Here at ACTIVE, we've used hundreds of products this year. Here are the things that stood out and captured our wear-testers' hearts.
Best Watch: Garmin Forerunner 645 Music1 of 17
If you're looking to upgrade your Garmin, the Forerunner 645 Music is the best watch for the job. Not only does it have all the functionality of a standard Garmin watch—and then some—it is also the first to come with music storage capabilities. Plus, Spotify is now available as one of the various music apps, making your listening experience during hard workouts even more enjoyable. You can download up to 500 songs to jam out to on the run (phone-free!). The battery lasts upwards of seven days in smartwatch mode or five hours in GPS mode with music, making it the ideal watch for runners.
Best Anti-Chafing Product: Body Glide2 of 17
Nothing derails a run quite like body chafing, and it's time to admit we all suffer from it. Whether you need it on your legs, your arms or even your neck, this body glide stick is more than up to the challenge of soothing your skin with just a few strokes of its allergen-free balm. Expect a dry, invisible and non-greasy barrier that will carry you through countless miles with zero irritation, making it the best running buddy you've ever had.
Best Warm-Weather: Athleta Sunlover UPF Tank3 of 17
Sometimes a shaded trail is nowhere to be found, which can mean long runs under an unforgiving sun. That's where this tank from Athleta comes in. Simply throw it on and feel confident that the UPF 50+ rating has you well-protected from the sun's rays. This tank is also lightweight, breathable and has an overlap detail on the back that encourages better ventilation. As part of Athleta's commitment to sustainable clothing, it's also made with recycled nylon.
Best Headphones: Jaybird Tarah Pro Headphones4 of 17
Durable, weather-proof and with an industry-leading battery life, Jaybird's new Tarah Pro design are 2018's best Bluetooth headphones. The sound is crisp and clear, the battery lasts for an astounding 14 hours and is quick to recharge on the go, and the IPX7 design is made to handle anything Mother Nature sends your way. Plus, they come with interchangeable tips and pivoting buds to make sure you have the fit you want in your ear because, let's be honest, comfort is one of the most important things when it comes to your headphones.
Best Shorts for Women: New Balance 3-Inch Impact Short5 of 17
For when the mercury is climbing especially high, throw on these three-inch shorts and never look back. They're cut from moisture-wicking stretch woven fabric and have a semi-split construction on the side, so you can pick up the pace by elongating your stride. You'll also find a wide, flattering waistband and zippered back pocket. Did we mention they come in four colors?
Best Shorts for Men: Under Armour Speedpocket 9"6 of 17
These best-sellers from Under Armour are a fan-favorite for a reason. They check all the boxes—like, all of them. Made with a fitted construction that strikes the right balance between hugging the body without feeling constricted, this short is also water-resistant, sweat-wicking and made with anti-odor technology. It has a front, expandable pocket that's perfect for holding your phone with zero bounce. Let's not forget the mesh side panels for extra ventilation and reflective logos to keep you safe on the road. See what we mean?
Best Tights: Reebok CrossFit Lux Tights7 of 17
Perfect for your time in the gym strength training, as well as for runs outside, Reebok's Lux Tights are as comfortable as they are stylish. The Speedwick technology ensures you stay cool and dry, the flatlock stitching helps prevent chafing and the wide waistband allows the tights stay in place—because the last thing you want to worry about during a run is your pants falling down.
Best Everyday Trainer: Brooks Levitate 28 of 17
If you're looking for a fast shoe with a lot of spring, the Brooks Levitate 2 delivers. The smooth ride coupled with a springy midsole make for a quick and responsive experience. While the Levitate 2s provide more cushion than some speed-focused shoes, they are not as cushioned as Brooks' other shoes like the Ghost or Launch and provide more of a feel for the road beneath your feet than those options. This pair is set apart by its upper, which features a tight, sock-like fit around the ankle, effectively hugging the Achilles tendon. While this fit worked for our testers, preventing slippage even while sprinting, it is a different feel that may not appeal to everyone. If you're managing injuries or just prefer a more cushioned ride, the Levitates could be a good option for speed work or shorter races. For runners less concerned about injuries, the extra bounce in these shoes would be welcome in the last miles of a long run.
