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We picked 30+ different gifts for runners that we love ourselves
Everything from outerwear to accessories to packs to nutrition and hydration
Some items feature steep discounts during holiday sales
For runners, Christmas means crisp morning runs (hopefully), a break from marathon season (not really), and a chance to ask for that most-wanted run gear (definitely). Because, let’s be honest– it’s hard to justify buying another piece of running gear when we have four carbon-plated shoes sitting in the holster by the door, just in case.
But when it comes to others giving gifts, well… ask away. We put together a list of some of our favorite gear from the past year(s), which we would love to get again and again if we didn’t already have it. Is this an end of the year, Best In Gear awards? Not yet, but it’s kind of a precursor.
I’m not gonna lie, we put a ton of thought and effort into this list and have thoroughly used almost every item on here (just an FYI, most gift guides out there are a collection of product pitches with no actual testing from the interns putting the lists together). So yeah, we want you to enjoy what we’ve been able to enjoy. Hopefully this helps and you’re able to give or get something that will last you for years to come.
Thanks for being a part of our journey, happy holidays to you and your family. Now get to buyin’.
Is there anything better than having that one piece of apparel that you fall in love with and keep in the closet year after year? Whether that’s the perfect knit cap or the a broken-in flannel, spending money on a piece of clothing that lasts provides lasting value. Which is why we’re giving you some of our favorite apparel picks, not just cause we think they look cool, but because we actually use all of this gear and they’ve become staples in our own running journeys. And while it may not always be the cheapest gear, we promise it’ll last you years and provide more than enough value over the long haul.
There’s something about a waffle layer that is hard to beat. This super soft shirt features a heavyweight waffle knit that works as a casual pullover or a performance base layer. Made with recycled polyester and natural fibers, it’s super soft and has some nice added touches, like the integrated thumb slits to keep the sleeves in place while on the run.
If you’ve ever owned a convertible running mitten, you know the one weak point is the thumb– it’s always left out to dry, getting cold while the other fingers stay toasty. Ultimate Direction is finally giving runners what they want with a pullover water-resistant shell that has an incorporated thumb slot. From the bottom of our cold, wintry hearts, we thank you for this. It’s a game changer.
There’s a reason this shows up on our best of lists, year after year. It’s the indisputable champion of base layers. Light enough to wear above freezing, warm enough to go below, and light enough again to wear under a jacket for the real cold, this merino long sleeve is one of the most versatile pieces of run apparel that money can buy. We own Brighton Base Layers that have been going on six years of use with no sign of breaking down. Dollars to wear, this is one of the best buys for runners, hands down.
Using a fully recycled polar fleece throughout, this wind and water resistant cap features convertible ear flaps and unparalleled warmth. It basically turns your head into a teddy bear. Also comes in two different sizes for both small and large domes.
For a California brand, Rabbit really knows how to make a great winter running tight. The newly updated Low Light Tight features all-around reflectivity, making you a veritable lightning bolt when headlights hit you. Aside from the safety feature, the tights have incredible storage options, with three pockets (five for women) to hold literally everything you need on a run.
One Jacket for Everything
Over the last year since we got this jacket, I can personally say I wear this more than any other jacket I’ve owned. With a merino wool fill, it’s so incredibly versatile that I’ve worn it as a winter coat and a cool summer nights outer layer. It also packs down into its own pocket, making it perfect for travel. Some may balk at the price, but consider you’re buying one jacket that covers all your needs– there’s a ton of value in that alone. (They also make vests that are the perfect winter running companion.)
Nothing makes you feel fast like a great pair of half tights on race day. The Work Running Half Tight is 100% made in New York City, with the utmost attention to quality and detail. Featuring a soft, matte four-way stretch ultrafine knit from France, it truly is a race day luxury. But then again, you just worked for four months go get here– you kind of deserve a reward. We recently wore these at the New York City Marathon and they performed flawlessly, holding all seven gels and a cell phone from Staten Island to Central Park with no issues whatsoever.
