Triathlon equipment: 10 essentials for beginners


The recent success of GB triathletes has increased interest in the sport and led to growing numbers of eager newcomers donning tri-suits for the very first time. Triathlons provide a stern test of fitness and endurance, and provide greater variety than cycling, running or swimming alone. 

It’s no surprise that triathlons are becoming more popular. Sprint triathlons have made the sport more accessible for beginners, giving them a chance to compete in a genuine race environment with only minimal preparation. Triathlon maintains the reputation of being a hard-core sport with a huge barrier to entry, but that simply isn’t the case. Sure, you can’t expect to complete an Ironman-length triathlon after only a week’s training, but you’ll certainly be able to have a good shot at a decent time in a super-sprint or sprint triathlon. In addition, the equipment required for your first triathlon is very limited. In fact, you might already have many of the essential items needed to compete. We’ve put together a brief list of the gear you’ll need for your first ever triathlon.

#1: A bike

If you want to compete in a full-length triathlon, you might want to invest in a bike that’s a little more suited to racing than your normal commuter bike. Check the terrain of the event you’ve signed up for. If the cycle leg is off-road, dust off your mountain bike. The bike is by far the most expensive piece of essential triathlon equipment on this list, but in all likelihood you probably already own a bike that’s fit for the job.

#2: A wetsuit

Many triathlon organisers decree that competitors must wear a wetsuit for the swim section of the race, particularly for longer length triathlons. Wetsuits can also be pricey, but this year we have partnered with Blue Seventy and are offering all of our competitors a 20% discount on their fantastic range. All you have to do is use the discount code FREEBIRD20 at the checkout to get the discounted rate! Alternatively, look for a triathlon event with a swim section that takes place in a heated pool rather than the open water – a standard swimsuit should be sufficient here.

#3: Cycle shorts

Again, cycle shorts another item of gear that you might already have. These are integral to a comfortable ride, and are relatively inexpensive too.

#4: Tri-suit

While not strictly essential, tri-suits are highly recommended for triathlon competitors, as they can be worn under the wetsuit and are suitable for both cycling and running. Over longer distances you may instead prefer to buy separates, as these tend to provide greater padding where needed.

#5: Running shoes

You already own these, right? Don’t splash out on new running shoes the day before the race. Stick to shoes you’re comfortable with.

#6: Goggles

Most triathletes have two different types of swimming goggles – clear goggles and tinted goggles. The latter are useful if you’re racing in sunny conditions, as it may be difficult to locate buoys and markers under the glare of the sun.

#7: Cycle helmet

It’s unlikely that the organiser will let you cycle unless you’re wearing a helmet. You don’t need anything fancy if this is your first triathlon.

#8: Water bottle

It’s essential to have a water bottle that you can attach securely to your bike. Although you may be able to collect water elsewhere on the course, you’ll soon regret failing to take your own water supply.

#9: Race belt

Another item for your shopping list, a race belt is used to secure your race number without the need for fiddly safety pins or clips. Having a race belt will save you tons of time at transition, and you won’t poke endless holes into your new triathlon clothes.

#10: Bodyglide and wetsuit lubricant

Avoid chafing and blisters with these two key lubricants. The last thing you need during a triathlon is any unnecessary discomfort.

As you can see, there are very few triathlon essentials that you probably don’t already own. Take a look at our upcoming triathlon events in the north of England, including a selection of sprint events ideal for beginners.