The 5 best tri shorts for men 2022

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Introduction

The need for a good pair of tri shorts is an absolute necessity for triathlon without a doubt!

The US boasts over 4 million triathletes alone. With competitions all over the world there appear to be enough people prepared to go for the whole hog of full triathlons of 2.4 mile (3.8km) swim, a 112 mile (180km) cycle and a 26.2 mile (42.2km) run.

But even if you go for the lesser triathlon events you will need certain bits of equipment, today we are looking at tri shorts, and although there are literally dozens on the market we are going to guide you through the best out there including our top pick the  De Soto Forza Tri Short 4-Pocket and some other great products. Let’s take a look.

What is the difference between bike shorts and tri shorts?

Before we get involved with specific products, it’s probably a good idea to ask why do I need to buy tri shorts? 

The simple answer is that tri shorts are designed specifically for triathlons.

Regular bike shorts are designed, you guessed it, for the road, this means that they come with more padding in the seat area. Tri shorts have far less padding which means that there is less water retention for activities after your swim,you don’t need to tell me how uncomfortable or indeed painful it could be sitting on a bike with a cushion of cold water between you and the bike seat. 

There are some other differences that we will show later but let’s have a look at the goodies.

Best men’s tri shorts overall

Best men’s tri shorts overall
De Soto Forza 4-Pocket Tri Short
$169.95
  • Brilliant design
  • Best fabrics used
  • Totally seamless inside
  • Exceptional comfort in the water, on the bike and on the road
  • Useful pockets
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05/26/2022 08:31 pm GMT

De Soto Forza 4-Pocket Tri Shorts

De Soto Sport is a San Diego based company who have been operating since 1991 and run by a former international triathlete Emilio De Soto. These garments will be seen at just about every triathlon or ironman event.

The De Soto Forza Tri Short 4-Pocket varies from most of its competitors in a number of ways, the most obvious is that it has pockets, not that you could put your phone or car keys in there – but big enough for an energy bar or gels etc.

The De Soto Forza Tri Shorts are not as tight-fitting as many others and therefore they can incorporate these 4 small pockets in the design.

Another major difference is that the pads are “integrated” with the short. Rather than having the chamois stitched into the garment, the  De Soto Forza Tri Short have theirs attached to the perimeter which allows the pad to stretch in all directions and also does away with any seams in direct contact with your body.

The De Soto Forza Tri Short is also made from a “compression” fabric that helps recovery.

The thing that everyone who wears the  De Soto Forza Tri Short says, is that they are extremely comfortable in all three disciplines of the triathlon and that is ultimately what it’s all about.

Technically the  De Soto Forza Tri Short is brilliant, its design is thoughtful, its fabrics are top class and the workmanship in each pair is there for all to see. 

If you decide to go for the De Soto you will not be disappointed.

What we like

  • Brilliant design
  • Best fabrics used
  • Totally seamless inside
  • Useful pockets
  • Exceptional comfort in the water, on the bike and on the road

What we don’t like

  • Pricey

Best men’s triathlon shorts runner up

Castelli Free Tri 2 Short

Best Runner Up
Castelli Free Tri 2 Short Men's
$119.99
  • Useful hip pockets
  • Body hugging Spandex fabrics
  • Multi density chamois
  • Quick drying
  • Comfortable for all three stages of the event
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05/26/2022 09:26 pm GMT

The Castelli Free Tri 2 Short comes a creditable second place in our list of best tri shorts.

Although it does not have as many features as the De Soto, it is very well made and offers good comfort at all three stages and is particularly quick drying. 

We found the Castelli Free Tri 2 Short was considerably longer in the leg than the De Soto, Castelli argue that this gives a better aerodynamic performance, personal preference will help you decide.

There is a couple of pockets on each hip, again handy for smaller items as well as having a snap lock fastener for your jersey.

The Castelli Free Tri Short is a very good all round garment and it is more than adequate for all three disciplines.

What we like 

  • Useful hip pockets
  • Body hugging Spandex fabrics
  • Multi density chamois
  • Quick drying
  • Comfortable for all three parts of the event

What we don’t like 

  • Sizing is on the small size so order up
  • Longer leg is not to every taste

Best budget men’s tri shorts

Pearl Izumi Men’s Select Pursuit Tri Shorts

Best budget buy
PEARL IZUMI Select Pursuit Tri Short Men's
$48.75
  • Good price
  • Comfortable in all disciplines
  • Good manufacturer
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05/26/2022 12:08 am GMT

Most people have heard and spoken about Pearl Azumi kit, in fact we at Inspired Cyclist have already looked at their baselayers.

Their Tri Shorts are pretty good too and they are our winner in the best budget tri shorts category.

Made from 88% Nylon and 12% Lycra (elastane) these shorts are quick drying, body hugging and comfortable. They have a single pocket and offer a quick dry chamois pad. 

They have a draw cord for comfort and convenience, there are also some hi-viz elements for low light conditions.

