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Best Triathlon Shorts Reviewed & Rated for Quality

last updated Mar 24, 2019
A race with a little bit of everything, triathlons consist of swimming, cycling and running. There are non-competitive and competitive athletes that train to compete. The gear you choose to train with and compete with does make a difference. For those of you who are training and are competing because you want to get your body in top physical form and have a fun experience to work towards, you could benefit from the right gear but you might not necessarily need all the top pieces. However, if you are a competitive type and you thrive on winning and having top times it is imperative that you have the appropriate gear. You could be in the top tier group of people during your race with the top skill level and physical fitness. Your results when compared to your peers in this elite group, however very well would be on the lower end specifically because of the equipment you use. Better equipment will yield better results for athletes with similar strength and skill levels.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research

icon
SLS3
97.2/100 our score
Comfort
97
Materials
98
Breathability
98
Durability
97
Fit
96
SLS3
Why is it better?

Pockets are big enough to fit some cell phones

Drawstring in the waist

Comfortable and practical

Fit is slightly big, so size down

The chamois is very unobtrusive

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
SLS3
Test Winner: SLS3
Researched Sources
8
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1000
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
18
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
17
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Brian Price:

In this update, we rewrote most of the criteria section to help you better know what to look for in a pair of tri shorts before you buy and to know what to expect from the products on this list. We also answered a couple of questions from our readers in our FAQ's.

Sorting Options
Comfort Materials Breathability Durability Fit By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.2
Comfort
97%
Materials
98%
Breathability
98%
Durability
97%
Fit
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$52.99
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Comfort
98%
Materials
96%
Breathability
96%
Durability
95%
Fit
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$23.79
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Comfort
95%
Materials
95%
Breathability
93%
Durability
93%
Fit
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$109.95
$109.95
See Deal
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Comfort
92%
Materials
93%
Breathability
93%
Durability
90%
Fit
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$44.44
$65.00
See Deal
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Comfort
90%
Materials
90%
Breathability
88%
Durability
87%
Fit
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$89.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Comfort
88%
Materials
86%
Breathability
86%
Durability
85%
Fit
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$50.00
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Comfort
83%
Materials
82%
Breathability
82%
Durability
82%
Fit
83%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$33.75
See Deal
$37.74
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80
Comfort
80%
Materials
80%
Breathability
80%
Durability
80%
Fit
80%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$36.30
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77
Comfort
78%
Materials
78%
Breathability
77%
Durability
75%
Fit
77%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$70.00
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
75
Comfort
76%
Materials
76%
Breathability
75%
Durability
75%
Fit
73%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.04.19)
$85.00
In Depth Review Top 10
  • SLS3
  • SANTIC
  • blueseventy
  • Pearl iZUMi
  • Synergy
  • Canari
  • TYR Sport
  • TYR Durafast Elite
  • ZOOT
  • MooMotion
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Triathlon Shorts

1. SLS3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.2
SLS3
Comfort
97
Materials
98
Breathability
98
Durability
97
Fit
96
best offer for today
$52.99
Pros:

Pockets are big enough to fit some cell phones

Drawstring in the waist

Comfortable and practical

Fit is slightly big, so size down

The chamois is very unobtrusive

Cons:

No silicone leg gripper

Not to be used in chlorinated water

If you want a comfortable pair of functional tri shorts, the SLS3 is what you need. They use a flexible fabric blend that enforces a nice fit and storage options with two generous side pockets that are designed in such a way you won’t even notice them when you are swimming. These shorts are streamlined and performance-based.

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Design

This product offers comfort that can’t be missed. These shorts use an elastic waistband and drawstring combination will ensure your shorts stay in place with no problems of getting bunched up at the waist. For most muscular legs, there is a soft leg finish so you can have a nice, second skin like fit that won’t have a ton of tension or squeeze your leg. They provide a ton of muscular coverage so you will be able to battle fatigue much better.

