It is important for beginners to know what they really need for their first triathlons and where they can save money. I listed below the only gear you really need for your first triathlon ordered by when you will need them on race day.
This article is intended for triathletes on their way to their first triathlon. If you are already more experienced, check this article instead.
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
It is the only gear you will use from the start to the finish line of your races. Apart from looking more like a triathlete, a tri suit will make your life easier during the two transitions. You won’t need to worry about changing clothes.
For your first triathlon, I’d recommend buying a budget tri suit (available in one piece or two pieces). Don’t spend too much money on your first tri suit. The chances are quite high that it won’t fit you in a year or two (losing weight is an added benefit of doing so much sport 🙂 ).
Look at this article for more information about tri suits.
If you forget it on race day, you will definitely regret it! Also, make sure you apply the sunscreen once you have your race tri suit on and not only a t-shirt (speaking from experience… 🙂 )
Having a micro towel will come in handy in transition 1 for drying your feet quickly while getting ready.
Even though they are not mandatory according to the official triathlon rules, I can’t really imagine swimming freestyle without them.
If you wear prescription glasses, you will be happy to read that prescription swim goggles also exist! My husband wrote an entire article about them.
It is generally provided by the race organizer and mandatory in most races. If you want to use your own, you will need to wear the official one on top of it.
Triathlon wetsuits are a specific type of wetsuit. They might be compulsory depending on the race location and the water temperature. As they are quite expensive, a good option for your first triathlon is to rent one. I rented one for my first race and paid roughly $25 for one weekend.
If you want to learn more about triathlon wetsuits, read this article.
A BIKE IN GOOD CONDITION
You definitely do not need to invest in a specific triathlon bike for your first triathlon. I suggest using either a road bike or a mountain bike (the latter only for short-distance triathlons). Be aware that race organizers will check that your bike is in good condition.
Simply mandatory in all triathlon races. You won’t be able to enter the transition area without one.
No need to purchase the fanciest one here ;). Just make sure they fit you well and don’t move up and down while running and biking.
It is obviously a kit you should not forget if you have clipless pedals. If you don’t, don’t worry about it.
BIKE REPAIR KIT
If you do super sprint or sprint triathlons, you can risk racing without a bike repair kit. Just be aware that you might need to walk 🙂
Otherwise, there are a couple of options to carry a bike repair kit: in an integrated storage place found on some triathlon bikes, in a specific bottle that goes into a standard mount cage, or in a small saddlebag.
I like risk, so I usually go without one. My husband, on the other hand, is using a saddlebag. He currently has the Castelli mini (Amazon Affiliate Link). It looks really small on the bike and at the same time has enough space for a tiny hand pump, a lightweight innertube, a CO2 inflator and cartridge, 2 small tire levers, a multi-tool, some cash, and a chain-link.
Take some nutrition and a bottle of water with you. Don’t overdo it if you are doing a short-distance triathlon.
RACE NUMBER BELT
The main purpose of those belts is to attach your bib number. You can find all types of race belts, from a simple string to a belt that will hold a water bottle and nutrition. You can expect to pay roughly between $10 to $30.
I am currently trying the one from Kitbrix (Amazon Affiliate Link), which is easily adjustable, but at the same time, holds in place. There are also some holes to take up to 6 gels with you.
RUNNING HAT OR VISOR
It can help to keep your head cool on hot days.
There is a big debate amongst triathletes on whether to use socks. However, I would definitely recommend using some for your first races, especially if you aren’t used to running without them.
Make sure you already ran in those shoes before the race.
Apart from sweat, you might be completely wet or muddy. So make sure you have some warm clothes waiting for you after the race.
WHAT YOU DON’T ABSOLUTELY NEED FOR YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON:
I just wanted to emphasize a couple of the gear you don’t absolutely need to reassure new triathletes:
- A triathlon bike: You might think that everyone rides a triathlon bike on race day. Well, it is definitely not the case.
- Excessive nutrition: If you are doing a short course triathlon, you don’t need three water bottles and five gels! Keep things simple, and try it during your training sessions. There are some gels I simply can’t eat.
- Transition bag: Probably one of my favorite gears for race day. However, you don’t really need it for your first one. If you are interested to learn more, check this article.
- Triathlon watch: You don’t need a specific triathlon watch for your first race, except if you are a data geek like my husband. In this case, here is an article you want to read.
I hope this article gives you a better idea of what you need for your first triathlon. It might be daunting when you see all gears experienced triathletes have but keep it simple: invest in what you can afford and upgrade over the years.