Summer is always sweet, but given the winter it's following, summer 2021 feels sweeter than ever. There's never been fewer excuses to make sure you are out and about and moving your body. This is the gear that will help you make sure you are staying in shape while you do it, and enjoying every second of the process.
We've been big Nano fans ever since meeting the shoe a couple generations ago, with 2019's Nano 9. Billed as "the official shoe of fitness," its grandchild boasts a number of upgrades: an even more breathable flexweave knit upper, a comfort collar for a secure fit and best of all, the brand's signature Floatride Energy Foam in the forefoot.
Most of us don’t have the budget — or time — for 12 different pairs of shorts for 12 different activities. We’d prefer one pair of shorts we can wear for virtually every athletic pursuit. If that describes you, the Interval is perfect. Featuring a thick no-pinch waistband, a few well-placed pockets and an ultra-wicking shell (plus a comfy liner for $10 more), these shorts easily accommodate kettlebell swings, med ball tosses, box jumps and bench presses. Also: tennis.
Just released in June 2021, the Vista 2 are the next generation of the Vista, which were our previous pick for “best overall” wireless earbuds for running. The Vista 2 look basically identical to their predecessors, but Jaybird made them better in just about every way. They have noise-cancellation and transparency modes, improved battery life and they’re even more rugged; the Vista 2 have an IP68 rather (instead of IPX7), making them fully dustproof and fully waterproof. Jaybird made the charging case more durable (IP54 rated), too. Like before, the Vista 2 are compatible with a companion app that allows you to change the EQ settings.
A decade after the original Kinvara appeared, this shoe is still a favorite for the Saucony Racing Team — and ours. "They offer enough support that my feet feel cradled," says one tester. The 12th iteration is a little lighter and more flexible than the previous one and has a more responsive blend of PWRRUN cushioning. One tester liked the past Kinvara for quicker workouts and tempo runs, and the new version is still great for that. Even though we have it in our easy run section, the Kinvara is a solid all-rounder, and you can consider it for long runs too.
Not to let road runners monopolize the carbon fiber market, The North Face recently unveiled the Flight Vectiv, the first trail running shoe to utilize the tech. It's doing so differently, though — the patented 3D Vectiv Plate sits just underfoot and curls up on the edges to provide stability in addition to spring, which is ideal for uneven trail surfaces. The Vectiv line includes new trail running shoes with plates made of other materials for shorter distances and more casual runs too. You can pick up a pair by joining The North Face's VIPeak program (it's free) or wait for the wide release.
This Patagonia tee is deceptively lightweight at 2.6 ounces, and its 100 percent recycled polyester fabric fights stink far better than other synthetic shirts thanks to a HeiQ odor control treatment. It's also great at wicking away sweat and drying quickly and has a closer fit than some of the other shirts on this list, which make it ideal for a wide range of activities. Thankfully, all of these features come at an easy-to-stomach price.
One big reason some people still think twice about getting a helmet is cost. Sure you can snag one for cheap, but will it look good and actually protect you? Doubtful… unless it’s the new Specialized Align II, which packs loads of style and safety into a product that costs just $50. Along with understated, commuter-friendly good looks, the Align II is smartly vented with three available sizes, no-fuss straps and a dial at the back for a customized fit. Best of all, it features the game-changing MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System).
Therabody's Theragun PRO is the ultimate recovery tool. Its percussive therapy allows you to recover quicker, and the Pro is both powerful and quiet. The Theragun PRO pairs with the Therabody app, allowing you to further customize the vibrations, selecting any speed between the scientifically 1,750 to 2,400 percussions per minute (PPM) range. If gorgeous design and unmatched customizability are paramount, the Theragun PRO is your choice.
Miir’s 23-ounce insulated bottle brings a design-forward approach to the simplest type of water bottle without using gimmicks or a fancy paint job. The bottle is made from 18/8 medical-grade stainless steel and doesn’t retain flavors; there’s no metal aftertaste either. The bottle’s cap is leak-proof and uses a unique handle design that makes it easy to grab and clip to bags, unlike those of many other small-mouth bottles. The less-bulky body size means it’ll fit in a cup holder too.
With a silky texture that blends well with water or almond milk if you prefer, this great-tasting protein powder is certified gluten- and dairy-free with 14.5 grams of protein per serving. It's made with sprouted and bio-fermented pea and brown rice proteins, and includes prebiotics, probiotics, calcium, iron, selenium, vitamins C, D, E, folate and other B vitamins.
As with yoga, the features at play in yoga mats operate according to balance. A thicker mat provides comfort but typically sacrifices stability, for instance. We've found that Decathlon's Kimjaly 8mm mat offers the best of all worlds, particularly for more casual yogis but certainly not excluding seasoned pros. Its thick, textured foam is comfortable and supportive, even during fast-paced flows, and grippy even when things get sweaty (we did notice some slipping with sweat, but it was rare). The mat also has a grooved line running down the middle, which is a nice visual aid for alignment, and it's lightweight at just over four pounds — it even comes with a shoulder strap.
One downside is that its material (PVC foam) isn't eco-friendly, which is often a consideration for those who practice yoga. You can find eco-friendly options further in this guide and yoga mats for specific needs and practices, but for $35, it's hard to find a yoga mat with as many features as this one.
You don't garner 400,000-plus ratings on the App store (average score: 4.9 out of 5) without being one hell of a download. While it certainly helps to pair with a Peloton bike or treadmill — as thousands of this brand's most fervent fans do — the Peloton app alone grants you access to loads of awesome live and on-demand strength, running, cycling, yoga and HIIT workouts, many requiring minimal equipment. Of course Peloton is probably best known for its charismatic instructors and competitive leaderboards, qualities that helped its popularity only grow during the pandemic. Call it a cult if you want — or join up and get fit AF.