Versatile

These shorts will help you glide through the water with ease. Then they can easily transition to dry land and support your running and cycling portions of the race. They use foam-cushioned pads that help with chafing during the bicycle portion. The padding proportions in these shorts are on point, so you get the satisfaction of that cushioning without hindering your run.

Cost and Value

These compression shorts are decently priced and they offer some really nice features in their design such as the elastic waistband and drawstring combination to which will undoubtedly keep those shorts in place through all the elements. Storage options and fabrics with flexibility and a soft finish that will fit like a glove to your body’s contours round these tri shorts out nicely.

2. SANTIC

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
SANTIC
Comfort
98
Materials
96
Breathability
96
Durability
95
Fit
94
best offer for today
$23.79
Pros:

Stylish appeal

Offer nice, flexible fit

Quality product for those on a budget

Made for medium distance riding, about 15-30 miles

Foam padding

Cons:

No drawstring cord

Sized small, make sure to measure leg band for best fit

The SANTIC short is designed for men as well as women. Made of 82% Nylon, 18% Spandex and lycra with a UPF of 50+, the materials are designed to help you stay dry longer combined with antibacterial properties will support short and skin health. Both sides of the waistband have a breathable mesh and a reflective logo which offers some flashiness and will help you be noticed.

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Comfort

These shorts use a 12-panel anatomic system that along with silicone leg grippers will provide a snug fit that is very comfortable. This system will also ensure that your shorts don’t move around or bunch up. They also have a double antibacterial 4D CoolMax pad that adds to the health and comfort of the shorts.

Good for Mid-Distance Races

These shorts are easily used to train for mid distance biking and training for triathlons as well as duathlons. They dry quickly and they will stay put on your leg without riding up. The antibacterial fabric as well as the mesh fabric in the back really do a great job helping to keep you dry faster.

Cost and Value

These shorts have a great look with a high-quality fabric and tight seams that make them very comparable to top tier brands. They come at an attractive price and have a nice look about them. Most importantly, they are comfortable and stay where you want them to.

3. blueseventy

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
blueseventy
Comfort
95
Materials
95
Breathability
93
Durability
93
Fit
92
best offer for today
more shops
$109.95
$109.95
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Pros:

Made for a tight fit similar to a wetsuit

Made for both men and women

They have an inner drawstring

Low cut waist

Simple maintenance

Excellent training tool

Cons:

Unlined inside

Run small

If you are looking for a comfortable and flexible pair of shorts, we have a great product to share with you. The Blueseventy tri-shorts are made from a neoprene material, which is intentionally designed to help an individual when training in the pool so they can feel the same buoyancy when in the middle of the race. You are going to feel the lift in the hip and leg which is going to afford you great speed.

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Functional

Truly exceptional buoyancy which really helps when training in a pool that actually simulates a swimsuit as the buoyancy help get your legs up. There is also a nice, flexible range of motion for your legs. This suit is easily maintained by simply rinsing down with wetsuit shampoo regularly, and is the best way to keep them in good shape for the long term.

Performance

The functional nature of these shorts can really help new swimmers get their form and style down. The lift they provide helps support your hips for terrific rotation. You can bet your endurance will improve as the functionality of these shorts will help you cut through the water to get you going for longer distances when training.

Cost and Value

These have a nice wetsuit feel that are not only functional in their nature, but they can also serve to help you with the form that could easily replace a pull-buoy. They are easy to put on and take off without sacrificing a really nice fit. Paying attention to some easy maintenance routines will keep them in great shape. These are great for training and offer substantial support in the water.

4. Pearl iZUMi

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Pearl iZUMi
Comfort
92
Materials
93
Breathability
93
Durability
90
Fit
92
best offer for today
more shops
$44.44
$65.00
See Deal
Pros:

Excellent protection over long rides

Designed to reduce redness and chaffing

Tight, they will stay put without cutting off circulation

Nice fit with a supple feel

The material will keep the moisture out and keep you dry

Cons:

Sizing runs small

Moderately priced

Stay drier, longer with the Pearl iZUMi tri short. The P.R.O. Transfer fabric that helps for added is ultra comfortable and has tremendous water wicking abilities. The design utilizes a 1:1 chamois and a floating top sheet that will cut down on friction, so goodbye chafing. The well-padded chamois provides that extra level of cushioning without bulk.