When you need a little extra warmth for the noggin, it’s hard to beat the Fractel Winter Cap made with Polartec Wind Pro fleece. It’s super soft and comfortable, water and wind-resistant, and looks good both on and off the run.
Relax in Style
It’s hard to beat a cozy hoodie after a long run, and the weighted Drirelease fabric of the Rnnr Heavyweight nails the perfect comfort level. A zippered front pocket provides storage options while the hood toggles keep the wind out.
Cold Weather Staple
For some of us, this merino neck gaiter is the most important piece of our winter running. Seriously, it goes with us on every run from now til March. Pulled above the ears, it covers the nose and face while it still fits beneath a running cap. When it gets too warm, wear it only as an ear warmer or drop it down just for the neck. Still too warm? Wrap it around your wrist for the remainder of the run. Once you use it, you’ll never go back.
Sometimes the best short is the simplest short. What the Swift Lite Short lacks in storage (only one small back zip pocket), it makes up for in weightlessness. In short, it disappears on the run. It’s one of the more under-the-radar running shorts out there, which is a shame, because it’s one of the best.
Windblock Outer Layer
As any seasoned trail runner knows, the Houdini shell remains undefeated in the wind-blocking department. The Houdini Air elevates the standard version with an ultralightweight, breathable Pertex Equilibrium double weave with a PFC-free DWR finish. It also packs into its own stuff sack which basically fits into a pocket of your jeans, making it the quintessential on-the-go outer layer.
A stocking is always a good stocking stuffer, and it’s hard to beat the Swiftwick Flite XT in terms of performance, comfort, and warmth. Featuring technology that supports your ankles during quick movements on uneven terrain and a blended natural Merino wool with a full Olefin fiber footbed to keep the feet dry and odor-free, this is one of the best socks you can buy.
Recovery is part of the run equation, and a good pair of joggers is necessary equipment for that department. The Rabbit EZ jogger remains our perennial favorite, providing all the comfort necessary when doing anything but running.
Two-For-One Button Up
More button-up running shirts, please. The Bless Up trail shirt is an actual performance piece on the run, but doubles as peak summer fashion, making this a two-for-one that can’t be beat. Built with a microperforated 4-way stretch, nylon Tactel/ poly blend, and rubber buttons, this technical button up works in any situation you need it to.
For those way up north, let us introduce you to the premium excellence of Artilect. While some (most) base layers are really just a 50/50 blend of merino and synthetics, Artilect uses 90% Superfine Nuyarn merino wool, and at a weight of 250 GSM (for comparison, the Tracksmith Brighton Base Layer is 52% Wool and 145 GSM). Which means you are getting an unbeatable level of warmth. The scuba hood ensures full-circle protection, and the quality is just as perfect as the fit.
The Soar Ultra Jacket is designed to perform across a wide range of temperatures, hitting the sweet spot between lightweight, waterproof, and breathable. It’s built with a full-length zip and drawstring waist for the perfect fit. Meg’s worn it for temps in the high 30s to high 50s, and it’s felt great for all of them.
Maybe it’s not apparel, maybe it’s not shoes, but maybe it just makes your running life a bit more enjoyable and easier. Here are some side pieces to keep you company and give your running relationship a little more action.
Wear Anywhere Light
Sometimes, you just want a little nighttime safety that isn’t bulky or obnoxious or loud and neon. That’s where the Eclipse comes in, with its sleek and simple design and multiple white and red light modes. Clips onto your shirt or gear and is rechargeable, making it the perfect add-on for early morning/late night safety.
As far as budget running sunglasses go, it’s hard to beat Tifosi. Featuring a light and durable TR-90 frame and scratch-resistant lenses (i.e. they won’t peel off) in a wide array of color choices, the Swank is the perfect stocking stuffer for runners. They also offer prescription versions if you’re not trying to spend a gazillion dollars just to see where you’re going on your runs.
Sleek and Simple
There are a couple running headlamps we love for that crystal clear night vision, but we keep coming back to the NEO1R. Maybe it’s the minimalistic design, maybe it’s the fit, or maybe it’s the 250 lumens of light it puts out. Either way, it’s a great little sidekick and one you should consider when heading into the dark.
