When running a triathlon race, the last thing you want to have to think about is your wardrobe, especially the wardrobe that protects your modesty. Instead, you need to be putting all of your focus and energy into competing in the endurance marathon that is a triathlon, though your selection of gear can definitely improve or hinder your ability to run the race. This is likely not a subject, nor an expense, that you would prefer to spend any significant amount of time pondering when you have bigger fish to fry.
In terms of gear, most people immediately think of the wetsuit in relation to triathlons, though that is likely because it is drastically different than the other pieces of gear. Of course, your choice of triathlon shorts will play an important role considering you are likely to wear them for every leg of the race, so it is important to make sure that they provide some form of benefit or advantage in the legs of the race that you really need it.
That said, figuring which pair is the best triathlon shorts for you can be a difficult and confusing task. That is why we have put together a list of the 7 best triathlon shorts, 4 men’s and 3 women’s, highlighting what each one does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best triathlon shorts to suit your needs.
Best Triathlon Shorts 2018
|Model||Pad Thickness (Max.)||Material|
|Zoot Men's Performance Tri Shorts||Yes||3mm||Nylon/Lycra|
|SLS3 Triathlon Men`s Tri Shorts||Yes||4mm||Nylon/Lycra|
|Synergy Men's Tri Shorts|
|Blueseventy Core Short||No||No||Neoprene 3/5mm|
|MooMotion Womens Pivot Tri Short|
|TYR Women's Sport Competitor Tri Compression Shorts||Yes||4mm||Polyester/Lycra|
|Canari Women's Triathlon Shorts||No||2mm (Fleece)||Nylon/Lycra|
Best Triathlon Shorts for Men
1. Zoot Men’s Performance Tri Shorts – Editor’s Choice Best Performing Men’s Triathlon Shorts
Zoot Sports checks most of the boxes you look for when choosing a triathlon shorts manufacturer, all aside from being founded by a winning triathlete. Still, that should not dissuade you from Zoot products as this brand is neck deep in the endurance sportswear market, and has been longer than most of the other companies reviewed as well. With a storied history that stretches back over 3 decades and originates at the same location as where the Iron Man triathlon started, Zoot understands what it takes to make a great pair of triathlon shorts and has even won our Editor’s Choice Best Performing men’s triathlon shorts.
Because the materials used for the Zoot Performance triathlon shorts are so much better than their competitors, it only seemed natural to focus on that first, but with that done, it makes just as much sense for us to return to the most important part of a pair of triathlon shorts: the pad. For the Zoot Performance triathlon shorts, the use of an Integra SBR 2D pad is nice as it is one of the higher performing pads on the market, but the difference between the best pad and the second best pad is a much smaller gap than the difference between the materials used for the Zoot Performance and the materials used for most of their competitors. Still, the Integra SBR 2D pad is a great feature as it is one of the few pads to provide the ideal performance for each leg of the race.
2. SLS3 Triathlon Men`s Tri Shorts – Best All-Around Value Men’s Triathlon Shorts
Out of all the companies on our list, SLS3 likely has one of the better claims to prestigious origins than most of the others. Though this company is fairly young, it was founded by 2 German professional triathletes and specializes exclusively in triathlon gear and equipment. This means that SLS3 understands the specific qualities that are important to triathletes. Since they are more about providing a good balance between price and performance, it only makes sense that they were our best all-around value men’s triathlon shorts.
This is by far one of the most important parts of a pair of triathlon shorts primarily due to the fact that for the leg it is meaningful, it is one of the most important parts of the triathlon shorts. However, for every other leg of the race, the pad is at best not even noticed and at worst can actually become a legitimate impediment to your race.
Thankfully the channel tri pad ensures that the bike leg does not unduly sit you with discomfort as it is designed to perform at peak functioning for each of the 3 different legs of the race. For the swim leg, the tri pad does not readily absorb water to slow you down or add drag, but it is designed to dry exceptionally quickly. On top of that, the pad itself is fairly light and not designed in a way that will chafe your thighs during the other legs of the race.
Outside of the tri pad, there is not too terribly much that stands out about the SLS3 FRT 2.0 triathlon shorts. That said, there is not really a whole lot to complain about in terms of actual performance during the race. A fair amount of this has to do with the materials and construction behind the SLS3 FRT 2.0 which never strays far from the course. For instance, this pair of triathlon shorts is made out of nylon and lycra to ensure good compression. The panels are even sewn with flatlock seams, though this does not seem to have positively affected the durability of these triathlon shorts. As such, these can best be understood as competition triathlon shorts, designed to be used sparingly and only for serious competitions, relying on a pair of less expensive and lower quality triathlon shorts for practice and training.
