Your complete triathlon kit guide

Buying the right gear could mean the difference between triumph and disaster on race day. Here’s everything you need to know to pick the perfect kit.

Wetsuit

'Buying a wetsuit is all about the fit,' says swim coach Sam Williams  . 'There shouldn’t be any slack or ripples around the arms or knees, but equally it shouldn’t feel uncomfortably restrictive across your chest or neck. Try it on in the shop and move around to get a feel for it – it should be like a second skin.' 

Goggles

'It’s important to factor in the conditions,' says Williams. 'If you’re swimming outdoors in open water, it’s worth investing in a pair of goggles with anti-glare lenses to protect your eyes from reflected sunlight.' 

Swim hat

'It might cost slightly more, but a silicone hat will be thicker, warmer, more flexible and provide a better fit,' says Williams. 'Also, make sure you get it in a bright colour – the whole point is to make yourself more visible in the water.' 

Triathlon suit

'Look for a suit that’s comfortable, with plenty of padding on the shorts to protect your rear end during the bike leg,' says Williams. 'Make sure it fits snugly under your wetsuit too – you can always take it to the shop and try them on together before buying to be on the safe side.' 

Bike helmet

'A helmet with a proper retention system is crucial from a safety perspective,' says James Spender of Cyclist magazine  . 'It should have an internal cradle that you can adjust via a clickable dial which will stop it from slipping, making it far more likely to stay on during an accident.' 

Cycling shoes

'It’s important to recognise the difference between road bike shoes and mountain bike or commuter shoes,' says Spender. 'Road shoes normally have three bolt holes in a triangular shape on the sole, whereas the other two only have two bolt holes. For a triathlon, you ideally want road shoes – with pedals to match – as their design is far more efficient for generating power.' 

Triathlon bike

'The main thing that separates regular bikes from tri bikes is the handlebar setup,' says Spender. 'Tri bikes have a pair of low down, close together bars on the front, which allow you to get into a more aerodynamic position than a traditional road bike, which is more upright. Tri bikes can be considerably more expensive than regular road bikes though, so if you want to keep things cheap, you can buy clip-on tri-style bars for your regular bike that’ll allow you to adopt a similar position.' 

Running shoes

'If you’ve got the money, go and see a biomechanics coach or a running coach who can assess your stride to help you pick an appropriate shoe,' says endurance coach Steve Whittle  . 'Failing that, asking for a neutral shoe at a running shop is the safest option.'

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