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Quality materials

These shorts have thinner padding that makes it more comfortable than the bulkier, heavily padded shorts. The materials used in the padding make them actually conform better to the body and combined with the leg grippers are going to have a nice fit that will naturally fit your body and stay in place. Don’t worry about the grip being constricting, it is snug but not tight, you won't have pressure marks after taking them off.

Design

These have a nice, cool cut. The chamois is a good size and you won't find yourself victim to the dreaded “diaper wearing” feeling. They will provide you a ton of comfort on long rides, and when you are done with your ride you will notice much less chafing if any, less soreness and redness even after many miles on your bike.

Cost and Value

These highly breathable shorts that are smooth on the skin and use a Pro transfer fabric technology to keep you dry. They have a nice feel and offer enough padding to be a welcomed buffer while not adding too much bulk. You will notice an extra bit of length in these shorts, which is a nice addition to support your muscle balance and efficiency.

5. Synergy

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Synergy
Comfort
90
Materials
90
Breathability
88
Durability
87
Fit
88
best offer for today
$89.95
Pros:

Dry fast, no chafing

Durable will hold up to training and race day

Gel pad

Work really well for biking

Easy maintenance, rinse off after use

Cons:

Stitching could be better

Logo and reflection could be more durable

Support and performance is what you get with the Synergy short. Semi-compression materials will encase your body and the neogel pad conforms to your shape so that you get widespread cushioning. Flatlock stitching all for smooth construction that, along with soft leg grippers provide a hold that effortless and strong.

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Solid

These are a fairly well-designed pair of tri shorts. They are straightforward and simple in their appearance. Modesty lining is good and the pad works well. The durability is above average and you will be happy with the overall performance.

Functional

They transition well from wet to dry environments and have an anti-microbial fleece to keep them and you healthy. You are going to easily leave the water and not even notice the butt padding or need to fiddle with repositioning your shorts as you progress to the run portion of the race.

Cost and Value

You are getting a solid tri short that will function exactly the way you need it to for an affordable price. You can’t ask for more than a short that feels good on your body, will stay in place after leaving the water and will dry out fast without any bulk in the padding.

6. Canari

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86
Canari
Comfort
88
Materials
86
Breathability
86
Durability
85
Fit
85
best offer for today
more shops
$50.00
Pros:

Made for women

Great for new racers and experienced racers

Comfortable and effective compression

Dries very quickly

Priced well

Cons:

The band at the bottom can fit some woman’s body awkwardly

Different stitching pattern may make the fit for some women gawky

If you are after a tri short that is made for performance, the Canari is worth taking a look. You get a 6” inseam with exceptional coverage. The nylon and spandex combination is awesome for drying quickly and streamlining for speed. Between the soft touch leg grippers, the 1” elastic waistband and extra control of a cord in the waste, you won’t find yourself fiddling with these shorts. Un the waist, Canari offers a nylon and spandex combination of materials in this triathlon short. A 6” inseam helps with coverage and increased speed and use soft touch leg grippers. There is a 1” elastic band in the waste and a cord. There are a 6-panel design and microfleece pad.

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Effective

These tri shorts work. They will serve you well as they dry out fast for a seamless transition from water to dry environments for running and biking. The material tends to be closer to what is used for a bathing suit and there are bands at the bottom so they stick to your legs and protect them from drafts, debris, or any other foreign material getting into them.

Good Fit

These are great for first-time triathlon competitors as well as veteran competitors. They are tight but don’t let that be a surprise to you, tri shorts should fit snugly. It comes from that compression technology which is widely used for increased production and flexibility. You won’t have any problems with them falling down, they will stay put and keep you going to the end of the race.

