Running is one of those sports that you don’t need a ton of gear for — and we love that. As soon as you decide you want to go for a run, all you have to do is slide on a pair of shoes and hit the road. However, over the years, we’ve learned that the smallest pieces of gear, from sunglasses to hats to socks, can make a huge impact, and even lead to performance gains. With training for marathon season kicking off and the heat spiking across the country, we’ll take any advantage we can get.
Path Projects Muir Cap
Breathability in a running hat is crucial, and to provide unmatched breathability, Path Projects puts 94 two-millimeter holes all over the top and side panels. The all-black, sleekly designed cap is a solid grab for the running closet.
Rhone El Cap
The sleek design of this hat does just what it’s supposed to — blocks out the sun and wicks away brow sweat. The power-stretch mesh panels keep you cool and come in five different colors to suit pretty much any style.
New Balance 5 Panel Performance Hat
In a bright orange that’s no longer available, this hat was my sidekick for the New York City Marathon. It’s lined with reflective trim, which makes it easy to be seen at night.
Arc’teryx Calvus Cap
Arc’teryx makes quality goods that continually top our ‘best of’ lists. This cap is no different. It’s designed for mountain training, so you know it’ll handle any road run easily. There’s no velcro on this, just an adjustable stretch closure strap with a quick release buckle.
Patagonia Duckbill Cap
No running hat list would be complete without the classic Patagonia Duckbill cap. The magic exists in the brim. It easily shrinks into a pocket and then bounces back to its original shape. It’s also the 35th anniversary of the Baggies, the same fabric that makes up this hat. Celebrate with a new cap.
Ciele FST Cap
Ciele makes excellent racing caps — for cyclists and runner alike. We recommend grabbing a hat, then downloading Ciele’s app, ‘EverybodyRun’ to check out races, run clubs and events near you. Then, run to whatever microbrewery the app recommends. The best post-run recovery lies in what beer you’re drinking. And this cap fits right in, no matter your splits.
Myles Momentum Cap
Seafoam green, or Waterfall as Myles calls it, is a color that can do no wrong. The hat looks almost worn-in, which is great for a classic 5-panel hat. The adjustable snap band and dark color under the brim keep you comfortable throughout the day.
Path Projects Arapahoe Cap
While this doesn’t quite look like a running hat, the DWR coated, quick dry 5-panel would say differently. Its best feature is that it works just as well hiking in the Adirondacks as it does sipping a beer after a race.
Offered in a satin chrome frame, the Elmonts come with Oakley’s sun-blocking standard (100% of UVA, UVB and UVC rays), in a lightweight alloy frame. The shape of the aviators naturally offers breathability for runners, and you can upgrade to a polarized lens in a variety of lens colors — there are ten total options to choose from.
Roka Phantom TI
The aviator style is a classic for a good reason — who doesn’t want to look like they’re an extra in Top Gun? These titanium aviators come in two sizes (regular and large) and seven lens colors, plus the GEKO nose and temple pads keep them in place. You barely notice you’re wearing them thanks to the lightweight construction. And they’re anti-everything: scratch, fog, reflective.
At $90, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pair of running sunglasses. Ryders is a trusted brand in the space, and for good reason. The photochromic lens on the Trestle stands next to some of the highest-end lenses on the market and comes in at around half the price. If you’re into the shape, there’s really no reason to look elsewhere.
These sunglasses are the latest release from Sunski, the brand that set out to make affordable, yet high-performing sunglasses that can take you from the beach to the slopes and work in either locale. These slightly rounded aviator-style sunnies are inspired by the glacier goggles, with removable side panels to complete the look — they cut glare on especially sunny days, and are easily removable. The lenses are quite dark, so you might want to leave these at home on darker days.
A new style for Adidas running that veers back toward lifestyle, the Pacyr is still packed with features. The frame is shatterproof and comes with adjustable nose pads to properly fit your face. The frames are slightly curved toward you, to improve the field of view, and best of all they look great.
District Vision Nagata Black Rose Lens
Inspired by the time the founders spent out on the trails and realized that the light changes frequently, the Black Rose lens is made to perform in a variety of conditions. The sunglasses themselves are featherweight, and they’re cool enough that you can slide into any bar in running gear.
Oakley Radarlock Path
Oakley’s top-tier lens technology is Prizm, which it developed alongside its star-studded athlete team. In testing, Prizm lens technology simply pulls out contours and highlights that other lenses don’t. The Radarlock is a classic shape, and when paired with the Prizm Road lens, they are hard to beat.
Nike Vaporwing Speed Tint
Worn by the likes of Shalane Flanagan (who won the NYC marathon this year), the Speed Tint is built for performance. Offered in four lens and frame combos, these are aerodynamic at their core. They are extremely lightweight and breathable, and will never get fogged up.
Smith Attack Max
The brand that delivers top-notch performance on snow has a pretty good idea of what works on the road as well. The newest addition to Smith’s line, the Attack Max, features the brand’s ChromaPop lens, and the option to swap it out. The nose piece wraps around the lens, so you get 260-degrees of coverage, and the lenses are slightly larger than glasses past, which provides more visibility. These are also great for cyclists.
Native Eyewear Catamount
These N3 lenses block up to four times as much infrared light as standard polarized lenses, so if you’re outdoors a lot, this level of protection is recommended. The lenses are interchangeable, so if on race day (or training day) the skies look a little grey, it’s a quick swap to brighten everything up.
