There is an unlimited choice of triathlon gear a person could buy. In fact it would be super easy to spend a FORTUNE on really cool tri gear however if you are new to the world of Triathlons there are really only a few things that are truly must haves. After you've done a couple of triathlons you'll discover that there are other things that are nice to have but until you have done at least one and know that you'll do more of them there is no need to spend a bunch of money on gear. With that said read on to find out what any new triathlete MUST have!
Shoes- This is the one item that I tell my athletes to never ever skimp on. Our feet literally take a beating and it's important to get all the support we can as well as getting the right type of support for our body. I recommend going to a store that specializes in running.The sales people are trained to look at your gait as you walk with and without shoes on.They also look at wear patterns in your shoes and help you find the shoes that are just right for you. If you live in the Seattle area I recommend Everyday Athlete in Juanita -they are FANTASTIC and will never sell you something that you don't need or want here's a link to their store http://www.everydayathlete.us/. When shoe shopping expect to pay between $75 -125 for a great pair of shoes.
Clothing - There are many options for triathlon specific clothing but in reality all you need is a pair of Tri shorts. These are similar to bike shorts only with less padding and made of moisture wicking material so that they dry faster. There are one piece tri suits but I try to steer people (especially women) away from these - think bathroom. Two pieces are better than one and ladies you can swim, bike and run in your tri shorts and sports bra just throw a shirt on after the swim. As for women you definitely need a GOOD and supportive sports bra and for both men and women moisture wicking socks. A sports hat is must as well - it looks like a baseball hat but is light weight and yep you guessed it made of moisture wicking material. Tri shorts run between $25-60, socks $5-10, sports bras $10-45, and the hats around $20. You can find the tri shorts at both running stores and bike stores. Everyday Athlete carries tri shorts.
Goggles- You can use any goggles but the very best goggles to get are 'Seal' goggles or Aquashpere brand. These have a wider lens that allows for greater visibility for open water swims and has the added benefit of sealing to your face to prevent leaking. You can usually find these at any sporting goods stores for $25-35.
Bike Helmet - Everyone needs a bike helmet in fact you will not be allowed out on the course without one. For proper fit the helmet needs to fit on your head snuggly but not too tight. You should be able to put your helmet on and without fastening the chin strap bend over tilting your head to the ground without your helmet falling off. With the helmet on your head walk gently into a wall if any part of your face hits before your helmet it is riding to high up on your head. The front of the helmet should ALWAYS hit before any part of your head. You can get a good helmet in a wide variety of places including bike shops, sporting good stores, Target and even Costco. Expect to pay from $30 all the way into the hundreds depending on the brand. The $30 ones will be just fine but feel free to spend more if you want a sportier model.
Bike- Everyone needs a bike what type of bike depends on each individual.. For your first triathlon any bike will do as long as it fits. If it's a mountain bike all you have to do is buy street tires which will run around $20. If you want to buy a bike I STRONGLY recommend buying a bike that feels good when you ride it because if it feels good to ride you'll ride it long after tri season is over which is the goal! When bike shopping make sure to tell the sales person every wayyou plan use your bike this will help the sales person help you chose a bike that's right for you. When bike shopping expect to pay over $1000.00 for a good entry level bike. In 2002 I paid $1200 for my entry level bike and I LOVE my bike - when all was said and done the components package is what helped me to decide on the bike I did.
Heart Rate Monitor- I am a FIRM believer in hear rate monitors. HR monitors help to track your training and your bodies response to training which is important for both a performance perspective and a weight loss perspective. I recommend Polar HR monitors over every other brand, they created the first HR monitors and they've been making them longer than anyone else. I urge my athletes to buy a heart rate monitor that they can grow into. Make sure that the monitor has all the 'Bells and Whistles' you need as well as ones you want. If you're ready to buy a HR monitor here's a great site - make sure to mention my name Jennifer Malocha and Wuhoo Fitness when making your purchase - http://www.fitmed.com/polar_heart_rate_monitors/index.htm Heart rate monitors can range from $50 for a very basic model to well over $500 for really fancy models and all points in between so it's important to know what information you want your monitor to provide before making a purchase.
Misc -Eye wear is super important especially on the bike as well as giving your eyes protection form the glare of the sun. Body Glide is a staple for every athlete, it helps to both reduce and prevent chafing which I find SUPER important and can make all the difference in your overall race day experience. A bag big enough to fit all your gear. Clip less pedals are a great addition for bike riding but are not necessary the most common are SPD pedals but I personally like the Frog model I find them easier to get in and out of. Many people like having camelback hydration packs myself included but again it is not a must have just a nice to have.
I hope that you have found this list of Must Have Tri Gear helpful and that this info will help you on your way to a successful tri season! Jennifer Wuhoo Malocha