As more individuals take up running outdoors, it’s worth safely exploring trail running options, for those capable of trading crowded asphalt for lightly trodden paths and logging roads. For those stuck in a big city, many of these running trails are closer than you might think. In NYC, The Long Path starts at the 175th Street Subway Station and runs 358 miles, all the way to Albany. Then there’s Oakland’s Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, LA’s Angeles National Forest, Portland’s Forest Park, and more. Rough terrain takes forethought, and runners must have sturdy footwear as well as apparel that wicks properly. Here we have rounded up some of our picks for efficient, comfortable and functional running gear. Next, simply tell somebody where you’re going and what time you expect to return, and enjoy a little workout in the great outdoors.
Cushioning and foot protection are crucial on trail runs where you may find yourself scrambling over sharp stones and taking hard impacts on uneven ground. The fourth iteration of Hoka One One‘s Speedgoat ($145) are like mountain-bike tires for your feet. Thick and slightly bouncy, they allow for many miles in relative arch-cosseting comfort. The snug midsole allows for good control over exposed tree roots and the Vibram rubber soles are grippy on slippery rocks.
The Rhythm shirt’s super-light, nylon and merino blend fabric offers just the right amount of stretch and dries five times faster than regular merino. Even in humid conditions, a soaked T-shirt will dry on your body as you continue to exercise. For the first time, Black Diamond has made the shirt available as a long-sleeve ($75). Meanwhile, the brand’s Sprint shorts ($60) were co-developed by mountain athletes. The shorts sit flat on the legs but have plenty of pockets for maps, an outer shell or vest, and a rear pocket that cradles your cell and keeps it from bouncing around.
New from Suunto, the 7 watch ($499) is a sports-training timepiece with all the expected functions like GPS and heart-rate monitoring, but also plenty of smartwatch elements best suited for those who lean on Google products such as Google Pay and Fit, as it runs on Wear OS by Google. The key trail-running function is the gorgeously displayed topographical offline maps, which show details of the terrain that you’re running in real time. It also includes the trick functionality of “heat maps” that display nearby routes most often frequented by other runners—ideal for figuring out how busy or secluded your chosen route might be.
Seamless Base Layers
Even as the weather gets warmer, covering your legs on runs is important in order to protect from sun, poison ivy, and ticks. Mission Workshop’s seamless base layers include these leggings-style pants ($95) crafted from a lightweight knit made by 37.5, the company that developed a fascinating tech-fabric from particles of volcanic sand. These pants fit easily under running shorts, thanks to four-way stretch and they’re guaranteed to last forever, according to the brand.
Uproar Polarized Glasses
When it comes to aesthetics, sports-specific sunglasses are oftentimes unfortunate, but the Uproar sunglasses ($149) by Smith (or their larger-framed Pinpoint design) are unassuming and simple, while still functional. Specifically engineered for long-distance running, they won’t bounce on your nose. The ChromaPop polarized lenses make terrain easier to gauge on shadow-and-sun dappled trails, and are tough enough to take a branch in the face. A special coating on the lenses also repels dirt and water.
When you’re out in the wild with help many miles away, various supplies are essential but tricky to carry. Camelbak’s Zephyr Vest ($150) uses a well-ventilated knit mesh that’s lightweight but sturdy enough to carry two collapsible water bottles on either side of the chest. Also featuring small, easy-to-reach pouches, there’s space for snacks, running gels or even small first aid products. The back pouch is ideal for emergency essentials like an extra rainproof layer, a reliable lighter and a headlamp.
Images courtesy of respective brands, hero image by John Price