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What to Wear Under a Triathlon Wetsuit

The question of, “What am I supposed to be wearing underneath my tri wetsuit?” is undoubtedly the most asked in the shop. The idea of wearing clothing underneath neoprene,  seems odd to many first-time triathletes. In reality, you can’t tell a difference underneath your wetsuit, and will save quite a bit of time by swimming in what you will be racing in. Essentially you wear whatever it is you’ll be competing in underneath. Often times, it’s the same clothing that you’ve been training ever so hard in over the course of the past months/weeks. With that said, triathletes have a couple of options as to what they choose to wear underneath their tri wetsuit. There’s two main types of race apparel: a trisuit, or a top with tri shorts.

Option 1:

Why a trisuit?

Racing in a one-piece can certainly be convenient. You’re simply wearing one article of clothing, not two, and thus don’t have to really worry about your shirt riding up and revealing anything not wanting to be revealed (muffins perhaps?) Most trisuits also have a zipper as well as  built-in-bra for additional support. Some trisuits, depending on the brand, have side or back pockets as well, which are perfect for storing those gu’s. Negatives? Certainly, if you have to use the restroom during your race. I recommend one-pieces to those participating in shorter distances such as sprints, or olympics. It is not particularly ideal to get out of this puppy when you’re in a rush to use the facilities during a longer race.

Option 2:

Why a two piece?

I find more athletes tend to gravitate towards wearing a triathlon top and triathlon short as separates. This could be that people are simply a bit weary of the one-piece, and in many cases have never seen one before. Wearing separates offers the ease of potentially more pockets for storing your goodies. Some tops are more of a singlet style with zip up in the front (like the one pictured), whereas some are a racerback style. When wearing two pieces, you have the option of changing up styles, coloring and brands. For example, if you like the feeling of a looser fitting top, and a short that’s a particular length, (most range from 4″ to 8″ for women) wearing two pieces offers a bit more variability. This option tends to be the better choice for the longer distances.

Other options:

Some athletes choose to wear no top under their wetsuit for the swim (or in a woman’s case, just her sport bra) and then put on their top once they reach transition. This can be a difficult task to do, as you will be wet and will be adding additional time to your race.  There have been those to wear a one-piece bathing suit underneath their wetsuit (Speedos or jammers in the case of men) underneath their wetsuit and do their race in just that. This is an option, although not the most comfortable.

For the triathlons where the swim portion takes place in a pool, the trisuit may be the better option, as a loose-fitting top could easily create drag. Most triathlon apparel is composed of a lycra blend, meaning it’s quick to dry, and barely noticeable while racing. If you’re wondering what to use for strictly training purposes, most simply wear their swim suits or, for men, jammers.

Any of these options will work,  it depends upon what you’re more comfortable wearing. The cardinal rule is to race in what you’ve been training in. Choosing to wear new race apparel can lead to the awful surprise of new-found seams and possible chaffing.

These are the variations of questions that I get.
What do I wear in a triathlon?
What do I wear under my wetsuit?
What do I wear under my tri wetsuit?

Orca Core Tri Pant Review

Looking for a pair of tri shorts with a bit more coverage, with a comfortable pad, and has pockets?  You should consider the Orca Core Tri Pant.

It features a 6mm thick pad that provides ample coverage and support while on the bike, but not so big that it’d interfere with you on the run.  On the back is center pocket for storing personal items, such as additional nutrition, keys or an ID.  As for the inseam length, it’s 8.26 inches.

Other features of the short is that it has  reflective trim for lower light conditions, hydroseal leg hems, and a rubber waistband/internal draw cord.

Links of note:

Orca Core Sport Pant Review

My cousin came to me about a week before his first tri, “what do I need to get?”

There’s certainly joy in helping someone new with triathlon, but these are daunting because there’s so much to talk them through, if they absolutely have no triathlon gear.

The first thing I tell anyone is that they need a tri short.  I told him to get the Orca Core Sport Pant.

