Top 5 Essentials for Your First Triathlon

28th July 2016 in General by Joshua Mott

Just starting out in Triathlon? We have a list of five essential and often overlooked pieces of Triathlon kit you shouldn't leave home without.

Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK with a 10% growth in race participation year-on-year for the last four years. If you've been inspired by the Olympics and are looking to enter your first event then you need to know what kit you will need to be successful in your first event.

This list assumes that you already have a bike and pair of trainers, but it goes without saying that these are going to be necessary for completing an event.

1 - Trisuit

Triathlon essentials laces


For your very first race, we recommend selecting an event that has a pool swim rather than an open water swim. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, for most of us, the swim is the section of the race where we are the least confident. Starting with a pool swim means you do not have to worry about an intimidating mass start or swimming in a wetsuit. Secondly, it also eliminates the need to buy a potentially expensive wetsuit.

"You are going to want your trisuit to be form-fitting and comfortable. This will eliminate any flapping and dragging in the wind and water."

You are, however, going to need something to wear through all three stages of the event so investing in a comfortable trisuit is a must. If you do decide to try an open water swim in you second or third event, this purchase will still pay dividends as you can wear you trisuit comfortably under your wetsuit.

You are going to want your trisuit to be form-fitting and comfortable. This will eliminate any flapping and dragging in the wind and water. It's also worth paying attention to the seat pad as you want it to be thick enough to provide comfort and support on the bike but not so thick that you will feel it rubbing in the swim or run.

A couple of handy pockets are great too allowing you to store an energy or bar or two for the bike and run sections.

2 - Clip-On Aerobars

The bike section of the triathlon is where you stand to gain or lose the most time. Even if you are a slow swimmer, you can still make up some serious seconds with a strong showing on the bike. An easy way of going faster is making yourself more aerodynamic. Using clip-on aerobars is an affordable and surprisingly effective way of increasing your speed on the bike by reducing your wind resistance.

Triathlon essentials aerobar


Tucking into the aerodynamic position on aerobars dramatically reduces your frontal surface area and this reduces wind resistance. Clip-on bars are a far more affordable option than investing in a special time trial bike and they can be easily and quickly fitted to almost any standard road bike’s handlebars.

"Using clip-on aerobars is a cheap and surprisingly effective way of increasing your speed on the bike by reducing your wind resistance."

Make sure you get plenty of practice using clip-on aerobars before your race. This will get you used to riding in the aero position and to having to switch to the hoods in order to brake. Lots of practice will also allow you to find the perfect fit for the bars at just the right length and height.

3 - Race Belt

A low-cost but very time-saving accessory for any triathlete; a race belt will help to speed up your transition while also making the storage of energy gels easier.

Triathlon essentials belt


Races normally require you where at least one number that has to be visible on your back during the cycle and on your front during the run. If you do not have a belt this often means attaching numbers to both the front and back of a t-shirt or your trisuit so that you comply with the race rules.

With a belt you can simply clip it on at the first transition and swivel the number around during the second transition to make sure your number is visible for race officials. Many race belts also have handy elastic loops for storing energy gels for quick and easy access during the cycle and run.

4 - Elastic laces

If you grow to become more enthusiastic about triathlons, then you will quickly come to realise the importance of having the fastest and most efficient transitions possible. Tying your shoelaces is a serious waste of time even if you are a beginner. Using elastic laces will allow you to quickly slip your feet into your trainers and set off on your run.

Triathlon essentials laces

5 - Goggles

Goggles are an area of your kit you don't want to skimp on. Clear and comfortable vision through your swim is going to make the whole process a whole lot more bearable and possibly even enjoyable. Make sure your goggles fit properly with a full watertight seal around your eyes.

Triathlon essentials goggles
From Left to right, the Zoggs Predetor Flex Polarized Ultra Goggles, the Aqua Sphere Vista Goggles and the Aqua Sphere Michael Phelps Zero Goggles


Picking the right lens tint is also important. Clear goggles are well suited to indoor swims, however, outdoors light reflecting off the surface of the water can be blinding. As a beginner, it is best to choose a smoke, blue or copper lens tint as this will not block out too much light indoors whilst at the same time helping to filter out bright sunlight when you are swimming in open water.

Think there is something we have missed or a piece of kit that you just cannot do without on race day? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Get social with Sigma Sport