If you roll things out to warm up or cool down, you know how hard it is to get some of those spots. Especially along the spine. And we know some of you love to feel the pain, which is why we love the Chirp XR, essentially an off-road version of a foam roller. This 3-pack comes with three heavy hitters designed to give extreme relief of sore muscles and tension within the neck and back.
If you live in the Northeast United States, you’re basically in the penthouse of the deer tick world headquarters where Lyme disease continues to wreak havoc on the general population, something I found out this past summer when I contracted it myself. It really, really sucked and I’m glad I got antibiotics before it got out of hand. So maybe just prevent all those parts by using Sawyer repellent before all those trail runs and family hikes. It’s a cheap way to not have a neurological disease.
It’s time to ditch the Apple Watch, you’re a real runner now. And for $229, you can get the Coros Pace 3, an absolute gem of a GPS watch with long battery life (24 days of continual use, 38 hours of full GPS) and all the essential features you need in a featherweight package. If you want all the bells and whistles, go with the Apex 2 Pro ($449), but the Pace 3 has almost everything you need to get the most out of your running.
Hydration and nutrition are key, which is why we’re giving you a couple choices to keep you going at your best.
If you listen to the Fuel for the Sole podcast, you know how much we key in on electrolytes, before, during, and after a race. However, most electrolyte mixes lack the sodium your body needs after intense workouts. No worries, LMNT packs 1000 mg of sodium and no sugar, with flavors that are actually pretty freaking good (Raspberry Salt is my personal fave). I’m telling you, this brought me back to life after every summer long run and post-New York City Marathon. It’s a night and day difference when hydrating with LMNT, and I basically take some with me wherever I go now.
When marathon training, it’s super difficult to get all the protein we need to repair the muscles we’re constantly breaking down. Derived purely from antibiotic-free, non-rBGH grass-fed cow’s milk, Gnarly Whey is a whey protein concentrate that delivers healthy fats, omega-3 acids, and other essentials to bridge the gap. We mix the chocolate flavor in with some vanilla yogurt and it makes for a pretty great breakfast. Each can has 40 servings, but you still get 12g in a half serving, meaning you can stretch it out over a few months and still get a good bump of protein each day.
Staying hydrated with water and/or electrolytes is one of the most important parts of the recovery process. Here’s a few options to keep you going on the run and throughout the day.
The limited-edition holiday sparkle is a nice touch on the built-tough Hardshell powder coating of the Miir WM. Featuring thermo 3D Double wall vacuum insulation, the bottle keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. We can confirm that the sturdy carry handle on the lid also beats the hinged rubber of Hydroflask. Just saying.
Staying visible is key, but there’s no point in wearing reflective clothing if you cover it up with a hydration pack. Unless that pack is the Nathan Laser Light, featuring a 6-lumen integrated light thread on the back panel, powered by two Lithium CR2032 with 30+ hours of burn time. Also includes a 1.5-liter hydration bladder and front chest pockets for both flask and phone storage.
Save for Summer
It’s not too early to think about summer. And when you’re tailgating after those sweaty summer group runs, you need a cold beverage that stays cold. That’s where the Yeti Colster comes inPlus, you can own something Yeti without taking out a second mortgage on your house.
We travel a lot for work and for races, so we know the importance of a good bag that can transport all your clothes, shoes, and nutrition for race weekend. Here are some of our favorite picks that have become proven staples in our journeys around the globe.
Run Commute Essential
Again, this is one of those items that we’ve put in every gift guide for, I don’t know… the last 5 years? It’s another staple in our run collection, and something that we take on all our travels and adventures. At 2 liters of volume, it’s enough to carry all your essentials and then some, and the unique strap system locks it all down so there’s no bouncing on the run. This is the best version yet, so even if you have one from 2019, it may be time to upgrade.
This is one of those things that is kind of the perfect gift for a runner. A shoe carrier than can double as a large lunch box (I personally used it to carry all my nutrition to New York for marathon weekend), it looks awesome and works for a variety of uses. And, it’s just… cool? Yeah, maybe that’s it.
