The Best Gifts for Runners: Apparel, Hydration, Accessories, and More for the Road
November 15, 2022 | By Mary Murphy
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Home » Holiday » The Best Gifts for Runners: Apparel, Hydration, Accessories, and More for the Road
From high-tech shoes to lightweight apparel and trail running accessories, we’ve got a variety of gear gifts that will keep your loved ones running, whether on road or trail.
Calling all runners: These are our staff-favorite pieces of gear that make great gifts, whether you are a casual road runner, trail enthusiast, or seasoned marathoner.
There’s something on this list for everyone — yes, even for the runners who seem to have all the latest gear already.
Salomon Adv Skin 12 Hydration Vest
This hydration vest ($160) is designed to ensure you have everything you need, even when you’re putting in big miles. Two flask pockets with included soft flasks provide quick access to hydration.
There is also an internal reservoir sleeve if you need extra hydration options. The main compartment and six pockets provide 12 L of storage for your gear, snacks, and more — so you can hit the trail with confidence.
Nathan Front Runner Shorts — Men’s & Women’s
For the runner in your life, consider gifting the Nathan 2.0 Front Runner Shorts ($65 for the women’s version). These shorts are semi-fitted and made to prevent itching, chafing, and moving around. They have a brief liner with flatlock seams on the interior and lightweight 3-inch shell material on the exterior. They also manage moisture, wicking sweat away and drying quickly.
These shorts have two exterior pockets and a zipper pocket for valuables — the storage-to-weight ratio is our favorite part. And there are reflective features on the shorts so you can be easily seen at dusk or late at night.
Swiftwick Flite XT & Pursuit Socks
You can’t go wrong gifting a pair of quality running socks from Swiftwick. Our favorites proven in testing have been the Flite XT trail sock (which comes in 2- and 4-inch heights), and the Pursuit collection , made with merino wool.
If you are looking for support and cushion, go with the Flite XT (from $24). And if you’re looking for cushion and breathability, go with the Pursuit (from $17). Both offer tons of comfort, whether you’re training in a gym or running roads or trails.
Black Diamond Flare Headlamp
You never know when you might need a headlamp. The problem is that most are slightly bulky and odd to carry around.
Enter the Black Diamond Flare headlamp ($30), the ultimate in lightweight, compact, and portable lighting design. Able to easily fit in any pocket, the waterproof BD Flare is ideal for any adventure or emergency. It boasts 40 lumens of white light output — as well as red, strobe, and SOS modes — encased in a sturdy aluminum housing.
Mountain Hardwear AirMesh Hoody — Men’s & Women’s
Versatility is the name of the game for the Mountain Hardwear AirMesh Hoody ($85). Made with well-ventilated, moisture-wicking Active Mesh Teijin Octa fabric, this midlayer insulates thoroughly and dries quickly. The high-neck hood and thumbhole sleeves give it a very secure feel.
Throughout the fall, on chilly hikes, singletrack rides, cold-weather runs, and while running errands, the AirMesh Hoody has quickly become an essential layer for our reviewer. As a midlayer or a standalone, the AirMesh Hoody is built for movement and is a very comfy, lightweight, and protective piece for those crisp days of the shoulder season.
Garmin fenix 6 or 7
Garmin’s fenix 6 Pro ($650) is the top choice of many adventurers for tracking activities, GPS, sleep, heart rate, blood-oxygen levels, steps, and more. It’s an insane amount of data, all accessed through the smartwatch or in the Garmin Connect app. Plus, a battery charge can last up to 14 days in smartwatch mode.
One GearJunkie team member has been testing the fenix 6 Pro for years and loves it — he wears it all day, every day for activity tracking, sleep tracking, and more. Honestly, it’s a lot of watch and has a price to match. For someone who would appreciate a watch upgrade with all the insights and data possible, this makes a great gift.
The latest fenix 7 ($700-800) has an improved battery life and, just like the 6, comes in a solar edition as well. For both models, there are three case sizes — 42, 47, and 51 mm — and multiple colors available.
Gnarly Nutrition Fuel2O Hydration Mixes
Gnarly’s Fuel2O ($29 for a 10-pack) made a splash when it first hit the market, and we know why. It’s a great and easy way to stay on top of your hydration, sugars, carbs, and electrolytes. The packets are 100 calories per 12-ounce serving (mixed with water) and come in a range of flavors, including one with an added dose of caffeine.
Our favorite is the tropical flavor, but we also recommend the sampler pack of all three flavors for under 10 bucks!
Altra Lone Peak 6.0
The Altra Lone Peak 6 ($140) is easily one of the best zero-drop trail running shoes out there. From comfort to overall functionality, it’s a step in the right direction for anyone looking to burn up the trails.
We like the neutral foot shape, level of cushioning and support, and have found it to work on all sorts of terrain. One of our editors has been running in these for the past month straight. Check out our full review of the Lone Peak 6.
ROLL Recovery R1
Tested and inspired by elite athletes, ROLL Recovery says its R1 percussion massager uses the force of percussive therapy to improve performance and accelerate recovery. ROLL also designed the R1 model to work for pre-workout or post-workout relief.
But there are plenty of percussion massagers out there, so why this one? Compared to others on market, the R1 is tiny. Like, it fits in the palm of my hand. But thankfully, it still packs a punch.
The R1 comes with four different attachment heads, has four different speeds, and has up to 7 hours of battery life — all at an accessible price of $129 . It’s perfect for travel and those who are always on the move!
Nathan Running Sunglasses
These sunglasses are durable and nonslip but still have enough grip for higher-output activities. We’ve been running in them since they hit the market and love their simplicity — adventure-style, lightweight-frame, polarized-lens glasses that won’t break the bank. Know someone who needs a new pair of shades?
Check these out in Bronze, Blue Mirror, or Gray Smoke varieties. And read our full verdict in our best sunglasses review.
Honey Stinger Waffles
Nothing says the holidays like these popular stocking-stuffer snacks. The Honey Stinger Waffles are great for athletes, weekend warriors, and anyone who needs a quick pick-me-up post-training.
Honey Stinger over the years has branched out from its original honey flavor to more, including chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and cookies and cream. Gift options include a sampler pack ($10) or, if you know your recipient’s favorite flavor, a whole box ($28).
Janji Shorts ( Unisex , Men’s , & Women’s ), Singlet ( Men’s & Women’s )
Janji’s AFO, a lightweight stretch-woven shell fabric, has been a favorite of ours for years. Two popular options for gifting this season are the AFO shorts ($58) and the AFO singlet top ($54). Janji’s 2022 Artist Series Kits include a whole array of bold neon prints from a variety of international artists.
The brand changes its designs each year, so you can find something unique by shopping dozens of current- and past-season patterns. Bonus: There’s a unisex shorts option in addition to men’s and women’s styles.
If you keep your outdoor adventures rolling through the winter months, it’s important to consider traction devices. Rather than hunkering down inside when the weather gets rough, consider popping on Kahtoola’s NANOspikes ($50) and getting back outside.
These puppies offer 10 wear-resistant tungsten-carbide spikes per foot to bite into frozen surfaces, while dual-compound TPU traction plates sport specialized inserts that disperse impact forces. NANOspikes allow users to move between dry and slippery surfaces without impeding their natural motion, making it easier to keep training outside all year long. Our tester found them both great for traction and super comfortable. A winter essential!
Headsweats Performance Running Hat
While lots of runners would appreciate big-ticket gifts like training equipment or a new pair of kicks, most everyone will also appreciate the simpler things, like a well-fitting, good-for-everything hat.
Give the gift of performance sun protection with these Headsweats hats ($25) — complete with a lightweight design and reflective brim and trim. This hat earned the top spot in our best running hats review.
HOKA Speedgoat 5
Arguably, nothing says happy holidays to your running partner more than the latest iteration of HOKAs. The Speedgoat model was updated to the Speedgoat 5 ($155) iteration earlier in 2022.
Historically, the whole Speedgoat line has impressed us over the years, but the latest shoe is especially great on trails when it comes to its cushion, bouncy midsole, and improved lugs on the outsole. For all the trail runners out there who frequent loose, steep, and rocky terrain, the Speedgoat 5 would be a great option.