If you’ve spent any length of time running, you know how expensive it can be. The more you run, the easier it is to open your wallet for clothes and gear that will make your runs more pleasant. I can’t help but think of a meme of Kermit the Frog. On the left, he sits on a pile of money with the running text, “Buying running clothes and shoes.” In an image on the right, he counts pennies above the words “Spending money on anything else.”
While premium gear usually equates to more expensive options, that’s not always the case. Price does not dictate whether a product is premium or not. Its features, materials and attention to detail are what raise these products above the rest. In the case of premium running products, however, they usually aren’t cheap.
The goal here is to highlight products that ease the hurdle to get outside on those days when the weather isn’t a perfect running temperature or your body is not feeling its best. As always, the prices listed may fluctuate over time.
Houdini Pace Hybrid Vest
There are times when it’s chilly enough that I don’t want to leave the house to go running without a jacket. Most times, however, I get too warm throughout my arms in sleeves. I love this Houdini Pace Hybrid Vest because it solves that problem through compromise. The body of the Pace Hybrid Vest is thin but insulated enough to block wind and provide warmth to get me out of the door. After a mile or two I can use the dual zipper system to open the vest from the bottom to let in more air as I heat up.
The vest has plenty of strategically placed pockets to carry a few small items. I found it to work really well for multiple seasons. It’s a versatile addition for any runner.
Buy at Backcountry for $169.95.
Reebok Floatride Energy X
The Floatride Energy X from Reebok are perfectly fine for shorter distances, but they are especially great for longer ones. The running shoes integrate a carbon fiber plate in their Floatride Foam midsole to provide more energy return when you need it most.
I found the Floatride Energy X a solid option for my weekly 10K runs. I’ve been turning to them when other times I would have used my Saucony Endorphin Speed shoes in the past.
Buy at Reebok for $170.
The On Cloudmonster shoes are made to carry you for miles, and they do. It’s easy to see how the Cloudmonster get their name. The shoes not only look like they have monster clouds on the bottom but convey that cushiony softness to your feet (yet don’t allow your feet to sink in). I’ve turned to these on longer runs because I don’t worry about my feet tightening up toward the end. They provide the drive you need for hills and when your legs are tired.
The sizing on these shoes seems to be a bit odd. I normally wear a half size larger in my running shoes but was recommended to size up another half size even from there. If possible, I’d recommend trying this on in person to ensure you’re happy before taking them out on the road.
Buy at On for $169.99.
Ledlenser NEO1R Running Headlamp
The Ledlenser NEO1R Running Headlamp is a minimal way to keep your path lit at night. During the winter it can be hard to find the time to run during the shortened days. I found this headlamp to be a perfect way to keep me safe from cars as well as from tripping on cracks in the sidewalk during a dark night.
This particular headlamp can get fairly bright. I like that, but the battery only lasts about 3 hours at full brightness. If you keep the light on a lower setting, it can last an outstanding 15 hours. I also found the lamp’s ability to tilt to be perfect for running.
Buy at Ledlenser for $69.95.
Sunday Afternoons VaporLite Stride Cap
I’ve tried a lot of hats for running, and this Sunday Afternoons VaporLite Stride Cap is among my favorites. It’s lightweight and has a crushable bill that makes it easy to pack or carry. On the road, I found that it works well to divert sweat from my face. If you ever do run with sunglasses, it has two slits on each side of the bill to lock in the glasses so they don’t fall off your head. It also has a ponytail-friendly design. I never found the cap to loosen or become uncomfortable.
Buy at Sunday Afternoons for $34.
Oros Explorer Hoodie
Designed with NASA technology for warmth with minimal amounts of material, the Oros Explorer Hoodie is perfect for when temperatures are a little chilly, in early mornings or as summer fades to fall. This is the kind of clothing that could certainly serve multiple roles and work for nonrunning activities, as well.
I love the fit and feel of the Explorer Hoodie. It utilizes some clever design, too. There are two zippers on the half-zip area so you can create airflow while keeping the top closed around your neck. I appreciate that the hood is fitted so it doesn’t fall in front of my eyes like so many other hoods do. Finally, there’s a side pocket that expands backward so it doesn’t jostle as much while running.
If you are running in really cold weather, Oros has pants that utilize the same warmth technology as the Explorer Hoodie. Both are versatile throughout the year but work the best for winter running.
Buy at Oros for $180.
Allbirds Tree Flyers
You’ll pay a little more for Allbirds because of their use of sustainable materials, but I think the company’s latest model, the Tree Flyers, are a solid choice for everyday runners. The evolution of Allbirds running shoes is subtle, but they have gotten better from one version to the next.
The knit upper on the Tree Flyers feels a little more secure and refined in small ways, including the more breathable upper. I also appreciate the change in the shape of the midsole foam. The shoes look blockier, but that translates to a sturdy ride under your feet, and overall the minor changes makes the Tree Flyers easier to run in on a daily basis.
Buy at Allbirds for $160.
Ten Thousand Seamless Shirt
One thing I really like about Ten Thousand’s latest performance shirt is how it doesn’t get plastered to my chest or back during hot runs. Part of that is because the Ten Thousand Seamless Shirt has “body-mapped ventilation,” which is supposed to filter air efficiently. In my experience, this feature works as advertised. The other touted feature is the shirt’s engineered knit fabric, which is not supposed to stretch out. I’ve also found this true: The shirt snaps right back into place after I’ve pulled it up to wipe sweat from my eyes and forehead.
Buy at Ten Thousand for $64.
Tracksmith Rain Jacket
I hate skipping a day of running because of rain. I don’t like a lot of the running jackets made this weather because they don’t quite understand the objective of keeping you nimble under a downpour of water. The new rain jacket from Tracksmith bucks that trend—for a price. It’s not cheap, but the jacket uses a material from Japan that’s incredibly lightweight and water repellent and that makes for a great running companion.
In addition to the basics, the jacket folds up compactly with an elastic band for easy carrying. There’s also a reflective lining along the back for increased visibility in rainy weather.
Buy at Tracksmith for $248.
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