What to bring to a triathlon

Simon Sharp Simon Sharp Triathlon Coach and Nuffield Health Business Development Manager
Entered your first triathlon? Find out what kit you’ll need on the day with some expert tips from Triathlon Coach Simon Sharp.

Challenging you across three very different disciplines, triathlons require a bit more prep than your average race event, and your kit bag will be quite a bit heavier too.

You’ll be assigned, or will have to get in early to select your own transition station/s at the event where you can leave your kit for each leg. Note that new triathlon rules prohibit boxes being kept in transition, so you’ll need a rucksack.

Especially if it’s your first triathlon, you don’t have to have any fancy gadgets or top of the range gear, but you will need some basics. Below is a kit list that should see you through:


PAPERWORK – without it, you may not be able to compete. So take your entry confirmation, photo ID and race license.

WETSUIT – you’ll need this if it’s an open water swim and the temperature of the water is low (which is very common in the UK).

SWIMSUIT/TRISUIT - or anything that doesn’t absorb too much water, you don’t want to be weighed down during or after your swim.

GOGGLES – if you’re swimming in open water goggles will help protect you from germs that may exist in the water and also make it easier for you to see.

SWIM HAT – this is usually provided, but take one if you have one.

LUBRICANT and TALC – lubricant will help to prevent any rubbing from the wetsuit, particularly around the back of your neck and on your ankles, and putting talc in your shoes will keep your feet dry.

ROAD-WORTHY BIKE – ideally a road bike. A mountain bike is ok, but they’re not made for speed so it will take you longer to get around the course. Triathlon marshals will check your brakes and general road-worthiness so it’s a good idea to get your bike serviced beforehand.

BAR END STOPPERS – it’s a common mistake to miss these off your bike but you probably won’t be allowed to race if your handlebars don’t have plastic stoppers in the ends. This is to prevent any ‘coreing’ injuries to yourself or fellow athletes.

CYCLING HELMET – no helmet, no race! Make sure it fits properly. The guide is when it’s done up, you should be able to fit two fingers between your chin and safety clip.

RUNNING SHOES – it’s best to ensure you have worn these in to prevent any nasty blisters on the day.

SAFETY PINS – these aren’t always supplied to attach your race number. I take a hole punch to make it easier to attach the pins to the number.

TOWEL – use this in your transition to make for a more comfortable onward journey.

WATER – you’re going to be working yourself hard and need to replenish lost fluids. Bring energy drinks to replace electrolytes and help you push through.

PRE AND POST-RACE SNACKS – these will help give you the energy you’ll need throughout the day and prevent you crashing afterwards.

RUCKSACK/BAG – to keep all your kit in at the transition station. Note that new rules mean you can’t leave boxes at transition stations.

Last updated Wednesday 2 September 2020

First published on Tuesday 12 July 2016