The Definitive Guide to Triathlon Training Gear & Accessories

The Definitive Guide to Triathlon Training Gear & Accessories

The right gear and equipment can make the training process more comfortable, efficient, and enjoyable, but it's easy to get lost in the long list of non-essential triathlon gear and accessories. As you gain experience, you'll get a better sense of what items are necessary for you and your unique training and racing needs. In this article we compile an exhaustive set of the most commonly used gear for triathletes, and help you decipher which are critical must-haves, and which are simply nice-to-haves.

Triathlon Training Essentials

These are the bare necessities for training each of triathlon's three disciplines. If you're set on training for a tri, you'll need to make sure you've got this equipment.

Training Essentials For Swim 🏊

  • Swim goggles - the most important criteria here: (1) comfort - you'll be wearing them for a while, so make sure they don't hurt, (2) visibility - you're going to need to be able to see marker buoys out on the course - make sure you can do that
  • Swimsuit (or Jammer -- for men)
  • Swim cap - reduce drag and keep hair out of your face
  • Wetsuit - improve buoyancy and body posture, and keep your body warm in cold water swims
  • Open water safety buoy - you'll need to swim in open water; this tool helps make sure (1) you're highly visible to any boats in the area, and (2) you've got a floatation device always within reach if you need it.

Training Essentials For Bike 🚴

  • Bike: you'll want a road or triathlon bike; you can get by with other frame styles if it's your first race, but don't sacrifice on fit if you're buying one; find a local bike shop and get sized for a frame before you make a purchase.
  • Helmet - an aero helmet will help you look the part, but it's not needed; a road bike helmet will work just fine
  • Cycling shoes - these provide efficient pedal strokes and power transfer by keeping your feet attached to the bike
  • Pedals - They're spendy, but I'm a big fan of Speedplay Pedals
  • Cycling shorts or bibs - These Sponeed Bike Shorts are a great value
  • Cycling jersey or top - pick one that's tight-fitting and high-visibility
  • Sunglasses - They're going to get broken, dirty, scratched or lost; just buy a cheap pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lenses
  • Water bottles - you'll lose a few; get extra, and buy cheap, BPA-free ones
  • Safety lights - be seen; stay alive -- never leave home without them

Training Essentials For Running 🏃

Training for the run requires a lot fewer accessories, but there are still a few nice-to-have items you may want to consider:

  • Running shoes - like a bike, fit really matters here. Find a local running shop with a good reputation for helping people find a well-fitting shoe, and have them help you find a match for your foot and stride
  • Running shorts - lightweight and breathable shorts designed for running
  • Running top - moisture-wicking and breathable clothing designed for running
  • Sunglasses - use the same, cheap pair you wear on your bike
  • Running hat - lightweight and breathable 

    Nice-To-Have Triathlon Accessories

    These tools are the most commonly used, non-essential tools, gear and accessories, broken down by the three disciplines of triathlon.

    Nice-To-Have Accessories For Swim Training 🏊

    • Training snorkel - handy tool for helping learn an efficient swim stroke
    • Swim paddles - provide resistance training; improve upper body strength
    • Kick fins - improve kick technique
    • Kick board - immobilizes your arms; helps you develop proper kick technique
    • Pull buoy - learn proper body posture and build upper body strength

      Nice-To-Have Accessories For Bike Training 🚴

      This next section are accessories that are not necessary, but really nice to have:

      • Spare inner tubes - you will eventually get a flat; be prepared and pack one of these in your kit, or make some good friends who will pick you up in a pinch
      • Tire levers - when you eventually do get a flat -- and you will -- these will save time and your fingers; pack them with your spare tube in your kit
      • Tire pump or CO2 inflator - after you repair a flat, you'll have to inflate your tire; that's where these tools come in handy; I actually carry both
      • Threaded CO2 Cartridges - load these into your CO2 inflator to quickly refill a flat tire
      • Bike computer and power meter - track ride data such as distance, speed, and power output in real time
      • Smart Watch - see realtime pace and speed info without need for a bike computer
      • Heart Rate Monitor - measure workout intensity and help with training zones
      • Cycling Gloves - reduce pressure on hands and protect from falls or scrapes
      • Spare bottle cage - if you drink a lot (because you sweat a lot), or ride long distances, you'll need extra water; this is where you'll store them
      • Aero bars - helps you stay in a low-profile, "aero" position during your ride, saving you energy and time
      • Aero bottle - don't like to reach down to grab water bottles? Here's your answer
      • Bento box - you'll wind up eating something on your ride; if you plan to eat a lot, you'll need a place to put all that food -- here's where you put it
      • Chamois butter - saddle sore is no way to be; this will help -- trust us
      • Bike trainer - sometimes weather will push you indoors; here's how you get your bike training done when that happens

      Nice-To-Have Training Accessories For Running 🏃

      • Tights - for the cold, early morning runs
      • Hydration pack - essential for staying hydrated during long runs
      • Running belt - accidents can happen while you're out on a run; bring a phone, and store it here to keep it from bouncing around in your pocket
      • Visibility vest - running on the road in low-light conditions? Get one of these
      • GPS watch or fitness tracker - track run data such as distance, speed, and heart rate
      • Heart Rate Monitor - measure workout intensity and help with training zones
      • Toe socks - long runs = chafing = blisters; these socks help fight that
      • Foot lube - also helps fight toe chafing and blisters

        Nice-To-Have Accessories For Recovery 🧘

        • Foam roller - loosen tight muscles to reduce soreness and improve mobility
        • Yoga mat - cushion and grip for stretching or core exercises
        • Massage ball - release muscle tension and improve circulation
        • Compression wraps - improve circulation, reduce muscle soreness, and keep ice (or heat) packs in place
        • Hot-Cold packs - reduce inflammation, improve circulation, relieve pain, and relax sore muscles
        • Epsom salts - soothe sore muscles and recover faster
        • Massage gun - loosen stubborn tight muscles, and encourage circulation to injured areas
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