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Aron Bosworth | 04.15.2019

Trail running has been on the rise in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why: we evolved to be runners. 

For millennia, we kicked up dust to escape predators, and chased down prey to survive. There’s a major part of our DNA that’s hardwired to get up and move swiftly through wild and intricate terrain. While today the motivation to hit the trail skews more toward fitness, naturephilia, and, in the case of ultrarunning, challenging oneself, there’s no better way to combine a quick dose of nature and caloric burn than kicking it into high gear on the trail.

Whether you are already a committed trail runner or just beginning to feel the pull from road to dirt, you’ll need to get equipped or at least replace last year’s worn-out kicks.

Enter our spring/summer trail runner’s gear guide. There’s an overwhelming amount of gear out there, and the trail running category is no different. We've pulled together some of our favorite trail running brands and products to provide some help.

So what are you waiting for? The green up is happening, wildflower blooms are underway, and impending snowmelt is soon to open up high-elevation terrain. Time to lace up those shoes and put some terra firma miles under your belt.


Brooks Caldera 3

This super-cush, lightweight trail runner is the latest in Brooks trail line. Designed as a “springy ride,” the Caldera 3 has added cushion for additional comfort on the trail, a new sticky traction sole, and added toe and heel protection compared to its predecessor. Reduced lugs make it a better shoe while running roads to access your favorite trail. Thanks to the shoe’s stylish camo design, you will look cool while on the trail, too.

Men's: $140 • BrooksAmazon | Backcountry | REI | Zappos

Women's: $140 • BrooksAmazon | Backcountry | REI | Zappos


Altra Superior 4

Altra’s lightest zero-drop trail shoe, the Superior 4 will appeal to trail runners that desire a responsive ride. Innovative features like a tongue wrap and removable stone guards help keep this shoe light and fast without sacrificing cushioning.

Men's: $110 • AltraAmazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI | Zappos

Women's: $110 • AltraAmazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI | Zappos


Inov-8 Roclite 290

Inov-8’s Roclite 290 is a slightly lower profile trail runner offering one of the best gripping soles on the market. While not quite as cushioned as the Caldera 3, it’s far from a minimalist shoe and positioned and designed as an “all rounder” that can tackle anything in its path. Where it really excels, however, is technical mountain rock, muddy grass, or hard-packed terrain, giving you confidence when you need traction.

Men's: $125 • Inov-8Amazon | Zappos

Women's: $125 • Inov-8Amazon | Zappos


Patagonia Strider Shorts (Men's + Women's)

These ultralight, quick-drying, and highly breathable running shorts are minimalist in design yet built to meet the needs of an everyday runner. Equipped with a supportive, moisture-wicking, 100% recyclable Polygiene liner on both men’s and women’s models and a stash pocket on the center-back waistband for a phone or keys, the Strider shorts are a go-to option for mild weather running.

Men's: $59 • Patagonia | Backcountry | REI

Women's: $49 • Patagonia | Backcountry | REI


Outdoor Research Echo S/S Tee (Men’s + Women’s)

An ultralight running shirt designed with flat seams for anti-chafe and made with UV-rated, moisture-wicking AirVent polyester, the Echo S/S is a tee that will keep you cool when the heat ramps up. A solid technical shirt for any and all trail activities.

Men's: $42 • Outdoor ResearchAmazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI

Women's: $39 • Outdoor ResearchAmazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry


Arc’teryx Incendo (Men’s) + Cita Hoody’s (Women’s)

When you find yourself running under a mountain mist or a blanket of coastal fog, you’ll be glad you stashed one of these: a minimalist and stowable jacket that manages moisture on both the inside and out. Arc’teryx designed these ergonomic and trim-fitting technical trail running jackets to move with you and keep you comfortable when summer decides to take a sudden hiatus. A stowable hood offers additional protection from the elements when squalls loom on the horizon.

Incendo: $139 • Arc’teryx | Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI

Cita: $139 • Arc’teryx | Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI


Smartwool PhD Run Ultra Light Logo Crew Socks

New this spring, Smartwool released their PhD Run Ultra Light Logo Socks with performance fit, Shred Shield, and Indestructawool technology to make sure these socks keep up with you and the miles you throw at them. Hip designs keep you looking good and styled on the trail, too. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the socks.

$20.95 • SmartwoolAmazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry


Patagonia Duckbill Hat

For many, hats are non-negotiable when outdoors. Thankfully, Patagonia offers this highly breathable fold-to-stow hat to help keep both the sweat and sun out of your eyes while motoring down the singletrack.

$29 • Patagonia | Backcountry


Black Diamond Spotlite 160

Black Diamond’s lightest and most compact headlamp for the pre-dawn or post-dusk runner.

$26.95 • Black DiamondAmazon | Backcountry | REI


Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0

If either your trail running focus or lifetime ambitions include ultras, you should get to know Ultimate Direction and their product line of ultrarunning vests. Designed to hold two hydration bottles up front and additional capacity for trail essentials on the back, the Ultra Vest 4.0 is the ultimate trail-crushing kit carrier.

$129.95 • Ultimate DirectionAmazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI


Ultimate Direction Fastdraw 350 + 600

Not everyone eats 30 miles of singletrack for breakfast. If a vest is overkill for your needs, consider one of Ultimate Direction’s Fastdraw handhelds/bottles, which come in 350 or 600 milliliter sizes and include a stash pocket.

350 ml: $24.95 • Ultimate DirectionAmazon | Moosejaw | REI

600 ml: $29.95 • Ultimate DirectionAmazon | Moosejaw | REI


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