There is some debate out there about the type of shorts to wear for triathlons like the Ironman competition and there seem to be a few distinct groups of people. Those who wear bicycle shorts, and those who wear triathlon-specific shorts.
Then there are the people who change between bicycle shorts and running shorts. Then there are the people who don’t like changing because it eats up time on the clock to change.
Really what it comes down to is- personal preference. Wearing cycling shorts presents a bit of a challenge because the padding is going to get wet after the swim and it doesn’t dry very quickly when you are on the bike. They can then also feel bulky and uncomfortable when running. So many people wear running shorts.
But the problem with cycling in running shorts is that you risk some serious numbness after hours on the bike. So there are some challenges here.
Luckily, there are triathlon-specific shorts that are made just for events like Ironman and there are some great reviews out there by people who have actually tested various triathlon shorts on the race and come back with their reports.
But you don’t have time to figure out what the best shorts are. You’re too busy training! So to make it easier for you, I’ve done the research on this and I’m bringing you the top rated, 5 Best Triathlon Shorts for Ironman.
Triathlon SLS3 Men’s Tri Shorts
Triathlon SLS3 Men’s FX Tri Shorts
ZOOT Women’s Active Tri 8″ Shorts
Louis Garneau Comp Women’s Shorts
SLS3 Men`s Triathlon Suit – Short Sleeve Tri Suit
What to Look for in Triathlon Shorts for Ironman
- Comfort: Obviously-first and foremost, comfort is the number one priority when choosing triathlon shorts. You’re going to be wearing these for a LONG time and there better not be any chafing, bunching or any other problems while you’re out there. No intrusive seams.
- Breathability: The shorts should be breathable and whisk away water after the swim. They should let sweat evaporate quickly and not be hot to wear.
- Padding: We’re looking for a decent amount of padding here to make the bike ride comfortable, but not so much that it’s too thick and bulky. Tri shorts aren’t going to have as much padding as bike shorts, but it should have a bit. The pad has to dry out quickly after the swim, so good padding is key.
- Good construction: Short length comes down to personal preference but decent elastic and grip around the leg is really important. You don’t want the leg part of the shorts to ride up and you want at least between 6 to 10-inch coverage, depending on your preference. While these shorts shouldn’t be worn for practice in chlorinated water, they should stand up to training and a lot of use.
5 Best Triathlon Shorts To Use in Iron Man and Long Distance Competitions
1. Triathlon SLS3 Men’s Tri Shorts
These are a simple pair of Tri shorts to look at but they pack a lot of punch. The Triathlon SLS3 Men’s Tri Shorts have been completely redesigned and the reviews show how impressed people are with these shorts.
Super comfortable, they are built with a foam-cushioned pad for the ride that is slim enough to not bog you down for the run. This especially feels comfortable once the pad is broken in with a few runs so it conforms to your body shape. It also dries super quick so no soggy diaper feeling here!
In the large size, they come in a nice 7” length, which is short enough to come down about mid-thigh for most. There is a nice bit of compression to prevent muscle vibration. And they are made with a nice silicone finish around the edge of the leg to provide maximum grip and no slippage.
Stretchy, comfortable fabric moves in all directions and feels like a second skin. Seams are flatlock stitched so there is no area where chafing can happen-no raised stitches at all. The
Two handy hip pockets on either side hold items in the pockets securely without movement. A nice elastic waistband with a drawstring tie finishes them up. Tested by Ironman triathletes, these shorts are at top quality for a bargain price.
Why This is the Best Pair of Triathlon Shorts for Ironman
- Great price
- Good length and don’t ride up
- A compressed pad that isn’t too bulky but great for long rides
- Shorts dry quickly
- Feel like a second skin; you don’t notice you are wearing them
2. Triathlon SLS3 Men’s FX Tri Shorts
Something a little bit flashier from SLS3, the Triathlon SLS3 Men’s FX Tri Shorts are another great choice and slightly different than the first shorts I list here. They’re a little bit longer in the inseam, starting at 8” in the medium size.
This pair has no drawstring unlike the pair listed above, but a nice one-inch elastic that does the job. And another difference is that this pair has one reflective zippered pocket in the back instead of one on each side. This just means that you can grab your gels or snacks from either side and they are out of the way behind you while you run.