This short is excellent for newbies because it has exceptional value and features all the essential triathlon specific short properties – quick drying, has a lighter pad (compared with a bike short), and is made to be worn underneath a wetsuit.  The added bonus about this short is that because it’s relatively inexpensive, it’s great for use in brick workouts.

This is good, because I’m tired of hearing a triathlete friend telling me that he still uses board shorts to swim in the pool.

Click here to see more Orca tri shorts.

De Soto Forza Tri Short

De Soto Forza Tri Short – longer, compressive race fabric for muscle support, and comfort.

I got these shorts for a race last weekend, and like a few of the key features:

  • It’s “compressive”.   With the “Compressor” fabric, think of the short as having active compression like qualities, which dampens muscle vibration, giving you the muscle support during race day, and in training.  Excellent feature for the price point.
  • The pad.  The pad construction is good, as it doesn’t make it apparent that you’re wearing a short with a pad in it!
  • The Fabric.  It’s comfortable against the skin, and it’s extremely quick drying.

De Soto also makes a 4 pocket Forza Tri Short.  See more De Soto Tri Shorts.

De Soto Carrera Tri Short Low Rise

Comfort and looks. Quite frankly the two things I myself as well as most women are concerned with in apparel. I myself have worn these shorts through countless races and training rides and recommend firstly to those looking for a durable tri short. Why the Carrea Low Rise? Here are some specs

  • Carrera™ Skin– a nylon/spandex blend that is lightweight, breathable, quick-drying and keeps its support and fit, even when wet. (I could barely even tell my shorts were damp after the swim).
  • Low-rise – Not going to dig into your hips.
  • One-piece seamless tri pad- No surprise seam that you’re going to find.
  • Contrast Microlock Stitching
  • Drawstring Elastic Waist with Wide Band –This is a great feature that keeps a possible muffin top at bay.

All around fantastic short. Below is a shot of me in a recent race sporting the De Soto Carrera Low Rise’s and bringing home the medal. Coincidence?

TYR Competitor Triathlon Apparel Line

TYR has debuted a new line this year called the TYR Competitor Line. The line of tri shorts as well as triathlon singlets were designed particularly for comfort so that athletes could reap the benefits of their hours spent on the road training. What’s so great and different about this line? Let me explain….

Beginning with the TYR singlet, I’d like to note the fact that it’s white. No other company makes a top for women in this color. Why white? I get asked by countless people in the shop for white tops in general. After 4, 5, 6, hours on the road you’ll understand why a black top (in pretty hot weather mind you) will feel most certainly warmer. Beyond the fact that it’s white, it still offers 50 SPF and UV Protection. It conveniently has a zipper pocket on the back to store your necessary nutrition (my favorite part about the top, other than it being white). A front zip can be found on the front of the top, which is again perfect for adjustability in warmer weather.

On to the short..I realize that I have raved about the De Soto Carrera in a previous post. The only thing the De Soto Carrera tri short is missing is a decent tri pad. The Competitor Tri Short features the newly designed and advanced TYR Tri-Pad to help with even weight distribution and chafing, as well as irritation prevention. It’s hard to find a decent tri pad that’s perfectly in the middle of not-too-bulky-like-a-diaper, but still offers some padding. Fleece liners don’t quite cut it for me after miles 30 or 40. Another note-worthy addition of this short is the gripper. It is lined with a silicone beading, which keeps the short from sliding up and down, while leaving you WITHOUT irritation and sausage legs! A zipper pocket is also featured on the back of the short to store even more of your goodies. The shorts come in both a 6″ or modest 8″ inseams.

2XU Endurance Aero Tri Short

This is the 2XU Endurance Aero Tri Short.  Indubitably a 2XU classic, the Endurance Aero Tri Short has all the comfort and features of a short that’s enough to withstand long courses and long training days.

