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The Best Triathlon Shorts - the Buyer’s Guide

Adam Nakada

A triathlon is an arduous race that takes you from the water to your bike to your feet. With so many working parts at play, you’re going to want to be comfortable through all of this. Choosing a well-fitting, durable pair of triathlon bottoms is very important if you want to focus on your sport, not your shorts. After testing lots of pairs, we’ve narrowed it down to these top pics for men and women, judging on comfort, style, and durability.

Men’s Top Pick: Synergy Men’s Tri Shorts

While Synergy may only be about 20 years old as a company, they are solely focused on triathlon gear. Their well-priced Men’s Tri Shorts are a perfect example of this laser focus. The perfectly-sized antimicrobial, wicking micro-fleece pad with NeoGel provides superior comfort while cycling yet becomes second skin on the run. The Synergy Tri short is made from 84% nylon and 16% spandex insuring “semi-compression” for optimum performance. Since full compression can be too much for the cyclist’s legs, this will give support while not being restrictive. Every seam is flat-lock stitched and the leg gripper is soft and effective, unlike the silicone grippers that can tear up your legs. The NeoGel pad is what sets these apart in that it provides as much support and comfort as a high-end cycling pad, yet it is only 2mm thin and virtually undetectable during the run. These shorts can run small, so definitely try before you buy, or go up a size if online ordering is your only option.

Women’s Top Pick: MooMotion Pivot Tri Short

MooMotion may not be the best-known triathlon brand, but they do specialize in triathlon gear and equipment generally and women’s triathlon gear and equipment more specifically. This is the only pair of triathlon shorts that we reviewed which does not feature any sort of base fiber in the material blend. Instead, the MooMotion Pivot triathlon shorts use a blend of lycra and a proprietary lycra material into their Lycra SPORT fabric which provides by far the most compression out of any women’s triathlon shorts on the market. Though it may seem tight-fitting at first, the primary advantage of this composition is that it provides the wearer with the maximum amount of flexibility and range of motion than any others we tried.

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. Best of all, this pair of triathlon shorts comes with UPF 50+ protection to protect you from the sun and flatlock seams for superior durability. The only drawback of these shorts was the hefty price tag.

Conclusion:

There are many triathlon clothing brands out there, so we chose these top two for their performance features. If fashion is more important to you, a “kit” may be more your style. A kit is a one or a two-piece matching set. These are available in almost every color and pattern imaginable. Some high-end brands can run $200 per piece, so it is definitely recommended that you get a chance to try them on and ensure comfort, as returns on something as intimate as a pair of cycling shorts is often difficult if they’ve been worn.

Obviously, there is not simply going to be a pair of triathlon shorts that work the best for every person. While you may be attracted to a fun-looking, colorful pair or a ritzy brand, please keep in mind that you will be wearing these from swim to bike to run, and the way they feel during those last miles will be way more important than how they look on the hanger! Choose shorts that aren’t too tight, with adequate padding and seams that don’t rub you the wrong way. It may take a little trial and error, so do your research and don’t be swayed by trendy brands - it can end up costing you not only financially but on race day as well.  

The Best Triathlon Shorts

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