Triathlon shorts are an essential gear for many endurance athletes aiming for pure performance. Just as joining a race or event will take serious training, buying the right one will require as much preparation and research.
Because you will be running, swimming, and biking in it; buy one that will get the job done right. So get geared up to finish and make your every tri-sports experience worth the while.
For starters, the choice to use tri shorts cuts down on the ton of money required to get into the sport on higher-end gear. Triathlon shorts simplify the race and saves you time, eliminating the worries of ever changing your bottoms.
Among the most versatile triathlon clothing, it is a core piece in any beginner or pro triathlete’s gear offering an all-purpose coverage for all three race sections.
Even for those who prefer to race in a full-on triathlon suit, investing in a good pair of tri shorts (or several good pairs) can be handy in open water swims and training.
The best triathlon shorts do not have to be the most expensive. This gear comes in a variety of quality levels, and share several key features.
So what should you look for when buying good triathlon shorts? Read on to know more about these factors. This article also discusses our top picks on the best tri shorts and why each of them is highly recommended.
In a hurry? Here are Our Top Picks For Tri Shorts
The Best Triathlon Shorts
The selection can be overwhelming with all the amazing bells and whistles that some tri gear claims. Fortunately there are many trusted endurance sports brands that offer triathlon-specific shorts and other apparel.
Triathlon short reviews have become handy in helping you make an informed buying decision. Read through our recommendations that will give you one less thing to worry about on the race day.
Santic Mens Cycling Padded Shorts
This is cycling short that’s ideal for those who love riding even during hot weather. Santic markets these shorts for those who need comfortable shorts for the summer. It uses materials that allow for proper airflow so you can stay cool while riding during those hot summer days.
If you love long rides, the shockproof pad of these cycling shorts can ensure that you’re comfortable while riding. It keeps you protected even if hit minor bumps on the road while riding.
I love the materials they used. The shorts feel soft and silky to the touch. They also used a fabric that doesn’t pill so you can use your shorts longer. If you don’t know what pilling is, those are the small ball of fibers that form on a fabric. You usually see them on the seat of your shorts. They make your shorts look old and worn.
When you order, make sure that you order a size that is a bit larger. According to customer feedback, the shorts are a bit shorter especially in the thighs and on the back. This can be because of the size difference between Asian and American bodies.
It is also a bit of a turn off that you cannot machine-wash the shorts. Although, it is understandable considering the delicate fabric they used in making the shorts.
Zoot’s Performance Tri Shorts
Zoot Sports started in Kona, Hawaii, that hosts the yearly Ironman World Championships. Its most popular Performance Tri Short features quick-drying and breathable fabric with just enough fleece padding to keep biking and running comfortable. It has specially constructed hems that offer minimal seam stitching for protection against chafing.
This pair looks awesome and covers enough of the leg, providing compression support for fatigued muscles. It has UPF+ sun protection, drawstring if needed, and two pockets to store your nutritional needs in.
Many find this very comfortable and good looking. However, it does not have grippers and might not be ideal for taller triathletes.
Castelli Free Triathlon Shorts
Known for creating high quality gear at premium prices, Castelli offers its Free Triathlon Shorts. Money-wise it’s actually not free, but this is an awesome illustration of getting exactly what you pay for.
This pair is thoroughly engineered for excellent fit. For optimal performance, it offers just the right amount of muscle support while keeping the body cool.
It comes with UPF 16 protection, high-capacity pockets and SnapLock fastener that keeps the top from riding up while biking or swimming.
The water-repellent fabric that provides exceptional cooling has been wind tunnel tested for on-bike speed.
The GIRO3 elastic leg grips, which make up an entire section of the shorts instead of just strips, are among the most comfortable in the market. Like all other Castelli products, Free is highly durable – holding its shape for much longer, through many uses.
Pearl Izumi Select Tri Shorts
The Select series of triathlon shorts from Pearl Izumi is among its product ranges that are friendlier on the budget. Though lower-priced, it competes well with other gear when it comes to performance-enhancing features.
Select offers extra flex and softness that make it very comfortable, fitting exceptionally well. Its legendary Transfer Dry fabric sets the benchmark for moisture wicking and compression.
It has reflective elements helpful for low-light visibility, a stretch draw cord for perfect fit and quick-dry fleece chamois.
The easy-access envelope pocket is great for carrying gel packs during the bike ride, or run. Flatlock seams offer superior abrasion resistance and its plush elastic silicone leg grip is of high-quality and reliable.
De Soto 4-Pocket Forza Liftfoil Shorts
The Liftfoil is a seriously awesome triathlon shorts for both longer and shorter races. It feels and performs as good as it looks with its almost invisible contrast flatstitch seams and gorgeous curved seamlines.
It is constructed to be sleek with less friction – something that will easily be noticeable when combined with a wetsuit.
Made entirely of the swimskin fabric this is also ideal for non-wetsuit races. All models have the “modesty” panels in the crotch area that avoids saddle stains while creating a more flattering appearance. Hold things better in place with the four pockets made of Forza Compressor fabric.
