What Triathlon Equipment Do I Really Need?
The truth about what swimming, cycling and running equipment you really need for your first triathlon event.

Beginning your first Triathlon needn’t mean equipping yourself with an array of expensive triathlon gear – the truth is you DON’T need highly specialised Triathlon kit to get started, just a few basic pieces of equipment:

The Swim Leg:

Novice triathlon events often begin with pool-based swims, although confident swimmers experienced in open water can of course choose to start with open water swim events.
Your choice of pool based triathlon or openwater triathlon affects what swimming kit you will need.

  • Goggles are essential for both pool based and open water triathlon. Goggles protect your eyes, improve visibility and help you keep your swimming line – which improves your time.
  • A Swim Cap keeps your hair out of your way, keeps goggle straps in place and reduces water resistance. New club members are provided with a swim cap, or you can buy a cheap swimming cap in any sports store.
  • Tri-Suits are all-in-one outfits designed for triathlon. A tri-suit’s main advantage is a reduction in your transition time as you won’t have to change clothes. Its main disadvantage is it’s inconvenient for toilet breaks! Tri-suits aren’t essential, especially for triathlon beginners, but you’ll need something close-fitting and comfortable, such as a singlet and cycle shorts. If you’re competing in an open water swim, it’s a good idea to choose clothing that can be worn under your wetsuit.

The Bike Leg:

  • A Bike, needless to say, is essential for your triathlon challenge cycle event. More advanced competitors often ride triathlon-specific bikes, but at entry level this is entirely unnecessary – any bike will do so long as it’s well serviced with good tyres and inner air tubes, a well-oiled chain and good operational brakes and gears. Qatar Chain Reaction Website has a good page on bike shops in Qatar and it is worth checking TriClubd Doha's facebook page on triathlon and cycling classifieds page for bargains
  • A Helmet is mandatory, even for elites. New bike helmets are comfortable, reasonably priced, simple to use, and may save your life.
  • A Bicycle Repair Kitis also essential. Make sure everything you need is in there and is in good condition. And make sure you’re well practiced at using it – a long repair can add hugely to your time and be very demoralising!
  • Padding: Whether you opt for a tri-suit or singlet and shorts, you should think about extra padding in the saddle area – cycle events can be long!
  • Cycling shoes,which attach to the pedals to improve stability and power, are unnecessary for novice triathletes. It’s FAR more important simply to wear shoes that are easy to get on and off during transitions. Toggle shoelaces are great for this.

The Run:

The final leg of your first triathlon will be the run – which can be a difficult adjustment after the leg-draining speed of the bike leg. In terms of triathlon gear though, this is where you’ll need the least equipment.

  • Clothing: There’s no need for specialised running gear at beginner triathlete level. If you choose your gear well, swimming, cycling and running clothing can double up. Clothing that’s comfortable, light, non-chafing, and preferably breathable, is all you need.
  • Running Shoes that are well-fitting, comfortable and support your foot shape are your single most important bit of running gear. Your particular foot type and running gait dictate what kind of running shoe you need so consult a running shoe expert before buying. Again, shoes with toggle/elastic laces may shave seconds off your time (and even minutes in colder weather) and some triathletes find their feet tend to swell over the course of the triathlon race. If this is the case for you, you may want to consider trying running shoes half a size too large.
  • Socks are probably only necessary for longer runs, when you’ll want to do everything you can to protect and cushion your feet from damage. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Bikes and wetsuits, as the most expensive items, can generally be hired if you don’t have them; but most first time triathlon competitors find the running, swimming and cycling equipment they have been using for triathlon training and preparation is perfectly adequate for novice triathlon events.

Other than the above, if you have enthusiasm and fitness, then you have everything you need!