If you’re the kind of person who finds normal track running too boring and lacking in scenery, but hiking is just a little slow for your liking, you might want to check out trail running. Also known as mountain, hill, or fell running – a term commonly used in Europe – trail running can be a uniquely rewarding experience for those with the fortitude and capacity to handle it. Just trust us when we tell you that even the most casual of trail running if far more exhaustive than a normal hike or jog. Given the right circumstances, however, it is entirely worth the exertion.
But one does not simply run up a trail. Not, at least, if you’re looking to do it right. Like any other form of exercise, trail running comes with an exclusive array of challenges, risks, and – of course – rewards. And the best way to tackle them is by preparing yourself. That means readying yourself mentally and physically, as well as gearing up accordingly – it can make all the difference. The following 12 items are our idea of the best trail running gear on the market today.
Fits Socks Light Runner
These super lightweight runner’s socks – constructed out of merino wool, nylon, polyester, and lycra – are made to stay snugly on your feet, regardless of the intensity of your run. Designed to contour to your toes, lock onto your heels, and stay tight around your ankles, the Light Runners promise to never bunch up inside of your shoes.
Teton Trailrunner 2.0
As with most outdoor activities, staying hydrated is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. Dehydration is a sure way to ruin even a moderate run and it can make things very dangerous very quickly. Stave it off with the Teton Sports Trailrunner 2.0 hydration backpack. With its 2 liter capacity, cushioned breathable back panel, and adjustable straps, this pack is any trail runner’s best friend.
Patagonia Duckbill Hat
One of the greatest enemies to any outdoor sport, trail running included, is the sun. Sure, it illuminates an otherwise treacherous path and supplies the body with vitamin D, but the friendly facade can be marred by its negative effects – including, but not limited to, increased rate of dehydration, glare, sunburn, etc. Don’t fall victim. Wear this Patagonia Duckbill Cap. The mesh back will ensure that your head can still breath and the bill will thwart some of the sun’s danger.
Nike Pro Combat Compression Shorts
A sure fact about trail running the right way is this: you’re going to sweat. A lot. And sweat can weigh you down and make for an unpleasant experience. These Nike Compression Shorts are made of moisture-wicking Dri-FIT fabric, so the sweat will be pulled into the fabric where it can more easily evaporate. And they’re designed to reduce chafe and give you the support you need during exercise.
Rhone General Short Sleeve
Your underwear shouldn’t be the only clothing item on you that wicks away the moisture. This “butterfly soft” heather fabric shirt will keep you dry and feel as comfortable as your favorite lounging tee. The flatlock stitching ensures premium toughness. It features XT2 silver fibers in its construction to fight odor. And this updated version fits true-to-size.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit
For some folks, music is a must-have while working out. It pumps you up and it sets the pace of your workouts. But wired headphones are both inconvenient and can be extremely annoying with a stray cable bouncing around, especially for something high-impact like trail running. These wireless headphones are built for working out and they’re sturdy and secure enough to stay in your ears while you bound up that mountain. Put “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat through these water- and sweat-resistant bad boys and you won’t ever miss a beat.
Tracksmith Falmouth Shorts
Constructed from a lightweight, moisture-wicking, four-way stretching, lightweight nylon blend that’s one of the most technical fabrics available on the market today for running, these versatile shorts are suitable for even the most demanding of dashes. They feature an elastic waist, zip fly, mesh liner, and a hidden side-seam pocket for valuables or anything you want to hide away. And they’re constructed entirely in Massachusetts.
Exposure to the elements, whether you plan on it or not, is a guarantee when you’re out on the trails. And if you’re going to go for a run on a cooler day or there’s even a minimal chance that you might end up in some less than favorable conditions, it’s better to be prepared than not. Not only is this Patagonia jacket super lightweight, but it can collapse into itself – hence, the name Houdini – for extremely compact storage.
Petzl MYO Headlamp
If your runs start before sun-up or cross into dusk, it’s a good idea to keep something on your person with which you can illuminate your path. It’s even more convenient if you can keep both of your hands free in doing so. This well-balanced headlamp was designed specifically with endurance activities in mind and can produce up to 370 lumens worth of light. Run on 3 AA sized batteries, this headlamp features a “constant lighting” mode which will not dim as the batteries grow weaker, so it’s great for those unexpectedly long runs.
Second only to some form of hydration is your choice of shoes. Trail running requires unique footwear because it needs to be rugged enough to handle the sometimes uneven and unforgiving terrain, but it also has to be lightweight enough to allow for much more speed than a normal hike. These shoes feature a thick rubber sole, quick-dry air mesh, comfortable insoles, and a removable rock protection plate. In fact, these are an award-winning favorite amongst trail runners.
This is one of the better watches on the market for athletes and comes equipped with some really impressive features – including a speed gauge, distance tracker, and a heart rate reader & sensor. It even features GPS locator and allows you to analyze your sleep recovery when paired with the Suunto Movescount app. And the battery lasts for up to 100 hours.
Nike Vaporwing Elite
Designed specifically with all types of running in mind, these Vaporwing glasses – which look like something the Flash might wear – feature an aerodynamic construction, a Nike + Zeiss Optics one-piece lens, a comfortable self-adjusting nose pad, and sweat wicking rubber temple channels. They even provide 100% protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays.