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Trail Running Gear Check

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

What do you wear when you run?" a total of one person has asked me, ever. Most of the time, my requirements aren't that strict. A good bra, comfortable shoes, shorts that don't cause chaffing, and lots of mineral sunscreen. But I thought I'd do a little roundup of my favorite gear, because it has taken me a handful of years to find what works best. You can thank me later, or never, whatever feels good in your chest.


Anetik: I normally don't think much about the tops I wear, so long as they're comfortable. Most of the time, I wear race giveaways or cutoff t-shirts. But last year, a friend hooked me up with some Anetik gear, and their tops are all I run in for races or long days in the mountains. I'm obsessed with my Breeze Tech Hoodies, which have UVF30+ protection while being light and breathable. The hood protects my face and neck, and I've never had a long sleeve that was built so well for heat.

Nathan: I joined the Nathan ambassador team last year, and they sent me a t-shirt. I was initially skeptical because I knew Nathan as primarily a hydration brand. But the shirt they sent me (like this one, but an older version) is incredibly soft and comfortable. It also dries quickly on hot summer days and Nathan clothing is made from eco-friendly recycled material.


Patagonia Houdini: I live in Southern California so the Houdini is usually the only running jacket I ever need. When it rains, I get wet. If it's very cold, I am simply, very cold. But the Houdini is remarkably warm for how thin and lightweight it is. Technically a wind jacket, the Houdini folds into itself and stores easily in my hydration pack. Normally $109, certain colors and sizes are half off right now.


Rabbit Speed Leggy 7": Shorts have always been tricky for me because I have relatively large thighs/butt compared to my waist. I like fitted shorts to reduce chaffing and have a large collection of varying brands of black shorts. The Rabbit Speed Leggy is light, form fitting, snug but not too tight, with two side pockets.

Janji 7" Pace Shorts: These are similar to the Rabbit shorts, but with larger side pockets and a little rubber thing on the inside of the leg holes to keep the shorts in place. I love my Janji shorts, and the Pace is one of their best sellers. Definitely, absolutely, do not ever put these in the dryer.

These cheap Amazon knock-offs: When I first started trail running, I didn't have much extra money, so these shorts were a great find as they would sometimes go on sale for $10. They don't last as long as a higher-quality short, but they have a soft, comfortable waist band, two side pockets, and they look like any other black fitted short.


Brooks: I recently purchased the Drive Plunge Run Bra 2.0, and instantly fell in love. The "run ready" support is top notch, the fabric is buttery, and it's cute. It's only downside are the removeable cups that fall out in the wash. Brooks has been around a long time, and they definitely know what they're doing. In 2016, I purchased two Brooks sports bras for $50 each at my local running store, and I'm still using them to this day.

Oiselle: I love everything about this brand, from their inception story, to their mission to bring about gender equality in sport, to their hyper-detailed and obsessively manufactured products. Their Flyout Bra is a fan favorite on the trail, with a phone pocket in the back, wide straps, and enough support for C/D cups.


Altra: I've been running in Altra shoes since 2016, starting with a pair of Torins for road running and eventually branching out to trails. Now, I love the Olympus for long runs or rocky trails, Timps for short to mid-distance runs, and Paradigms for the road. The wide toe boxes ensure I never get blisters and their range of foot shapes fits wide to slim.

Topos: Topos are very similar to Altras in that they have wide toe boxes and small stack heights. I have a pair of the Ultraventure 2's, and they're light while still feeling supportive, with sticky lugs that are great on rocky trails.


Darn Tough: Darn Tough has socks for any occasion; skiing, thru hiking, hunting, running, etc. They have a wide variety of sizes, fun patterns, and they come with a lifetime guarantee. I've worn my pair for hundreds of miles in all types of conditions and they still feel like new.

Swift Wick: I've been wearing Swift Wicks for many years, and they rarely wear through. I'm more apt to lose one in the laundry before one wears out. They have a very wide range of fits, a variety of compression options, and a moisture wicking technology to reduce friction. Added bonus: Swift Wick products are manufactured and developed in the U.S.


Solomon: I bought the Sense Pro 5 on Black Friday and it's been the perfect vest for racing and training. It holds two soft flasks in the front (.5 liters each) and has room for a 1.5L bladder if I wanted to use that as well. For runs where I need to carry more water, I can easily fit more in the back, but two soft flasks in the front are a nice option to have for racing. The fit of the Solomon is perfectly snug; if you measure between two sizes, opt for a size up.

Nathan: I have the TrailMix 12L pack, great for long days on the mountain, or a self supported long run like R2R2R. I've also used this pack for big races, as it easily holds all the required gear (safety blanket, rain jacket, headlights, extra batteries, food, etc.)


Black Diamond: The only trekking pole I've ever used is the Black Diamond Distance Z trekking pole (110 cm). I bought mine two years ago in Colorado and they are one of the best investments I've made for mountain running. I only use poles for long, technical runs, but they have prevented many falls and saved my legs during some long strenuous races.


Who cares, just wear any old hat. The older, the better. I don't remember the last time I bought a hat. Hats are like mugs, you just acquire them. They're great gifts for people you don't know very well and great giveaways at tradeshows and minor league baseball games. Some hats will look amazing on you and some will make your head look enormous. Some will disintegrate in the washing machine and some, you will never wash. Hats.

P.S. Find your next running watch here, read about essential trail running gear here, or read about when to take time off here.


Sarah Rose

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