I have learned about transition bags in my second year into triathlon through a Youtube video. I initially didn’t think I would need one. However, my opinion changed after one particular triathlon race, where the transition was far away from the parking. So let’s check that in more detail.
1. WHAT EXACTLY IS A TRANSITION BAG?
A transition bag is a backpack designed specifically for the needs of triathletes. It is large enough to fit all triathlon gears in one place and, at the same time, well compartmented so that triathletes don’t lose any time looking for specific gear.
The perfect moment to use a transition bag is during race weekends. It makes packing, traveling, and entering the transition area a much easier experience. Sometimes, you can let your bag in transitions. Sometimes, the race organizers will force you to use dedicated boxes/bags instead of your bag.
2. CONSIDER THE VOLUME OF THE BAG YOU WANT
Transition bags vary between 25L and 70L and can have rectangular or squared shapes. I was surprised by how bulky some of the triathlon bags really are. The bag should be big enough to fit all your gear, but it is nevertheless surprising when you put it on your back. Unfortunately, I needed to return the first bag I ordered (70L). I could have never used it on my daily train commute.
To give you a better idea of the size of transition bags, my bag is 40L, and I am 5’9 tall (or 176cm). I can easily fit all my gears in it:
When looking at different models, you should consider as well their dimensions. Not all of them will be suited for commuting or as hand luggage in an airplane. Some bags can fit the helmet inside the bag, whereas others have a strap on the outside to retain it.
3. ORGANIZED COMPARTMENTS
All transition bags have several compartments and pockets. That is great to keep things organized as long as you define each gear’s specific place and stick with it. Some bags have way too many pockets. In this case, it becomes more of a burden than a real advantage.
4. A WET COMPARTMENT IS NICE TO HAVE
A wet compartment with a hole that lets the water out is a nice to have feature. You will find some transition bags with it. Otherwise, you can simply use a plastic bag for putting all your swimming gear after using them.
5. PICK ONE BAG THAT YOU CAN CARRY ON YOUR SHOULDERS
Having one single backpack allows you to ride your bike to the transition. I have done a couple of events where the transitions were more than a mile away from the parking places. I can tell you I was happy to have one single bag.
6. MULTI-PURPOSE BAGS
I use my transition bag at every race and often during the week for my daily training. All my swim gears (fins, pull buoy, paddles, bottles) fit perfectly in this bag. My bag doesn’t have hard edges, so I have no problem using it as hand luggage as long as I don’t fill it.
7. A TRANSITION BAG COSTS BETWEEN $50 AND $300
Is it worth spending $300 on a triathlon bag? If you plan to use it only for races, then 100% no. On the other hand, if you plan to use it as a lifestyle bag as well, why not? That’s up to you and your budget.
There are also some swim bags that you can use as a triathlon bag. They are not made especially for triathletes, so you don’t get as many compartments but are generally much cheaper.
MY TRANSITION BAG RECOMMENDATION
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
I think you can fit all your gears easily in a 35L-40L bag or even in a smaller one if the helmet can be held on the outside.
I bought the Liv Trilliant Tri Bag (link to Liv website) at a local shop. It is big enough to fit everything but not too big that I can still bring it to work when I go swimming afterward. It is unfortunately not that easy to find online anymore.
FIND YOUR TRANSITION BAG
Here are the main transition bags currently on the market (ordered by volume).
|Bag Name||Vol.||Budget||Check Price|
|Zoot Ultra Tri Backpack||25L||$$$||Zoot||https://zootsports.com/collections/bags/products/transition-bag-2-1|
|Roka Utility Pack||30L||$$$$||Roka||https://www.roka.com/collections/backpacks/products/utility-pack|
|Aptonia Transition Bag||35L||$$||Decathlon||https://www.decathlon.com/products/triathlon-transition-bag-35-l-aptonia-196551|
|DHB Transition Bag||35L||$$||Wiggle||https://www.wiggle.com/dhb-transition-bag|
|Elite Tri Box Bag||38L||$$$||Amazon||https://www.amazon.com/Elite-0143101-Triathlon-Transition-Black/dp/B00NJYDCV8?crid=27GK6O9YNCB1I&keywords=Elite+Tri+Box+Bag&qid=1648111242&sprefix=elite+tri+box+bag%2Caps%2C162&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=d10cf5b0908275bdf1f3e686881bf1a1&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|Roka Transition Pack||38L||$$$$||Roka||https://www.roka.com/collections/backpacks/products/the-transition-pack|
|Zone3 Transition Bag||40L||$$$||Amazon||https://www.amazon.com/Zone3-Transition-Backpack-Navy-Orange/dp/B079Y73SQG?crid=3FRHTK9BSDIGN&keywords=zone+3+transition+bag&qid=1648123904&sprefix=zone+3+transition+bag%2Caps%2C192&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=4f5587b98bad1cf6e67bef865cc53634&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|HUUB TT Bag||40L||$$$||Wiggle||https://www.wiggle.com/huub-tt-bag|
|Liv Trilliant Tri Bag||40L||$$$||Liv||https://www.liv-cycling.com/au/liv-trilliant-tri-bag|
|Zoot Ultra Tri Bag||42L||$$$||Zoot||https://zootsports.com/products/ultra-tri-bag-2-1|
|Blueseventy Transition Bag||44L||$$$||Amazon||https://www.amazon.com/blueseventy-Helix-Bag-Triathlon-Backpack/dp/B08CPGH7QM?crid=2E24J7PUO6J3G&keywords=Blueseventy+Transition+Bag&qid=1648124063&sprefix=blueseventy+transition+bag%2Caps%2C206&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=0d61ecdfc3759618db8b81a169541d4e&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|Tyr Alliance Backpack||45L||$$||Amazon||https://www.amazon.com/TYR-Alliance-Backpack-Black-45/dp/B01HCOKB1Y?crid=D5VQXTE5CYEW&keywords=TYR+Alliance+Backpack&qid=1648123874&sprefix=tyr+alliance+backpack%2Caps%2C351&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=fe7262a0648ccffb404cf6364d1e8533&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|Orca Transition Backpack||50L||$$$||Orca||https://www.orca.com/us-en/transition-backpack/|
|Sundried Triathlon Backpack||50L||$$$||Sundried||https://www.sundried.com/products/sundried-triathlon-backpack|
|De Soto Transition Pack V8||65L||$$$||De Soto||https://www.desotosport.com/collections/accessories/products/transition-pack-v8|
|Orca Transition Bag||70L||$$$||Amazon||https://www.orca.com/us-en/transition-bag/|
If I miss one transition bag from a known triathlon brand, please email Clément and me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A transition bag is one of the 20 essential triathlon gear on our list for race day, have a look at this article to find out more about the 19 others.