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The basic gear essentials for a triathlon

What you need for your first triathlon

— by Angela Naeth

Interested in doing a triathlon but overwhelmed with all the gear you think you need? Here’s a quick list to use that includes all the essentials and what you can get away without.  My mottos: keep it simple! Don’t get too much into the hype. Training trumps all!

Equipment needs can be broken down into five areas: swim, bike, run, nutrition, and racing.


  • Swimsuit
  • Goggles — always have two pairs in case. Bring both with you to training and races.
  • Swim cap
  • Wetsuit or swimskin, depending on the water temperatures at your race destination.
  • Chafe cream
  • Pull buoy and paddles for training

Triathlon Magazine Canada Swim Gear


  • Bike equipped with gearing you’re comfortable with using
  • Helmet
  • Warm gear clothing (leg/arm warmers, vest, gloves, jacket, cap and warm socks/toe covers) if you’re like the many Canadian triathletes who start their outdoor riding season in spring and end in late fall.
  • Cycling kit
  • Cycling shoes
  • Spare kit
  • Bike pump
  • Water bottles/cages
  • Sunglasses
Penticton’s David Matheson posing in his Bike Barn gear.


  • Running shoes
  • Race belt
  • Watch/HR monitor
  • Visor/hat
  • Run shorts/top and socks
Cameron Wurf on the run.


  • Everyday training nutrition (sports drink, energy drink, gels on hand)
  • Recovery drink
  • Race kit, if different from everyday training outfits
  • Race belt

What you can get away without (the non-essentials)

  • Aero helmet — this is a purchase to save for once you’re really invested in the sport. A regular helmet is sufficient for most triathletes who don’t need to worry about shaving off seconds from the bike leg.
  • Race wheels
  • Anything promising to make you faster with less training!