Cost and Value

As far as sizing, they fit to size. Really great for triathlons, because they have that necessary ability to swiftly dry so you can keep going without discomfort. There is plenty of comfort in the fit and just the right amount of padding that won’t leave you feeling bogged down during a swim.

7. TYR Sport

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
TYR Sport
Comfort
83
Materials
82
Breathability
82
Durability
82
Fit
83
best offer for today
more shops
$37.74
$33.75
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Pros:

No wet diaper feel

Great for training and race day

Superior drying capacity

Padding that will compliment bicycle riding

TYR is known for a good fit

UPF 50+

Cons:

Durability could be improved

Try not to wear for training on offseason as they will show some wear and tear

Here we have a straightforward tri short with all the bells and whistles of others on the market but at a fraction of the price. TYR is a trusted brand that has products which consistently deliver a level of reliability in quality. The TYR Sport is no different and it is going to be a worthwhile tri short take a look at. 9-inches in length and uses a graduated compression design. The leg gripper is a silicone beaded variety and there are a drawcord and pockets for storage. The material is UPF50+.

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Good for Racing

You aren’t going to feel wet or soggy after being in the water when you are finishing your race because the shorts offer a nice drying capacity. The leg grips will help from sliding and while the padding was a bit less than bike shorts, it will still function well when you are riding. Of course, they will fit well as is expected from TYR who is knowns for well fitting, or true to size products.

Great Padding

While you aren’t going to get the bulk in padding that is commonly found in biking shorts, you get enough in a tri short to accommodate for your distance in a race. You will get comfortable enough padding with a nice fit for a shorter biking distance to accommodate a triathlon. That is ok though because since you are mostly leaning forward during a triathlon, the padding should be more focused on that position. This short gives you that structured padding where you need it.

Cost and Value

These are hands down a very valuable purchase for a triathlon race and indispensable for training up to your race. The fit is great, they are comfortable to swim for long periods, and they dry well, for a great transition. Coming to you at an attractive price, you can easily use these for training and race day.

8. TYR Durafast Elite

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80
TYR Durafast Elite
Comfort
80
Materials
80
Breathability
80
Durability
80
Fit
80
best offer for today
$36.30
Pros:

Good for athletes even muscular body types

Can be used in chlorinated pool

Substantial fabric

Drawcord in the waste

Terrific competitive practice suit

Good at preventing drag

Cons:

Fit is smaller and more awkward on male bodies

Could have a quicker drying ability

It isn’t realistic to think when you are training for your race that you can do so in open water for all the swimming practice hours you are going to log. Tri shorts are known for having materials that can’t hold up to pools and chlorine, but without a doubt, you're most likely going to be doing some pool training. Here is your solution, the TYR can accommodate 300+ hours of use and it is chlorine proof.

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Fit

As for fit, they will fit as expected so there you go, no fuss sizing. Even for those with muscular thighs, you won’t have a problem wearing these shorts. Although the material is a bit thicker than others on the market, which accommodates for the high durability and capacity for training in chlorine, it won’t produce any extra drag but will feel soft and comfortable.

Durable

300+ hours of training including in chlorinated pool water is nothing to turn your nose at. These shorts will hold up well to a high level of use and will keep their fit and their functionality for all the hours you are going to need training and on race day.

Cost and Value

One of the only shorts on the market that is specifically designed to train in pools, while providing all the features of other competitive tri shorts on the market, anyone can benefit from these. An added benefit is that they are an attractively priced well-made suit for basic training.

9. ZOOT

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77
ZOOT
Comfort
78
Materials
78
Breathability
77
Durability
75
Fit
77
best offer for today
more shops
$70.00
Pros:

Have a drawstring

Can accommodate long distance rides

Amazing drying ability

Fits the body well, helpful for less drag

Nice storage options

Cons:

Seam pattern can be uncomfortable for some

Check sizing, fit really well if you pick the right size for your body

ZOOT offers a top selling and reliable tri short. They are great for triathlon races as well as training. The Teksheen BIO wrap will give you tons of strength support so you can have aid with endurance and reduces the damage your muscles will accumulate with vibration. These are perfect for race day as they fit well and are very comfortable.

