Pound Pinecones, Not Pavement

9 Kits to Take Your Run to the Trail

June 12, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Chase Pellerin
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new picks for 2018. Last year’s picks can still be found on page two, but some older styles may not be available currently.

So your cardio regimen has gone stale. The local loop is no longer interesting, motivation is low and split times are high. Maybe those aching knees and swollen ankles need a break from all those man-made surfaces. Maybe it’s time you ditched the sidewalks and asphalt in favor of some dirt and roots; maybe it’s time you hit the trail.

Sure, trail running has its critics — they’ll say it’s a poor way to train, or that the variable ground and incline make it hard to measure pace and times. We hear you — but we’re not convinced. Trail running can improve your technique, and the softer ground surfaces make you less prone to injury. Plus, the hills you’ll encounter in the wilderness will only make you stronger.

But those things can be studied and debated back and forth ad infinitum. If you only need one reason to lace up your runners and head out to the trail, let it be exploration. Let it be the fresh air, free of car exhaust — or at least the fact that you’ll only pass a handful of other people instead of having to dodge pedestrians every third stride. And once you find that reason, realize that trail running apparel has finally caught up to the style and tech of all high-end activewear.

Additional contributions by Tanner Bowden and Meg Lappe.

The Dual-Purpose Kit

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A tee shirt that’ll go from running on the trails to the gym is ideal because of its versatility. These trail running shoes work just as well on the treadmill as they do on the road, and the Rhone shorts are built to tackle any exercise you want to do, beyond just running.

Cool Runnin’s Tee by Outdoor Voices $45
Clifton 4 by OV x HOKA $140
Hiking Socks by Bombas $18
Swift Short by Rhone $88
GoCap Whitaker Edition by Ciele Athletics $40
S2 Matte Black by 100% $175

The Summitter

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You can never go wrong with a merino wool short sleeve t-shirt. One writer penned his love for the wearability of all merino wool and its inability to hold stink. If you’re trail running while out camping, or need to limit the amount of gear you’re packing, this shirt is a good place to start. Paired with 5-inch shorts and a FastCap, this is for the guy who wants to reach the peak.

Go-To 5” Short by Brooks $38
Cascadia 12 by Brooks $100
Merino 150 Base Layer Short Sleeve by Smartwool $75
Fast Cap by Ciele x Janji similar styles: $40
Fenix 5 by Garmin $450
Twilight Tank by Tracksmith $48
Nagata by District Vision $249

All-Day Adventurer

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While running through the woods, it can be easy to lose track of time. To ensure you can go for hours, storing water and snacks in a hydration vest is a good way to go. The Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0 holds up to 10.3 liters and is plenty breathable thanks to mesh fabric.


Ultra Vest 4.0 by Ultimate Direction $130
Speedgoat 2 by Hoka One One $140
Harrier Tee by Tracksmith $68
Uncommon Solids Wool QTR by Stance $18
Pulse Short by Salomon $60
Kaishiro District Black Rose by District Vision $199
Muir Cap by PATH Projects $24

The No-Frills Guy

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Stick with the basics and no one gets hurt. Janji stretchy shorts paired with a tried and tested Salomon tee and heavy-duty Merrells provide everything you need for trail running, and nothing you don’t.


Uganda 5″ Middle Short by Janji $58
Agile SS Tee by Salomon $40
Silver No Show Running Socks by Balega $15
All Out Crush 2 by Merrell $100

The Make-Your-Own Kit Designer

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Being unique on the trails requires some mixing and matching. To start, opt for the Adidas Agravic Speed in all-white. Getting them dirty is a reflection of whatever trails you’re running on — whether that’s tons of mud, sand or moss, let the forest leave its mark on your kicks.

Doing Things Tee by Outdoor Voices$40
Crux Active Short by Cotopaxi$65
Uncommon Solids Crew by Stance $18
Terrex Agravic Speed by Adidas$100
Keiichi Standard by District Vision$199
Spartan Sport HR by Suunto $297

King of the Mountain

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Trail running is pretty variable depending on the weather. You’ll go from scorching temps on open rock faces to pretty chilly ones under the cover of the forest canopy. A sweat-wicking long sleeve is an easy way to combat that. Plus, it helps that this one can take you straight from the woods to the local brewery without missing a step.

Twilight Long Sleeve by Tracksmith $58
Kalalau Crew by Stance $18
Parkclaw 275 by Inov-8 $130
Duckbill Cap by Patagonia $29
Adan Short by Arc’Teryx $79

More Trail Running Gear to Check Out

Go-To Tight by Brooks $60
El Cap by Rhone $28
Agile 250 Belt Set by Salomon $50
Nike+ Watch by Apple $329+
Peregrine 8 by Saucony $120
Velox Crew by Arc’Teryx $65
Tecnica Strap by Whoop $180
Treeline by Sunski $89
Session Jacket by Tracksmith $188
Stretch Crepe Trail Short by Outdoor Voices $65
Uncommon Solid Run Crew by Stance $18
King of the Mountain Sneakers by New Balance similar styles $110
Uganda 3” Split Short by Janji $50
Tantrum II Hooded Jacket by Outdoor Research $109
Run Lightweight Mini-Crew by Injinji $12
Speedcross 4 by Salomon $130
Nike+ Watch by Apple $329+
Twilight Tank by Tracksmith $48
Nagata by District Vision $249
The 12 Best Trail Running Shoes of 2018

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a shoe on this list for everyone. Read the Story

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