3. Synergy Men’s Tri Shorts – Best Price Budget Triathlon Shorts
Synergy checks virtually all of the boxes you look for in a company that manufactures and sells triathlon gear and equipment. For one, this brand may only be a couple decades old, but it was founded in the early 1990s, right around the time that manufacturers started getting serious about making triathlon gear and equipment that was specialized to the sport rather than being adapted from other, more specialized gear and equipment hailing from different sports entirely. Because of this focus and history, Synergy has also managed to find a way to provide options for all budgets.
At first blush, the materials of the Synergy Tri Distance triathlon shorts are not at all unexpected, a nylon base with a lycra blend to provide plenty of compression as well as provide plenty of mobility. However, not all triathlon shorts on our list featured additional processes done to the materials to further improve them. In this regard, the Synergy Tri Distance is definitely ahead of its competition as the only pair of men’s triathlon shorts we reviewed that featured an anti-microbial fleece weave. That said, this construction does carry with it unintended consequences, specifically that these shorts do not handle water well at all and neither does the NeoGel pad. As such, these triathlon shorts can only be said to be suitable if you either change them during the race or the swimming leg is the last leg of the course, which it almost never is.
4. Blueseventy Core Short – Best Swimming Men’s Triathlon Shorts
When it comes to high-end triathlon gear, few companies have as good of a reputation as Blueseventy, and with good reason: this company was one of the first to recognize a need for distinct triathlon gear and equipment and has been providing such for over 2 ½ decades. That said, Blueseventy should no longer be seen as exclusively a triathlon gear and equipment manufacturer as their focus has narrowed somewhat. That is why we have rated the Blueseventy Core as our best swimming men’s triathlon shorts.
One of the great things about the Blueseventy Core triathlon shorts being designed for swimming more than biking or running is that they are inherently a bit more durable than most of the other pairs of triathlon shorts on our list. For instance, this pair of triathlon shorts features a 5/3 construction ration which means that the legs are 3 mm thick and the other sections of the Blueseventy Core triathlon shorts are 5 mm thick. On top of the thickness of this pair of triathlon shorts, this is also the only product that we reviewed which is made out of neoprene, which is technically a type of rubber. This material is great for swimming and is far more durable than most of the other materials used for triathlon shorts, but it may have some ventilation and breathability issues in comparison.
Best Triathlon Shorts for Women
1. MooMotion Womens Pivot Tri Short – Editor’s Choice Best Performing Triathlon Shorts
Though history and reputation can be a great means of sussing a company out before looking at their products and marketing, there will always be upstarts who enter a market with new ideas or a better way of doing something and end up out showing the venerable and more prestigious brands they compete with. When it comes to triathlon gear and equipment, MooMotion certainly does not have the most storied history, but they do specialize in triathlon gear and equipment generally and women’s triathlon gear and equipment more specifically.
In a bit of a surprise, we will not be covering the pad of the MooMotion Pivot as it does not necessarily provide anything exceptional to the mix but nor does it hinder any leg of the race in any way. Instead, we are going to focus on the construction of this pair of triathlon shorts as it is definitely better than most of the other women’s triathlon shorts we saw. For instance, this is one of the only women’s triathlon shorts that we saw that featured multiple pockets, something that seems to have translated from women’s fashion design in general. Still, this pair of triathlon shorts comes with UPF 50+ protection to protect you from the sun and flatlock seams for superior durability.
2. TYR Women’s Sport Competitor Tri Compression Shorts – Best All-Around Value Women’s Triathlon Shorts
TYR is definitely a bit of a different kind of company on our list that found purchase in the triathlon gear and equipment market initially due to necessity but was able to properly pivot towards that market and maintain a position within. That said, it should be understood that TYR is not really a company designed to specialize in triathlon gear and equipment. Instead, this brand was founded by an Olympic swimming medalist who wanted to create a brand focused on providing the best swimwear around. In this regard, the TYR Competitor triathlon shorts are certainly unusual, but they do also present the best all-around value women’s triathlon shorts.
As you should expect by now, our attention on the TYR Competitor women’s triathlon shorts turns to the pad. This pair of triathlon shorts comes with the patented TYR competitor AMP pad which is designed explicitly to provide excellent performance at every leg of the race. For the biking leg, the Competitor AMP pad is made with advanced triple-density foam, so you do not have to worry about soreness and fatigue during the bike leg. The Competitor AMP pad also provides benefit to the other legs of the race as it is not known to absorb water or other moisture and features a design intended to prevent chafing or other distractions.
3. Canari Women’s Triathlon Shorts – Best Price Budget Women’s Triathlon Shorts
Like some of the other companies on our list, Canari does not actually specialize in triathlon equipment and gear in either a general or specific sense. Instead, Canari is better known as a brand that specializes in high-end biking gear, though biking shorts were some of the most common to first be used in triathlons before manufacturers began making products designed explicitly for triathlons. Still, Canari has a strong reputation that stretches back almost 4 decades and even acknowledges their lack of specialized focus in their price.
