What Triathlon Clothing to Wear

  • Posted by
  • Matt Cook
  • |
  • May 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

What-Triathlon-Clothing-to-Wear.jpgThere’s a lot of triathlon clothing on the market, and if you’re getting ready for your first race, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Some clothing is essential, while other clothing is just nicetohave. For your first triathlon, there’s no reason to invest a lot of money in a new racing wardrobe. You can always upgrade your clothing later, once you’ve decided whether you want to keep participating in triathlons. Here’s the essential triathlon clothing you’ll need for your first race.

A Swimsuit

A swimsuit is an essential clothing item for any triathlete. However, there’s no need to go out and buy a fancy new swimsuit. The suit you’ve been using for your training sessions in the pool is probably fine, as long as it still fits well and isn’t getting stretched out. You don’t want to have to worry about your swimsuit falling off during the race.

If you decide that you need to replace your swimsuit, you don’t need to buy a specialty suit. A one-piece or two-piece swimsuit is fine for women, while men can wear racing briefs. If you have the budget for a specialty suit, feel free to buy one, but it’s not necessary.

A Wetsuit

Wetsuits aren’t a requirement for every triathlon, but you may need one for your first race. If the water will be cold on race day, participants may be required to race in wetsuits for safety. If you have a low cold tolerance, you may want to wear a wetsuit to keep yourself comfortable, even if the race organizers don’t make it mandatory.

For your first race, there’s no need to buy a wetsuit (unless you want to). If you have a friend who does triathlons or other water sports, they may have a wetsuit that you can borrow. You can also rent a wetsuit inexpensively. Before your race, try to train at least a couple times wearing your wetsuit. You should never try new gear for the first time on race day.


Some triathletes complete the entire race in their swimsuits, and you can do the same if you feel comfortable. However, many people want to wear shorts in the later stages of the race for comfort and modesty. You probably already have a pair of suitable shorts. For triathlons, shorts should be fitted and made of materials like spandex or Lycra. Baggy shorts can rub against your skin and lead to uncomfortable chafing.

If you have the budget for new shorts, you may want to opt for cycling shorts. These shorts have padding that keeps you more comfortable while you’re cycling. If you choose cycling shorts that have removable padding, you can easily remove the padding and use the same pair of shorts for your run.

A Shirt

A shirt isn’t always necessary for triathletes, as some races let men race shirtless, but you may want to wear one for comfort or modesty. A shirt also helps protect you from the sun, which is another important consideration. You probably already have some shirts that would be suitable for a triathlon, so again, there’s no reason to go shopping.

A triathlon shirt should be form-fitting and made of a stretchy material. Ideally, the material should also wick away sweat to help you stay comfortable. Both short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts are fine, depending on your preference and what you already have in your closet.

Specialty Triathlon Clothing

If your first race goes well, and you decide to dedicate yourself to racing, you may want to upgrade your wardrobe. A tri suit is one type of specialty clothing that you’ll see lots of experienced triathletes wearing. These suits are available in both one-piece and two-piece styles, and they’re designed to be worn for every stage of the triathlon. With these specialty suits, you eliminate the need to change your clothes during transitions.


Topics: Triathlon Training


Matt Cook

Matt Cook

Father of 3 and former competitive swimmer, Matt completed his first Ironman 70.3 in 2013 in Muskoka. He has since completed another 70.3 and is planning on doing a full Ironman in 2016 or 2017. Matt took up triathlons for the challenge, to relax and to just to stay in shape so he can enjoy life with his family.

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