Best Speedy Shoe: Reebok Floatride Run Fast9 of 17
Perfect for sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlons, the Floatride Run Fast is both lightweight and highly cushioned. The Floatride foam has a quick underfoot feel, is especially responsive to rapid pace changes and is supportive throughout the entire gait. The flexible upper is perfect for the triathlete in transition (it works well without socks), and the rippled rubber outsole stays grippy in wet conditions as well.
Best Shoe With a Little Extra Cushion: HOKA One One Clifton 510 of 17
The Cliftons are back for another update, this time a minor one, which centers around a reengineered mesh upper. This new upper does away with most of the overlays from previous versions, thus enhancing overall breathability and comfort. You will happily find the Clifton still delivers on what it does best—cushioning—featuring the same midsole geometry that made the shoe famous to begin with.
Best Trail Shoe: Merrell Agility Synthesis Flex11 of 17
We're going to go ahead and put it out there that the Agility Synthesis Flex is one of our favorite trail shoes on the market—maybe even ever. From the M-Select Grip and skeleton-inspired lugs—which provide "aggressive traction" and slip-resistant stability—to the cushy yet responsive midsole and the woven upper that is water resistant but still breathable, there wasn't a feature on the shoe our testers found fault in. Lightweight but still durable, the Agility Synthesis Flex will be your go-to trail runners, so much so that they'll last you through longer runs as well. While not the best for runners who need a little more stability when running across roots and rocks, try it once and we guarantee it'll become your new favorite shoe, too.
Best Shoe to Do It All: Adidas UltraBOOST12 of 17
Marketed as more of a lifestyle shoe, our testers agree the Adidas UltraBOOST really can do it all. Whether you're looking for comfy yet stylish kicks to wear to the park or something that will keep up on long weekend runs, the UltraBoost is worth checking out. With the padding of a cushy shoe yet the responsiveness of a trainer, you'll never want to take these off—they're just that comfortable. The upper is constructed from a breathable Primeknit that allows your feet to sweat freely even on the hottest days, and the BOOST midsole provides the structure and responsiveness needed to go the distance. Like we said, this shoe really can do it all.
Best Socks: Balega Ultralight No Show Running Socks13 of 17
Want to cut down on those crazy tan lines? Try these no-show socks from Balega. The brand has always known how to make a superior running sock, and this ultralight version is no exception. With an extra-deep heel pocket, moisture wicking fibers, mesh ventilation panels and the signature high heel tab to prevent the sock from slipping, these socks will give a new meaning to happy feet.
Best Sunglasses: Nike Trainer S Sunglasses14 of 17
The Trainer S sunglasses combine a sleek design with a lightweight construction, making them one of the best sunglasses for runners this fall. The MAX Optics provides clarity from all angles, and the lightweight, durable nylon frame makes you forget you're even wearing them after a few miles. Plus, the ventilated, adjustable nose bridge lets you tweak the fit to make it perfect for your face.
Best Cold-Weather Gear: Brooks LSD Jacket15 of 17
Ideal for breezy fall runs, Brooks' LSD jacket is so lightweight you'll almost forget you're wearing it. Our tester loved the light yet protective feel of it. Made from 100 percent Ripstop Nylon, it's guaranteed to keep the elements at bay while you pound the pavement—it even has a UPF of 30! Coming in a variety of colors and featuring reflective elements, you'll be safe, protected and look good with this jacket on your next windy run. Did we mention it can even pack into a built-in zip pocket and comes with an elastic strap to easily stow and go?
Best Gear Bag: Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack16 of 17
Stop what you're doing because we just found your new favorite carry-on backpack. The Allpa is the perfect size for taking to a destination race. It has more pockets than you could ever need, with specific compartments for a laptop and phone, passport and boarding pass. But that's not what makes it great. The straps can unbuckle and tuck into hidden back slots for easy storage in bins, and it comes equipped with a handy rain cover that is secured on the bag with Velcro and bungee closures to ensure belongings stay dry. Plus, if security is one of your top priorities, they'll love the zippers—they tuck under a theft-proof webbing making it nearly impossible for snatch-and-dash thieves to get into the bag.