Skip to content

Triathlon Packing Guide

September 10, 2009

This is not a product review, but it is a list for you to review before you head off to your triathlon. I hope it helps.

The co-author of Through the Ringer and I are participating in a triathlon this Saturday, it will be his 1st and my 4th. A big day!

One thing that I was really nervous about before my first triathlon was what to pack. I didn’t want to forget anything, but I also knew that I couldn’t have too much in my transition area. Just thinking about it now brings on the nervous stomach.

I am hoping that my little packing guide will help others as they prepare for their 1st (or 4th) triathlon.

I like to think about what to pack in stages:






Each person will have different things that they will or won’t need for each category, so I likely won’t capture everything, but I’ll try.

Here is just a little preface: For those that haven’t done a triathlon before, please note that you will have very little room. Please don’t take up a lot of space because the person next to you also needs space. Also, once you have everything arranged all beautiful on your towel, keep in mind that your neighbors could very likely knock everything around when they are attempting to de-rack or rack their bikes. So, don’t become too attached to the way you have arranged your things.

When placing your bike in transition make sure the tires are properly inflated (if you racked your bike the previous night, bring a pump with you in the morning).

To set up the transition area most people will need a towel. I also like to keep a water bottle (something like a Nalgene) filled and ready. An additional item I like to keep in transition is a snack. I personally prefer peanut butter filled pretzels and Twizzlers, but whatever snack you are used to eating is what you should bring.

So, the first three items are:

  1. Towel
  2. Water Bottle
  3. Snack


I am usually wearing my swimming attire to the triathlon in the morning, but make sure it is on your list, so you don’t forget to pack it if you are traveling

  1. Swim attire (tri suit, tri shorts, sports/tri bra)
  2. Goggles
  3. Swim Cap (likely included in your packet)
  4. Timing Chip (from your packet)


The goggles and swim cap are usually peeled away upon exiting the water. I take this opportunity to fix the mess of hair on my head. As I am running up to T1, I re-tie my hair into a nice little bun-type-thing to keep the hair out of my face for the rest of the triathlon. When you get to your bike, you’ll need the following:

  1. Glasses (if you wear them)
  2. An extra towel to dry off with (if you want)
  3. Socks (if you wear them)
  4. Bike shoes (if you wear them, if not, your running shoes)
  5. Full water bottle(s) which are already fixed to your bike
  6. Helmet
  7. Sunglasses (if you use them)
  8. Gloves (if you use them)
  9. A shirt to put on for riding/running (if you wear one)


You’ve just finished your bike and now you have a few seconds to get your legs back underneath you as you prepare for the run. If you are doing a USAT sanctioned triathlon, be careful to watch the helmet rules. No unbuckling too early, it is not worth a penalty or disqualification.

As you run your bike back to your spot, remove your gloves, glasses, helmet (not too soon) and get your mind ready to run.

  1. Running Shoes
  2. Sunglasses (if you use them)
  3. Running Hat (read more on this below)
  4. Race Belt (if you need one, otherwise have your number pinned to your shirt)
  5. Snacks (if you need them)

At this point you just run to the finish and be glad you’re done.

A little info that may help.

Make sure you have an extra tube, a tire lever set, and a frame pump or CO2 so you can fix your tire if you get a flat. Don’t expect there to be anyone to help you.

About the hat while running. I get crazy hair during a triathlon, with the swimming, the bike helmet, the sweat, et cetera, it is just inevitable. Your pictures will be snapped, if you don’t want to have your pictures enshrining your experience with crazy hair, then wear a hat. BUT, this is only if you normally wear a hat, don’t wear one if you don’t normally wear one because then there is the potential that you get some sort of weird rash or itch and that could ruin your experience.

Have fun! As you are lining up for the swim, you will likely be very nervous, if you’re not, then you probably had the correct dosage of your morning anti-anxiety pill, but for the rest of us, anxiousness before the race is very normal. Breathe slow and deep, make friends with the person next to you to help take your mind off of things, do whatever you have to do to remain calm. Once you hit the water, the nervousness seems to dissipate and you just go through the motions of each task, swimming, biking, running. Everything will come together.

Don’t Worry. Good Luck. Have Fun!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: