Every triathlete has been through it. You have a great swim, stick your wet stuff in your bag and head off on the next leg without a second thought.
By the time you get home, everything in your bag (including cell phone, cash, and other clothes) is soaked through and already starting to smell funky.
If you haven’t had that fun experience, I’m sure you know how it feels to be in desperate need of an energy chew or bottle of water but have to spend precious time rummaging through your bag to find one.
Triathlon transition bags were created to avoid problems like these. If you want a streamlined athletic experience on race day, you need one of these beauties. And not just any transition bag. We searched what’s out there to put together a list of the best.
Coming in as our favorite is the De Soto Transition Pack V8. It’s properly water-resistant, durable, can be used as a backpack, and will be able to withstand a hard day on the sidelines while you hit a new PR.
But we’ve found many others that will fit your budget and style. Read on to see our favorites…
Top 4 Best and Favorites
De Soto Transition Pack V8
2XU Transition Bag
Zone3 Transition Backpack
Speedo Tri Clops Backpack (50L)
1. De Soto Transition Pack V8
The De Soto V8 is our top choice. In true American fashion, it’s available in red, white, and blue.
It’s 22 inches in height and has a capacity of 65 liters (one of the biggest around), so you can fit plenty into this bag. Featuring multiple compartments, inverted nylon zippers, and a TPU finish, it’s stylish on the outside and practical on the inside.
One of the things we really like about this pack is that they’ve taken care to make the interior a light color. This may sound like a “so what?” thing, but it makes it much easier to see everything at a glance, compared to dark.
Other features we like include a built-in sunglasses or goggles holder, a bottom-entry, waterproof wet-clothes compartment, an exterior helmet holder, an exterior pop-out pocket, a mesh water bottle holder, and a back pocket that can hold a hydration bladder if you’d like.
Soft, padded shoulder straps make it easy to carry from place to place without discomfort.
- Light-colored interior for easy viewing
- Features an interior keyring loop
- Back pocket can hold a hydration bladder
- Interior case for sunglasses or swimming goggles
- It’s a little pricey
- There are no less-bright colors available
2. 2XU Transition Bag
The 2XU is our top value bag, and packs a whole lot of product into a very affordable price tag. The only thing that perhaps reflects the nice price is the fact that it’s not available in more colors!
It’s crafted from durable nylon, and can withstand being dragged around during races in all conditions. Something we especially like is that this pack is machine washable! If you happen to get some mud or dirt on it while you’re out and about, it’s super easy to clean.
It features a multitude of zippered pockets, including a waterproof one for those wet or sweaty clothes. In addition to the many compartments, there are two mesh pockets on the sides designed to hold water bottles.
The straps are well-padded and ergonomically designed to provide optimal comfort. There’s even some reflective detail on the bag to stay safe in any lighting conditions.
All of that, and for a really nice price, gets a nod from us!
- Unisex color and design
- Machine washable
- Waterproof zippered pouch
- Nylon shell is durable in all conditions
- Not available in different sizes
Top Mid-Sized Transition Bag
3. Zone3 Transition Backpack
At 2,440 cubic inches of capacity, this wins top spot for the best mid-sized triathlon transition bag. Sometimes you just don’t need something any bigger, and choosing one this size means that you won’t have unused space or things flopping around.
As with all transition packs, Zone3’s bag has a bunch of different compartments, each of which serves a purpose. We particularly like the waterproof pouch, as it folds flat when not in use to provide more space. It’s also completely removable, making it easy to access.
The main compartment is filled with contrast-lined interior pockets, easy to see and easy to use. There’s a spot for everything, from clothing to snacks to bottles.
A zippered pouch at the top of the bag is ideal for cycling shoes and a helmet, and the pack also has a cell phone pouch to keep your phone safe while you’re away, or provide hands-free music access if you’ve got it on your back.
Padded shoulder straps and a breathable mesh back make it comfy to wear if you need to. Chest straps give you an option for extra stability.
