There’s some amount of running gear junkie in all of us, and I’m no exception. Over my years of running I’ve found the stuff I love and works well for me. Everyone is different, so there’s no guarantees that you’ll agree, but here’s some of what I use and love on the run.
I have been in love with the Cascadia since I started running in the Cascadia 4 some years back. The last on this shoe feels like it was made to fit my foot. I’m currently running in the Cascadia 10, but the Cascadia 9 is still available as well.
I would say I run about 90% of my miles off-road, but not all of that is hardcore, technical trail. For anything paved, or for well-maintained dirt roads, I like having a light, fast road shoe handy. Once again, I found that Brooks had a shoe that agreed with my feet in the PureConnect series. I’ve run in the original PureConnect and the PureConnect 3 and loved them both.
For my long, self-supported training runs I need more than just a handheld bottle of water. The same goes for a trail ultra where the aid stations may be further apart than I can comfortably go and stay hydrated. For both of those situations, I make full use of the Nathan HPL #020 Race Vest. It’s got a 2 liter bladder, a small rear compartment with enough room for my phone and some food, and a bungee strap so I can have an extra layer handy. There are also two small pockets in front for easy access to gels and the like while on the go. I love the convenience, and while I was skeptical when I first got it, it stays put and doesn’t slide all over the place while you’re running. I have an older version, and my only complaint was with the bladder: the drinking spout and hose were far inferior to others I’d used. Thankfully they’ve made improvements in that department over the last couple years, and this new version looks like a winner.
There are times where I want one or both hands free, but I don’t need a full pack. For those situations I use the Amphipod Full Tilt Velocity for a waist pack. It only has enough storage for a gel or two and the water bottle, but I find it shifts and bounces less than other waist packs I’ve tried. Waist packs aren’t my favorite, but this one is what I prefer when one is called for.
When it comes to my handheld bottle, I’m a bit of a split personality. I like the hand-feel of the Nathan Quick Draw Plus, but I find the bottle in the Camelbak Quick Grip Podium Chill to be vastly superior. So, I actually create a Frankenstein handheld using the grip from the Nathan and the bottle from the Camelbak. It’s less than ideal since it involves using parts from two pieces of gear to make one, but it keeps me happy and hydrated on the run so I call it a win.
When it comes to shorts, I found that sticking to the basics works well for me. I rotate a couple of pairs of these R-Gear High Five 5″ Shorts from Road Runner Sports. They are lightweight, have a couple small pockets, and even add a splash of color. Most importantly, they’re super comfortable. That counts for a lot when they’re going to be on for eight, ten, or even twelve hours.
Once the weather turns too cold for shorts, I don’t hesitate to switch from shorts to my CW-X Pro Fitted Tights. They are comfortable, supportive, and warm enough for Northern California winters (those who live in colder climates are not forgotten; they also make an insulated version). Be warned, these tights have “fitted” in the name, and they are most certainly that. It takes a little bit of effort to get in and out of them, and once they’re on they leave very little to the imagination of any other runners or pedestrians on your route. If I’ll be anywhere among the masses, I generally wear a pair of shorts over these for a dose of extra modesty.
When it comes to socks, I am a huge fan of Drymax. I have a sock drawer full of their products and am always buying more. For shorter trail runs I like the Drymax Lite Trail Run Mini Crew and Lite 1/4 Crew. When the mileage starts getting longer, I move to the Drymax Trail Run 1/4 Crew which has a little more padding than the Lite Trail version. For the ultramarathon distances, I break out the big guns: the Maximum Protection Trail Run 1/4 Crew. It has significantly more padding than the other versions (and costs significantly more), so it’s really best suited for the truly high mileage runs. All of the Drymax socks do a great job wicking moisture and keeping my feet as happy as possible in a punishing environment. When I’m on the trail, I absolutely count on these socks to keep me going.
I’ve found that my headlamp use for running is divided into two categories, and I split my purchasing accordingly. When the days are short and I’m going to be doing my entire run in full dark I really like some extra light. The Petzl Myo RXP 2 fulfills this need, and then some. It is ridiculously bright, and the lamp easily tilts and adjusts. The extra lumens come at a price, however, and the Myo takes three AA batteries. The weight is well-distributed with the battery pack on the rear of the head, and I still find it comfortable, but it is not a tiny headlamp by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, when my priority is lighting up a pitch black night, nothing compares to this Cadillac of headlamps.
On the other side of the headlamp coin, sometimes I’m doing a run in the evening or morning, where half of the time will be dark and the rest will still have some sunlight. In these cases I don’t want to be saddled with the extra weight of the Myo and want something a little more portable. Enter the Black Diamond Spot. Trading the Myo’s AA’s for AAA’s makes this far lighter, while still maintaining a solid light output. When I want a decently bright lamp that will make an easy transition from head to pack or pocket, the Spot is always my choice.