The Things You'll Carry1 of 9
You'll want a transition bag, like the Tyr Alliance backpack, to make lugging all your race necessities an easy affair. Bring a bright, easy-to-spot towel or a cut-up yoga mat on which to organize your gear in your transition area. This will make spotting your gear while racing easy.
Don't forget to pack some anti-chafe balm in your bag and, more importantly, don't forget to use it. You'll thank us later for this one.
Tech Essentials2 of 9
A wearable multisport tracking device, like the Garmin Fenix 5, is an essential training and racing tool. In the pool, it will count your laps and track technical improvements while displaying your pace. On the bike and the run, the GPS and heart rate monitor functions display your speed and effort to help you manage pacing. We found all the features in the Fenix 5—including the step counter and calorie tracker—to be very useful for everyday training and racing.
Swim Training Essentials3 of 9
When swim training, you'll want a chlorine-resistant swim suit, which will also work if you're lucky enough to do your workouts in an open water environment. A swim cap will protect your hair from chlorine damage or to help you be seen while swimming in open water. But perhaps the most essential piece of equipment you'll need in the water is eyewear, like the Roka R1 goggles. Additional swim "toys," like a pull buoy, flippers, paddles and a kickboard may be available at your local pool.
Race Day Swim Essentials4 of 9
For swims in water that's below 78 degrees Fahrenheit—the "wetsuit legal" cut-off temperature—you'll want a triathlon-specific wetsuit. Not only do wetsuits offer protection from cold water, they provide speed-enhancing buoyancy. We really like the Roka Maverick X, or the Roka Maverick Comp II, a more affordable option that offers many of the same features as the top-of-the-line model but at a lower price point.
Cycling Training Essentials5 of 9
You don't need a new triathlon bike or a new road bike to have a successful race. But if you do decide to splurge, make sure to get a proper bike fit before you shop. You'll need a bike helmet, cycling shorts, a cycling jersey and performance eyewear. Comfy, easy-on, easy-off tri shoes, like the Bontrager women's triathlon shoe (or the men's Bontrager Woomera tri shoe) and clipless pedals will make a massive impact on your cycling efficiency. Don't forget hydration accessories—bottles and bottle cages—for your bike as well.
Race Day Cycling Essentials6 of 9
Running Training Essentials7 of 9
A pair of do-it-all running shoes—like the Newton Gravity, which could last for hundreds of miles—are a must. If you can, a second pair of running shoes, for race only, will allow you to save your lower-mileage shoes for the big day (just make sure to break them in ahead of time!). Running shorts, a running top and a hat or visor to keep the sun off of your head and sweat out of your eyes are also essential pieces for everyday training. Performance sport eyewear, like the XX2i US1 sunglasses, will protect your eyes from UV light and any windborne debris. A nutrition belt to carry snacks and hydration is an option if your shorts or top don't have pockets.
Race Day Running Essentials8 of 9
Using a "speed lace" option like Lock Laces in your racing shoes offers an easier time getting your shoes on, so you can save a few seconds in transition. Bonus: You won't have to worry about your shoe laces coming untied while you're racing. A race belt, onto which you secure your race number, is great for speedy transitions if you don't use a nutrition belt with number clips on it.