When you leave the comfort of the streets, sidewalks, or treadmill for dirt, there’s an undeniable element of uncertainty.

Everything feels more primitive in the woods — more raw and exposed.

And in many ways it is:

  • Weather conditions can be extreme
  • You’re often more secluded on a trail
  • There are additional obstacles (rocks, roots, rivers, mountains)
  • Wildlife …

So it’s no surprise that many road runners get hung up on the idea that they need new — or different — gear to run on trails.

Meet Stan, The Road Runner

A few weeks ago I met a guy who said he was a runner. Let’s call him Stan.

Stan shared stories from a recent half marathon, and I mentioned that I enjoy trail running.

Stan – “Oh cool! I keep meaning to try that, but I don’t have the right gear.”

Me – “Sure you do!”

Stan – “Nah, I need new shoes and one of those packs before I head out into the woods.”

Stan got so hung up on this idea that he needed trail specific gear that he wasn’t willing to give trail running a try.

VIDEO: The Trail Running Gear You Actually Need

So I did what all good bloggers do after a conversation like that, and recorded a video about it.

It’s my response to Stan, and my way of squashing any fears (excuses?) you may have about trail running gear.

In it, I discuss the gear you actually need as a trail runner, the two pieces of gear I recommend picking up first, and the nice-to-haves that I swear by.

Watch it here:

Gear from the Video

The following REI links are affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a small percentage of any sales at no cost to you.

Trail Shoes: Altra Lone Peaks 3.0

Handhelds: Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Handheld

GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 3 Peak

Headlamp: Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp

Vest: Ultimate Direction SJ Race Vest 3.0

Maps: National Geographic Trail Maps

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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4 thoughts on “VIDEO: Trail Running Gear – What You Actually Need (And What You Don’t)

    1. Good eye! That map has all kinds of goodies. From Mitchell and the Blacks to Table Rock and around Linville Gorge. One of my go-tos!

  1. Great vid Doug.

    Much of the stuff you described lives permanently in my backpack, so forgetful Freddy doesn’t step out without it. Some more nice-to-haves that help to keep me safe as much as easing the minds of my loved ones:

    – First-aid kit, with compression bandages.
    – Space blanket
    – Personal Locator Beacon (this is especially important, imho)
    – 5000mAH battery-pack for recharging the phone

    If I remember, I also pack a long-sleeve woollen thermal, gloves, skull-cap, and weather-resistant running jacket. All these are extremely light and pack very small in zip-lock bags.

    Oh, and just before stepping onto the trail-head, send a quick SMS to a couple of people to let them know the plan and estimated duration. This helps to avoid becoming a news-story :).

    Happy trails!

  2. Thanks for showing. I love starting out with what I have and stock up later. my first marathon was in 15 bucks shoes and it worked good enough.
    Keep on with making videos.
    Wolf from Germany

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