Are Transition Bags Really So Useful?


I have learned about transition bags in my second year into triathlon through a Youtube video. I originally 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. Let’s check that in more detail.

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 that triathletes don’t lose any time looking for specific gear. Having a waterproof section is a must-have feature for any good transition bag.

Over the last years, I realized that there were many other advantages to it.

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

MAIN ADVANTAGES OF TRANSITION BAGS

  1. All your triathlon gears in one place: I used to have a couple of bags that I would take with me during races. Having only one makes everything much easier. I am less worried that I forget gears.
  2. 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.
  3. Wet and dry compartments: You will find either a fully waterproof section or a plastic bag that you can use for putting all your swimming gear. 
  4. Easy to transport your gears into transition: having a 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 kilometer away from the parking places. I can tell you I was happy to have one single bag.
  5. Make it simple to organize your transition area: some bags can be unfolded in your transition area, so everything is in an ideal place. Please note that some race organizers will force you to use dedicated boxes instead of your bag, so make sure to check the rules before the race.
    keep your gears dry on rainy racing days
  6. Multi-purpose (swimming, travels, etc.): I use my transition bag at every race and weekly 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.

CONSIDER THE VOLUME OF THE BAG YOU WANT

Transition bags vary between 25L and 70L and can have rectangular or squared shapes. I was actually 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. I needed to return the first bag I ordered. 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 (see pictures at the end of this article).

If you have a local tri shop nearby, I definitely recommend you to go there.

When looking at the different models, you should consider as well the dimension of it. 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.

PRICE OF TRANSITION BAGS

The majority of transition bags cost 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.

COMPARISON OF THE BEST TRANSITION BAGS

Here are the main transition bags currently on the market (ordered by volume). The Amazon and Wiggle links below are affiliate links, which means I would receive a commission if you are buying those at no extra cost to you.

Bag NameVol.Dimensions
(inches)*
Dimensions
(cm)*
Current prices
Zoot Ultra Tri Backpack25L20x14x651x36x15Wiggle
Roka Utility Pack30L20x13x951x33x23Roka
Aptonia Transition Bag35LNCNCDecathlon
Elite Tri Box Bag38L17x15x942x38x24Amazon
Roka Transition Pack38L22x13x956x33x23Roka
Tyr Apex Transition Bag40L20x14x1251x34x31Amazon
Zone3 Transition Bag40L21x14x953x35x22Amazon
HUUB TT Bag40L24x13x860x34x20Wiggle
Liv Trilliant Tri Bag40L22x14x855x35x19Liv
Zoot Ultra Tri Bag42L24x14x661x36x15Wiggle
Blueseventy Transition Bag44L22x14x856x36x20Amazon
Orca Transition Backpack50L20x14x850x35x21Amazon
De Soto Transition Pack V865L22x14x1356x36x33Amazon
Orca Transition Bag70L26x14x1367x36x32Amazon

*The dimensions are sadly not always correct on the manufacturer’s website. I sent them emails when I see errors, but unfortunately, I don’t possess all those bags.

If I miss one transition bag from a known triathlon brand, please email Clément and me at clement.mytriworld@gmail.com

OUR CURRENT TRANSITION BAGS

I currently own the Liv Trilliant Tri Bag (link to Liv website), which is big enough to fit everything but not too big that I can still bring it to work when I go swimming afterward.

Here are some pictures of all the gears we take to triathlon races. It might give you a better idea of the size of the transition bag. My bag has a volume of 40L, and I’m 5’9 tall (or 176cm).

My husband, Clément, uses the Tyr Apex (Amazon affiliate link). The bag has a volume of 40L, and my husband is 6’1 tall (186cm).

We both 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. 

Transition bags might not be the first gear you think about when starting triathlon. As you could see above, it can be really beneficial during race day and in your everyday life. The choice is big enough to find one that fits your need.

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