Unless you are running an ironman triathlon in cold conditions, one of the best pieces of equipment you can purchase is pair of dedicated triathlon shorts – often referred to simply as tri shorts. For the longer ironman events you will need to check on the competition rules about whether wetsuits are allowed for the swimming leg, but if you are competing in cold weather, a triathlon wetsuit over the top of your tri shorts is the best way to go. The longer races have better changing facilities at the transition areas to allow you to plan on wearing the perfect and most comfortable gear in each leg.
With the shorter events, you are best off wearing clothing that is somewhat optimized for all three stages. So the best triathlon shorts will have excellent moisture wicking ability, so that they dry out quickly after the swim. They will also have a padded chamois, which should also be quick drying, to provide the best comfort possible during the bike section of the race – making them potentially far better than regular swimming shorts. Finally, the chamois should not be as cumbersome as would normally be the case with dedicated cycling shorts; it should be narrower so that it does not interfere with your stride in the final running stage to complete the competition.
If you are taking part in an ironman event, you might find it better to use the changing areas and use a proper wetsuit for the swim, specialist triathlon bike shorts for the cycling, and running shorts for the run. This will depend on how much time you think you can afford during the transitions and what the race rules stipulate.
When you buy triathlon shorts, you will have to weigh up these comfort aspects versus the potential effects they may have on your performance. So for example, you might opt for a pair of tri shorts with extra padding for the cycling leg, but this might slow you down or feel less comfortable for the run afterwards. Many companies now produce fairly cheap triathlon shorts which are designed specifically to help you achieve the best performance across the whole race.
The Pearl Izumi tri shorts have received excellent reviews from triathletes at levels up to half ironman, with the best commentary on how there is no chafing even on such a long race; and that they do not obstruct smooth running in the final leg, despite the chamois performing great on the bike stage. So it is worth checking out some triathlon shorts reviews, either on Amazon for each product you are considering buying, or by simply searching for reviews on Google. They can give you some extra pointers and tips, straight from people who have used that particular brand of shorts.
You should be able to find some good deals on Amazon too, as they can pass on the benefit of buying in bulk and often have cut price offers, so if you are a beginner looking for a decent pair of cheap triathlon shorts, this site should probably be your first port of call. And while we’re on the subject of beginners, once you have your racing and training equipment, take care of it, especially when washing it. Many technical fabrics need to be washed at a lower temperature than other clothing, and especially with shirts, they do not like to be spun in a drier. If possible, just hang dry your tri shorts, and it’s best to wash and dry them as soon as possible after you have used them. Definitely don’t ball them up and forget about them!
And one final tip, make sure you read the instructions. Many tri shorts do not like chlorinated water, so they should not be worn in pools. Change into something else instead, or find a pair where chlorine is not a problem. If you do not heed the warning, you might end up with a pair of see-through shorts, and that’s just wrong!