If you’ve read our How to Travel for a Marathon post, you know that we are essentially evangelists for the packing cube religion. I actually waxed poetic about these to Coach Jess Movold for about 20 minutes as the team walked home from the bar after the New York City Marathon. This Mystery Ranch set is nice because it includes three sizes with durable nylon construction and tie-down points on top. Be careful though, once you enter the packing cube life, the pursuit for the perfect cube for every item will never end.
The Getaway Bag
Another key piece of gear for travel, the Patagonia Black Hole (of which there are many size and variations), doesn’t look like much, but it’s everything you need. We prefer the 55L, which is just the right size for a few days away, but not so voluminous that it’s obnoxious. The backpack straps hook in quickly on the go, and the body fabric, lining, and webbing are made with 100% recycled materials. And it’s virtually indestructible. We’ve put this at the mercy of TSA handlers countless times over the last few years, and it looks good as new thanks to the 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU-film laminate.
While it looks sleek and professional, the made-in-Germany Ortlieb Metrosphere is a daypack that can handle the toughest conditions. It’s 100% waterproof with a roll-top closure that allows quick and easy access to things like your laptop or electronics (there are padded compartments for both). Welded zipper seams on the outer pockets allow quick access to wallet or passport, while the entire build itself is designed for a full lifetime of wear and replacement. I use it every day and will probably continue to do so for years to come.
Look, pretty much this whole site is dedicated to running shoes. Here are some options for those off days, which are still on days; we just like to call them recovery.
One of our go-to pieces of footwear for the fall, the leather waterproof upper and eco-friendly features make this a boot that both looks good in a classic way and does good in a modern way. It’s comfortable, keeps the feet warm, and looks great with anything. Just make sure you go a half to whole size down (we went down a half size and it’s still a bit too big).
Winner of our Best in Gear award for recovery footwear, the Rekover 2 features an Ortholite 3D Wave Sense footbed and Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole. Translation: Topo didn’t cut any corners in making this a quality recovery shoe. Throw in an antimicrobial blended wool upper and you’re ready to take on extreme levels of comfort.
All right, maybe this has nothing to do with running and maybe we’re just putting it on here cause we saw it and it looks awesome and we want it. But it does feature an EVA midsole/outsole combo so while it’s a slipper, it’s kind of a shoe as well. And it’s pretty much amazing, so maybe you should get it (they also have Stan Smith and Superstar versions as well).
If that Christmas bonus came early this year, then have fun with the items below. Depending where you are in life, one of them is very necessary , the other not so much (but fun as hell). Depending where you are in life, maybe it’s the opposite. Either way, we fully approve of both.
Running With Kids
Maybe you’re a parent. Maybe your spouse is a parent! Maybe you’re about to have a kid and think “nothing about my running will change.” First, you’re delusional. Second, you can minimize the change by taking your kid on some adventures with you. Nothing works better than the Thule Urban Glide 2, which our trail reviewer and new mom Melissa has been utilizing for much of the last few months (read her review of the stroller). Good news is that it’s on sale right now, the other good news is that it will hold up to anything you throw at it.
Cause Why The Hell Not
Again, maybe doesn’t belong on a best gift for runners. As runners, we never would’ve called ourselves e-bikers. That is, until two months ago when we got the Engwe X24 in for review. It pretty much feels like being a kid again whenever we ride on this thing. With 64 miles of range, a top speed of 30 mph, and a triple suspension system, this thing can handle anything. It also gets a ton of compliments, so at the very least, it’s a confidence booster. Anyone could use that.
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.More from Thomas
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.More from Meaghan
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe
Ryan is kind of like Robbe’s Igor behind the scenes. He helps to compile and clean up everyone’s reviews, and finds time to get in a few miles of his own. When he’s not running or editing, Ryan writes and reviews for Android Authority, spending time with the latest tech and complaining when things don’t work quite right. If he’s not doing any of that, maybe you’ll find him nose-deep in a crossword puzzle or trying to catch up on an endless backlog of shows to stream.More from Ryan