The oversized, semi-rimless lens offers a huge field of vision, and the customizable temples and nosepiece mean you’re guaranteed to get a tight, just-for-you fit. Upgrade to the photochromic lenses that brighten or darken depending on that day’s conditions. The anti-fog treatment comes standard, as does the waterproof and oil-proof coating, so anything the weather or road or trail spits up at you slides right off.
The Aerospeed, the newest style from Julbo, is slightly larger than the previous Aerolite, thanks to feedback from ultrarunners and mountain bikers. The field of vision is immense, and it’s the go-to pick for athletes like Mike Foote, who summited over 61,000 feet in 24 hours.
A classic shape for Revo, these rectangular performance sunglasses bring lifestyle-worthy aesthetics to performance optics. The graphite lenses cut out 100% of UVA, UVB and UVC light, and feature 100% polarization to eliminate glare.
Zeal Optics Incline
Super lightweight frames are necessary when you’re logging miles. The Inclines are built for long-distance training, and as a part of the Z-Lite collection, you get a resin-based plastic frame with a bio-plastic polarized lens to make all the blues and greens really pop. It’s good for the environment, too. These are ready right off the shelf, or are easily customizable with your prescription.
Smith Optics Lowdown 2
The iconic style gets an upgrade with a more performance-focused frame and lens. During trail run testing, these stayed put, and also looked great next to the campfire after a long day outdoors. They still come with the ChromaPop lenses, so your field of vision is crisp.
Native Eyewear Braiden
Built with N3 polarized lens technology, when you put these on you get a high-contrast and super crisp and clean field of vision. These tend to fit medium to large faces better than small ones, but the temple and nose grip secure them to any face.
Popular among the NYC running crew world, this pair of crossover sunglasses offers performance features that we’ve come to expect from Nike. Offered in eight frame and lens colors, the Bandit is feather-light with floating nose pads to increase ventilation, lowering the chance of fog. Even the arms are ventilated to help prevent fogging.
Nike Elite Lightweight No-Show
While many would write off Nike socks based on the all-cotton versions you’d find at your local sporting goods store, that would be a mistake. The Elite Lightweight No-Show is one of the best socks on the market. They’ve held up for one of our resident testers over the course of two years despite seeming rather thin.
Feetures! Elite Ultra Light No Show Tab
The Feetures! Elite No Show Tab is a great option if you like thin socks. The back tabs of these socks are double lined to provide added support from the collar — and help prevent injuries to the achilles. They also offer a seamless toe, so there’s no tugging at your socks to move the threads away from sensitive areas on the top of the toe.
Lululemon T.H.E. Sock Silver
The T.H.E. Sock features silver particles woven into the fabric, which destroys bacteria that causes feet to smell and prevents post-workout stink. Lululemon’s training and running socks are seamless, foot-specific (left versus right) and thin, yet provide enough coverage for sneakers with a high collar.
Farm to Feet Roanoke Ultra Light Sport 1/4 Crew
The merino wool used in these socks is an adjustment from typical performance socks. While not itchy, the fabric has a slightly rougher hand-feel than many synthetic socks. Wool is naturally odor- and bacteria-resistant, so the socks work well in hot sweaty places, like running shoes. They’ll last for multiple days on trail runs without the need for a wash. One thing to note is that there’s very little padding in both the heel and toe.
FITS Light Runner – Low
While these fall just slightly below normal quarter sock height, they’re still comfortable and provide plenty of ankle protection. The tightness of FITS socks means there’s no extra fabric rubbing in places it shouldn’t, and the super-fine merino wool mixed with nylon and polyester makes them comfortable enough for even 10 milers. As one GP tester notes: “FITS are simply the best socks on the market — across the board.”
Darn Tough Vertex 1/4 Ultra-Light
For a brand named Darn Tough, these socks are thinner than you would think possible. But nevertheless, they defy their thin-ness and are virtually impossible to put a hole in. They’re guaranteed for life — if they’re not the most durable, comfortable and best fitting socks you’ve ever worn, Darn Tough will take them back or replace them.
District Vision Sindo Performance Socks
These socks are one of District Vision’s first expansions into other markets. As with the brand’s sunglasses, there’s plenty of research and science behind them. But more importantly, they feel good. Three layers of fabric sound like a lot, but the socks are surprisingly thin. There is added cushion under the toe and heel, but on the calf, you’ll feel a slight compression of the thin fabric.
Feetures! Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew Sock
These Feetures! have graduated compression, which means they’re tight at your ankle, and get gradually less tight as they move up. They aren’t as tight as the District Visions (which also have graduated compression), which makes them an easy first step into the compression world. Don’t read too much into the ‘mini’ in the title — it’s just a quarter of an inch shy of the District Vision’s calf height (6″ from heel to top). The socks wick sweat well and stay cool throughout long distance runs. The fabric is fairly thin, reinforced in the toe and heel and is extremely soft to the touch.
Balega Blister Resistant Crew Sock
Slightly thicker than the other options on this list, the fabric on the Balega is better suited to cold weather runs. If you like plush and cushioned socks, these are for you. While the color options leave something to be desired, the rest of the sock is up to snuff. A thin layer of fabric surrounds the arch to keep the socks in place and even after a long day of wear, they don’t smell. Insider tip: These also work well for hiking.
Stance Sediment Crew
Stance is a brand whose socks look cool and still ace performance. The fabric prevents rubbing and chafing, and the reflective details are an added bonus for early morning and night runs. They also feature left and right articulated arch support that feels great when running at any distance.
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