Triathletes haul a lot of gear to races, typically a wetsuit, bike helmet, cycling shoes, running shoes, bottles, nutrition, a post-race change of clothes, sunblock, and Body Glide to name just a few items. Just about any bag will work fine for carrying your gear, but triathlon bags, often called transition bags, are specifically made for carrying and organizing all of the gear you need to bring to a triathlon.
When I first started racing, I, like many others, used the backpack I happened to have. My trusty Kelty Redwing was (and still is) my “everything bag,” used for everything from the gym to an overnight bag. With its large main compartment and its variety of pockets and pouches, it worked pretty well, except that carrying a helmet was always awkward, because it was simply not something the bag was designed for. As I started flying to more races, however, I decided it was time for a triathlon-specific bag.
My current bag is a Blue Seventy Transition Bag. Blue Seventy is one of the Wattie Ink. Elite Team’s sponsors, but I nonetheless chose the transition bag that I thought would work best for me, regardless of sponsorship. The nice thing about this bag is it’s size. It’s the Goldilocks of transition bags. It’s big enough for what you need, but not too big or bulky. It’s just right. It has a waterproof compartment on the bottom for a wetsuit and a large main compartment that, while lacking the compartmentalization of some other bags, is more than spacious enough to easily accommodate anything you would reasonably want to pack. Other bags I looked have a similar design format, but felt less durably constructed and have fewer pockets and pouches.
There are also several small pouches and pockets for water bottles and small items that would otherwise get lost easily. There is a mesh pocket on each side, each of which can hold a water bottle. If you like to use a bottle for liquid nutrition and a second bottle for water, you have a space for both.
There are also two zippered pockets, one on the back (on the helmet pocket) and one on top. These pockets are excellent for easily accessing small items.
The interior has four more pockets, two pockets with zippers and two without.
The Blue Seventy Transition Bag has an outside pocket for a helmet. It will fit an aero helmet, or at least a size medium Giro Advantage 2 (I haven’t tried other aero helmets). Some transition bags can carry a helmet inside. This provides better helmet protection and is especially advantageous for checking your bag on an airline. However, it also makes the bag much bigger, heavier, and bulkier. Due to the size and bulk, riding a bike can be awkward. Wearing one for an extended period of time (like when waiting in line for an athlete check-in), even with nicely padded shoulder and waist straps, can also become tiring and uncomfortable. By comparison, the Blue Seventy Transition Bag remains light and compact enough to carry comfortably and ride your bike to transition without too much trouble. The Blue Seventy Transition Bag will also fit most overhead bins, although not with a helmet. Finally, it also has nicely padded and sturdy shoulder and waist straps for comfort.
The Blue Seventy Transition Bag retails for around $100, which is about what you can expect to pay for a bag this size. As far as bags this size go, however, this one is really good. I highly recommend it.