Kit Bag Essentials

Kit Bag Essentials

Remembering what to pack in your kit bag is often more stressful than the race itself. Not ideal for the night before a race when an early night sleep is hoped for before the uncomfortably early wake-up call that only us triathletes choose to do at the weekend. There are many obvious things which are rarely forgotten, but it’s the smaller, extra items which you may not have thought about before which can make all the difference. This means that you can race in a calm and focused mindset which can often be what turns a good race into a great race!

We will be focusing on kitbag essentials for Sprint and Olympic distance races. Some races have split transitions and aid bags, more commonly on the middle and long distance races.

Firstly, we will start with the tasty stuff - nutrition. Moving onto each individual leg of the triathlon before finishing on the long list of transition, mechanical and transition “bits and bobs” which often prove to be the aforementioned little lifesavers.


  • Gels
  • Electrolyte tabs
  • Water
  • Isotonic/energy drink
  • Cereal bars
  • Recovery Shake
  • Celebratory chocolate bar

Nutrition is one of the most talked about things for getting right on race day and in training. Don’t spend hours of your life testing out all kinds of energy gels and nutrition plans to end up forgetting it on race day.

An important thing to remember is that nutrition isn’t just for, during the race, you need to consider pre-race and post-race as well. If you are yet to compete in your first race, you will soon be very aware of how much time can pass from the time you eat your breakfast in the comfort of your home (probably whilst it is still pitch black outside due to the silly o’clock in the morning race check-in time) to the moment you take the plunge into the melee that us triathletes call the swim start. Therefore, it’s important to keep yourself topped up on fluids, food and a hit of caffeine.

Also, you have probably (or maybe) been avoiding too many treats in the build-up to the race. So why not pack a cheeky post race celebratory chocolate bar. Go on, you deserve it.


  • Goggles
  • Swim hat
  • Wetsuit
  • Flip flops

The swim items are fairly easy to remember. The handy tip is remembering to bring some flip flops which you can wear after you have finished setting up transition until you are ready for the swim start. There is often a long wait and bit of a walk - hopping around on gravel or roasting hot tarmac is not a popular way to calm those pre-race nerves.


  • Tri/cycle shoes
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses

Don’t forget your helmet. It’s another item which you simply can’t race without. Wear it to bed the night before the race. Wear it around your house in the morning. Wear it on the drive to the race. Don’t forget your helmet.


  • Running shoes
  • Cap/visor


Here comes the important section. Up to now, the items have all been blatant and very hard to forget. The key here is in the small details that ensure there is nothing that can stress you out or worry you in the build-up to the race.

  • Small towel - For placing on the floor in transition. Great for a quick dry and wipe of the feet before putting on running shoes and smashing the run leg
  • Electrical tape - Mainly for taping gels to your top tube
  • Elastic bands - For keeping your tri-shoes in the correct position for your flying mount
  • Race licence/ID
  • Race belt
  • Hole punch - This one can be really handy. 4 out of 5 times, race numbers come with holes already punched in them for your race belt to attach. However, that 1 time they don’t this saves you the massive faff of trying to fashion 4 suitably round holes out of your very un-round house keys
  • Sun cream
  • Talcum powder - Wet feet + shoes = blisters. It’s simple maths. The always reliable magic powder in the shoes is a must have in the kit bag.
  • Baby oil - This can spark conversation as many athletes don’t opt for it. It is very dependant on your choice of wetsuit and if it fits you well. If you find getting in and out of your wetsuit at a good rate of knots fairly tricky, then a splash of baby oil on the wrists on ankles underneath your wetsuit can really help it slide off in a flash. Do be careful though as it can corrode the neoprene on your suit so be sure to wash it off after the race!
  • Plastic bags - For helping get into your wetsuit before the race and then putting your damp kit in them at the end
  • Anti-chafing
  • Inner tubes
  • Multi-tool
  • Track pump - Although there is usually plenty of seasoned veterans in transition willing to lend theirs. Bribes in the form of Haribo can often prove a success.
  • Medication
  • Warm clothes for after the race
  • Tri-watch/bike computer
  • Pen

If you remember to pack everything from this list, then you are ready to race. Go well!

Written by Tom Openshaw