Trail Accessories: the next edition of Another Mother Runner Gears Up. We have #motherrunners put key running gear to the test, then deliver the results so you can grab the gear that works best for your running and body.
First, the good news: adding trail miles to your weekly running doesn’t mean you have to buy all new gear. You certainly can (and to that end, we’ve included our favorite trail running accessories below!), but for the most part, standard running clothes work for both road and trail.
That said, there are certain pieces of gear that definitely help as you traverse hills, roots, and rocks. A hydration vest is one of those things. With packs and vests, it all comes down to fit. Take your time when purchasing, try them on, run on a treadmill if it’s an option, and be sure to wear running clothes for the try-on so you know how it works with your standard kit.
After years of running ultras, stage races, a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim crossing, up and down 14ers, and for the sheer joy of it), Allison Pattillo, our Gear Review Editor's, knows what gear works best. This is her go-to trail running gear collection.
It’s taken me a while to accept the concept of hydration packs with front placed water bottles—when I was already dealing with my chest and front pockets full of snacks, the last thing I wanted to add was water bottles and straws. However, this pack won me over. The design is intuitive and sleek, and the two soft flask water “bottles” that come with it are angled to stay out of the way of boobs. There are even shoulder pockets for the straws to keep them out of the way as well. If soft flasks aren’t for you, this pack is also bladder compatible.
The female-friendly details continue with two way stretch fabric, as well as a feminine cut (think shorter torso and more narrow shoulders) and closures that work with your body for a comfortable fit on the go. Plenty of pockets complete the package, which offers total storage of 8 liters.
Grab it here: salomon.com
The signature pack of the Train Like a Mother Club's Ultra Coach Stephanie Howe, the Nathan VaporHowe comes in with 12 generous liters of storage space. This body-mapped, vest design features a 1.6- liter insulated bladder for those of you who prefer the bladder and hose hydration delivery system. (For me, it now depends upon where I’m going whether I take a bladder or bottles. If I can refill as I go, I choose bottles. If I’m carrying everything I need, a bladder it is.)
Since I’m not the most organized packer, I appreciate the large stuff pocket on the back of this pack, as well as the dedication smart-phone pocket that is both water-resistant and secured with a zipper. This pack also has an internal compression system so you can cinch down all your water and gear for a dialed fit.
Grab it here: nathansports.com
When running up and down in elevation and in iffy weather, a jacket becomes essential. If you’re done with crinkly, clammy running jackets that wet out after an hour, this coat is for you.
Yes, it’s an investment–we can’t argue with you there. However, once you put it on, you’ll understand. Not only is it waterproof and windproof and breathable, but it’s also stealth-like in its silence. In fact, you'll be able to sneak out the door on a rainy morning without waking up your dog or family. At least not because of the coat. If you trip over the dog in the pre-dawn darkness, then there’s nothing about the hooded jacket’s packable design or surprising softness that’s going to get you out the door without a ruckus.
Grab it here: thenorthface.com
A hat is just a hat until you find one that wicks sweat, looks good (hello fun designs!), and is super comfortable as well. This one is adjustable with a soft, wicking terry sweatband, mesh panels to dump heat and moisture, and is black under the visor to help cut down on glare, which is especially nice as you pass from shade or dappled light to a sun-drenched meadow.
Grab it here: headsweats.com
Here’s a secret: these socks are actually marketed as cycling socks. And I wear them for that too. But I love them for running because they have just enough compression to help my feet and ankles feel more energized on long outings. The higher height also keeps grit out of my socks, protects from scratches and stays put. You’ll see trail runners sporting everything from sandals to compression knee-high socks. The right style is what works for you, and the combination of a secure fit, cushion, and breathability means these are always at the top of my sock drawer. Even better, they now come in fun colors beyond basic black.
Grab them here: swiftwick.com
In case you’re wondering why Buffs are an enduring accessory with trail runners, it’s because of their multi-functionality. One seemingly innocuous piece of gear (save for all the bright colors!) can protect you from the sun; keep dust out of your face (essential when charging on dusty trails or going by mule trails in the Grand Canyon); keep you warm or cool; be a hat or a headband; bandage cuts or scrapes, and more. Buffs can stretch out over time. That said, some of mine are at least 10 years old, but I’m ready to trade them in for this updated fabrication with UPF 50+ and odor protection.
Grab it here: buffusa.com