Trail Running Gear Essentials

by retreadfitness

You want to run on the trails. You have shoes and a water bottle. Is this really enough? Depends. Better to have and not need it than to need and not have it.

If you are new to world of trail running, get ready for some excitement.  I started running trails back in the early 90's and have not tired of it.   If you are going on long trail run, then you really have to be prepared.  While it's possible to just grab a water bottle and go, this is not the smartest approach.  I live in the Bay Area that has thousands of miles of back country trails surrounding the Bay.  Many of the trails have potable water and bathroom stops.  But I would not count on it.  Anytime that I am running longer than an hour, I always carry at least 1 liter of water.  Proper hydration is the single most important part of a long distance running program.  Water is life.  Literally, you will die without water.  You can go weeks without food.  You can only go days without water.

Running Water Bottle & Hydration Pack Options

I use both water bottles and hydration packs.  It really depends on the time of the year and the temperature outside.  I like a dual bottle fanny pack because it's light weight and easy to use.  I don't always have to carry bottles.  Sometimes I use the fanny pack to store my cell phone, running gloves, and a snack.   The Nathan Elite waist pack holds 2 twenty ounce bottles of water which is ample for most of runs because I know where the springs and water faucets are.  When I am not running fast, I switch the plastic waters for Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottles.  They are not an exact match and will probably bounce out of this pack if you are running extra fast.  I tend to plod when I run for long time periods.   The tortoise will always finish even though he is slow.  The water tastes fresher and I know that it does not cannot toxins emitted from the plastic.   In the winter, I strap on a Kelty hydration pack because I pack extra clothing such as wind breaker, beanie cap, and dry socks in case of an emergency and foul weather. My Kelty hydration pack looks like a Camel Back and holds 50 ounces of water.  It's comfortable enough to wear for hours without digging into your shoulders and chest.  It works great for camping trips because I can carry water for my wife and kids.

Many ultra distance runners carry only 1 water bottle in their hand.  These are seasoned veterans that know where all the water stops are.  Their bodies are accustomed to running for hours on little water.  Think of them as camels.  They are rare and you will not see too many of them.

Nathan Elite 2V Plus Pack

Go farther when you wear the Nathan Elite 2V Plus Pack. This ultra light lumbar pack holds two 22-ounce bottles and comes with a flask for five ounces of energy gel, so you ...

Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack

The minimalist pack for 1.5 hours in the saddle.

CamelBak 0.75- Liter Stainless Steel Better Bottle

The CamelBak Better Bottle goes stainless. With the Big Bite Valve in our revolutionary cap, CamelBak has re-energized the reusable bottle category, creating the ultimate ...

Nathan QuickDraw Elite 22oz. Handheld

Ultrarunners are tough folk: tough on themselves, tough to keep up with, and certainly tough on their gear. Their comments on the QuickDraw inspired us to develop a more ...


The Best Trail Running Shoes

The best trail running shoes are the ones that you like.  If they are comfortable and durable, then use them.  The term "trail running shoes" is just another ploy of the running companies to squeeze more money out of you.  They add extra rubber here and there to make them look like a four wheel drive SUV.  But the fact of the matter is that you ideallyl want lighter shoes as an ounce on the foo equals a pound on your back.  All you need is protection from rocks and sticks.  Most street running shoes will provide this at no additional cost.

I have been running trails for the past year on Merrell Trail Gloves.  They weigh less than a pound for both shoes.  If the trail is soft dirt or sand, I will remove my shoes and run barefoot for short time.

I read the book "Born To Run"  by Christoper McDougall last year and sure learned a lot about how running shoes are marketed.  The best place to learn about running shoes is from real users and not the company web site.  The author focus on both the fun and fundamentals of running.  It's a great read-almost like a fiction thriller because he takes you deep inside the Copper Canyon of Mexico.  He faces off with drug runners and narrowly escapes.  You need to read it and I don't want to spoil the fun.  He runs both barefoot and with Huaraches. 

Barefoot Ted has his own brand of running sandals callled Lunas.  I have never used them, but the reviews are incredible.  For about $50, you will have a cool looking pair of Huarache sandals that will last you  for years of  walking and running.  He is a friend of Christopher McDougal and has a cult like following.  Barefoot Ted is both a real barefoot runner and minimalist runner.  He was one of the first people to wear 5 Finger shoes for running before they were marketed as running shoes.

Save yourself some money and buy the cheap light weight running shoes that don't weigh you down.  Forget the trail shoes that look like a WWII tank complete with tracks.   Buy shoes that are comfortable and protective of cold weather and the trail.  If you want to try running barefoot or in some light weight huarache sandals, knock yourself out!  I have run in just about every fad shoe on the planet.

Trail Running LED Flash Lights

If you plan on running early in the morning before the sun rises, then get yourself a good LED flashlight.  An LED light will give you hours of light with minimal weight.  I bought a River Rock LED flashlight at Target 6 years ago and the batteries last for months even though I leave it on for hours every week. 

When I need more light, I like to bring my Nebo Redline tactical flashlight.  You can even use this as a small impact weapon as the front of the flashlight has sharp edges that could be used to inflict damage on a critter or assailant.  It has emergency SOS red blinking light.  It's adjustable and has 2 power settings.  It's my first choice for trail running flash lights.

Nebo Redline Tactical Flashlight Strobe S.O.S 220 Lumen #5581

Nebo Redline Tactical Flashlight Strobe S.O.S 220 Lumen #5581

Nebo  / $34.99  $24.71
Updated: 01/16/2012, retreadfitness
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