This short’s inseam is 9″ long, and features 2 pockets for all your nutrition needs.  Updated for 2011, this 2XU Aero Tri Short boasts the compressive yet breathable properties of 2XU’s revolutionary ICE X fabric.   This short has a silicone elastic leg hem with adjustable waist drawstring and Italian long distance chamois combine to deliver an optimal fitting, long distance race short.

Compared to other shorts in its class for the length and 2 pockets, it’s a great value.  Check out this short and others like it by checking out our tri short comparison chart.

Louis Garneau Tri Power Gripper

I’ll consider the Louis Garneau Tri Power Gripper Short the Mac Daddy of tri shorts when it comes to the inseam.  At 11.25 inches, the short solves the issue of riding up when I’m running, or me just wanting some extra coverage when I’m on the bike.

The Louis Garneau Power Gripper has an adjustable waist drawstring, a power band gripper to keep it from riding up, and a comfortable chamois, making this tri short an excellent option if you’re used to more modest athletic apparel.

Want to see more?  Check out more tri shorts and compare them using the tri short comparison chart.

 

Orca Core Tri Shorts

At the core any training plan, race, and just about any endurance event is the triathlete’s comfort level when it comes to physical exertion.  Being that triathlon is grueling enough, your apparel shouldn’t add any stress when you’re in movement.  The Orca Core Tri Pant is an example of an item that aligns with this notion.
What’s special about this short is that the pad is a hybrid chamois that’s 6mm thick, giving you the extra padding and comfort while you’re on the bike, but is balanced enough to where it wouldn’t be disruptive on the run.  The short has an 8″ in inseam length, making it modest on leg coverage.  Tri Shorts usually range from 6″ to 9″ inches as noted in this tri short comparison chart.

The short has an internal drawcord, so there shouldn’t be any crazy issue with the washing machine pulling any string out of the short.

Two pockets for gels, IDs, cards, and the like.

You’ll find its companion tri top, the Orca Core Tri Tank, stylish and cool as well.  You can find this short and others like it here: tri shorts.

Louis Garneau Lazer Elite Tek Short

By far one of the coolest looking Tri Shorts for the season is the Louis Garneau Elite Lazer Tek Short. Composed of 8 panels, this short has a 10.5 inch inseam, providing excellent coverage and support for both your training and race day.

The short itself has been wind tunnel tested along with a whole slew of Louis Garneau gear, and has produced favorable results. The chamois is medium in terms of thickness compared to what we offer in our tri shorts catalog.  It only has only pocket, so if you’re into storing massive amounts of gels and other goodies, be sure to have yourself a hydration belt if you’re so included.

This short does not use silicon as a gripper.  Those who’ve owned or tried other shorts have developed a love or hate relationship would find this information important.  Pictured below is the Lazer Elite Suit from a photo I took at Oceanside 70.3.  The short is the same bottom half of the suit.  The decision to choice between the two is preferential, but factors would include the type of distance you’re doing.   Shorter (Olympic and below) would favor a one piece, but longer distances points to two piece apparel items should you plan to take a bathroom break.

Cool right?

Anyway, find out more about this short and others like it by checking out the Tri Short Comparison guide.  Over and out!

2XU Active Tri Short

Is your first tri coming up in a week? Do you want a good value on tri shorts?  The 2XU Active Tri Short might just be what you’re looking for.

Priced at $59.95, the 2XU Active Tri Short has an inseam of 7.5″, a thin fleece pad to keep it light for the bike and run, and has a silicone gripper to keep the short from riding up your leg.  It’s made of elastane lycra, so it’s stretchy and comfortable upon wearing and use.   It doesn’t have a pocket, so if you’re looking to go with this item for a non wetsuit swim, you can be sure it won’t slow you down.

The short is available in black and blue.

