NW Kids: Running Gear for Teens and Tweens

December 3, 2015

By Amy Whitley

Photo at right: The author’s teen son, Nate, trail runs on a forest service road in Southern Oregon. Photo by Amy Whitley


If your kids are like mine, walking along a trail might be “too hard” or “tiring,” but running along a trail is downright delightful. It makes zero sense, of course, but don’t fight this desire for kids to go, go, go.

Get them outfitted for trail running and you may find yourself in my shoes with one teen on his school’s cross-country team and two others right on his tail while completely leaving their mom in the dust.

Here’s what your kids will need for safe, fun trail running this season.

Hydration pack: Water is essential on the trail, and this rule goes double for trail running. While water bottles work for hiking, kids will need a lower profile way to hydrate while running.

There are many hydration bladders on the market, but after trying several, we have settled on two favorites:

The Camelbak Mini MULE is great for kids under the age of 12, thanks to the pack’s small profile, easy-to-fill reservoir and versatility (it’s great for hiking and biking, too).

The Osprey Rev 1.5 is perfect for teens, due to the slim profile and snug fit. Take the time to try on many models—the most important criteria is the ease of use of the plastic tubes and bite valves and how well the pack fits the body.

Lightweight layers: Running in the winter means running in all types of weather conditions. While any lightweight wool or wool-blend layer will do, kids should be equipped with at least one long-sleeve wool layer. We love Icebreaker’s long-sleeve crew tops, most of which are rated SPF 30 in addition to naturally wicking away moisture. Also good to have at the ready: a lightweight rain jacket and snug-fitting beanie cap.

Trail running shoes: When it comes to trail running shoes, parents basically have two options: go with a generalized, all-purpose running shoe, or upgrade to specialized shoes. In 90 percent of cases, I recommend the former. Kids need a sturdy running shoe with a good tread and ankle support, characteristics which can be found in most standard running shoes.

When to upgrade? If you have a teen who is serious about trail running as a sport, or live in a region with extreme trail conditions (mud, snow or sand), you may want to consider adding specialized shoes to your arsenal.

Our pick for wet trails is the Icebug Acceleritas. This water-resistant specialty shoe is narrow with a grippy tread. The shoe also comes in men’s or women’s sizing which generally fits kids 12 and up.

For a grippy shoe that’s still flexible and soft in the midsole, try the shoe my 16-year-old prefers, the Icebug Zeal.

One of our favorite aspects of trail running is its accessibility. It requires very little gear, can be done in almost all parts of the country, and workouts usually last about an hour.

Amy Whitley of Medford, Ore., writes about her family adventures in NW Kids in every edition of OutdoorsNW. Miss a column? Log onto www.OutdoorsNW.com and search NW Kids. You can follow more of Amy’s adventures at www.PitStopsforKids.com

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