There are a lot of options for cool triathlon gear out there, but what is essential? Every triathlete - no matter if first time beginner or veteran - needs the basics. Whether you are training or packing for your next race, here's our essential triathlon equipment list:

1) Triathlon Swim Suit:

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Don't worry about looking like an Olympian - any swim suit makes for fine triathlon swimming gear as long as it fits and is comfortable in the water. A racing swim suit is generally preferred to something baggier, but as long as it can get wet - and won't come off during the swim - you'll be fine to wear what you like for your first time. If you can, try to choose a suit that will be comfortable for the bike and the run so you won't need to change.

2) Triathlon Swim Goggles:

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Goggles will let you comfortably keep your head down while swimming and check your position on the course. So, when searching for the best triathlon swim goggles, get something that gives you good visibility, is comfortable, and fits your face. If you only spend money in one area, consider splurging on goggles - particularly if the swim is your weakest section. You'll be pretty miserable if your eyes are stinging and you can't see where you are going for the first 20+ minutes of your race. And poor visibility will almost certainly cause you to expend unnecessary energy.

3) Your Bike:

Want to do the middle leg of the race? You'll need a bike. Although you may think you need a triathlon bike, pretty much any bike will do for a first race - a road bike, mountain bike, hybrid, or cruiser is fine as long as it is in good shape and you are comfortable on it for an extended period. No matter what kind of bike you are using, it's important that your bike is the right size for you and that it is set up properly for your body and riding style. In addition, your bike should be in good working order (gears change easily, tires are in good shape, etc.) to avoid the dreaded mechanical breakdown on race day. In addition, most races require that all handlebar ends be capped (this includes aero bars). Visit your local bike shop to get a quick pre-race tune up to make sure everything is running smoothly.

When you are ready to take the bike to the next level it's all about aerodynamics - check out the  Redshift Switch Aero System to see whats possible.

4) Triathlon Bike Helmet:

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Keep your head safe. For your first race, you might be tempted to by flashy helmet styles and low prices. However, when buying a helmet you want to make sure it meets required safety standards - for example, all helmets for sale in the US are certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Safety is paramount, but comfort is a close second. You are going to spend a good amount of time during the race (and during training) wearing your helmet, so it should fit well and feel good. Oh, and don't forget to take it off when you transition to the run. 

5) Triathlon Water Bottle:

Hydration is super important, even if you are just doing a sprint race. You'll likely want at least a couple of bottles - at least one in transition and at least one on the bike. There are lots of different kinds to choose from so it's easy to find what works best for you. We like squeeze bottles that hold more than 8 oz for the bike - if you are like us, we might just have the perfect triathlon bike water bottle for you in stock! 

6) Running Shoes:

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No triathlon gear checklist is complete without a good pair of running shoes - which are all you really need for the run. Consider visiting your local running store for a shoe fitting and make sure you have run in your shoes a few times before racing to avoid blisters and other foot issues that might be caused by bad fit or just a shoe that does not work well for you.

So, once you have all the essentials and you have done a few races, it's time to look at some gear to help increase performance. Be sure to check out the next installment of our Triathlon Gear Guide series where we look at the best triathlon gear and best triathlon training gear for increasing performance.