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What do I wear?

Triathlon clothes.

What are triathlon clothes?

For the most part, triathlon clothes are the apparel items (shirt, short, etc.) that you wear in a triathlon. These should generally be snug-fitting, clothing made of technical fabric. Some of you older guys out there call it Spandex. Some people know them only as the brand Under Armour. Basically, technical fabrics are synthetic microfibers that help pull fluids away from the body to keep you dry and comfortable. Beyond that, what you wear really comes down to personal preference.


What are tri shorts?

If there is one piece of triathlon-specific clothing that is more mentally vexing for new triathletes than any other, it's the tri short. Why? We dunno, because it's very simple. Think of a tri short as a cycling short without the thick pad. The tri short pad, also called the chamois, contains open cell properties allowing water to drain out. Like the short itself, the pads are made from technical fabrics and are generally only a few millimeters thick. They can also be enclosed in a fabric cover. By the way, there is little difference between men's tri shorts and those for women.

How should they fit?

Tri shorts should be snug - essentially fitting like underwear (not boxer shorts). They can and should be worn in the swim, under a wetsuit if you are using one. They transition well to the bike, drying out after only a couple of minutes of riding.

On the run, the pad is thin enough to not be noticed while providing compression to reduce fatigue-causing muscle vibration. Many tri shorts come in black, but other colors are available. Color provides no distinct advantage or disadvantage. But as they say, black is slimming.

Tri shorts come in different inseam lengths with the preferred average being around 6 inches. Some tri shorts can run 9 inches in length while others can be just 3 inches. Some offer a lower waistband. Deciding which length is right for you is personal. Do you feel more comfortable with more coverage? Do you have long or short legs? Do you like a more free-moving feeling? If the answers to these types of questions are elusive, try an average length of 5 or 6 inches.

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