10 Trail Running Essentials

trail runner

As an avid road runner working to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I don't regularly run on trails. But the few times I have found myself lacing up for the occasional off-road run, I've found myself to be a bit unprepared. While trail running has a reputation for being more relaxed and enjoyable than running on the roads, it truthfully does come with its own challenges. By arriving equipped with the correct gear, you too can go out for hours and have lots of fun. 

Altra Superior 4 Trail Shoes, $110

The first thing you'll need when switching from running on roads to trails is a solid pair of trail-appropriate shoes. These provide balanced cushioning to promote low-impact form throughout your trail run and a sticky rubber outsole to make for a better grip while you're out there crushing the trails. 

All Trails Hike, Bike and Run App, Free

I recently tested out this tracking app while on a group hike in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Although I was primarily using it to log my trail run, it ended up saving me when I fell back from the pack and got a little lost. Not only did I log a couple of extra bonus miles, but the app helped me find my way back to our meeting point when I found myself alone and without cell service. 

Stanley Go Series with Ceramivac Vacuum Insulated Bottle, $23

No matter the distance you're covering, it's a safe bet to say you'll be out there longer than if you were logging the same mileage on the roads where water fountains might be more abundant. This bottle will keep your water cold the whole time you're, and you won't have to worry about getting parched. 

Icebreaker Cool-Lite Solace Short-Sleeve Low Crewe Shirt, $80

You might be moving slower than usual on the trails, but once the sun comes out, you're still likely to get sweaty. This breathable top will keep you dry, a plus especially if the air temperature is actually on the chilly side.

Icebreaker Cool-Lite Rush Windbreaker, $200

In that same vein, you'll want to be prepared for drastic temperature changes, especially if your trail run is of the long distance variety. This windbreaker will keep you warm when you need it and is easy to store.

Lifeproof FRĒ SERIES Waterproof Case, $59

I almost never run with my phone when I'm out on the roads, but it's possible you may need it to find your way or call for help if you get lost or injured out on the trails. This durable phone case will protect it from the elements, especially if you accidentally drop it mid-run.

Smith Parallel D Max Sunglasses, $130

You might equate trail running or hiking to being protected by an abundance of trees, but many trails are actually very exposed to the sun. These sleek and stylish sunglasses will protect you from the sun's glare and harmful rays.

Clif Nut Butter-Filled Organic Snack Bars, $15.59 for a variety pack of 12

When I'm on a leisurely trail run and hunger strikes, I much prefer actual foods to the energy gels I suck down on a hard, long run on the roads. These bars are filled with different varieties of nut butters, including peanut, maple almond and chocolate hazelnut, making for a tasty and satisfying snack.

Eagle Creek Packable Daypack, $32

If you need to carry some of the aforementioned items, you'll want to do so in a compact bag that won't impede your running. This breathable pack will prevent excess sweat from building up, and it's easily foldable to pack in a suitcase or other large bag.

Banana Boat Ultra Sport Travel-Size Sunscreen, $9 for pack of three

No matter the time of year, if the sun is shining, you'll want to protect your skin from its harmful rays, especially if you're climbing to higher elevation during your run. These inexpensive travel packs of sunscreen will get the job done. 

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