Best Triathlon Shorts Reviewed & Rated for Quality
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 and will so on race day. 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.
- Comfortable & Practical
- Flexible Fit
- Snug Fit
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.
10 Best Triathlon Shorts
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.
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.
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
No silicone leg gripper
Not to be used in chlorinated water
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.
Offer nice, flexible fit
Quality product for those on a budget
Made for medium distance riding, about 15-30 miles
No drawstring cord
Sized small, make sure to measure leg band for best fit
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.
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, they can 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.
Made for a tight fit similar to a wetsuit
Made for both men and women
They have an inner drawstring
Low cut waist
Excellent training tool
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.
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.
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
Sizing runs small
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.
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.
Made for women
Great for new racers and experienced racers
Comfortable and effective compression
Dries very quickly
The band at the bottom can fit some woman’s body awkwardly
Different stitching pattern may make the fit for some women gawky
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.
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.
Dry fast, no chafing
Durable will hold up to training and race day
Work really well for biking
Easy maintenance, rinse off after use
Stitching could be better
Logo and reflection could be more durable
TYR Durafast Elite
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.
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.
Good for athletes even muscular body types
Can be used in chlorinated pool
Drawcord in the waste
Terrific competitive practice suit
Good at preventing drag
Fit is smaller and more awkward on male bodies
Could have a quicker drying ability
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.
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.
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
Durability could be improved
Try not to wear for training on offseason as they will show some wear and tear
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. You can run for miles and they won’t ride up on you and be annoying like that even after multiple washings.
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.
Have a drawstring
Can accommodate long distance rides
Amazing drying ability
Fits the body well, helpful for less drag
Nice storage options
Seam pattern can be uncomfortable for some
Check sizing, fit really well if you pick the right size for your body
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.
Woman tri shorts
Great fit, and easily maintained
No silicone grabbers
Tons of comfort, support, and coverage
Could have a tighter fit
Sure, you could wear a swimsuit for your triathlon. That was often the case in the earlier days of this race. While you can save some money this way by cutting costs on the expensive gear, that is one of the very few benefits you get from donning the old swimsuit. The truth is that bathing suits aren’t designed to support your body through the rigors of this race. They aren’t going to provide you the quick drying and water wicking, breathable qualities that specific tri gear will do for you. Bathing Suits don’t have the padding and support for biking and running. Transitioning from the wet to dry in only a bathing suit can really leave you highly uncomfortable with the chafing, and soreness from the friction and could ultimately slow you down or stall you altogether. 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.
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Triathlon Shorts
Competing with water and intense physical effort will ensure can make for a wet body. Fabrics that are very quick drying and can remove moisture from your body are absolutely necessary. You want your tri shorts to have fabric technology that will be able to keep its support and its fit whether it is wet or dry. The ability to have built-in sun protection to block those hot rays is a functional part of the fabric you’d do well to have. Light, breathable materials that are flexible and comfortable for your training and motion are what quality triathlon shorts will use. There are also options available in which the fabrics have a cooling ability.
Features and Benefits
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.
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.
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.
Sizing and Fit
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. 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.
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 short, seams that aren’t invasive, fabric that stays put and doesn’t bunch are all things to consider when choosing your trip short.
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 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.
Other Important Factors to Consider
Remember, that you will be outside for a very long time. Even if your gear has sun protection that doesn’t mean your whole body is protected. Using SPF of 50+ will keep your skin healthy, and you can do double time protecting your eyes and skin by remembering to also wear a hat and sunglasses.
You are most likely going to have to wear a race bib with a number, so it isn’t a bad idea to have an elastic belt that you can position wherever you need for all parts of the race. Another thing to consider is guidance for when you are packing. There are specialty mats out there you can use in bright colors for easy detection or you can just use a towel from home. Lay the stuff you want to bring with you on the compact towel or mat and your items don’t all fit, then you have too much. This is a great way to understand what is appropriate for you to bring and when you need to consider pairing down.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How should a wetsuit fit?
A: A wetsuit should fit smoothly without any bumps or bulges. If you have any uneven bulges your wetsuit will not function properly as these areas are will water will gather. A nice close fit with the flexibility and stretch for optimal shoulder maneuverability is important. The fit on the neck should not be too tight. There are options for one-piece and two-piece wetsuits to find the right one for your body shape and preference.
Q: What is proper wetsuit maintenance?
A: To care for your wetsuit, always rinse inside and out with water after each use. You can lay it flat to dry or you can hang it up but try to stay away from extended exposure to sunlight which is harmful to the material. When storing, lay it flat, fold the suit first by crossing the arms, then legs and then in half. Do not use a hanger if you can avoid it. Should you need to use a hanger, make sure you are draping the suit over it compactly so that there is no stress pulling the swimsuit down which can cause problematic stretching and affect the ability of functionality and use for your suit.
Q: How can one train for whether 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: Purely 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