This is a head-to-toe rundown of some of my favorite running gear items, along with what I like about them. I know no one item of gear will be universally loved, so keep in mind that I’m coming from the perspective of a 5′ 8″ woman carrying around 155 lb, who runs about 20-25 miles a week, mainly on road/paved path. If a particular item doesn’t trip your trigger, it may be worth it to check out the company’s website to see their other products because (don’t tell my husband) this is how I do most of my Christmas shopping for the other runner in our house!
Beanie: Any thin skullcap-fit beanie with a ponytail hole. Adidas makes one, but so does Lululemon, Trailheads, and many other companies, so choose one from a company that you like. I find that when I run, any thicker hat will just make me overheat, and I like the way this one fits because it’s slightly more shallow in the front. It stays put, and the ponytail hole is just awesome. (Note: If you have a hat you love except for it not having a ponytail hole, anyone with a sewing machine can create one for you by setting a buttonhole in the back.)
Headlamp: I still love my Scangrip headlamp. It illuminates a super-wide path, making it great for when a friend’s headlamp isn’t living up to it’s name, and it’s really bright. It’s rechargeable, so you do need to keep tabs on how many hours you’ve used it, but on the plus side you never have to swap batteries. It also has a wave-on/wave-off feature which is wonderful during group runs, so you can turn it off to chat with someone at a regroup without blinding them. Read a full review of the Scangrip I-View headlamp here. (The current price is $74.)
Sports bra: This is a super-personal preference, but I stick mainly with the Brooks Fiona and Brooks Juno. I wear a 34D so I need a lot of support, and these two bras never let me down, literally or figuratively. The Fiona is categorized as a “medium impact” but I think it’s comparable to most “high impact” bras.
Base layer top: Recently, I joined the Janji collective and have since bought a number of items from them. The Runpaca shirt is made of alpaca wool and pima cotton, keeps you really warm while still allowing air flow. So, you don’t get as hot, and sweat dries more quickly. I wear a size M in this for a base layer.
Jacket: For a lightweight jacket, I always grab the Columbia Titan Lite Windbreaker which is super lightweight. And if it turns out I don’t need it, it’s really lightweight and I can easily tie it around my waist. Read my review here.
Reflective vest: Noxgear – no questions. It offers sizes, so you get a vest which fits you, and it blinks its own lights and has a reflective band. This means that cars notice you whether or not you’re in the path of their headlights. I also like how it has a built-in light warning to tell you when you need to replace the batteries.
Watch: Last year, my husband researched running watches to find me one that could track my runs including GPS, and not cost an arm and a leg. He got me the TomTom Spark 3 and I love it. I did have to replace the band a few months ago, but I was able to easily find a replacement band on Amazon that fits perfectly. It can store music, has a built-in heart rate, and tracks steps, calories, and the usual GPS stuff.
Gloves: When it comes to gloves, I find that usually I just need a really thin glove, otherwise my hands are overheated by the first mile. So I love glove liners – and you can usually find some great ones for between $20-$30. Check out this selection from REI. I really like the REI brand and liners from Dakine.
Running belt: Nathan’s Hipster is my favorite. It works well for my car key, phone, and any nutrition I need, and since there are no zippers, there’s nothing to get gunked up when a Gu wrapper is torn open and stored again instead of being littered. The overlapping panels keep your gear secure and the fitted sizes prevent bouncing. Bonus: it comes in so many colors! Read my full review here.
Bottoms – Tights: I’m working on a longer-format review of the Patagonia Peak Mission tights, but I had to include them because they are incredibly comfortable, and they have just the right amount of detail contrast. They’re super soft and thick enough for temps in the 30s when capris aren’t an option for me, but they aren’t heavy enough to sag while running. They’ve got a zippered pocket and a wide, flat elastic waistband – a must in my book.
Bottoms – Capris: I’m a big fan of capris from Rabbit, because they’re cute and they fit well. The Capreeze style has their rabbit logo in the stitching, with enough detail to make the interesting but not so much that they don’t match anything else you own. Again – they’ve got a zippered pocket and a nice wide waistband! I didn’t write a review of these pants because they were a gift from my husband, but they were my favorite capris to race in this fall.
Socks: Avoid cotton when you can, and especially when running in Oregon during the winter! Balega socks come in a variety of thicknesses and ankle heights, so you can find the right pair for distance, for speed, for trail, and for your long run, without fear of the hot spot or dreaded mid-run blister. The Hidden Comfort are my favorite style, but I have a couple different styles that are always the first to be grabbed out of the sock drawer after laundry day.
Shoes: Shoes are so personal, so don’t take my word for this unless you’re someone that needs a little stability but still likes a little cushion. With the latest Brooks Adrenaline 19, you can also demand more responsiveness thanks to the addition of the Guiderails support system, so they’re my new favorite. But no matter what shoe works for you, buy it locally! We are lucky to have a number of locally-owned running specialty stores in our area – support them!
Water bottle: Nathan makes an insulated water bottle, guys. It’s the SpeedShot Plus Insulated Flask and it will not make your hand icy cold as you run. This alone is awesome, but the zipper pouch is big enough for my phone, car key, ID, and a gu or two.