What we like

  • Good price
  • Reasonably comfortable in all disciplines
  • Good manufacturer

What we don’t like

  • Not as technically refined
  • Not for “Full” triathlon events?

2XU Men’s Compression Tri Short

2XU Men's Compression Tri Short
$116.99
  • Lightweight
  • Cool to wear
  • Compression for quicker recovery
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05/26/2022 12:08 am GMT

2XU certainly have a comprehensive range of kit and their compression tri shorts.

They make bibs, shorts, socks, hats, bags, jackets, sleeves…. You get my drift.

Their tri shorts are pretty nice too. 

The 2XU compression tri short is made from PWX fabric which appears to be a circular knit Lycra. The advantage of this fabric is that it will adapt to the wearer and retain its shape and compression.

Most tri shorts are made from a nylon and (lycra/spandex/elastane) blend that will have a tendency for being tight at the first few wearings. 

The 2XU Men’s Compression Tri Short has an air vent to aid cooling along with MCS or Muscle Containment Stamping which traces the quads and reputedly reduces stress on the knee joints.

The 2XU Men’s Compression Tri Short has a decent rear pocket and a 6mm chamois that is good on the bike and decent on the run.

On the whole the 2XU Men’s Compression Tri Short is a good buy that will satisfy most athletes.

What we like

  • Lightweight
  • Cool to wear
  • Compression for quicker recovery

What we don’t like

  • Not cheap

Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Tri Short

PEARL IZUMI Men's Elite Tri Short
$67.50
  • Attractively priced
  • Good in all disciplines
  • Supportive and comfortable
  • Quality manufacturer
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05/26/2022 12:08 am GMT

Pearl Izumi is on our list for the second time. Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Tri Short is a 100% Spandex garment that again helps maintain shape and compression levels. The fabric also helps cooling as well as reflecting sunlight.

The Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Tri Short is sewn with a Merrow Stitch, a stitch type similar to an overlock stitch known for its strength if a little bulkier than a flat stitch.

This makes the Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Tri Short a very durable and therefore long lasting item.

We have spoken of Pearl Izumi many times at Inspiredcylist.com and reports from riders give this Tri Short a very high rating for both comfort and durability.

What we like

  • Attractively priced
  • Good in all disciplines
  • Supportive and comfortable
  • Top manufacturer

What we don’t like

  • Some riders suggest sizing runs small

 7 Things To Consider When Buying Tri Shorts

Fabric

A bit obvious to state this but go with fabrics that you have heard of. Names like Lycra and Spandex are well known names, elastane is the generic term so if you see trade names you know what you are buying.

Length

Most inseam lengths are somewhere between 6” and 10”. It is down to the rider, simple personal preference but don’t buy a tri short for the name rather than the length. If you buy the wrong length you will regret it. Get the length that you are most comfortable with.

Leg Grips

Again this is down to rider preference but do make sure that the shorts cannot ride or bunch up after the swim.

Seams

The trick here is not being able to feel them. This is often down to manufacturing standards which is why you should always go with a reputable manufacturer. The products we have mentioned all have excellent smooth seams but even the big boys make mistakes and if you get a pair of tri shorts with a raised or scratchy seam, send them back!

Seat Pad

The crucial thing here is that the pad is not the same as a regular bike pad, tri short pads need to be able to get rid of water as soon as possible. Excessive retention is going to lead to chafing on the second leg of the triathlon, this is something we DON’T want.

Pockets

Ask triathletes and I bet the result will be 50/50.

Although pockets aren’t an absolute necessity, they can be exceedingly useful. Yes they will add weight and drag but unless you are going for every 0.01 of a second then why not?

Budget

Of course budget is a consideration,and for the higher priced items you should expect higher standards, they should be comfortable, seamless, leg grips that work and a seat chamois that is both comfortable and gets rid of water quickly.

Tri Shorts FAQs

Q. Do you wear anything under tri shorts?

A. Short answer is no.

Q. How tight should triathlon shorts be?

A.They should be “snug” but not uncomfortably tight. Shorts that are too tight can restrict circulation, this should be avoided. Similarly they need to fit well enough to ensure there is no riding or bunching

Q. Can you swim in tri shorts?

A. You certainly can ,that’s what they are designed to do. But I would restrict them to training or events, for recreational swimming get out the Speedo’s!

Q. How long do tri shorts last?

A. Much depends on the quality of the tri shorts you buy. Tri shorts have a life between 200 and 400 hours, when they stop fitting, it’s time to get some new ones.

Q.  Do tri shorts have padding?

A. Tri shorts do have padding. The padding in tri shorts is substantially thinner than you get in regular bike shorts.

Q. What is the difference between a trisuit and tri shorts?

A. Simply put a tri suit is a garment that covers the whole torso of the triathlete whereas tri shorts cover, well, the area that shorts usually cover. The advantage of a tri suit is that is is great in the water and then there is no need to change any clothing (other than shoes and helmet) after your swim, thus reducing your transition time. The downside of this is that tri suits are expensive, for beginners we would definitely recommend shorts rather than a tri suit.

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