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Terrific Tri Short

These shorts fit snugly, but that is what you want in a tri short. They're not constricting, however. The cuffs will fit snuggly after repeated use which is what you’d want them to do.

Design

The pad is very comfortable as a chamois when you are biking and isn’t bulky and dries out easily. It provides for much less chafing and redness after long bike rides. Not to miss, you get storage with two mesh hip packs which offer terrific space. Great storage options with pockets that work awesomely.

Cost and Value

This is a great option for triathletes as they hit all the bullet points. They dry fast, which is necessary, offer a ton of storage in a breathable way, fit well and at a price that can’t be beaten. They are better cycling shorts than most cycling only shorts on the market.

10. MooMotion

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
75
MooMotion
Comfort
76
Materials
76
Breathability
75
Durability
75
Fit
73
best offer for today
$85.00
Pros:

Woman tri shorts

Great fit, and easily maintained

Machine washable

No silicone grabbers

Tons of comfort, support, and coverage

Very stylish

Cons:

Could have a tighter fit

MooMotion offers a short that is figure flattering for women. They offer great padding with a 4-way stretch that can easily be used for cycling or training for multisport activities. UPF 50+ properties are integrated into these shorts, which are made of 79% Lycra, and 21% Spandex. You can easily wash them in a washing machine, but dry them by hanging them for air drying.

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Comfort

These are truly a very comfortable pair of active shorts. They come with nice wide waist-bands and leg bands. Ladies who are concerned about the look of their back thighs have a nicely flattering option here.

Great for Triathlons

Terrific padding, these shorts aren’t heavy and thick in this area. You have enough to be comfortable to swim and run but not too much thickness. They are narrow enough to keep you moving throughout your race.

Cost and Value

A perfect design that will get you through your race. They have easy maintenance, just wash cold and air dry, which is not uncommon for tri short upkeep. They dry extremely fast, which you want in a triathlon where you are transitioning from a wet environment to dry. Nice fit at an attractive price point.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

A triathlon is a long and grueling race so the last thing is you need is to make it even more uncomfortable by wearing the wrong clothing, or clothing ill-fitted for your body.

Comfort is of utmost importance and should be your top priority when zeroing in on which tri short is right for you. You will be training in these shorts and wearing them on race day for a really long amount of time. If you are not comfortable, you will definitely be miserable and potentially in pain. Flexibility in your shorts, seams that aren’t invasive, fabric that stays put and doesn’t bunch are all things to consider when choosing your tri shorts.

Some shorts not only have the elastic waist but they also have a drawstring to provide extra hold for the shorts especially when swimming. Keeping the shorts stay put and streamlined will help you glide through the water faster and create less drag holding you back. The drawstring is also nice because it can be a great help when your suit is shifting from wet to dry and it can help the overall suit hold is fit and shape.

So to summarize the feel of the tri shorts comes down to the materials, design, and how well they fit on your body. In order to make sure you get the right pair, read our reviews carefully as well as the sizing chart closely before you buy. It can also be helpful to read through some reviews and look for people who have described themselves as having a similar body type as you to see what they had to say. This can be a bit tedious but can pay off big time in the long run by helping you find the best fitting, most comfortable tri shorts possible.

Materials

Comfort, breathability, durability, and fit all depend on the shorts being made of the right stuff.

Having a pair of tri shorts made of the right fabrics and constructed in the right way can go far when it comes to how you perform on race day. The fabrics cascade down to all the other factors we've looked at such as comfort, breathability, durability, and fit. Tri shorts have a lot asked from them. They need to be tight but not constrictive, breathable, and durable, and to have flat seams. In order to accomplish all this, the short makers need to use a fabric that is tight and aerodynamic during the swim portion but dry super quickly by the time the bike portion comes along or serious chafing can occur. Typically, tri shorts are made from some sort of blend of polyester, nylon, and spandex or lycra. The polyester makes them breathable, the nylon adds toughness, and the spandex or lycra makes them form-fitting and tight in the water.

