Top 10 Beginner Triathlon Essentials for Training and Racing

Triathlon can be expensive. Pick up any triathlon-related magazine and you’ll quickly convince yourself that there’s just no way to race without a £3,500 bike, a £350 wetsuit and a whole other list of expensive equipment.

It is possible to train for and race triathlon without putting yourself in the poor house. Here’s our list of the top 10 beginner triathlon essentials that you need- and a few ideas on how to get some of them inexpensively (or free!).

1. A Trisuit

One of the most important things to keep you moving comfortably during a triathlon is your kit. Triathlon clothing is specifically made to dry quickly, helping to reduce uncomfortable chafing and to stop you from getting cold. Triathlon shorts are made with a built-in pad that is engineered to offer protection on the bike, but isn’t bulky on the run. Whether you choose a one-piece or two-piece option, your trisuit is key! (…we are after all Trigirl)

2. Well-Fitting Goggles

Goggles aren’t a particularly expensive piece of kit, but they are certainly an important one. Leaky, ill-fitting goggles could easily turn a confident, enjoyable swim into a nightmare. If possible, try on goggles before you buy. The right fit means that they will stay on your face, even without the strap. And be sure that little things don’t bother you, like eyelashes touching the lens or an uncomfortable nose piece.

3. A Wetsuit

Top 10 Triathlon Essentials: WetsuitUnfortunately, if you plan on swimming in the open water in the UK, most races will require a wetsuit. Fortunately, there are companies that hire wetsuits for a week, a month or the entire triathlon season. In addition, if you like the wetsuit, most companies will apply the money that you’ve spent on hiring toward your wetsuit purchase.

4. A Bike

At many triathlons you will see bikes that cost more than a down payment on a new home. Do you need to take out a second mortgage to buy one before your first race? Of course not. You do need a bike, but it’s perfectly fine to ride the mountain bike or hybrid style that you may already have. As long as the bike isn’t fixed gear and it passes safety inspection (including having bar ends on your handlebars), it is triathlon-legal. Of course, once you’re triathlon-addicted, you may find yourself saving up for a shiny new model!

5. A Helmet

Not only is a helmet an important piece of safety equipment, the British Triathlon Federation requires that you wear one while racing. Use your head and buy a helmet that is lightweight and comfortable, but again, as long as it is safety-approved (look for the sticker), there’s no need to spend a lot.

6. A Supportive, Fast-Drying Sports Bra

Top 10 Beginner Triathlon Essential: Sports BraMost women know they need a good bra, but very few know how often they should be replaced and what to look for in a good sports bra. Read our sports bra tips to find out.

7. Good Trainers

‘Good trainers’ does not necessarily mean expensive trainers. However, it is worth going to a speciality running store and having a knowledgeable sales associate help you. A speciality shop will look at your feet and should watch you run in the shoes to be sure that they are suitable for your running style. If the price tag comes up high, don’t be afraid to ask if there is a similar model at a lower price. Often manufacturers have a lower-end model with a similar last and features. But don’t compromise! What you wear on your feet will help to prevent injury and keep you running longer and stronger.

8. A Training Plan

You need a plan, otherwise it’s not training, it’s just ‘working out’. Fortunately, many plans are available for FREE or at a low cost. Our training plan tips can help you find one.

9. A Race Belt

Top 10 Triathlon Essentials: Race BeltThis simple little gadget is a race day essential! An elasticated belt with snaps to hold your race number, a race belt allows you to move your number from the back of your body (for cycling) to the front (for running), without having to deal with pinning and unpinning. Trigirl’s race belt features a super-slim buckle, too, so you can wear it under your wetsuit if you don’t want to deal with putting it on in transition.

10. A Race Entry

Perhaps the most important thing you need for doing a triathlon is the actual race! Of course, even race entries can be quite expensive, so it’s worth budgeting in. Often smaller local races are less costly and offer a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, a plus for novices.


There are loads of other things that are useful in triathlon, but many are optional. Start with the big ten listed here and once you know you love triathlon (we know you will), add the optional extras and upgrade as you go along.

And there’s one other (free!) item that we haven’t included that will add to any race, a big smile, of course!