The Only Gears You Really Need For Your First Triathlon


When I started triathlon, I quickly realized how expensive the sport could be. The number of gears available is so large that it can be daunting for beginners to know what you really need for your first triathlons and where you can save money.

There is no limit on the number of gears you can possess in triathlon. However, you don’t need to break the bank, especially not for your first triathlon. This article will help you differentiate between what you will need for your first triathlon and the gears you can live without.

Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON:

  • Tri-suit: 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 entire transitions. You won’t need to worry about changing clothes.
    For your first triathlon, look at the budget tri suits (available in one piece or two pieces), it costs $50 to $100. If you want to have more information about tri suits, check this article.
  • Swim goggles: Even though they are not mandatory according to the official triathlon rules, I can’t really imagine swimming freestyle without them. If you are wearing prescription glasses, you will be happy to read that prescription swim goggles also exist! My husband wrote an entire article about them.
  • Swimcap: 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.
  • Wetsuit: Depending on the race location and the weather, a wetsuit might be compulsory. My husband and I personally rented one for our first races.
  • Bike in good condition: As I wrote in the article “Don’t Worry About Which Bike To Use For Your First Triathlon,” you only need a bike that is working properly, no need to invest in a brand new one for your first triathlon. Be aware that race organizers will check that your bike is in good condition.
My husband and his brother during their first Sprint Triathlon
  • Helmet: simply mandatory in all triathlon races. 
  • Cycling shoes: It is obviously a kit you should not forget if you have clipless pedals. If you don’t, just don’t worry about it.
  • Bike repair kit: It is worth investing in a basic repair puncture kit. After buying it, you should also practice using it 😉 
  • Race number belt: Depending on the models, it will cost you between $10 to $15. I personally bought the Compressport (Amazon affiliate link) with three attaches for holding the number plus a couple of gel holders. I used it for all triathlon and running events.
  • Sunscreen, sunglass, hat (or visor): Obviously only for sunny days. If you forget those, you might regret it after being a couple of hours under the sun. Also, make sure you apply the sunscreen once you have your race tri-suit on and not only a t-shirt (speaking from experience… 🙂 )
  • Socks: If you are using them
  • Running shoes: make sure you already ran in those shoes before the race.
  • Towel: for the transition area
  • Nutrition & water bottle: take some nutrition and a bottle of water with you. Don’t overdo it if you are doing a short distance triathlon.
  • Post-race clothes: Apart from sweat, you might be completely wet or muddy. Make sure you have some warm clothes waiting for you after the race.

WHAT YOU DON’T ABSOLUTELY NEED FOR YOUR FIRST TRIATHLON:

There are a lot of items you don’t need for your first triathlon. It makes no sense to list all of them. I just wanted to emphasize a couple of them 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 simply 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 gear. You don’t need it during your first triathlon. After this first race, have a look at my article: Are Triathlon Bags Really So Useful?
  • Triathlon watch: Except if you are a data geek like my husband, you don’t need a specific triathlon watch for your first race. As for transition bags, they are really useful once you are more into triathlon: The Right Time To Buy A Triathlon Watch

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.

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