This is a small list of things that might be required for a triathlete in order to train and race. Some of these will be pulled from other lists, but most are specific just to this type of training and racing.
What You Need:
Bike – It’s one of the legs, so you don’t have a choice. Look at my cycling list for other information on this.
Shoes – You could run without shoes, but biking without shoes would cause a lot of problems.
Clothing – Ummmm….yeah. You obviously need to wear something.
That’s it. I know it sounds crazy, but you can swim in shorts without goggles or anything else, throw shoes on and jump on your bike, and then get out on the road and run.
What You Might Want:
Tri Bike – A full aero cockpit setup with triathlon geometry and fit. Yes, it will make a difference, but without the proper fit and skills, it can be a very expensive and heavy bike that’s completely useless.
Goggles – It’s best to have two pairs. You don’t want to get to a race and have a malfunction with no replacement. I suggest one tinted pair and one not.
Tri Clothing – Having a tri tank and tri shorts will keep you more comfortable through the entire race. They’re designed to be light, tight, and dry out quickly. You can get a top and shorts, a suit, and even “speed suits.”
Wetsuit – The one you wear water skiing or scuba diving are not advised to be used for an open water swim. Get a tri-specific wetsuit. It’ll keep you warmer, more buoyant, and smoother in the water. It will also make you feel more comfortable and that’s the most important thing when being surrounded by 100 people in the ocean. This is your safety blanket.
Sunglasses – You need something to protect your eyes. Not just from glare, but gravel and air as well. Make sure they fit under your helmet and are light on your face. Try to find a pair with either interchangeable lenses or that they’re photo-chromatic. (Depending on length of race your bike might start and stop at very different parts of the day.)
Race Running Shoes – This can be different depending on ability and race length. I look for something that’s light, comfortable, keeps feet cool, dry, and will not get hot while waiting at transition. All shoes have expiration dates based on mileage and are made for different reasons. You probably won’t want your winter off-road shoes for a sprint tri.
Bag – Have something to hold all of the “stuff” you bring in and out of transition with you.
Plastic bags and baggies – Keep your bag and running/cycling shoes dry if it’s raining and have somewhere to place wet and dirty racing clothes into after.
Anti-chafe – This will help when not racing in socks. It will also help getting your wetsuit off too.
Extra Safety Pins – When you pick up your race number, there’s some pins with it, but they might get lost or only two. You’ll want extra to keep your number in a place that’s not gonna get in the way.
Rubberbands – Helps keep shoes level on bike while mounting and dismounting, so you can keep the shoes clipped into the bike.
Towel – Have something to dry you off after the race and cover you up in transition if you want to change.
Change of Clothes – Trust me, you don’t want to go home or walk around in what you just raced in. Bring some toiletries also. Think deodorant.
Nutrition and Hydration – This will be very different for every person and race. Find out what works for you.
What You Probably Don’t Need but Might:
Aero Helmet – Best bang for your buck for speed besides a bike fitting. Some come with face shields, and new aero helmets are now a road/aero hybrid.
Aero Hydration – There are many different ways to mount bottles and hydration now. I prefer between the aerobars.
Race Wheels – Aero wheels are heavy and expensive, but can help in longer races. Disk wheels are only advised if there’s little to no wind on a non-technical course.
Speed Suit – If the race is not wetsuit legal, you can go with a speed suit to help with the swim.
Tri-Cycling Shoes – These are designed to be easy in and out, super stiff, keep very cool and dry, and be fine when worn without socks. Some regular cycling shoes can be “modified” for races.
Bento Box – I hate these, but if you need a good amount of fuel on the bike, it’s a place to keep it neat and organized and easy to access. There are some tests that have show they can improve aerodynamics. It all depends on how your bike is set up.
Tape Cables Out of the Way – This is a very critical component of keeping aero.
Power Meter/Heart Monitor – Very useful in making sure you hold back on the bike, so you don’t blow up on the run.
Race Tires – Good if it’s a flat course that is not technical. If it rains, change them out.
Flat Repair – There are a few inflators with sealants built in to keep you moving faster. Changing a tire during a race is not fun and most of us don’t have a crew following us with extra wheels and bikes.
Number Belt – Quickest way to put on your race number for the bike and run.
Transition Mat – It’s nice to have a place that’s comfy to have your bare feet before switching sports. Also, can make it easier to find bike and declare your space. Some people do put up balloons to help mark their spot.
Visor – Just in case you lose your sunglasses and helps keep sweat out of your eyes without trapping heat. Be careful if you have a shaved head!
Bucket – fill this with some water to dunk your feet after the swim and bike because you may have a bunch of dirt on your feet and it will get it off faster.
Elastic Shoe Laces – This will make it easier to get shoes on and off, but sometimes they can make the shoe too tight.
Fans – Have people spread out properly to route you on and take the right pics. You’ll like having that.
Beer – Nothing feels better than opening a beer in transition and celebrating your race. It’s also a great post race nutrition fuel.