Why True Running Gear is Critical on the Trails
Tips from Alastair Dixon
Ultra Trail Runner and Founder of TrailandKale.com
To train hard and smart, your running gear needs to stand up to the challenges you throw at it and not hold you back in pursuit of your goals. In particular, what you wear, how you protect yourself from the elements and how to carry water efficiently are essential. Here are 3 tips for choosing the right running gear for trails.
Tip 1: Apparel Needs to be Fit and Functional
When it comes to trail running, it helps to make sure your body has the full range of motion and freedom to move naturally as you run up, down, over and around trail obstacles, whether that’s downed trees, technical rocky sections or negotiating narrow singletrack.
It’s also important to make sure that your running clothes are made from technical, soft, breathable and quick-drying materials that will help keep you stay comfortable and cool for every mile of your long runs. Flat seams that don’t chafe, and some degree of stretch in the fabric will also help you focus more on your footfall and less on your gear as you run.
At 5 inches long, Nathan’s Front Runner Shorts (available in men's and women's) are the perfect length for summer trail running - not too long to get in the way or trap too much heat, and not so short that they’re overly revealing as you leap over tree roots. I pair these trail running shorts with a lightweight, technical and breathable top, such as the Rise Short Sleeve Shirt (men's and women's).
Tip 2: Pack Light, Stay Warm in Exposed Terrain
I’m always carrying a running jacket in my hydration pack even in summer. When you’re running up on exposed mountain trails, or in shaded forest trails, it can get cool even on an apparently warm summer’s day - especially if you’re nearing the end of a long run and getting tired. For these runs, it pays to make sure your jacket is as lightweight and minimal as possible, while still offering protection from the elements. Also, and frequently overlooked, it should not make swooshing noises as you run!
Tip 3: Hydration Can Be Both Essential and Effortless
Even on colder days, the ability to effortlessly carry water and essentials, such as a phone and a running jacket, is important. Whether you’re running 5 or 50 miles, a running hydration pack is the most comfortable and efficient way to carry all the gear, water and sports nutrition you need with you.
Vaporair 2.0 7 Liter Hydration Vest (and the VaporAiress 2.0 designed specifically for women) is perfect for stashing your running essentials during trail runs and is designed to be fully adjustable to fit without moving as you run.
With a 2L water reservoir, you can carry all the water you need in this hydration pack, and storing the water in the back of the pack means plenty of space in the front pockets. You can customize what you carry and where. My personal preference is to keep snacks, my phone, car key and a sweat-wicking headband in the front pockets, and other essentials like my jacket and sunscreen get stored in the back, as well as a compact running headlamp if I’m running in the afternoon (because you never know when you may end up staying out longer than anticipated).
If you’re doing shorter runs on less technical trails, another hydration option is a handheld water bottle such as the QuickSqueeze Insulated Bottle. This gives you quick and easy access to your water, and the insulation keeps it cooler for longer.