Here are some more tri short resources:

  • Want to see shorts like this and more?  Check out the Tri Shorts Comparison Chart.
  • If you want to check out many more brands of tri shorts just visit here: Tri Shorts
  • If you are a fan of 2XU check out the latest 2XU gear here: 2XU

De Soto Carrera Tri Shorts

Other than the obvious aesthetics of tri shorts, it all ends up coming down to how comfortable we are. Females in particular tend to be far more concerned with this, and when talking about a tri short, the Women’s Carrera Tri Short tends to be the favorite. Maybe I’m a little bit partial to the short, seeing as how it’s the only short I wear for racing and training (even for the Ironman), but when it comes to the fit, it’s designed like no other short. Here is my short Carrera Tri Short Review.

The primary feature of the short that separates itself is the wide-banded waist, which can either fit as low rise or right above the hip, depending on which model you choose. What makes this so important? The last thing you want with your triathlon short is for the waist band to be leaving awfully pretty indents in your stomach that dig into your waist. This isn’t an issue with the Carrera. The band is soft and wide enough to sit comfortably around your hips.

The actual fabric of the short (Carrera™ Skin ) is made up of a nylon/spandex make-up which is breathable, moisture-wicking, and lightweight. There aren’t any surprise seams that you’ll find in the short 30 or 40 miles into your ride, either. The pad (although thin) is seamless, and makes for a comfortable run when off the bike. The shorts come in various shades and lengths (inseams varying from about 5” to 8”). The Carrera is feminine, comfortable, and affordable…and to reiterate, my personal favorite.


If you are looking for the men’s version of the De Soto Carrera Tri Shorts then you find them here: Tri Shorts

About author (added by editor): WorldofTri3 is a woman triathlete who has competed in distances up to Ironman. This is her review of the De Soto Carrera Tri Short. If you have questions or comments please leave them below.

Tri Shorts Guide

Do I need tri shorts? What tri shorts should I get? As a beginner you might have asked one of these questions. Here’s a list of tri short considerations and guides.

Why Tri Shorts? – Most coaches that I’ve run into in the past have all said if you buy one thing triathlon specific then it should be a pair of tri shorts. I agree as it’s likely the most important thing that sticks with you throughout the race. I think it’s important to get a comfortable good quality pair of tri shorts. This doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive pair but I wouldn’t skimp in this area. There are plenty of good tri shorts at around $60.

Considerations: There are a lot of things to consider when buying tri shorts. I’ll try to list all of them here:

  • Length – Inseam length is a common consideration for people mainly because of comfort in the past 6″ shorts were the most popular. Nowadays 9″ and longer are more common. The most important thing here is to get something you are comfortable with.
  • Pad – A good pad is a common desire of people who know their tri shorts. The most popular tri pads are the ones that have a little bit extra padding but not so much that it adversely affects the swimming and running portion of your race and training. You will generally pay a little more for these pads. Traditionally tri pads are a black, very thin, quick wicking, synthetic sponge like material. The newer pads are usually differentiated by being a different color, generally red. The best way to tell what will work for you is to just feel the difference. All pads are not created equally.
  • Pockets – Some tri shorts offer 1 or more pockets to store small items like a gel packet. In one case it’s a nice feature to have if you want a gel in your pants. On the other hand you may not really need pockets if you have a race belt and pouch on your bike. Again this is a preference thing. A lot of people like the pockets. I don’t really use my tri short pockets. I tend to use my jersey pockets.
  • Compression – This is a very popular consideration nowadays. People are leaning towards the benefits of compression and even buying compression tri shorts. There’s a lot to learn about compression so I’ll leave that for another time.
  • Material – Tri shorts are made out of all types of materials. It’s an impossible balance to make a short sturdy, comfortable, fast, fast wicking, cheap, cool, and warm when you need it. Just know that you won’t be able to find an all-in-one-tri-short-that-does-everything. The best you can do is focus on comfort an in the long run you’ll be happy.
  • Price – I already touched on this but I don’t think it’s a good idea to skimp here. You will be in your shorts for a long period of time. There is a lot of motion going on down there in the swim, bike, and run. A number of reputable brands have good tri shorts around $60 you can probably spend a little more to get something with a few more extras.
Tri Shorts – Click on this link to see a huge selection of tri shorts.

