Here at ACTIVE HQ, we've used hundreds of products this year. Here are the things that stood out and captured our wear-testers hearts.
Best WatchGarmin Forerunner 935, $499.99 1 of 15
The latest watch in Garmin's Forerunner line is targeted toward a higher tier of athletes not satisfied with merely tracking their workouts but also looking for intelligent analysis of their entire training cycle. The Forerunner 935, however, is especially suited for runners due to its ability to pair with Garmin's Running Dynamics Pod, which takes the place of a chest strap and provides runners with a number of metrics. The watch also connects to Strava and TrainingPeaks, feeding your scheduled workouts directly to the watch. But it's not just for use on your run. To read the in-depth review of this multisport watch, click here.
Best SunglassesRoka Phantom TI, $300 2 of 15
Roka, one of the most well-respected endurance brands in the game, has designed sunglasses that are both functional and aesthetically beautiful. The Phantom, specifically, is a game changer. A performance aviator, the Phantom weighs just 20 ounces and is constructed with GEKO Pads on the nose and temples that prevent sliding. The style has been voted best performance sunglasses of 2017 by several experts, and we agree.
We've run miles and miles (and miles) without a hiccup, literally forgetting at times that we're wearing sunglasses at all. Choose from a gold or blue glacier lens color and a regular or large size. We promise you'll never leave home without them.
Splurge-worthy Item of the YearCEP Progressive Compression Socks, $50 3 of 15
Yup, socks. Fifty-dollar recovery socks. But once you try them, you'll agree, these should make every best-of list. The Recovery+ socks from CEP are made to improve circulation in the legs to speed up muscle recovery, so the soreness from that 10-mile run or intense leg day is gone in a flash. They're also great for reducing fatigue and swelling during travel or long days on your feet. Not to mention, they're very comfortable, and built in anti-microbial properties will keep your feet smelling fresh.
Best Cold-Weather GearBrooks Men's and Women's Canopy Jacket, $120 4 of 15
Imagine being out on a run with your wind and water resistant running jacket. Then imagine that the sun comes out and you feel you have on one layer too many. This is a good coat, and you'd be damned to leave it out on the trail. But, you have miles and miles to go. What is a runner to do?
Brooks has given us all the best solution by making the Canopy Jacket fold up like a little sleeping bag complete with an elastic band for ultimate portability. Gone are the days of tying a cumbersome outer layer around your waist because now you can stow it on your upper arm for the rest of your run.
Read More: What to Wear in the Cold
Item Least Likely to Chafe: WomenSaucony Bullet Tight, $88 5 of 15
At just $88, you honestly cannot find a better running legging than the Saucony Bullet Tight. These will be the "little black dress" of your running wardrobe and your go-to chilly race-day favorites. The waist is medium rise and even though they don't hit all the way above the hip, they don't ride down. They're cool to the touch when you put them on and wick your sweat on long, hot runs. The Bullet Tight has a large back pocket and two large side pockets for your phone and keys.
Read More: Other Great Tights
Least Likely to Chafe: MenT.H.E Short, $58 6 of 15
Lululemon's T.H.E. Short goes by that name for a reason. This is seriously the pair of shorts every guy wants. Extremely lightweight, they're a favorite among runners. They also have an adjustable drawstring, as well as zippered and unzipped pockets, so no matter what activity you're doing, you're ready to roll in style.
Best Tool You Love to HateRoll Recovery R8, $119 7 of 15
Every runner deserves to be pampered, and while this massage roller may not look like a spa day (let's be real it, looks like torture), it could be even better. Let your muscles recover with this intense roller. The springy plastic adjusts to various leg sizes and targets the hamstrings, IT-bands, glutes and shins. It is a must-have for anyone who dreads foam rolling but has tightness that needs a quick remedy.
Best Swag You Didn't Know You NeededBunny Hop Emoji Singlet, $50 8 of 15
Singlets are always awesome, but this one by Rabbit is particularly fantastic. Dotted with runner girls inspired by the triumphant female running emoji, this top draws compliments at every turn. It's comfortable, lightweight and keeps its cool on even the warmest runs. Form-fitting and true-to-size, it's the perfect addition to your running wardrobe.
