Running Gear Guide

December 2, 2015

Gear We Love
That won’t break the bank

By Yitka Winn

The first time I ever went trail running, I set off with a plastic bottle of water, a sandwich, an apple and a paperback trail-running guide—all stuffed into a daypack. Within an hour, the bottle had leaked all over the inside of my pack, the sandwich was squished, and the jostling of the apple had bruised my back.

Though there’s no “right” way to pack for a running jaunt on the trails, I’ve learned a few things in the years since my first escapade. Here’s a primer on finding great trail gear that won’t break the bank.

Sturdy trail-running shoes

Trail-specific running shoes have several advantages over traditional road-running shoes: cleat-like tread for better traction on mud, better lateral support for handling uneven terrain and, often, lightweight rock plates to protect your soles from sharp stones.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Montrail dubs itself “the original trail-running brand.” For years, its award-winning, versatile Mountain Masochist shoe has been a perennial favorite of trail runners the world over. $100

Wide-footed runners rejoice! The super-light Altra Superior 2.0 pairs a roomy toebox with a low-riding platform and removable rock-protection footbed for the perfect amount of “ground feel” on a variety of trails. $110.

The Altra Lone Peak 2.5 was the shoe of choice this fall when Seattle’s Heather Anderson swiftly crushed the Appalachian Trail record in just over 54 days, averaging 40 miles per day.  $120.

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR, the predecessor of the popular Clifton, uses meta-rocker geometry and rubber pods to give great stability on those uneven trails. Lightweight, true-to-size and a right-out-of- the- box fit make this a true winner. $130

Performance-fabric shirt

Given our rainy Northwest climate, pass on cotton and opt for moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics like polyester—or a cozy, merino-wool top, which naturally resists odors and excels at regulating body temperature.

Our recommendation: Geared toward runners, Seattle-based Pettet Endurance Project (PEP) makes 100 percent of its high-quality merino-wool tops in U.S. factories. $50-$70

Comfortable hydration pack

If you plan to spend more than an hour or two on the trails, you’ll want a lightweight, smooth-riding pack that won’t jostle when you run.

Based in Seattle, Outdoor Research makes the compact Hoist Pack with ample space for a hydration reservoir, extra layers and other trail essentials. $59

Weather-resistant jacket

Be sure to find a jacket that is breathable enough for highly aerobic pursuits; the last thing you want is fabric that develops internal clamminess when you run.

Leave it to a Seattle company to manufacture this rain-ready essential: the Brooks LSD (that’s “Long, Slow Distance”) jacket offers windproof, water-resistant protection from the elements, and is small enough to pack into its own pocket. $98

Easy-on-the-stomach snacks

It can be hard at first to comfortably digest food while running—yet, staying fueled is essential for long days on the trails. Look for portable, calorically dense snacks that for-go common allergens or irritants like dairy, gluten or processed sugar.

Made with real fruit, nuts and rice protein, Picky Bars feature a 4-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio—ideal for long runs. And they’re made in Bend, Oregon. 1.6-ounce bar  $2.75

A salty alternative to super-sweet gels and bars, Fuel 100 Electro-Bites—founded by two Northwest runners—are made with a scrumptious combination of potato starch, coconut oil and agave nectar. 6-pack $13.20

Performance socks

Nothing interferes with a pleasant run like blisters. Be proactive by heeding the “cotton is rotten” credo and choose a moisture-wicking sock designed for running.

Cozy Lorpen T3 Trail-Running Ultralight socks feature a three-layer fabric blend, including biodegradable tree fibers from sustainable farms, to move perspiration away from your skin. $11

They might look quirky, but the individual toe compartments of Injinji Trail 2.0 socks make them immensely popular among blister-prone trail runners. $15

Yitka Winn, a former editor at OutdoorsNW, is a freelance writer and avid mountain runner. Follow her adventures at or on Instagram @yitkawinn.

Editor’s Note: The staff at OutdoorsNW magazine is always on the hunt for fair and neutral reviews of gear to share with our readers. Recently we were introduced to, the largest running shoe review resource in the world. They review running shoes using a 0–100 Runscore™ that summarizes expert reviews and user ratings into one simple score.

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