Tri Tips Tuesday- What Do I Wear?

Hello faithful readers and welcome to the first of what I hope to be a regular installment around these parts- Tri Tip Tuesday!

I have some friends dabbling in triathlon for the first time or are moving on from doing a small try-a-tri or super sprint, so hopefully they, and others, can find some helpful hints as this goes on. 

Triathlon is not a poor man’s sport. Sure, plenty of sports are expensive, but triathlon is three sports in one, so you’re buying three sport’s worth of gear for a single event. You can see how that can be expensive and daunting to those just getting into triathlon, unsure if they’ll even like it or continue. And on top of being expensive, you’re looking at gear that can be used in a single sport, but needs to be cross compatible to the other two. It can get confusing, convoluted, and down right overwhelming.

First thing’s first, what do you wear??? A lot of people question what you wear for a triathlon, mostly because the swim is involved and you’ll obviously be getting wet. Do you wear a swim suit? Do you change in transition? What goes under your wetsuit if you wear one? 

The answer varies, but no, don’t change. General rule of thumb is the only time you do full outfit change is in a full iron distance race. Anything less than that you should prepare to wear one thing the whole race. This makes picking what you wear tricky and imperative. Picking comfortable gear to wear means the difference between being comfortable or hurting, chaffing, and being downright miserable the whole race. 

Some people will choose to wear a swim suit and pull either just shorts on over it in transition, a regular shirt and shorts, or just do the whole thing in their swim suit. And whatever you wear for the race goes right under your wetsuit. 

Another option is to wear what is referred to as a tri kit. This can be either a one piece singlet, or a two piece where you can mix and match a tri specific top and tri specific shorts. Clothing that is tri specific will be wicking, quick dry gear that is meant to be worn in the water then right onto your bike. 

I wear my two piece tri kit right under my wetsuit

I prefer a two piece, but this comes down to person choice. Both have pros and cons. 

One piece pros- no moving, riding up or down, comfortable
One piece cons- mostly being that if you need to use the bathroom, prepare to have to strip and lose a lot more time. 

Two piece pros- mix and match for maximum comfortability (or color coordination!), easy to use the bathroom
Two piece cons- moving, riding up or down, possible chaffing from shifting

A quick search will bring up tons of options too. Picking a major brand like Zoot, X2U, or Pearl Izumi, amongst many others, is an easy way to ensure good quality. However they can also run a bit more expensive.  

Zoot top and bottom I’ve raced in the last two seasons. Hubs bought me a new Pearl Izumi top and 2XU shorts for this year that I’m very excited about.

Tri shorts come with a thin chamois in them, but nothing like tradition bike shorts. It’s made to not absorb water and not feel like a diaper as bike shorts sometimes do, since it’s assumed you’ll be running in these tri bottoms. 

Tri tops will usually come with pockets on the hips or back. For short course triathlons you probably won’t use them, but once you move up to Olympic, half iron, and full iron distance races, you’ll appreciate having somewhere to stow you gels or chews. 

If you look around, you might find that tri kits can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re buying two pieces. But with some sleuthing you can score some really great deals on high quality gear. 

If you need any gear, wearble items  or otherwise, you can always head over to and use coupon code TRIGC14 for 15% off your purchase, good for all of 2014! 

Favorite piece of race day clothing?
Where do you find your best deals on race gear?
What triathlon questions do you have or what would you like to see addressed on Tri Tip Tuesday in the future?

4 Replies to “Tri Tips Tuesday- What Do I Wear?”

  1. Great idea for a weekly installment! My fav piece of gear are my NauteSport sunglasses – I found them at a vendor booth during one of my races. They are super lightweight, smaller framed so they don’t get in the way, anti-fog and are very reasonably priced! Best deals I find either online (now that I know my size) or at my local Tri shop. They always have last season’s gear on sale.

  2. I wish I would have read this before my first tri years ago. I thought when starting out that it would be a pretty cheap sport…I had a bike, running shoes and swim suit. What more could I need? Silly, silly. While I never raced in a one piece I think I’d prefer two like you!

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