What to Wear for a Triathlon?

Among the most frequently asked questions by beginner triathletes is, “what do you wear for a triathlon event”? Unlike a single sporting event, triathlon participants will be swimming, cycling and running, so they need to wear clothing suitable for each sporting event. In this article, we take a look at what you should wear for a triathlon.

Changing clothes

Changing clothes is not a viable option for shorter triathlon events if you want to hide your dignity and achieve the best possible time in the triathlon. You won’t have the time or privacy you need to get changed in your next outfit. Even if you do, the change itself will impact your finish time. So we can rule this out as an option for beginners; you will need to find a single piece of clothing suitable for swimming, cycling and running. 

Tri suit 

A tri suit is made specifically for athletes participating in triathlons, and they’re optimised to help during each part of the triathlon. The tri suit serves as your base layer; you can then add other items and accessories on top to help you in each sporting activity. 


For the swimming part of the event, a tri suit can be worn alone or with a wetsuit on top. Choose a wetsuit you can take off easily; this will help you minimise the time spent transitioning between your swimming and cycling clothing. Tri suits are waterproof and designed to help you glide through the water. They’re not insulated like a wetsuit, so if you are swimming in open water in the cold weather, you’re going to want to put on a wetsuit on top of the tri suit. You’ll also need to start with goggles and a swim cap; these will help you during the swimming portion of the event. 


The next stage of the event is the cycling part; your tri suit is designed to dry quickly so you don’t feel too wet and soggy. Some also have some padding in the shorts of the suit; this can help make your bike saddle more comfortable. You’ll need to put your helmet and cycling shoes on before starting the event's cycling portion. Some people choose to wear their running shoes for the cycling session and don’t opt for cleats. This is a good tactic for beginners to increase their transition time. However, cleats fix your shoes to the bike pedals improving how fast you can ride. Some tri suits also have pockets. These can be great for storing triathlon gels; during your cycling session, you may want to reach into the pockets and consume some of the gel to keep your energy high. 


The final part of any triathlon is running; you’re likely to be exhausted by this point. For the running portion of the event, your tri suit will reduce chafing. You’ll also need to get changed in your running shoes and socks. It's important to choose running shoes that are comfortable and well-fitted to prevent injuries and blisters. Some people even choose to skip the socks to save time; however, if you’re a beginner or used to wearing socks for running, this could impact your performance. 

Your first event

If you’re taking part in your very first triathlon, you might not want to buy a tri suit, although you can pick one up for a reasonable price online. You don’t necessarily need to wear one; you will need a waterproof base layer; some people choose to do the race with a swimsuit as their base layer instead. If you choose to do this, practice cycling and running in a wet swimsuit to see how it will feel on the event day. When you become a professional triathlete and start competing in longer competitions, you’ll have more opportunities to get changed between each leg of the event. You can even take your own tent for some privacy. However, many top athletes still choose to do the triathlon in their tri suits. Every minute counts when you’re competing to be the best. 

To answer this article's main question, we recommend getting yourself a tri suit; it's the best outfit for competing in any length triathlon.