- Capacity of 40 liters
- Removable waterproof pouch
- Contrast-lined interior pockets
- Built-in phone pouch
- May not be big enough for some athletes
Best Large Transition Bag
4. Speedo Tri Clops Backpack (50L)
Although this backpack doesn’t have as much capacity as our top choice, it’s still perfect for triathletes who need a larger bag but don’t want extra, unused space in it.
There are dedicated pockets for running and cycling shoes, as well as a handy and safe fleece pouch to store sunglasses or swimming goggles.
The one place we do see some room for improvement is that there’s no real waterproof pouch. Most backpacks feature a waterproof compartment for wetsuits or sweaty clothing. Although this one has a separate Dirt Bag, there’s no option for keeping something wet inside the bag.
If you can live with that, though, this pack is a great choice for those looking for something rather large.
- 50 liter capacity
- Dedicated pockets for running, swimming, cycling
- Fleece pouch for sunglasses or swimming goggles
- “Dirt bag” to separate wet or dirty clothing
- There’s no proper waterproof pouch on this backpack
Top Extra-Large Transition Bag
5. ORCA Transition Bag
If 50 liters capacity isn’t enough for you, the ORCA offers a cool 70 liters of space for you to fill with whatever gear you wish.
The polyester/nylon pack is durable enough to be carted around wherever you go. You’ll find a multitude of dry compartments, and a waterproof space to keep your wetsuit separate from your dry clothing.
There’s also specially-lined pockets inside to keep personal effects like keys and cell phones safe. In addition, a dedicated helmet zip pocket keeps your helmet as safe as the rest of your gear, and doesn’t leave it outside the bag and at risk of bumps and nicks.
The straps are nicely padded and can be used as either a backpack or a carry-bag.
Be aware that the inside of this pack is bright, almost neon green! It certainly makes it easy to see what’s what, but some runners may not like the brightness, and it doesn’t come in different colors.
- 70-liter capacity
- Can be used as a backpack or a duffel bag
- Separate wet and dry pouches
- Lined pouches for personal items
- It can be heavy when filled to capacity and may take some getting used to
- No different colors
Best Fold-Out Organizer
6. Elite Tri Box Bag
If you like your stuff to be laid out and ready to grab during transitions, this box bag could be the way to go.
This innocent-looking backpack can be set up in 4 different ways to suit any athlete at any time.
Featuring a variety of compartments, dedicated areas for wet clothing, a bicycle helmet, and easy-to-reach water bottles, there’s plenty of space in this pack for everything you need.
Another nice function is the fold-out changing mat. You’ll never have to step out of one pair of shoes onto cold, wet grass or into sandy mud again!
The pack can be opened fully whether it’s standing up straight or on its side, which makes it pretty versatile.
- Various set-up options
- Space for wet gear, helmets, and bottles
- Fold-out changing mat
- Flattens for easy storage when not in use
- Needs to be assembled, which can be confusing
Top Square Box System
7. KitBrix Triathlon Bag
This bag may seem more like a cooler box, but it serves its purpose well. We love that two or more can be zipped together to form a handy packing system that lends itself to organization.
One pack can take 20 liters, and if you need more it’s easy to add another bag to the system. Some may find it pricey, but when you consider the value this bag offers, we can’t find fault.
In addition to the entire outer of the bag being waterproof, you’ll find 3 internal waterproof pouches so you can separate your stuff really well. Outer mesh pockets and a transparent ID display pocket are nice touches.
They’re available in a variety of colors and you can use them with or without the shoulder strap, which is completely detachable.
- Can be zipped together for more space
- 3 internal waterproof pockets
- Detachable shoulder strap
- Because of the thick material, the zippers can be hard to use
Best With Inner Compartments
8. Synergy Triathlon Transition Bag
If you value organization and love knowing where everything is at any given time, this backpack will be a great investment for you. Although all transition bags are created to be organized, this one takes it to another level.
The inner compartment is split into multiple sections and allows for separation of … Well, pretty much everything. Shoes, clothes, goggles, chews, bottles, and personal items can all be separated and easily found.
There are also 2 zippered side pockets, 2 mesh side pockets, a waterproof bottom compartment, a top compartment with mesh dividers, and a useful, adjustable helmet pouch on the front.