These pockets, when empty, provide zero drag for speeds 5mph (8kph) or less. The excellent compression qualities of this pair of tri gear provide increased durability, support for tired muscles, and added comfort.
2XU G2 Active Tri Shorts
Best known for compression wear, the 2XU offers a good all-purpose triathlon short in the Active line. Flatlock stitching results to a streamlined look, enhancing ease of movement while reducing chafe. The first generation of the Active series has been a hit to many triathletes, and the G2 version adds some color accent options.
Another smart upgrade is the two rear pockets ideal for storing fuel. The ultra-thin, quick drying Speedline chamois offers the essential padding needed for bike rides. The Y elastic grip is silicone-free and works amazingly in keeping the shorts in place through every leg of the race.
Plus, the 70D Elastane fabric that boosts support, performance, recovery and moisture management also provides 50+ UV protection.
Differences between Tri and Bike Shorts
While you might be tempted to pick regular bike shorts for your race, tri shorts come with a number of benefits, which we explore in this article.
What to look for in Triathlon Shorts: The Guide
Serious endurance events require active clothing that offers easy transition between bike, run, and swim. A tri shorts pair that does well in the water or on the bike is a key part of your training and your race.
With the right combination of fabric material and features, a good pair that is both durable and breathable can be worn throughout the race.
A good example of these type of shorts would be Sugoi brand shorts. Transition comfortably as your gear airs out from the wet, taking in all the beatings of the sport mile after mile.
A good pair can easily become a favorite garment for training, as well as actual races. It is crucial to note, however, that these are not intended for use in chlorinated pools. This wears them out quickly so plan your event clothing smartly.
Most triathletes reserve their shorts for combo bike and run or bricks workouts and on the race day. For training in the pool swim jammers are ideal while cycling shorts are great for long rides.
It is also important to note that tri shorts are different from compression shorts and cycling shorts. Though it has some of the main advantages of both, it still offers more versatility in terms of function and construction.
It is specifically designed to make you comfortable in both the run and bike stage. Extend this comfort by looking for added features like UV ray protection that’s great for longer races, and quick drying and anti-bacterial properties of the chamois.
One of the best things about shopping today for triathlon clothing is the huge advancements in the material and technology. Regulating body temperature throughout the race is essential to performance.
If competing in colder climates, choose a fabric that can protect against temperature without compromising mobility.
The chamois for triathlons come in two types – foam padded or microfleece. Though very similar in properties, these vary in looks and offer different advantages. Both are created to dry very quickly, and are antibacterial in nature.
But the foam padded chamois offers more bulk and shock absorption which is specifically useful in bumpy bike ride courses and longer races.
Seam Construction and Inseam Length
The seams should be flat enough to be almost invisible yet strong enough so they are durable. Quality seam construction makes the tri shorts last longer. Another important factor to consider when looking for the right triathlon shorts is the length.
Take note that the longer the inseam, the larger the coverage, and this translates to more compression and protection. Longer shorts offer more protection for the quads and hamstrings which are perhaps the most important muscles in triathlons and ironman races.
It’s no wonder why you’ll often see longer triathlon shorts worn by athletes during longer races. But remember, the ideal inseam length for you is determined by your height.
Ideally, the longer your legs, the more length and coverage you’ll need. To help you further, here are general guidelines for inseam sizing:
- Most popular length choice for triathlon women’s shorts: 6-7 inches
- Short women’s triathlon shorts inseam: 3-4 inches
- Longest inseam for women’s tri shorts: 8-9 inches
- Most popular length choice for triathlon men’s shorts: 7-8 inches
- Short men’s ironman shorts inseam: 5-6 inches
- Longest inseam for men: 9-10 inches
Comfortable Leg Grips
It is especially important for sports and activewear to stay in place. Shorts that don’t stay in place during training or event is not just plain annoying, it can also have an impact on your performance.
Struggling with it can be distracting, and soon the continuous discomfort can become painful. And this is what leg grips are for.
Grips or grippers on the hem of triathlon shorts are often made of silicone. This is designed to prevent shorts from riding up when biking, or bunching up and causing discomfort.
Some athletes might develop huge quads and smaller waists, training over time.
If you have the same physique, you might have to go up one size or two for shorts with grippers. This sizing allowance ensures that the grips will not be too tight. The worst thing that could happen in a long race is losing circulation.
A very important factor, many triathletes determine which tri shorts to buy simply on the availability and number of pockets.
There are four very common constructions when it comes to pockets – two pockets, four pockets, one pocket and of course the no-pocket option.
The race – being a long journey, the pockets can come very handy in storing food and all other essentials needed for a successful finish. However, not all find these necessary and opt for shorts without the pockets because they might already be wearing a belt or pouch.
When wearing shorts in the water, remember that pockets can also cause a minimal drag especially those located lower on the hips. So when it comes to pockets, it’s really a matter of preference.