Gear for Trail Running

Written by Beth Dougherty

Another wonderful trail run is in the books, with a great turnout on a drizzly day! We hope folks keep coming out to explore the amazing trail in our area. If you are interested in trail running, you might also be curious about gear on this Tip Tuesday!

The most important thing to bring on a trail run is a spirit of adventure! You never know what you might see. Animal tracks? An actual animal! Snakes! Flowers in bloom! Trees, moss, ferns! Wheeee!

For actual gear, here are some basics that are important in summer:

  • Trail shoes: For some trails you don’t need them, but they are really helpful when there are roots, rocks, and mud. The soles tend to be stiffer and the lugs deeper for traction. Choosing trail shoes is as hard or even harder than choosing road shoes. I wish you luck.
  • Sunglasses: Yes, it’s shady in the woods. These are for when a branch another runner just passed whips back at your face and threatens to take your eye out.
  • Darn Tough socks: Or any wool socks. They hold up better in mud and deep puddles.
  • Bug spray: The bugs are coming. They get bad. Bug spray helps. So do fly strips on your cap when the black flies are out in June.
  • Calf sleeves: Optional but they can help protect against poison ivy and prickers.
  • Technu: For when you didn’t have it in you to put on the calf sleeves. Or for when you found yourself hip deep in grass by accident. It happens. Use this before you shower to get the poison ivy off before it sets in or spreads.
  • Sunblock: To help with those sexy calf sleeve tan lines!
  • Buff: Optional, but if you fall and scrape your knee or palm, you can use the buff to keep the blood from staining your $25 Darn Tough socks.
  • First aid kit: Also optional.

Here are some gear considerations if you decide to start running longer or in more remote places:

  • Trail shoes: There are different types of trail shoes. Some are great in mud. Others have rock plates that make them better for technical, rocky terrain.
  • Running vest: There are lots of options. Salomon and Ultimate Direction make great ones but there are many others. These allow you to carry all of the gear you need plus fuel, such as Gu, gummy bears, and cliff bars.
  • Hydration bladder: For carrying water, which you might want to do for anything longer than 60 or 90 minutes, especially in summer. They come in lots of sizes. 1.5L is smaller. 3L is a lot of water.
  • Collapsable bottle: Another hydration option. Some people prefer this to the bladder. Also you can carry both so one can be water, and the other can include electrolytes or fuel (like NUUN, Tailwind, or something like that).
  • Emergency blanket and or bivvy: If you run/hike on remote trails, you should always have an emergency blanket or bivvy in case something goes wrong, like an ankle turn stops you and you start to get cold waiting for help.
  • Headlamp: In case you are out there a lot longer than you planned. Or if you’re out in the early morning or late evening.
  • Water purifier: I have drops for hiking but an in-line filter might be a good option if you plan for very long efforts.
  • Poop bag: As Judy says, “you know it’s a trail run when people are talking about poop.” Some races require this. Others don’t. It’s a good idea to know what to do if you have to poop in the woods.
  • The TP-20: Ron carries this in a small ziplock bag. Toilet paper and a $20 bill in case you end up far from home and there happens to be a minimart, coffee shop or brewery nearby.

There are lots of other considerations! Rain gear, hats, gloves, and layers become more important when the weather is cool or when your altitude will change. Navigation tools and a strategy are also important. Poles can also be an option.

The more trails you run, the more you’ll learn what works best for you! So come on out and play!