It takes awhile to figure out what works for you and I'll even say that sometimes what you need evolves over time. At first, when you're just getting started, it's hard enough to just afford the bike and everything else that you have to buy to even enter the dang race! However, eventually after four years of just training with a heart rate monitor, you finally stop salivating over everyone else's Garmin 405 and buy one (or the new wheels, etc. etc.). You didn't necessarily need the Garmin right off the bat, but you sort of get to the point where to take your training to the next level you need more data, and that sometimes requires an upgrade.
With that said, Triathlete magazine has an entire issue devoted to "gear" each year and I do find it quite interesting. I like to see what other triathletes are using and why. One of the athletes I'm working with suggested I put something together at some point showing some of the equipment I currently use. He said it could help those that are either just curious or are trying to figure out where to start!
I've linked that page under the side bar of the blog entitled "Curious About What Gear I'm Using?"
So, hopefully it helps you and if have any questions about what I'm using or why, just let me know! I'm sure I forgot some things - so please chime in about those too. It's almost New Years Eve! Hope everyone is having a great week.