TYR Competitor 9″ Short

Last week, I bought a pair of TYR Competitor 9″ tri shorts just so I can change things around.  I’ve got in the habit of regularly using tri shorts in my training so I can do a swim bike brick.  I’m still just more comfortable running in a regular pair of shorts however.

I bought the 9″ inseam version, all black.  It’s a great looking short, but the magic of this product is the Amp-Pad.

Features:


The pad itself is highly breathable and comfortable.  To personally describe the pad, after wearing it on a ride, it’s dense, and thin.  There’s no doubt that it’s a tri short, but the pad feels better than two of the chamois I currently have on my other bike shorts.  Granted, those other shorts are old, but it’s impressive.

The “gripper” on the short are beaded, providing for more comfort around the thighs.  The short has a total of three pockets.  Two are on each side of the lower thigh, and one is a rear zipper right around the tail bone.
Awesome short. A 7″ short is also available.  And if you’re so inclined, the Carbon version is available  here as well!

Triathlon Short Vs. Bike Shorts

“What’s the difference between tri shorts and bike shorts?”, “Why do I need tri shorts?”, “What are tri shorts?”

Working for a triathlon company, I get asked these questions quite often. Three distinct items differentiate tri shorts from bike shorts:

  1. Function: Running and Swimming versus Bike Riding
  2. Construction: How the short is designed
  3. Price: Which is more expensive? It really depends on what quality product you are going to pick.

Function: Whether or not you’re really going to need that diaper of a pad….

Bike shorts often come with the notion of having a “diaper-like” pad. This is based upon the fact that the padding (chamois) in a bike short is much thicker, as well it covers a wider surface area of the short (the pad reaches higher in the front, as well as the back for more cushion support). So why would you need a thicker pad as a triathlete? Simple. If you plan on logging in some serious training miles (let’s say beyond 20 or 30 mile rides) a thicker pad will eventually become a necessity. However, a biking short is just that: made for biking. A short with such a cushion would not be functional to run and swim in.  The bike short is designed for longer training rides. Thus, the need for tri shorts that have thinner pads designed with consideration for running and swimming in.

Construction: Tri and bike shorts have different design features. As previously mentioned, there’s the distinct difference of a thinner chamois in a cycling short but what else separates the two?

  • length:  A tri short tends to be shorter in length (a good 2-3 inches depending on the style). This difference is even more noticeable in some women’s styles.  Triathlon shorts generally range around 6” to 10”.
  • moisture wicking: A tri short is also designed to wick moisture, meaning they’re going to keep much drier and won’t absorb nearly as much water as a bike short. This in large part comes from the difference in the pad
  • shape: The actual shape of the shorts and chamois is designed with running in mind. Its shape moves with you while running, and the pad doesn’t span quite as wide. The cushioning is generally slight, and light enough to become unnoticeable while out on the run (but I’ve found this to be quite subjective among different shorts matched with different people). With most bike shorts you will find the short to mimic the shape of your body in a sitting position. With most tri shorts you will find them to be straight in construction like most pants and running shorts.

Pricing: Cost differences

On average, you’re going to be looking at a slightly steeper cost for a cycling short.

Bike Shorts: More material and a thicker padding usually translates to a little bit more of a cost. So when should you spend the extra cash? When a thicker chamois and longer short can’t be compromised. For many people longer bike training days equate to riding in cycling shorts rather than tri shorts. In this case comfort is paramount and sometimes it’s just not worth the saddle pains.

Tri Shorts: Some tri shorts can get very pricey when you consider the materials, pad, compression, etc… Look to spend between $60 to $100 for a pair of current/in-season/up-to-date tri shorts from a reputable company. For the most part, you’re probably going to want to stick to triathlon shorts for race day and even many training days.

If you’re looking for a best seller as far as cycling short for comfort reasons, check out the De Soto 400 Mile Bike Short.

Need an all around great tri short? Check out the 2XU Comp Tri Short. Get both shorts at OneTri.com

Happy Training.