Using the bag template pioneered by Blueseventy, Zone3’s Transition Bag has become ubiquitous in the UK’s transition zones. The Brit brand have refined the traditional design in this 40l version, including a fleeced MP3 pocket with lead outlet and an internal waterproof and removable wallet for race licences – two brilliant touches.
The A-list upgrade is the fact that this lies flat to become a holdall, meaning you can access the middle compartment easily, which also removes the cavernous key chamber black hole that can befall standard transition bags. The designated swim, bike and run areas keep things organised, although the top bike pocket does lack the helmet protection of the Zoot and Orca. We’ve used this for years for pool runs with the kids and it provides some calm in the chaos, while the waterproof bottom compartment has yet to leak. The 53/34/22cm size is also airline cabin-friendly. racezone3.com
Verdict: Some great tri-friendly upgrades make this a brilliant and affordable racing companion 90%
At 58cm tall, the 70l Orca Transition Bag flirts with departure-lounge danger, coming in a few centimetres higher than most airline’s cabin bag height restrictions, which is something that surely could’ve been averted in the design process. For triathlon race day, it’s a bag like no other; the main compartment is accessed from the rear/strap side of the bag, meaning the ‘front’ becomes the bottom when you place it holdall-like on the floor.
There are countless tri-specific features on show, with a protective helmet pocket, wet and dry gear areas, designated pockets for nutrition, your sunglasses and more. The bright green interior is a smart idea for illuminating your bits and bobs come race morning, although we would’ve liked more than one water bottle holder. It’s sturdy and stands-up well, but we just found the 58/40/24cm size and 2.3kg weight a tad too bulky, especially when loaded with kit. orca.com
Verdict: unique design and with plenty of triathlon-specificity, but it’s a bulky number 80%
Louis Garneau call this the Tri Zone but, given its 50/38/16cm size, it’s more of a Duathlon Zone bag. At Coed-y-Brenin Trail Duathlon, we just found it suitable for our bike and run kit (although it surprisingly claims a 40l capacity akin to the Zone3). While it’s the one we’ve used most for daily life due to its size, comfy straps and ergonomically-shaped back, there are too many flaws for race day. The neoprene bottle sleeves on the sides are frustratingly tight for standard bike bottles and the removable bag for wet clothes isn’t actually waterproof, meaning we found a lovely wet patch on our bathroom floor after a race. The wet stuff compartment at the bottom, meanwhile, can just about house a medium wetsuit but there’s no room for gloves, booties or goggles. That said, the four designated compartments for glasses, nutrition, bike tools and other essentials are great for organising things on race day. garneau.com
Verdict: comfy and easy to carry, but the small, wet compartment lacks triathlon race-day appeal 67%
Buy from www.swimoutlet.com
The fact that Zoot label this as a tri and not a transition bag is telling. It almost feels like a triathlete’s overseas travelling bag, opening up like a suitcase to reveal a plush rear compartment you can imagine putting smart shirts in while there’s also a removable waterproof wetsuit compartment that’s suitable for soiled laundry.
The 56/39/20cm size is just about cabin-friendly and, while it may not withstand the angriest of luggage chuckers, the protective helmet pocket is a smart addition. So, it works for aviation but what about your A-race? The easy-to-access waist strap pocket and bottle holders are welcome additions but, if anything, there’s far too much going on. The eleven pockets and compartments baffled us when we were searching for our energy gels during the headspin that’s transition, both before and during the race. And it’s also more prone to toppling than the bags to the left. zootsports.com
Verdict: great for travelling, but we’re just not convinced of its race-day function 77%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
All images by The Secret Studio