2011 Holiday Gift Guide for Triathletes

Triathletes love gear; in fact, you can say some are obsessed with it. Not only do they need a lot of it to successfully complete all three triathlon sports, they want the good stuff to help them do well. The thing is, for triathletes, new gear holds promise: The promise of good health and fitness; the promise of fun weekends to come; and the promise of killer training sessions and faster race times.

From training tools to race-day essentials, here are 10 holiday gift ideas for the gear-obsessed triathlete in your life.

Winter Accessories

Not much gets in the way of a triathlete in training, not even winter. Since they are going to face the cold and snow anyway, you can help make your favorite triathlete a little more comfortable doing it. Small items that can make a big difference in winter include wool socks, waterproof cycling gloves, toe warmers for really cold rides and headbands or running beanies.
Editor's Pick: Zoot Ultra XOTHERM 170 Beanie, $25.00

Layers

Comfort comes in layers, especially in cold climates. And base layers are important for any year-round triathlete. They transfer easily from bike to run and can be worn alone on warmer winter days. Icebreaker is a favorite among outdoor athletes as their merino wool from the Southern Alps of New Zealand makes for clothing that is not only comfortable, but can handle extreme temperatures.
Editor's Pick: Icebreaker GT LS Sprint Zip top, $110.00 and Sprint Leggings, $100.00
Bonus Layer: The North Face Apex Climateblock Full Zip shell; $159.00

Bike Lights

Help your triathlete see and be seen on long training rides. A good lighting system includes a headlight that is at least 300 lumens or brighter, and a taillight. Most headlights are handlebar mounted but you should also consider one with a helmet mount. This allows the rider to point the light in any direction they need, while not being restricted by the direction the bike is headed.  
Editor's Pick: DiNotte 400L PLUS Headlight, $209.00 and 300R Red Taillight, $199.00

Race Registration

Ask any triathlete and they probably have a wish list of races they hope to do one day. Or maybe there's a race on the calendar for 2012 that they haven't yet registered for. Surprise your athlete with their next event or find a fun race that's close to home.
Editor's Pick: 30th Avia Wildflower Triathlon, $160 (Olympic Distance)

Wetsuit

Is your favorite triathlete still racing in their skivvies? Help them stay warm and buoyant with the proper swim wear. Keep in mind that triathlon wetsuits are usually thinner than those designed for surfers and divers. They are also cut differently around the arms and shoulders to allow for optimal movement throughout the swim stroke. Some of the companies that make triathlon-specific wetsuits include Orca, 2XU, Blueseventy, Zoot and XTERRA.
Editor's Pick:  XTERRA Vortex Fullsuit Wetsuit, $400

Racing or Training Pack

Not only do triathletes need a lot of gear, they need a place to put all that gear, especially on race day. A good triathlon backpack will include lots of zippers and compartments for big items like the helmets, shoes and wetsuits, and small pockets for things like nutrition, race watches and water bottles.
Editor's Pick: Zoot Tri Bag, $150

Heart Rate Monitor or GPS Training Device

It's all about the numbers for some triathletes, and the more information there is, the better. GPS technology has improved training watches immensely in the last couple of years, allowing athletes to record not only time but distance and speed as well. This has been easy on land but proved more difficult in the water ? until now ?
Editor's Pick: Garmin Forerunner 910XT, $449.99

Cycling Shoes

Not all cycling shoes are made equal. And nowhere has this been more evident than in a pair of Sidis. Not only are they some of the most comfortable cycling shoes on the market, they are made to last. A triathlete's cycling shoes should have Velcro straps to help with quick transitions and vents in the soles to help drain excess water post-swim.
Editor's Pick: Sidi Triathlon T3.6 Carbon, $359.99

Bike Cleaning Set

Help your triathlete take care of the most expensive piece of gear they own—their bike. A basic cleaning kit should include degreaser, lube, a cleaning brush and a rag.
Editor's Pick: Pedros Super Pit Kit, $49.99
Bonus Pick: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bike Maintenance and Repair.

Nutrition

Little things go a long way, especially when it comes to fuel. Just ask the triathlete that didn't bring enough Gu on a long bike ride or the Ironman that put in months of hard work only to bonk on the bike. Food is what keeps athletes energized and moving. Whether it's with energy gels, drink mixes or bars, stock up your triathlete's training and racing bin with their favorite fuel.
Editor's Pick:  White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Clif Bars, $15.00/box

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