Beginner triathlete kit guide

Triathlons are a daunting feat for newbies. Not only do you have to attempt to master three disciplines, but before you can begin there is a rather troubling shopping list that's enough to make your bank manager cry. What’s more, the almighty array of kit, gadgets and gismos on offer is enough to confuse anyone.

So we’ve broken it down into the essential purchases. Once the obsession develops you can start building your gadget collection.


What: To wear underneath your wetsuit for protective padding on the bike without chafe or bulkiness on the run. Designed to be quick drying, anti-chaffing and well insulated, they are a must buy for all triathletes.

Why: For a smooth transition stage and maximum comfort, ease and efficiency in the run and bike leg of the race.

Look for: A comfortable fit, quick-drying fabric and durability.

Price range: £70 - £150

1. Pearl Izumi Select Trisuit, £79.99

2. Ocra Core racesuit, £63.73 

3. 2XU Active Trisuit, £75


What: After the bike, wetsuits are possibly the most expensive piece of kit you’ll need. However you can also hire them. Ensure you pick a wetsuit that fits correctly and has good flexibility. 

Why: Unless you're planning pool-only triathlons, or planning to move to the tropics, a wetsuit is crucial and they are actually compulsory for some events for safety reasons.

Look for: A snug fit at the neck, freedom in the shoulder, easy zip to release and water-tight fit at the ankles and wrists.

Price range: £100 +

1. Orca TRN Thermo Full Sleeve Wetsuit, £99

2. Speedo Fastskin Pro Recordbreaker Kneeskin, £150 

3. Aqua Sphere Pursuit Trisuit, £135.99


What: As a beginner you can start out using the mountain or hybrid bike that you already have; as long as it passes the safety checks, any bike is accepted. But if you become more serious about triathlon, a decent bike is well worth the investment.

Why: You get what you pay for with bikes and although the cost of high-end tri bikes almost reflects that the mortgage on a house, you can get a good all rounder for a more affordable amount.

Look for: The right fit - a poor-fitting bike can cause all manner of aches and pains in the lower back and shoulders so it's worth getting measured. Bike shops will help - and you're not obliged to buy a bike afterwards.

Price range: £500 +

1. Planet X Battaglin VIP Sora Road Bike 2012, £549

2. Giant Escape RX Disc, £679

3. Boardman Performance Hybrid Comp Bike 2012/2013 - Medium 19, £499

4. Specialized Allez Compact 2013 Road Bike, £550

5. Bianchi VIA Nirone 7 Xenon 2013 Road Bike, £1,000 


What: A cheaper component for your kit bag, decent goggles that fit correctly will save you hassle and discomfort in the water to both protect your eyes from chlorine or other elements in open water and to help you see clearly underwater.

Look for: A watertight, comfortable fit, with clear vision.

Price range: £15 +

2XU race goggles, £15

Aquasphere K180, £16.95

Speedo Aqua socket goggles, £19.50

Zoggs Ultima Air Gold swimming goggles, £18

Swim cap

What: Not the most flattering piece of kit, but swim caps stop straggly hair getting in the way and help with streamlining you in the water.

Why: Although some races provide these, it’s worth having a few for training to make sure you're fully prepared to race in the kit you’re used to.

Price range: £5 +

2XU silicone swim cap, £6

Swim fit basic swim cap, £6


What: A cycle helmet doesn’t have to cost a bomb, but you do have to wear one for all races, and we recommend one for all training on the bike.

Why: To protect your most important body part!

Look for: Ensure you get it correctly fitted and that it passes safety regulations.

Price range: £30 +

Hardnutz Circuit Board Road Bike Helmet, £49.99

Lous Garneau Olympus Helmet, £34.99

Specialized Sierra 2013 Helmet, £30