If you’ve been around me the last few months, you may have heard me say several times so far that triathlons are expensive. Well, they are! There is a lot of required gear that most people don’t have lying around. Techinically you don’t need to buy all the fancy gear, but since I do plan to compete in several triathlons, I made the investment. Here’s what you need for for a triathlon (price ranges are for typical items; all of these things can cost A LOT more if you buy high end brands):
Swim Suit: A quality one or two piece racing suit that can be purchased at most sports goods stores (Sports Chalet, Sports Authority, etc). Mine is TYR. $40-70
Swim Cap: Usually given to you in the race but you’ll need one for practice. $2-4
Googles: Get some nice anti-fogging ones. $10-40
Wetsuit: Optional but definitely recommended. A wetsuit can improve your speed significantly in the water. I purchased an Xterra wetsuit on Ebay for $200. $150-600
Road Bike: Although technically you could ride a mountain bike or beach cruiser, you will want to at least borrow someone’s road bike. I borrowed my dad’s road bike so luckily I’ve deferred this cost for a while. $1,000 – 10,000
Helmet: These are required, no exceptions! $40-150
Biking Shoes & Clips: If you ride a road bike, you should have one that has pedals for clipping in. Therefore, you need biking shoes and clips. $60-200
Biking Shorts: Not used in the actual race if you use a Tri Suit, but you will want bike shorts for practice rides. $30-150
Biking Jersey: I personally didn’t buy a jersey and just wear my running tops, but its common to see cyclists wearing jerseys with their shorts. $30-100
Sunglasses: Optional but very useful. $6 – 300
Tire Repair Kit: Includes extra tubes and CO2 bottles to fill up a flat on the go. $10-15 including tubes
Bike Water Bottles: Bike shops sell special water bottles that fit right into the holder on your bike (if your bike doesn’t have a holder, you can buy one at the bike shop). $3-10
Tire Pump: Bike tires need to be pumped up with nearly every use. $7-20
Car Bike Rack: You probably won’t be able to ride your bike to the race, so you’ll need a way to get it there (although Mike and I live close enough to Solana Beach to ride there on race day!) $50-200
Bike Tune-Up: My dad’s rusty old bike needed a tune up. You should take your bike for a tune up at the very least once a year. $30-$80.
A Gym Pass: This is optional but it’s nice to have a gym that offers a spin class for days when the weather won’t allow for a good outdoor ride. $20-100/month
Running Shoes: Some runners opt for lighter weight running shoes for sprint distance triathlons but you can wear any running shoes that you’d like. $50-150
Running Socks: Go for dri-fit. $15-30
Tri Laces: This is another optional item. Some serious triathletes buy triathlon laces that are elastic so that they don’t have to be tied. ~$5
Running Hat: Optional but i like to put a hat on after the swim and bike becuase my hair usually looks terrible! $10-20
Race Day Gear:
Tri Suit: This is a suit made specifically to be worn in all three segments of the race. It has less padding than cycle shorts and dries quickly after exiting the water. $100-250
Tri Bra: If you are female and need extra support, you’ll need a bra to wear under your tri suit that is suitable for the water. I got mine at a bike shop. $30-50
Bib Belt: This belt is worn around the waist during the bike and run and is used to display your bib with your racing number. $5-15
Timing Chip Strap: Usually included in race fees, this is strapped around your ankle and holds the timing chip. Free
Race Specific Swim Cap: Most races ask you to wear a swim cap given to you at the Expo. The color of the cap signifies your start group (i.e. 25-29 year old females wear red caps, etc). Free
Triathlons are Expensive!
Needless to say, getting ready for a triathlon is eating me out of house and home! I’ve spent over $800 so far on my gear. However, I did buy a high end tri suit (I had to buy the one that looked best and it happened to be the most expensive!) and a nice wetsuit. There are ways to cut back on the expenses, but definitely expect to shell out some dough if you want to compete a few races. If you are only going to do one, then don’t go out and buy a tri suit, wet suit, or bike. Just borrow everything you can and if all else fails, wear a bathing suit during the swim and do a towel change in transition into your other gear. If you aren’t very serious, the extra time isn’t going to cost as much as the gear!
Don’t forget about private swim lessons if you need some one-on-one coaching! The possibilities are endless…Triathlons are pricey! I hope we do an Ironman to truly get our money’s worth!
How did you decide what brand to purchase with the wetsuit? Did you try it on and would you do any different now in hindsight?
Hi Lesley – I decided to get an Xterra wetsuit because the brand was recommended to me (and most often see at tri club events) and I had a discount code! However, my suit was back ordered for a very long time and the company did a bad job at communicating to me about the timeline for getting the suit, so I wasn’t very pleased with the company itself. However, the wet suit works just fine!