This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear rounding up the most notable releases of 2020. For more stories like this, click here.
If nothing else, this unprecedented year has reminded us of the importance of taking care of ourselves. And while that lesson has manifested most visibly in the abundance of PPE (personal protective equipment, a phrase we'd never heard until 2020), it was echoed by top fitness brands. Many of them launched incredible products for shaping up at home. Those items form the bulk of this annual roundup, but thankfully don't cover everything. High-tech running shoes, shades, a face mask and even a commuter backpack prove that with the right precautions, our bodies can still thrive outdoors, too.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier in an early version of this funky-looking shoe last October, and the brand dropped a consumer version the following spring. Its propulsive power comes from Zoom airbags, ZoomX foam and a stiff carbon plate, and the biggest tribute to its impact may be the vast number of similarly shaped imitators from other top running brands.
Skratch Sport Superfuel Drink Mix
Cluster Dextrin, the key ingredient in Superfuel Drink Mix, consists of 60 to 70 glucose units (compared to maltodextrin's three to 20) that break apart slowly during digestion, providing strong, steady energy for the long haul. That makes it way better for a century ride than, say, a coffee shop pastry in your back pocket.
Path Projects Sykes AT 5-Inch Short
These nicely priced running shorts feature Airtastic, an ultralight, stretchy, breathable and water-repellent fabric. The space-age material ensures that even with essential gear stashed in its no-bounce pockets, you feel fast and unfettered on the roads and trails.
Therabody TheraOne Sleep CBD Tincture
With regulation in its infancy, CBD products bring out our natural skepticism. All of Therabody's, however, make third-party lab tests available through a QR code right on the bottle, so you know exactly what's in it. And this particular formula delivers a rare treat: a good night's sleep that doesn't leave you groggy.
We have tested dozens of face masks, and we keep coming back to this one. The structure, wire nose bridge and soft fabric make it among the most breathable and comfortable we’ve tried. And the comfortable, stretchy ear loops are easy to pull on and off, so it's great for not only workouts but quick errands too.
Adidas Adizero Adios Pro
In addition to a carbon fiber plate, this dynamic running shoe boasts five carbon-infused EnergyRods that sit beneath the metatarsals, sandwiched between thick layers of LightstrikePRO, Adidas's lightest foam to date. The first time this shoe was released, it sold out in 15 minutes (sigh), but you can sign up to be notified if it comes back.
District Vision Keiichi Calm-Tech Sunglasses
These updated shades feature the world’s first porous, anti-fog lenses, Calm-Tech, a membrane that absorbs moisture to remain clear. They are designed for athletes who wear sunglasses for hours at a time or in challenging performance situations, like marathoners and climbers, but in the face mask era, we can all enjoy the fog-free benefits.
This powder-based formula dissolves fast to help you rehydrate quickly after exercise. Instant accomplishes that feat two to three times faster than plain water, includes full daily servings Vitamins C and B12 and comes in two tasty flavors: lemon-lime and watermelon.
Manduka GRP Adapt Yoga Mat
One of our favorite yoga mat brands mixed up a new polyurethane formula that's extra absorbent, so when a session gets hot — on purpose or otherwise — you can hold the trickiest poses without worrying about slipping on sweat. If there's a single mat that can handle any practice (or workout, frankly), it's this one.
This strength-forward setup combines the KettlebellConnect 2.0 with other innovative tools, including DumbbellConnect (100 pounds of adjustable dumbbells), PushUpConnect (a push-up trainer) and Foam RollerConnect (a vibrating roller). There’s also a rotating 43-inch touchscreen, streaming classes and a machine-learning algorithm to help you reach your swole goals.
Saysky Running Commuter Backpack
By public transit and by bike, European cities have long bested American ones when it comes to commuting. That trend apparently even extends to run commuting, if this release from Copenhagen-based Saysky is any sign. It is waterproof, fully adjustable, has space for a 15-inch laptop and looks pretty dang slick.
Ten Thousand Versatile Shirt
Ten Thousand collected thousands of measurements and fit preferences to make its workout shirt as close to perfect as possible. One learning was that one size doesn't fit all, so there are three fabric blends. We like the feel of the Versatile Shirt, but the Durable and Lightweight versions are great too, and all are available with short or long sleeves.
Wahoo Elemnt Rival Multisport GPS Watch
Wahoo's first watch is loaded with features that make tracking workouts easier, including compatibility with its vaunted bike computers and a big bright display. But the coolest one is "touchless transition": during a triathlon, it senses when you shift from one stage to another, without you needing to tell it you've switched from, say, swimming to cycling.
Hvmn Keto Food Bar
Best known for science-based performance products like ketone esters, Hvmn now makes bars with creative flavors such as chocolate chunk, Mexican hot chocolate, everything bagel and vanilla shortbread. They're organic and contain only a gram of sugar, with most of their nutritional content made up of fat from nut butter, cacao butter and coconut oil.
This new subscription service pulls together some of the brand’s biggest strengths — Apple Watch metrics, the intuitive interfaces of its tablets and phones, the vast library of Apple Music — to deliver a variety of studio-style classes led by a diverse team of top trainers. And our early tests indicate it has all the makings of a hit.
Price: $9.99 per month/$79.99 per year
Joovv Go 2.0
This updated handheld device delivers red and near-infrared wavelengths to help optimize your body’s cellular function. While similar devices are rather clunky, the travel-size Go 2.0 smoothly syncs with the Joovv app for customizable treatments. That means a tool once only accessible to pro trainers has become much more portable and user-friendly.
This polarizing screen-free wristband monitors body composition, tone of voice, sleep and activity, and connects to an app, where users can access science-backed health challenges to implement small changes into daily routines and track measurable results. While privacy concerns abound, Halo will never sell health data that ties directly to you, and you can delete your data at any time.