There’s even dedicated space for sunglasses or goggles, and a cardholder. You won’t have to leave anything behind with this bag!
The only fault we can find is that 40 liters may be too small for some athletes.
- Multiple compartments
- Separate bottom for wet gear
- Front helmet pocket
- Carabiners for extra hanging space
- Not available in other sizes, and 40 liters may not be enough for every athlete
Top Inner Visibility
9. ORCA Transition Backpack
You may wonder why inner visibility is an important thing, but think about it. There’s no point packing everything for easy access if you can’t see what’s going on in there!
It’s especially important for dark-colored bags, to avoid what’s called the “black hole effect”, where your stuff just seems to get lost in there!
Orca’s bag has a capacity of 50 liters, which is plenty big for most. The polyester/PVC blend makes it tough and durable for consistent use on-the-go.
A variety of inner pockets keeps everything separate and easy to find, and extra outer pockets mean nothing gets left behind.
The bottom compartment is separated and ideal for wet swimming gear. There’s also a pocket for your helmet.
For convenience, a flattened bottom allows you to stand the backpack on the ground without it collapsing in on itself.
- Bright inner lining for easy visibility
- Polyester and PVC construction
- 50-liter capacity
- Flat base so the backpack can stand
- No smaller sizes
Best Budget Triathlon Bag
10. TYR Apex Transition Backpack
If you’re a triathlete on a budget and you’re looking for something stylish and effective that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, consider this backpack.
With ample space in its 40-liter pack, you can carry everything you need, and with a light-colored interior, it’s easy to find that one item quickly and easily.
The bottom wetsuit compartment is completely waterproof, and the rest of the bag is fairly water-resistant. There’s also more than enough space to accommodate a helmet.
You can quite easily use this backpack when you’re not racing, too. Unlike the rest, it features a 15-inch laptop sleeve so you can use it when working or traveling too, adding even more bang for your buck.
While the bulk of the pack is black, you can choose one with yellow or light blue trim if you feel like a splash of color!
- 40-liter capacity
- Bottom wetsuit compartment
- Versatile enough for non-sport use
- Comes in three colors
- No variety in sizes
- Doesn’t have as many small “personal items” pockets as others
Unsure of whether the cost of a triathlon transition bags is worth it? Keep reading, and we’ll explain why you need one of these if you’re serious about triathlons.
What Are Triathlon Transition Bags?
A triathlon transition bag holds everything you may need on triathlon day in well-designed order. It’s basically your headquarters on race day. This is where you’ll store everything from clothes to extra shoes to your house keys for when you get home later.
Transition bags make your switch between swimming, cycling, and running as easy and smooth as possible.
Why Do Triathletes Need a Good Transition Bag?
Let’s be honest – a bag isn’t going to make you perform better on race day. If you’re a regular triathlete, you may wonder why you should buy a bag instead of investing in something with more return.
Well, while your bag won’t be pushing you on when you get tired or protecting your feet on the road, simply knowing that your stuff is organized and safe can make a big difference.
Want to use your gym bag? Go ahead. But you’ll be rifling through it to find what you need when you’re short on time, A triathlon transition bag is specifically designed to avoid that.
Being organized is important and can have a huge effect on your mindset before and during the race. It’s easier to pack when everything has its place, and you won’t likely forget anything.
When you get to the point where you need to switch from swimwear to cycling gear, you know your other stuff won’t get wet in your bag. When you need a pick-me-up, you know exactly where to look to find one.
What Features Should a Triathlon Transition Bag Have?
Perhaps you’re wondering why you should buy one of these triathlon transition bags when you have a perfectly good gym duffel bag at home. Good question!
In this case, a bag is not just a bag. Sure, you can pack your clothes, shoes, snacks, drinks, and personal items into an ordinary duffel bag. It will work.
But a bag specifically designed for triathlon purposes has some features that you’ll find extremely useful, that a normal duffel bag doesn’t have. These include:
- A waterproof section so your soaked swimwear doesn’t ruin everything.
- Separate compartments for swimming and biking gear.
- A separate space for food and drinks.
- Somewhere to strap or hook your bicycle helmet.
- The ability to use it as a backpack.