy.
Schlepping your gear from your car to transition on race morning is made much simpler with a durable, spacious transition bag, such as the Zoot Ultra Tri Bag, which has well-organized compartments for all your essential gear.
Sleeveless wetsuits may give you more range of motion, but full-sleeve suits actually offer more buoyancy, making you faster in the water. The Orca S5 is a great first wetsuit—it’s reasonably flexible and comfortable for a full-sleeve suit, yet is well-priced at $239 (some other full-sleeve suits in the same price range can be inflexible and constricting).