You’ve registered for that dream triathlon event, trained hard and are ready to go! Well, almost. An important thing to do is to pack all the things properly for race-day, without forgetting anything.
Packing for a triathlon can seem like a daunting task, with so many things to remember!
After all, you are packing for 3 different sports! Especially for first timers, there is always a fear of forgetting something important. Missing just one thing – like a bicycle helmet for instance – can actually end your race before it even starts! But fear not!
The best way to overcome this fear is to be super organized!
Just follow this awesome list! I went through several lists online from different websites to compile this MEGA-list and added a few things from my experience as well. This list is pretty exhaustive and some things in the lists may not apply to some people – like emergency spectacles for those with weaker eyesight. If some items do not apply to you, just ignore them. Also note that this list may not be a complete list as every person has his/her personal requirements so feel free to add things which you might need and do let me know about them in the comments section below!
Packing all things is just one part however. Organizing all things is equally important as it will make things easier and convenient during packing and unpacking and also help you mentally simulate your transitions – which I will get to in a short while.
What to pack?
If you have a look at the list, I have divided it by the time-order in which you will be requiring each item. They’ve been grouped into 6 main categories and each category has a few subdivisions as well:
- Transition 1
- Transition 2
I usually pack things under each of those categories in different stuff sacks to keep things in order. The items which you keep in the transition area should be well organized, as you don’t want to lose time searching for things.
I have given a short description of items in each category and why you might need those items on race-day. I have also attached the complete list below in several formats so that you can download it right away and refer to it while going through the post.
Microsoft Word Docx: Triathlon Packing MEGA-List
Start packing at least a couple of days before you leave for your event so you have enough time to buy things which you may not have. Let’s head straight to the list of things in each category!
These are the things you will require the night before the race and early in the morning on race-day. These include basic essentials like clothes, chargers, toilet kit, medical kit, food, etc. If you are participating in a triathlon abroad, you’ll need a cardboard box, multi tool kit, spanner and tape for your bike. Learn how to dismantle your bike which I will cover in a post soon. If you are staying in a hostel, pack a lock for lockers and a bicycle lock as well.
Most triathlons will require you to get a medical certificate saying you are fit to participate in a long distance triathlon event. Some also ask you to get a swimming certificate certifying that you can swim XXX distance within XXX time. If you have a triathlon license, pack that in as well and your passport is also essential for international events.
This category is divided into 3 sections: ‘To Keep’, ‘To Wear’ and ‘Emergency’.
Items under ‘To Keep’ typically include things which you won’t be wearing but are essential before the swim. E.g. pre-race nutrition and hydration, body-glide and plastic bags for getting into the wetsuit.
Under the ‘To Wear’ section are all the things that will be on your body – Trisuit, Wetsuit, Swimming Cap, Goggles, GPS watch and Timing chip.
Lastly, there is a section for ‘Emergency’ items – things you may need if something goes wrong – e.g. you need to take a dump before the race, or your GPS watch is not fully charged or a contact lens popped out of your eye or you accidentally broke your Trisuit zip. Anything can happen before and during the race so it’s best to be prepared for the worst! Some of these items like the big pump can be deposited in the luggage section and you need not keep them in the transition area during the race.
4. Transition 1 (T1)
This includes everything you need or might need after the swim – again divided into sub categories – To Keep, To Wear, To Carry and Emergency.
You’ll firstly need a towel to dry yourself, followed by cycling shoes (and socks if you prefer). Note that many people pre-attach their shoes on the bike to save time. A helmet, goggles, gloves and bib go next. If you don’t have a GPS watch for swims, you can wear it here. Keep it stored safely within the helmet under your gloves – there can be some nasty thieves around who might grab it if within plain sight.
If you don’t wear a tri-suit, you will need your cycling clothes here as well which you could continue to use for running. Note that nudity isn’t permitted so if you want to change your swimming costume, you may need to use the changing tent or a towel.
You will also need nutrition to eat and drink during the transition and also to carry with you on the bike.
On the bike are your puncture repair kit (two spare tubes, two tire levers, a multi-tool and a small pump), lights (if needed), water bottles, energy gels/bars taped or in a pouch near the handle bar, GPS cyclo-comp (optional).
As for emergency, a pair of spectacles, contact lenses, some Band-Aids could come handy.
5. Transition 2 (T2)
Not many things here – just socks, shoes and a cap if it is super sunny. Nutrition as usual and for emergency a knee brace may help if your knee isn’t co-operating.
Mobile phone to check your timings, dig deep into stats, click pictures and show off on Facebook! 😛
The organizers will provide a lot of things like water, coke, and a lot of food. But it’s good to have a recovery bar and drink ready which suits you. A change of clothes, jacket, flip-flops completes this list for race-day!
How to pack?
Lay down all items category wise in different groups, with a stuff-sack for each group.
Once you have collected everything on the list, mentally imagine yourself on race-day and go over the events on that day chronologically – ticking off every item in your mind after seeing it. Imagine yourself arriving at the race venue, unpacking the things. Then before the swim you will need the body glide, wet-suit and so on. This will also help you prepare for the event and transitions as well.
As I mentioned before, pack all things under one category in a stuff sack and finally all stuff sacks go into a big sack.
From my experience, everything should fit in a 40-50L sack.
Personally I enjoy to pack for an event – I can imagine myself in the event while going through every item and how the race will unfold through the day.
Packing helps me prepare mentally not just for the event, but also for emergencies that could occur during the event.
Once everything is packed according to the list, you need not worry about forgetting something and can relax and have a nice rest before you are off to your event!