Another feature you'll find in tri shorts is a pad to help protect and comfort you during the bike portion. This pad is typically made of quick-drying, soft, and comfortable chamois. The pad will be quite a bit thinner than the padding found in a pair of shorts specifically designed for cycling, but it will still add additional comfort and protection that you'll definitely want and appreciate.

Breathability

This is one of the most important features to look for in a pair of tri shorts.

This is an incredibly important thing to look for when you're shopping for a pair of tri shorts and for a good reason. The traditional order of events in a triathlon is swim, bike, run. Since you'll be going straight from swimming to cycling you want and need a pair of shorts that will dry extremely quickly so that you aren't sitting on your bike soaking wet which can lead to hot spots, chafing, blisters, and ultimately extreme discomfort. For tri shorts, the breathability typically comes from the polyester that's included in the fabric blend as well as the tightness of the weave. Polyester is extremely breathable because it is a synthetic fiber that literally cannot absorb moisture. This means that the moisture must pass around it to the outside air where it can dry naturally. This means that when you're in the water during the swim portion, your shorts won't be absorbing any water. This will help them to dry extremely quickly so that you can be comfortable, effective, and highly performing on your bike. You also want to make sure that the shorts aren't woven too tightly or the tightness of the weave will stop sweat and water on your skin from escaping around the synthetic fiber to the outside air to dry. Any fabric that says it has a sun protective factor will be woven more tightly than one without. Sun protective factors come from weaving the fabric tightly so that UV rays penetrate, but as we've discussed above this stops the shorts from being as breathable as they otherwise could be.

Durability

Durability is important because you want to choose shorts that will last and serve you through many races.

While most tri shorts aren’t made to be used in chlorinated water, you can still find some that can be used in chlorine. TYR is an example of a brand that makes their gear to be able to have that ability. The reason why many brands do not build in this feature is often that of the materials and the function those materials, their makeup is susceptible to chlorine and the chemical will erode and deteriorate them quickly. Whether or not your shorts are made for chlorine, it is always a great idea to at the very least rinse them off after use and it helps to wash them down with specialty triathlon shampoo every so often to keep them in optimal condition.

This is why there has always been a need for a better option and now we have it- triathlon shorts. So, those serious about doing a triathlon should take time and consider specialized shorts to support them during their training and on race day. There are many options for the most competitive to the casual fitness thrill seeker that can fit an array of budgets. We tried to include a range of products that offered the features needed to be practical for race day as well as practical for the beginner as well as the seasoned pro.

Fit

How well the shorts fit is incredibly essential for how well you perform during your triathlon as well as how much you enjoy it, or don't!

In general, tri shorts are meant to fit snugly. They can have short or longer lengths, and the difference is really a matter of preference. Having a solid elastic grip for the leg is very important. You want to avoid any short that may ride up on you, or not stay put where it needs to be during your race. You aren’t going to want to be fiddling with your shorts on race day and you certainly don’t want any debris to get in an under them. A good measurement is about 6-10-inches of coverage and protection. Some people find that longer shorts provide better stabilization to their muscles and therefore help improve upon their performance.

Many triathlon shorts use compression technology for their fit and function and many runners find that once they get used to the sensation of running with compression shorts, they find it to be one of the better feeling options available today. You will get many benefits from that technology but remember, even though you want a snug fit, you aren’t trying to cut off your circulation. The fit of the chamois is important, there are options for molded chamois that can be very comfortable. The construction of the triathlon short is also important, most use a multi-panel system to ensure the fit will be high quality and improve the shorts ability to stay put. One thing to consider with the panel system is how the seams feel for you. More panels mean more seams, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the seam structure of some shorts could feel awkward over others. You will want to make sure the seams are not rubbing you in sensitive areas such as between your legs and that they are not causing short spots, blisters, and chaffing.

