I’m new to triathlon. What gear do I need?
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
Triathlon is one of the most gear-intensive sports there is, so try a few tris before you invest in a top-of-the line wetsuit or bike. In the meantime, here are a few great buys that will shave seconds off your time and get you amped for an Ironman.
Specialized Women's Trivent ShoesSpecialized Women's Trivent Shoes
Training: Try a Tucson tri and yoga camp with Barrie Shepley, coach of more than 200 international triathlon champions, and his wife Caron, a multiple Ironman finisher who custom designs her yoga workouts for triathletes (personalbest.ca).
Swim: You’ll ultimately want a wetsuit that’s easy to peel off in the swim-to-bike transition, but start with the basics: A comfortable swim cap and a great pair of goggles. Tyr’s Tracer Edge Racing Cap ($18; tyr.com) reduces drag with multi-density panels and a wrinkle-free form. The elongated sides fit over the ears and base of the neck and the soft silicone won’t tear your hair out every time you take it off. Tyr’s T-72 Ellipse Metallized goggles ($17) are super comfortable with anti-fog, UV-protected lenses that have excellent peripheral vision. With a split headstrap, the goggles also allow for maximum comfort and minimum headaches.
Bike: Test a lot of bikes before you buy. But no matter what kind of bike you choose, one surefire way to save time in the transition is to wear a triathlon-specific cycling shoe. Specialized’s Women’s Trivent Sport Shoe ($100; specialized.com) is a really well-designed tri shoe. Here’s why: The big heel pull loop in the back combined with a collapsible heel, a two-strap closure and an open tongue, makes it super easy to pull onto a wet foot. Plus, the shoe is made of a mostly open-mesh upper, which keeps your bare foot well ventilated. Finally, it fits both a two-bolt SPD or three-bolt cleat system, so you can use an easy to clip-into mountain bike pedal if you’re intimidated by the harder-to-release cycling pedal. All this, plus a women’s-lasted upper for maximum comfort.
Run: After swimming and cycling, pounding the pavement is going to feel extra abusive, so buy the most comfortable pair of shoes you can find. I like superlight and supercushioned, which is why I’m a fan of the Asics Gel-DS Trainer 15 ($110; asics.com).