Best Running Gear of 2024

running gear - the signature cloudtec sole design absorbs energy leading to a...

The signature Cloudtec sole design absorbs energy leading to a comfortable landing but isn’t noticeably cushier than today’s other traditional shoe designs.

Credit: Matthew Richardson

Table of Contents

Running Footwear

Whether you’re getting ready to take your first steps around the block, training for a marathon, or leaving the pavement behind to hit the trails, finding the best running shoes is the first critical step to getting ready to run. Collectively, we’ve spent many hours and covered thousands of miles in running shoes, so let us guide you through our top pics for every running style. Our testing protocol augments running in these shoes with a series of lab tests to measure each shoe in a careful and scientific manner.

In addition to running miles in these shoes, we closely examine the size, weight, and materials of each model.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Running Shoes for Men

If most of your runs take you along smoothly paved pathways or city sidewalks, a pair of the best men’s running shoes is what you need to keep your joints and ligaments protected from the firm, unforgiving concrete surfaces and asphalt. Within this category, different shoes are great for different types of training, but here are a few of our favorite styles:

Best Overall Men’s Running Shoe

Asics Novablast 4

Best Running Shoe for Uptempo Training

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

Running Shoes for Women

Most manufacturers design women’s-specific shoes, which we put through a careful testing progress. There are lots of top-rated women’s running shoes to choose from. These are the ones that performed the best in our hands-on testing:

Best Overall Running Shoe for Women

Asics Novablast 4 – Women’s

Best Bang for Your Buck

Saucony Kinvara 14 – Women’s

Trail Running Shoes

If your favorite runs take you over the rocks and roots of a single-track winding through the forest, a model from our best trail running shoes review will keep your feet protected from sharp objects, and added stability in the sole can help prevent ankle rolls. These are our go-to picks for trail running:

Best Overall for Men

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3

Best Overall for Women

Hoka Torrent 3 – Women’s

Trail Running Shoes for Women

Although you don’t have to limit yourself to selecting a women’s specific trail shoe, there is something to be said about a shoe tailored to your anatomy. Women’s shoes typically have a narrower heel shape and a roomy toe box that accommodates common differences between men’s and women’s feet. The shoes below are our favorite trail running shoes for women:

Best Overall Trail Running Shoe for Women

Hoka Torrent 3 – Women’s

Best Bang for your Buck

Brooks Divide 4 – Women’s

Running Socks

The socks you choose to layer underneath are just as important as the shoes on your feet. The best running socks can keep your feet cool, dry, and blister-free through training. These are our top recommendations for any runner:

Best Overall Running Sock

Balega Blister Resist Quarter

Most Comfortable Cushioning

Balega Silver No Show

running gear - our favorite running shirts are adaptable and work in a variety of...

Our favorite running shirts are adaptable and work in a variety of conditions and temperatures. Keeping us comfortable both in valleys and on ridgelines is a priority and the BD Rhythm did just that.

Credit: Matthew Richardson

Essential Running Clothing

There’s no such thing as bad weather — only bad clothes. Most die-hard runners will go out in just about any conditions, and it is essential to have the proper attire to keep you cool (or warm) no matter where you live or what time of year it is. However, even if you wouldn’t place yourself in the “die-hard” category, a perfectly light and airy pair of shorts can make your run much more enjoyable. These are the pieces we would choose to concoct the perfect running outfit so that you can focus less on your clothing and more on pounding out the miles.

Running Shorts for Men

Some of the most important features of running shorts are comfort and breathability. We ran through dozens of men’s running shorts and looked at these two factors alongside each pair’s overall functionality and fit. Many of the styles we tried have different fabric and length options so that you can tailor your pair to your specific needs. Here are some men’s shorts that we love:

Best Overall Men’s Running Shorts

On Lightweight Short

Best Shorts on a Budget

Under Armour Launch SW 7″

Running Shorts for Women

Women’s shorts should serve the same purpose as men’s; keeping you light and comfortable, mile after mile. Although not always true, many of our favorite women’s running shorts have a shorter inseam and are cut to better fit female bodies. Our lady testers ran in more than a dozen pairs, and these are their preferred styles:

Best Daily Driver Women’s Running Short

REI Co-op Swiftland Running Shorts – Women’s

Best Bang for your Buck

New Balance Impact 5″ – Women’s

Running Shirts

Running shirts can generally be considered gender neutral, but the styles that are not made specifically for women have a looser/straighter cut and more room in the shoulders. However, the essential factor is that your shirt is made from moisture-wicking material and does not chafe or rub with repetitive movement. These top-performing running shirts are the ones we recommend to our friends:

Best Overall Running Shirt for Men

Black Diamond Rhythm Tee

Best Bang for the Buck

Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily

Running Shirts for Women

The best women’s running shirts have a different cut, often more form-fitting, and sometimes come in brighter color schemes. Similar to unisex/men’s versions, the best shirts are made from synthetic fabrics that are comfortable and quickly wick away sweat and other moisture. Here are our top choices:

Best Overall Women’s Running Shirt

Arc’teryx Taema Crew

Best Budget Running Shirt

Under Armour UA Tech V-Neck – Women’s

running gear - we spent a lot of time trying to stuff the full flasks back into...

We spent a lot of time trying to stuff the full flasks back into their pockets.

Credit: Ally Meller

Gear to Help You Go the Distance

All you really need to start running is a pair of shoes and some comfortable clothes; that’s the beauty of the sport. However, aside from those basics listed above, some additional items can improve your runs and help you stay motivated to get out consistently. While not strictly necessary, accessories that help keep you warm, hydrated, and on the move can be helpful in your training.

Running Jackets

As much as we’d like, sometimes we are not gifted with our ideal running weather, and we must layer up to stay comfortable outside. Our competitive selection of the best running jackets will keep you warm without trapping sweat or weighing you down.

Best Overall Running Jacket

Patagonia Houdini Air Jacket

Best Value for Winter Running

Smartwool Merino Sport Ultralite Hoodie

Running Jackets for Women

Running jackets with a women’s-specific fit tend to be smaller in the shoulders and more form-fitting throughout. Fit aside, breathability, weather resistance, and comfort are still the most important things to look for in your jacket, and the styles below fit the bill:

Best Overall Women’s Running Jacket

Patagonia Houdini Jacket – Women’s

Most Versatile

Brooks Canopy – Women’s

Running Hydration Packs

For shorter distances, hydrating before and after you run is enough. However, when the miles start adding up, you’ll want to bring your water with you. These top running hydration packs allow you to bring along what you need in a hands-free, bounce-free package.

Best Overall Running Hydration Pack for Men

Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 6.0

Best Bang for the Buck

REI Co-op Swiftland 5

Running Hydration Packs for Women

Due to differences in anatomy, this is one of the few categories where a women’s specific fit makes a big difference. Key changes include more room in the bust, narrower shoulder straps, and a shorter cut. Out of the top-ranked women’s running hydration packs we tested, these are the ones that made us feel the most comfortable and prepared.

Best Overall Running Hydration Vest for Women

Nathan Pinnacle 12L – Women’s

Best Bang for the Buck

Salomon Active Skin 8 – Women’s

GPS Watches

Tracking your miles and pace is a good way to monitor training progress. While there are other ways to do this through apps or other programs, a GPS you can wear on your wrist is the ultimate convenience. These are some of our favorite GPS watches we had the pleasure of using:

Best Overall GPS Watch

Garmin Fenix 7 Pro Solar

Best Bang for the Buck

Garmin Forerunner 955

running gear - the treadmills in this review were all put through the same rigorous...

The treadmills in this review were all put through the same rigorous testing process.

Credit: Jason Peters

Cross Training and Recovery Gear

Just as important as the work you put in is the time you give your body to rest and recover. However, “rest” does not mean doing nothing; there are ways you can actively promote muscle recovery, such as stretching and massage. Every good training regimen also includes a cross-training activity of your choice. Whether biking, yoga, or something else, there is gear to go along, and you will see our recommendations below.

Treadmills

Sometimes it is not always possible to run outdoors, or maybe the treadmill in the corner of your spare room serves as the inspiration (or a guilt trip) to get your miles in. Either way, a top-rated treadmill is a great way to train on days when you can’t make it outside. These are the machines that we prefer:

Best Treadmill for Most People

Echelon Stride 6

running gear - while our field performance test was mainly spent on the bike, it...

While our field performance test was mainly spent on the bike, it also involved a bit of trail running, hiking, and backcountry skiing.

Credit: Zach Wick

Other Accessories

Sometimes there are accessories you might not even think of at first, but that can end up making your experience that much sweeter. We can all agree that sun protection is an essential part of taking care of your body. These accessories make maintaining a consistent and healthy running routine easier, keeping you on your feet and out the door.