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#1
Comfort
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#2
Materials
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#3
Breathability
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#4
Durability
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#5
Fit
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What's the deal with compression?

A lot of the triathlon shorts on our list are compression shorts. Compression shorts are flexible, comfortable, moisture-wicking, and fast drying. Triathlon shorts use compression because it makes them comfortable, versatile, and a perfect fit for all of the different cardiovascular activities you need to do for your triathlon. Be sure not to confuse this type of compression with the tighter healing compression of a pair of recovery shorts.

Don't worry about style

During a triathlon, nobody cares what you look like, except for maybe you. Seriously. What makes you look cool during and after a triathlon is knowing that you trained hard and gave your all during the event. While liking the way you look while you run can indeed make it more likely that you'll run more often and longer distances, this is one case where you can let that all go and just wear what helps you perform best.

Other Factors to Consider

Bottom Line

For long races, wearing something that allows for extra coverage and padding to accommodate the bike and a run portion is highly desirable. The important aspects of “tri shorts” used to write this review included the following metrics, fabrics, features and benefits, sizing and fit, and lastly functionality. We wanted to make sure we gave you a complete and thorough list and took great care to select, compare, and review these products for you. We hope that you find this review guide helpful in your search for the right triathlon shorts for your next big event!

Features

Breathability is important to help sweat and wetness to evaporate quicker. To help rid your body of water after your swim portion, and ensure that your body can keep cool. Ridding your body of that excess water and keeping airflow moving will help to make sure your gear doesn’t become too hot for wearing.

Padding is crucial because you are going to need the support for the long bike ride ahead for you. You don’t necessarily need the padding to be thick and bulky, this may cause an issue with drag during your swim component. It also is more likely to lead to what some racers call “diaper” feel as you leave the water. That being said, while most tri shorts will not be as highly padded as a straightforward bike short, it will have some. This padding can be foam or gel, and that is up to you which fits your body better. The feel of the padding and your preference is important but don’t forget that the padding must be able to dry out fast so that you can avoid the discomfort of the friction against your skin.

Storage space is useful to have for packing SPF or nutrition or maybe even your phone. Ensuring you have enough storage but are still able to move freely and be streamlined is helpful. Reflectors or bright colors are not a necessity but a nice safety addition specifically when you are training to keep you visible to other cars, boats, or people that might not see you otherwise when you are training.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: How can one train for weather or altitude to be successful on race day?
a:

The weather is never known for sure and you cannot predict or confirm if the weather on the day of your race would be optimal, very hot, wet and damp, etc. That is why training for extremes will help you dramatically on race day. If you are training in a cool climate for a race in a hot location, layers of clothing to simulate the hot and sweating is a proven technique. A word of caution, do not ever wear rubber suits or anything that is not breathable to accomplish this.

For those of you who have a fairly good idea of the general weather, for instance, if you know you are going to be racing in southern Florida in June, for instance, you can be fairly confident in assuming it is going to be a hot and humid race day. To train for these types of races, a method called acclimatization is smart. A good rule to follow is to give yourself approximately 10-14 days for your body to acclimatize for those muggy conditions. Aerobic workouts in the heat will be a better option and don’t be shocked if your training this way decreases your pace after acclimatization.

For the cold weather, keep a thermos flask with you to have a hot drink in you before your swim so you can keep your body in balance. This will help regulate warmth for when you start the race through the sprint. Layers are important, that cold wind hitting you during your bike ride could be brutal for some, so having a protective jacket to combat it is very useful.

