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There are several options for triathlon clothing. Clothing choices include Triathlon shorts, triathlon tops, and one piece trisuits. Triathlon clothing is actually a combination of swim, running and cycling clothing technology. The clothing used in triathlon needs to be snug fitting to reduce drag. It should be hydrodynamic and dry quickly so it will be comfortable after swimming in the bike and run leg. Padding in the short for cycling comfort without creating discomfort in the run and the leg is another important feature. The challenge was to create clothing that will provide all these features without affecting comfort and performance for the other 2 disciplines.
Triathlon Clothing Fabric Highlights and options:
Triathlon Clothing fabric is similar to spandex in that it is tight but with enough stretch to be form fitting and comfortable. It is breathable, dries quickly and does not tend to absorb a lot of water. Most triathlon clothing brands also minimize hotspot or friction areas by using flat lock seams or lazer welded seams. In addition to the typical fabric used for triathlon clothing, you will find additional fabric features offered.
1. Compression Triathlon clothing use materials and designs to create a graduated compression directed towards the heart, to improve blood flow and circulation. The material is “tighter” than non compression clothing and also provides muscle support to help reduce fatigue.
1. Hydrophobic Triathlon clothing. Tri shorts made with hydrophobic fabric actually repels water. If you pour water over the fabric, the water just rolls off without being absorbed by the fabric. This is a great feature when you get out of the swim and start off on the bike as it is more comfortable and will also help you warm up faster.
1. New fabric technology is always coming on the triathlon scene. Triathlon clothing made with Coldblack® material will help you stay cool even when in the sun. Coldblack® reduces the absorption of sunlight and therefore heat build-up. In Addition it provides reliable protection from damaging UV rays. Clothing with coldblack® guarantee a minimum UPF of 30 in any color.
4. UV protection: Most triathlon clothing utilizes UV sun protection. However, if you are looking for maximum sun protection check the tags to see the rating.
Triathlon Shorts or (Tri Shorts):
Tri shorts are tight fitting and designed to be able to use in the swim leg, bike leg, and run leg with comfort. In general, fabrics used in tri shorts are somewhat stretchy, but offer muscle support along moisture wicking properties. The fabric used doesn’t absorb much water to help it dry faster and be more comfortable on the bike and run leg. More technologically advanced triathlon shorts will also utilize fabrics with additional technologies such as compression, cold black, and hydrophobic, and UV protection. Triathlon shorts also feature a chamois that is designed to offer comfort on the bike saddle, while not compromising your comfort and performance on the swim or run legs. Triathlon shorts are available in various inseam lengths with the men’s typical lengths are 6’, 7”, 8” and 9”. Women’s shorts typical lengths are 4”, 6”, and 8 “. Longer lengths will provide more muscle support and are usually preferred for longer distance events. Most triathlon shorts will have some sort of leg gripper to prevent the short legs from moving up while you run or ride. Silicon leg grippers are the most common type, but more and more shorts are doing away with the silicon grippers in favor of a compression fabric gripper for maximum comfort without compromising performance. Pockets are useful options found on some triathlon shorts for gel, food, keys, etc.
Triathlon Short Chamois are different than the chamois found in cycling shorts as they are designed to be worn in the swim, bike and the run. You would not want to do a full triathlon in a cycling short as the chamois would absorb too much water in the swim and they tend to be much too big, almost diaper like for the run. In addition, the chamois for cycling shorts are not designed to expel water and would be very uncomfortable to run in. Triathlon short Chamois are designed to minimize water absorption, expel water quickly and are smaller in overall size to make then comfortable to be worn for every leg of the triathlon, not just the bike leg. The chamois for tri shorts vary depending on the manufacturer and the price point. However, here are two main types of triathlon chamois:Micro Fleece and foam pad.
Triathlon Chamois Options:
Micro fleece Triathlon chamois:
Soft fleece fabric
Quick drying, minimal water absorption
Thinner than the foam padded chamois
Provides comfort for the bike, without much difference in comfort during the run.
Foam Padded Triathlon chamois:
Thicker padding than fleece, offering more comfort for bike leg. Makes it a good option for longer triathlons.
Quick drying, minimal water absorption
The material for tri tops is very similar to the triathlon shorts. Compression, hydrophobic, and cold black fabrics are also an option for the tops. The fitting should be snug fit to reduce drag. Like the shorts, the triathlon tops can be worn for every leg of a triathlon. Most triathlon tops are sleeveless, tank style cut. However, short sleeved options are becoming more popular now as short sleeved versions offer more sun protection and reduced chafing for some people.
One Piece TriSuits
One piece trisuits are a great option when you are looking for the least amount of drag and for maximum comfort while on the bike. Just like the triathlon shorts, they have a specific chamois designed for triathletes and are made from the same types of fabrics. Basically it is a triathlon top and triathlon short combined. Tri tops and tri shorts are sometimes prone to bunching or sagging somewhat which can be a bit distracting and a bit less comfortable. T he one piece trisuit doesn’t have this issue so it is considered to be a better choice for comfort. Also, there is not waistband in a one piece, again adding to comfort. One piece trisuits tend to be more aerodynamic/less drag due to their sleeker design and reduced materials. As with triathlon tops, most trisuits are sleeveless, but sleeved trisuits are becoming popular for the added sun protection and reduced friction. The main disadvantages of using a trisuit is the added time or complexity it takes for a bathroom break. However, if you are going to choose to buy either a triathlon short and top or a trisuit, you may want to opt for the shorts top combo as you have more versatility than the one piece trisuit. The trisuit is generally used on race day, while the triathlon shorts can be used on race day and during training.
Triathlon LAB has a large selection of triathlon clothing. To shop for tri tops, shorts and one piece racesuits, click here.