what to wear for a triathlon

A Minimalist Guide To What To Wear For A Triathlon

Do you change clothes during a triathlon?

You may but it’s highly not recommended because the clock does not stop between disciplines. It’s highly recommended to have a single piece of clothing for the entire race, or a triathlon suit if you will.

You have greater things to worry about than what to wear for a triathlon on race day.

 Triathlon being a combination of three sports does require you to be adequately geared up for all three sports equally.

Put your worries aside, because we are here to make sure you are fully aware of what to wear for a triathlon before you run one. 

This blog post will make you understand everything about what to wear for a triathlon, from a sprint triathlon right to an Ironman triathlon.

Let’s get started.

 What To Wear For Your First Triathlon

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The must thing to wear for your first triathlon is your “smile”. You should be celebrating the fact that you have overcome your fears to achieve something outstanding.

There are no breaks between disciplines when it comes to triathlon. It is therefore ideal and necessary that one fits in clothing with which one can finish the entire race.

Let us have a look at the gear requirements for the race and each discipline in detail

For The Race

You will be wearing a triathlon suit for the entire portion of swim, bike, and run.

 A triathlon suit or a tri-suit is a special type of apparel that comes in both one-piece and two-piece. 

A triathlon suit is perhaps the greatest investment a triathlete will make. Just ensure that your tri suit doesn’t have too many pockets as they ought to fill up during the swim.

All beginners ought to wear a tri-suit for a triathlon as it eliminates the hassle of changing clothes for each discipline, and most importantly, adjusts equally well for a swim, bike, and the run portion of the race. Therefore, it combines the benefits of all three-sport gears in a single piece of clothing.

For The Swim  

According to USAT and ITU rules, wetsuits are allowed in triathlon events when the water temperature is above 78 degrees or lower. If the temperature is between 78.1 degrees and 83.9 degrees, participants can wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards.

A wetsuit is the most important apparel required for the swim portion of the race. USAT sanctioned events do not allow wetsuits thicker than 5mm of neoprene layer.

Apart from this, you will be requiring a swim cap and swim goggles for the swim.

All kinds of performance-enhancing accessories such as flippers, fins are strictly banned in all triathlon events.

Lava pants are another option that is getting popular in triathlons. Again, they are primarily wetsuits. Lava pants are fully legal in triathlons, but they follow the same rules that apply in the case of wetsuits by ITU and USAT.

Also Read: What To Wear Under A Triathlon Wetsuit: A Helpful Guide

For The Bike  

Needless to say that you are still wearing your tri suit while on the bike. The chamois padding in the tri-suit will keep you comfortable during the bike leg. However, you do need some additional gear as well as a few protective items during cycling.

Safety first, put on your helmet before you mount the bike. It is important both for your safety as well as preventing you from getting disqualified from the race or costing a time penalty.

You can either go for a normal cycling helmet or a more aerodynamic helmet if you are looking forward to improving your performance one notch up.

For your first triathlon, I will recommend going for a normal cycling helmet.

Secondly, you will also need bike goggles to protect your eyes from flying objects while cycling.

Normal running shoes are completely fine for beginners for cycling. As you get more advanced in the sport, you would want to switch over to cycling shoes for a more comfortable biking experience.

You may put on a shirt over your tri-suit if it’s chilly during the race. One can always carry a towel to the transition area to dry himself off before you jump on the bike.

For The Run 

Perhaps the most budget-friendly leg of the race is the run. You just need to have a good pair of trainers, the ones you are most comfortable in. These could be the shoes you have been using during your training sessions.

Although, it wouldn’t hurt to grab a pair of run goggles and a visor that will protect you from heat and dust during the run.

Most pro athletes run without socks.it is recommended for you to run in whatever feels comfortable. Remember, don’t try anything new on race day.

So, you may carry socks, a towel to dry yourself after the bike leg at T2, and an extra t-shirt to put on while running if it’s a little cold.

Last but not the least, don’t forget that you would be wearing a race belt during the bike and run leg.

It is highly recommended to use elastic laces against normal laces due to difficulty in tying normal laces with sweaty and wet hands post the bike leg.

Triathlon Suits

A triathlon suit or a tri-suit is a special type of clothing specially made for triathlons. As earlier stated, it enables a triathlete to swim, bike, and run in a single piece of clothing.

Advantages Of A Tri-Suit

A tri-suit is made of neoprene and has features like breathability, range of motion, and quick-wicking which allows it to be used for triathlon. For the cycling portion to be comfortable, tri-suits have a chamois padding which gives enough cushion for a comfortable ride but is also not so thick to get wet with all the water absorption during the swim.

One Piece Vs Two Piece Tri-Suits 

Tri-suits come broadly in two designs; a single piece and a two-piece tri suit. Both types have their pros and cons. Long-distance triathletes generally prefer two-piece tri suits whereas short-distance triathletes prefer one-piece tri-suits.

Sleeved tri-suits vs Non- sleeved Tri-suits

You do have an option of a sleeved and a non-sleeved tri suit as well. A tri-suit is designed to be more aerodynamic than our skin. Therefore, a sleeved tri-suit is more aerodynamic compared to a non- sleeved. A sleeved tri-suit, however, offers lesser mobility and range of motion than a non-sleeved tri-suit of the same fit.

What To Wear For A Triathlon For Females

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With an increase in female participation in triathlons over the last decade, more and more emphasis is being laid by women on what to wear and what not to wear.

Normal bikinis and underpants are a big no-no, as they tend to absorb a lot of water under the tri-suit and get all wet, thus increasing the risk of rashes and ruining your triathlon experience. 

Apart from the usual wetsuit and tri-suit, female triathletes should wear a sports bra under a tri-suit in case of a larger chest region.

What To Wear In A Sprint Triathlon

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A sprint triathlon is a shorter category of triathlon. It’s a preferred entry-level triathlon for many beginner triathletes.

The reason I am referring to sprint triathlon here is to signify the short-distance triathlons.

For sprint triathlons, a triathlete should be wearing a single-piece tri-suit, because a one-piece tri-suit has lesser openings and seams which causes lesser drag, which makes a triathlete feel faster during the race.

The other reason is there are probably lesser chances of you visiting the washroom in case of a sprint triathlon and changing single-piece tri-suits can be a difficult thing to do.

What To Wear For Ironman Triathlon

Ironman triathlon is the pinnacle of triathlon racing. It is one of the most participated events in triathlon categories.

For an Ironman triathlon, apart from the gear as mentioned in the article above, a triathlete should probably be choosing a two-piece tri-suit rather than a single-piece tri-suit.

The most important reason for this is because a two-piece suit is more suitable to be taken out and put back on in case a triathlete needs to see the washroom. changing a single-piece tri suit can be a lot harder, especially when you are a sweaty mess.


I positively hope that after reading this blog post, you are now a step ahead of others in choosing the right gear for your next, or your first triathlon.

In the end, it is most important to gather happy memories of your triathlon journey and meet more and more fantastic people on the way.

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