Best Basic TeeRabbit EZ Shirt, $45 9 of 15
Rabbit says that this poly-spandex T-Shirt is so comfortable you'll forget you're wearing it, and they are telling the truth. Lightweight, quick-wicking and fast-drying, this will seriously become your favorite running shirt. And if you like understated style, donning Rabbit's sweet logo will put you on the inside of the sport's latest it-brand.
Best Everyday TrainerNew Balance 1080v7, $149.99 10 of 15
What happens when a supremely popular shoe model like the New Balance 1080 is combined with one of the sport's most respected cushioning systems? In short, an all-time great is born. A year after New Balance initially introduced Fresh Foam to the 1080, a few minor tweaks launched the model from mediocre to superstar status.
Claim to Fame: The 1080 has long since emerged as New Balance's go-to shoe for neutral pronators seeking maximum cushioning. The v6 introduced Fresh Foam to the model, but the v7 established the sweet spot in the 1080-Fresh Foam union.
Read More: Best Running Shoes of All Time
Best Debut ShoeNike Zoom Fly, $150 11 of 15
Unless you went into early hibernation this fall, you're probably familiar with Nike's Breaking 2 project, which sought to break the 2-hour marathon barrier via any means necessary, including the development of a top-secret concept shoe called the Zoom Vaporfly Elite. The distribution was beyond limited; in fact, only athletes directly involved with the project had access to it. The Zoom Fly, thankfully, is the version designed for mere mortals seeking to break our average PR.
But can a shoe with a 33-mm heel stack really be that fast? Our test runs say, to put it bluntly, HELL YES. The Zoom Fly is downright propulsive thanks to its distinct, full-length nylon plate embedded inside the midsole. Though tethered to the forefoot, it retains a high range of movement under the heel that produces an effect reminiscent of nailing a double bounce on a trampoline in your youth.
The carbon-infused plate creates a stiff forefoot that isn't for everyone (this definitely isn't your shoe for easy run days), but it rewards those who want to push the pace over high mileage with a snappy toe-off packed between plenty of foam padding. The seamless one-piece upper is designed to breathe through the top of the foot, and ultralight Flywire cables wrap the foot snugly without creating discomfort. The reinforced heel comes up a bit higher than most of its max cushioned peers, but it took only a few runs to get used to it. In fact, the upper fit is pretty generous, and though the toe box is shallow, it isn't narrow like so many of the Nike racers tend to be.
Best Trail ShoeHoka One One Speedgoat 2. $140 12 of 15
While theoretically this shoe is the second in HOKA ONE ONE's Speedgoat line, it bears little resemblance to the first iteration, which is likely good news to runners who didn't favor the original (and there were many). Weighing in at 8.2 oz. in the women's version, they're not light by any means, but they're reasonable given the maximal cushioning you get in return.
But the real star of the show here is the outsole, featuring the same Vibram lugs as the original but in what seems to be a deeper pattern. These shoes really shined on our favorite technical trail, especially with rock underfoot, and they were seriously stable despite Hoka's infamous stack height. Designed with the serious trailhead in mind, these shoes worthy of your next (or first!) ultra attempt.
Best Speedy ShoeGoMeb Razor, $110 13 of 15
The GoMeb Razor is a fast, lightweight trainer with excellent ground feel and sufficient cushioning. They'll take you through runs from 3 to 14 miles, including tempos and intervals sessions. These shoes responded great as our speed increased, and there were times on our regular runs when we found ourselves running faster than what we had intended. Both the sole and the GO knit upper have proven durable and comfortable and the toe box is expansive. Overall, you've got to love what Skechers is doing with their performance line of running shoes. This is a great shoe for training or racing.
Best Shoe to Do It AllReebok Floatride, $150 14 of 15
These shoes will go the distance and they're not just for runners; they're also a great cross training shoe. You can run to the gym in the Floatride Runs, have an intense gym workout and run home without any foot fatigue whatsoever. The cushion is made out of very lightweight pressure-set foam that maximizes your responsiveness to the ground. They're also pretty darn good looking.