Offering the same light, compact pad as the previous pair, these are sure to be enough padding for the cycling without bogging you down on the run. They dry fast and the Nylon Power Spandex blend also absorbs sweat nicely while evaporating it quickly. The padding also extends to the back of the shorts, for good coverage and maximum butt protection!
Snug without being tight, these shorts fit like a second skin and stretch in all directions. Nice silicone grip around the legs so they always stay put. They come in three bright colors and even mention that they are chlorine resistant, which is hard to believe, but a nice bonus. Although these are marketed as men’s shorts, they are popular with women as well-just watch the size guide!
- Can tell from the detail that they have quality materials and workmanship
- Love the rear pocket for holding things while racing
- Fits true to size, feels good even after a long race
- Pad is comfortable and dries relatively quickly
- Fits well both for men and women
- Leg fit keeps in place with good grip
3. ZOOT Women’s Active Tri 8″ Shorts
Although I have read quite a few reviews by women who have been sporting men’s tri shorts quite comfortable, I thought I should include something for the ladies as well. The ZOOT Women’s Active Tri 8” Shorts are a favorite of women triathletes who are loving the ‘barely there’ bicycle padding that dries quickly.
Mesh side pockets for storing whatever you need and a nice 8” length with legs that stay in place with their “Italian” leg gripper technology. Breathable and flexible, the Zoot Tri Shorts are made with Endura fabric and seamless stitching for maximum stretching with no chafing.
Drawstring waist to accompany the elastic band and UPF 50+, these women’s shorts offer sun protection in five sizes and four different colors. Higher priced than some of the other tri shorts on the market but a lot of very satisfied customers with these shorts.
- Fits like a second layer of skin
- Useful side pockets made of mesh
- No chafing or irritation during or after a race
- Dries extremely quickly
- Good overall fit and length
4. Louis Garneau Comp Women’s Shorts
One more pair for the ladies, the Louis Garneau Comp Women’s Shorts are a top challenger in the running for best women’s tri shorts. A shorter inseam at 6.25 inches, these shorts are still just as functional as longer shorts, with Garneau Powerband leg cuffs to prevent riding up. These tri shorts are designed in a 12-panel style and feature Garneau’s Endurexx fabric.
With a lightly compressive feel, these are the shorts for you if you have problems with fatigue due to muscle vibration. The legs fit larger thighs well, without, as one customer called it, the “sausage” effect. Smooth and flattering! The pad is lightweight and has a lot of movement and forms to the body with Garneau’s Mini Dryfleece Light chamois.
What I also like about these shorts is that they claim to be “impervious to chlorine” so you can train in the pool without worry. In fact, they say that they are fifteen times more resistant to chlorine than the prescribed level for swimming. They have a single back pocket which is also super useful and come in a range of five sizes and seven fun color options.
- Have purchased more than one pair because they fit so well
- Excellent padding for long rides
- Feels thin yet snug, comfortable without being overbearing
- Leg fit is good, room for movement but stays in place
- Love the higher waistband
- Does a good job of preventing chafing and irritation
5. SLS3 Men`s Triathlon Suit – Short Sleeve Tri Suit
Why a tri suit instead of shorts? Well, a good fitting tri suit offers an aerodynamic advantage, while giving maximum sun coverage. Many people who used to change in their race, also seem to like that it shaves off a bit of time by being able just to wear one piece, the whole time. Once again, SLS3 comes in at the top with their Men’s Triathlon Short Sleeve Tri Suit.
Offering the same breathable and flexible fabric as in the other top SLS3 products, this short sleeve tri suit stretches in all direction and wicks sweat and water away quickly while you’re on the go. The suit features mesh panels down the sides for added ventilation and a nice level of compression throughout.
A lightweight, compressed foam pad dries quick and is never bulky or noticeable and provides a nice level of padding for the entire bike ride. There is a very useful back pocket with a zipper that is large enough to hold a bunch of gels or bars at 6 inches by 5 inches. And another handy zipper is the one in the front, which can be lowered if you start to heat up.
Follow the size guide and you won’t be disappointed with this full suit and hey, some people even say it makes them feel like a superhero. (Cape not included)
- Excellent value for what you pay
- Comfortable for nearly all outdoor and tri sports
- Love the sizable back pocket
- Lightweight suit; doesn’t feel heavy or like a burden
- True to size according to fit chart
**Also read: Best cycling gloves.**