Last, altitude is a huge factor as everyone knows. Give yourself time. Arrive at the altitude you are set to race at minimum 45 hours before the race. Research shows this helps with endurance activities.

q: What is the key to finishing your first triathlon?
a:

It is really all about efficiency. Using everything you have wisely. You can train to maximize your efficiency for race day. There are many resources online that can give you pointers, but nothing beats training with someone who is experienced. Train with another triathlete who was experienced and can bring valuable lessons back to the table. Some fitness trainers specialize in specialty race training and could be a valuable source of assistance.

q: Is it really possible to train for a triathlon and be ready to race in only 4 weeks?
a:

Yes and no. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up a regular exercise routine and are not active at all, then likely not. There is too much base to build and ground to cover, and it could be a safety issue. For those of you that have been keeping physically active, and by that, meaning someone who does regular cardio workouts. You don’t have to be Rambo, your body just has to be accustomed to cardiovascular exercising and stress. For those of you in the “non-couch-potato” category, yes it very well could be a possibility for you. Expect to embark on a training plan that will help you reach a high level of fitness but also teach crucial race skills.Yes and no. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up a regular exercise routine and are not active at all, then likely not. There is too much base to build and ground to cover, and it could be a safety issue. For those of you that have been keeping physically active, and by that, meaning someone who does regular cardio workouts. You don’t have to be Rambo, your body just has to be accustomed to cardiovascular exercising and stress. For those of you in the “non-couch-potato” category, yes it very well could be a possibility for you. Expect to embark on a training plan that will help you reach a high level of fitness but also teach crucial race skills.

q: How many pairs of triathlon shorts should I buy?
a:

There is no simple answer for this as it depends on a number of factors. One, it depends on how much training you are doing, how often you are training and how many races you run. If you are constantly washing and wearing the same one or two triathlon shorts then they will start to fade and stretch out faster. It might be worth investing in a few more. Two, it depends on your budget and what you are able to afford to invest into your gear. More expensive gear is often times higher quality so buying three high-quality sets may be a better investment in the long run than buying a new cheap set every couple of months. And three, it will also depend on where you live and the environment you are racing in. Exposure to weather and temperature can affect your triathlon shorts and swim in chlorinated water can also break down the fibers in your suit faster. So your racing and training conditions also need to be considered. In the end, there is no right or wrong answer and you have to find what works best for you and your needs and your unique situation as a runner. There is no simple answer for this as it depends on a number of factors. One, it depends on how much training you are doing, how often you are training and how many races you run. If you are constantly washing and wearing the same one or two triathlon shorts then they will start to fade and stretch out faster. It might be worth investing in a few more. Two, it depends on your budget and what you are able to afford to invest into your gear. More expensive gear is often times higher quality so buying three high-quality sets may be a better investment in the long run than buying a new cheap set every couple of months. And three, it will also depend on where you live and the environment you are racing in. Exposure to weather and temperature can affect your triathlon shorts and swim in chlorinated water can also break down the fibers in your suit faster. So your racing and training conditions also need to be considered. In the end, there is no right or wrong answer and you have to find what works best for you and your needs and your unique situation as a runner.

q: Can't I just buy and wear a tri suit during the event?
a:

Absolutely! If you want to invest in a specialized tri suit for your event that's actually the best possible thing to wear during your triathlon. A good tri suit can be worn during the swim, bike, and run portions of the event so you'll save time and energy that other competitors are using to change clothing. However, some people, especially those new to the sport, can be hesitant to invest in a tri suit before knowing whether or not they like the discipline and want to continue competing. But a good pair of tri shorts is more versatile than a suit and can also be worn while cycling, running, or at the gym.

Sources

  1. Human Kinetics, Racing Tactics: warm-ups, pacing and transitions, Science Publication,
  2. Men's Health, How to Train for a Triathlon, Men's Fitness Magazine,
  3. My Pro Coach, How to Train for a Triathlon in 4 Weeks, Triathlon Blog, Jun 28, 2017
  4. Men's Journal, How to Train for a Triathlon, Men's Magazine,
  5. Surfer, Take Care of Your Wetsuit, Surfing Magazine,
  6. Meredith Atwood, Beginner's Luck: What Do I Wear to my First Triathlon?, Website, Mar 12, 2018
  7. Complete Tri, Triathlon Shorts Buying Guide, Website, Mar 18, 2019
  8. Jane Alseon, Triathlon Shorts vs. Bike Shorts, Website, May 11, 2018