Sport Sunglasses

If you’re going to be out for prolonged periods in a particularly sunny or bright environment, it can take a toll on your eyes. Sunglasses are vital in protecting your vision over the long term, but running in any just old pair can lead to discomfort, and you may find them bouncing off your face or slipping down your nose in just a few minutes. A snug-fitting pair of the best sport sunglasses will stay put and often offer more complete protection than standard glasses.

Best Overall Sport Sunglasses

Oakley Sutro

Best Bang for the Buck

Sunski Treeline Polarized

running gear - a plush platform can feel dull and less responsive at times.

A plush platform can feel dull and less responsive at times.

Credit: Matthew Richardson

How We Test Running Gear

Running can be demanding on the body. At GearLab, we know how important it is to have high-quality gear. Our team of experts have competed in marathons, pounded hundreds of miles on pavement, and hit the trails to test the best running gear on the market. We start by researching the top products and carefully narrow the list down to only include the top contenders. We then purchase the items, create an unbiased testing method and rate each product based on how they perform in different metrics. Through this process, we separate the best from the rest so you can find just the product that you are looking for.

Why Trust GearLab

We garner advice from a wide range of ultra-runners, trail junkies, and competitive racers to inform our ratings and ensure we have the best information to pass on to you. Our main running gear tester is a trail runner, exercise specialist, and cancer survivor, Ally Arcuri. For over a decade, she has been deeply involved in all things running, but her true love is found on the trails. She has run ultra marathons in the Rocky Mountains and is currently training for shorter trail races. Also involved in this review is Matthew Richardson, a passionate runner and mountain athlete who lives in Durango, Colorado. Matthew is a running gear expert who believes in finding the proper gear in order to increase comfort and achieve success while running. Nathaniel Bailey rounds out the team with experience running at middle school, high school, and collegiate levels. With many years and many more miles of experience under his feet, Nathaniel continues to expand his knowledge and passion for running by coaching high school and recreational runners and chasing his own PRs. These three experts and a few others researched and tested these award-winning products.

How to Pick the Best Running Gear for You

To help maximize your running experience, we provided four key buying considerations to narrow down your gear options based on budget, location, and running style.

Where to Start?

The plethora of running gear on the market can make deciding on the right gear, such as shoes or accessories overwhelming. When considering what to buy, a good first step is to think about what gear you already own and prioritize items of need. Building out your gear, starting with essentials and then considering additional accessories, will help you find running gear that fits your personal needs and will help ensure you use your budget wisely.

running gear - finding your running gear essentials can be an easy and fun process.

Finding your running gear essentials can be an easy and fun process.

Credit: Ally Arcuri

What about Climate?

Different climates call for different gear. Someone who lives in Arizona will have much different needs than someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest. For example, If you live in a hot climate, finding a hydration pack is especially important, even for shorter runs. Those who run in the cold or rain will prioritize waterproof clothing to ensure their training can continue even in adverse weather. Prioritizing gear that matches your climate will ensure you get the most out of your budget.

Whats Your Running Style?

The style of running you enjoy will also influence the type of gear you buy. Trail runners will look for gear that can help them on the trail, whether it’s a new pair of trail shoes or a pair of socks that can wick moisture and dry out quickly. Road runners will prioritize gear meant for performance and comfort on the pavement. Whether you are a distance runner, speed training, or just getting into running, narrowing down your preferred running style will help you navigate toward finding the appropriate gear.

What If You Already Have Essentials?

For those who have their shoes dialed in and already have a favorite shirt or pair of shorts, it might be time to consider other areas worth investing in. If you are interested in stepping up your running game to track personal times and records, a GPS watch could be the ticket. Others might find themselves wanting a way to maximize post-run recovery and fitness. In that case, a treadmill or yoga mat could provide much-needed post-running training and recovery. These areas are largely personal preferences, but choosing gear that best benefits your lifestyle and personal goals will ensure you get the most out of your purchases.

running gear - no matter where you are in your running journey, it's always worth...

No matter where you are in your running journey, it’s always worth looking at ways to improve your experience.

Credit: Matthew Richardson

Hit the Road (or Trails)!

Running isn’t for everyone, but those who dedicate themselves to the sport usually do so with an enthusiasm that confounds non-runners. The more you run, the more you want to run. It doesn’t take long to recognize the importance of having the right gear to help you push through mile after mile. We hope these recommendations will help you narrow down the expansive list of products available and get you out of your chair and bobbing down the trail soon.

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