Though it may seem like a less important factor to the outside, many of the triathlon products that are designed by professional triathletes often have a tendency to favor comfort over those triathlon products made entirely by corporations and scientists aiming to achieve some sort of quantifiable achievement. Professional triathletes, on the other hand, understand that you can only squeeze so much improvement out of a pair of shorts and instead seek to improve their mental outlook during the race by increasing their general comfort levels while racing, a tip that Canari seems to have picked up.
Best Triathlon Shorts – Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to the materials of a pair of triathlon shorts, the materials may not be the most important thing to look at, but it is not far from it either. The materials of the triathlon shorts will ultimately determine some of the more important qualities like the durability, the breathability, and the fit. All of these qualities are among the most important when it comes to choosing a pair of triathlon shorts, so while any of them individually may have greater or lesser priority, you will ultimately have to choose based on the material.
Polyester – This is actually a fairly uncommon material to find in triathlon shorts, primarily due to the fact that it is also the least durable material on our list. That is not to suggest that polyester is weak, but when you are putting a pair of triathlon shorts through the rigors of triathlon training, day in and day out, you generally want to make sure that your triathlon shorts can keep up with you. On the other hand, polyester can actually make a fairly good material to use for triathlon shorts that you only ever wear during competition due to its natural ability to resist water. On top of that, polyester is naturally more resistant to UV radiation than some of the other materials, so you do not have to worry about the color fading nor the fibers breaking down from being exposed to so much sunlight.
Nylon – Nylon is likely the second most common material used for triathlon shorts and for good reason. When it comes to the blend ratio, the stiffer fiber generally tends to be used greater than 2 to 1 to lycra, which is almost always the pairing fiber. As such, this material needs to be able to stand up to the punishing effects of training or running a triathlon. Nylon is by far the most durable material on our list, outside of neoprene, but it also comes with a fair number of additional benefits too. While it is not hydrophobic and is actually the least water resistant material reviewed, nylon is still far more water-resistant than any other natural fiber. On top of that, nylon is less likely to irritate those with skin condition because it is a smoother fiber.
Lycra – Lycra is another name for spandex and it is one of the few materials that will be found in virtually every pair of triathlon shorts, unless they are explicitly designed and intended for the swimming leg of the triathlon. The reason that lycra is included as part of the material blend for pretty much every pair of triathlon shorts is that it provides far more flexibility while still being able to retain its original shape. This allows spandex to stretch over the body, providing a much better fit without unduly restricting the wearer who is generally expecting to compete in some form of physical sport or activity. While lycra does not have any kind of hydrophobic qualities of its own, it is not known for absorbing water or other moisture either, making it a great material for all legs of the race.
Neoprene – This is by far the least common material used for triathlon shorts for a number of reasons, though arguably the biggest reason is that this material does not perform quite as well for the running and biking legs of the race, though it is by no means a terrible materials to use for those legs, simply it is not the best material and comes with some distinct drawbacks in those legs of the race. By far the most concerning quality regarding neoprene is that it is by far the least breathable material that we reviewed, though this could technically be considered a benefit depending on the type of race you are running, especially if it happens to be in colder waters. Still, few racers will be improved with hotter triathlon shorts worn during the running and biking legs of the race. On the other hand, neoprene is the material most commonly used for wetsuits which makes it an ideal material for the swimming leg of a triathlon.
This is by far the most important “part” of a pair of triathlon shorts primarily because it is one of the few actual parts. Aside from potential paneling the triathlon shorts off, there are few ways to part out a pair of triathlon shorts. In this regard, the chamois is not only incredibly important but fairly unique for triathlon shorts. Still, there are a few primary qualities about a chamois that are important to ensure meet personal standards. Because a triathlon’s different legs require such variance in performance, the best chamois can be both difficult to design and invaluable during the race. Keep in mind that the pad itself is primarily used for the biking leg of the race, so its primary function during the racing and swimming legs of the race is to simply not interfere.
As we can see, there is not simply going to be a pair of triathlon shorts that work the best for every person, and for far more reason than because the two genders require different types of gear, though that is definitely a big part of the reason. Still, when it comes right down to it, chances are you would simply prefer to know which pair of triathlon shorts are the best for most people.
For the men’s category, we recommend the Zoot Performance due to the litany of particular choices made to improve this pair of triathlon’s shorts performance. For instance, these pair of triathlon shorts feature more specialized materials and build designs than any other pair of triathlon shorts that we reviewed. They are also fairly convenient in terms of their use and offer some of the best all-around performance for every leg of the race.
For women who are looking for a pair of the best triathlon shorts, we recommend the MooMotion. When it comes to the biking leg of the competition, there are no other women’s triathlon shorts that perform better. On top of that, the MooMotion is one of the few brands able to effectively balance the desired compression to help prevent muscle fatigue with the flexibility necessary to provide some of the best range of motion that we saw.