Spring is prime trail-running season and we’ve got the scoop on the coolest new trail-running gear from Salomon, Suunto, Patagonia, Lole, Marmot, SmartWool, Smith and Under Armor.
Going for a trail run provides the ultimate escape, a chance to run away from your daily worries on a beautiful, winding trail. Plus, the gear you need is sublimely minimal: shoes, shirt, shorts—go running. But the right gear, including a few added accessories and clothing items that are as functional as they are stylish, can motivate you to stay out longer and push harder. So here’s a head-to-toe kit for women looking to upgrade their trail-running gear. Now get up and go.
Salomon Speedcross 3
The Salomon Speedcross 3 is a beefy yet light running shoe designed for pounding dirt. The exterior of the shoe is water-resistant and breathable, so you can splash through mud puddles or run in dry heat without a worry. It’s not a minimalist shoe—it offers solid ankle support and plenty of padding in the footbed for trampling rocks or branches. But it feels surprisingly lightweight for how tough it looks. I logged long miles in this shoe without feeling weighed down.
The best part of the Speedcross 3 is the lace-up process: Just pull the grip on Salomon’s signature Quicklace system, cinch down the plastic toggle and the shoe feels effortlessly snug in seconds. The toggle and lace even tuck away into a hidden pocket. The women’s version of the Speedcross 3 has a narrower, women-specific fit, but the shoe is also available for men.
Suunto Ambit 3 Sport
GPS watches have always intimidated me with their many buttons and fancy features. I’m not climbing Everest; I’m just going for a trail run out my backdoor. So why do I need a live altimeter feed? Turns out that even tracking just my distance and pace made me want to run farther and faster. Suunto’s Ambit 3 collection of watches, including the Sport version I tested, has all the futuristic amenities you’d expect—training programs, social sharing, route-finding and lots more—but in a surprisingly easy-to-use package.
There’s not much the Ambit 3 Sport watch doesn’t do. Navigation? No problem. It’s GPS-enabled to help you track your path and find new routes, and it offers a compass in case you really get lost. You can keep a record of your workout’s time, pace and distance whether you’re running, biking or swimming, and a tiny, Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor invisibly straps around your waist. Wirelessly connect the watch to your phone to snap corresponding photos or videos from select points on your run, then upload details of your workout to Suunto’s app, which also lets you engage with a community of fellow runners. The bottom line: I ran an extra few miles and upped my speed thanks to this watch. So I’m a convert.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket
The beauty of trail running is that you can get far into the wilderness relatively easily. But that also comes at a cost. You might be in the middle of nowhere in a T-shirt when the clouds start spitting. That’s why Patagonia’s Houdini Jacket feels almost like insurance for your trail-running adventures.
It’s ridiculously lightweight, made with breathable, tissue-paper-thin ripstop nylon, but it’s coated with a durable water repellent finish and has a cinching hood, so it’ll block wind and resist light rain and snow. If you’re still out running when day turns to night and temperatures drop, you’ll be thankful for the extra layer. The jacket’s fabric feels silky smooth next to the skin, so you can layer it over a tank top if you want. When you don’t need it, this minimalist windbreaker, which comes in a men’s and women’s version, stuffs into its own pocket, taking up less space than an apple.
Lole Dash Pants
Running tights have always been functional; rarely have they been stylish. But women-specific brand Lole is out to change that. Their Dash pants are built for running—stretchy, moisture-wicking nylon moves with you without causing overheating—but they’re also admittedly good looking. You could wear these pants out for coffee after your run and not look like you just stepped out of an ’80s aerobics video.
The drawcord on the inside waistband ensures the perfect custom fit, even if you ate too many pancakes for breakfast, and mesh cuffs around the ankles add flair and breathability. I ran in a slight drizzle in these pants and they kept me warm and dry. A tiny zippered pocket on one side holds a car key or credit card, and a slip-in, non-zip pocket on the other side stores a gel packet or fits some smartphones.
Marmot Mirage Shirt
Marmot’s short-sleeved Mirage shirt for women wins points for its comfy fabric and perfectly fitted but not-too-tight cut. You’ll wear this shirt while working out at the gym, cleaning the house and biking around town. But it’s tailor-made for running, thanks to stretchy, wicking polyester and mesh underarm panels that keep you cool. The fabric doesn’t chafe on your sides and it moves with you, providing a noticeably smooth swiftness.
A flattering, slightly longer fit (it’ll just barely cover your bum in a pair of running tights) and attractive diagonal seams help this shirt transition out of the workout, too.
SmartWool PhD Running Ultra Light Micro Socks
Socks can make or break a run. The wrong pair of socks can lead to blisters, ill-fitting shoes or sweaty feet. The right pair, though, can provide a sense of utter bliss, the kind that makes you not even notice the miles disappearing under your feet. The SmartWool PhD Running Ultra Light Micro Socks are the bliss-inducing kind. They’re super-low-profile and won’t even be visible above your shoes.
The women’s version of these socks (they also come in men’s) are designed for women’s narrower heels and lower foot volume. Stretchy, comfortable and lightweight, these minimalist wool socks don’t feel smothering like thicker wool socks. Even on warm days, my toes didn’t break a sweat. Ample padding in all the right places underfoot provides support for long and variable trail runs.
Smith Pivlock Asana or Smith Pivlock Arena Max Sunglasses
The Smith Pivlock Arena Max sunglasses are so light, you’ll barely feel them on your face. That’s why they make such great running glasses. Plus, an adjustable, grippy rubber nosepiece and snug-fitting arms ensure the glasses don’t slip when you’re jostling up and down on the trail. I noticed I wasn’t getting blinded by the sun on my run, but otherwise, I barely detected the glasses, which is exactly what you want.
You’ll have your choice of polycarbonate lenses for all light conditions: clear for low light, mirrored for bright light and brown for everything in between. The lenses swap out surprisingly easily. Just rotate the arm up 45 degrees to remove and replace the lens. The Smith Pivlock Asana sunglasses are the women’s version with similar qualities. These glasses double as great biking shades, too.
Under Armour HeatGear® Alpha Print Sports Bra
The perfect sports bra provides support, breathability and comfort against your skin. Under Armour has nailed that trifecta with the HeatGear Alpha Print bra, designed for medium-impact activities like running or strength training. On a trail run, I felt no pinching or chafing under the arms; just soft, comfortable fabric that held up no matter how many miles I logged. When I started to sweat, the polyester fabric seemed to magically transport the moisture away from my skin. And the racerback design and durable stretch fabric offered all the support I needed.
Now that you know the gear, it's time to hit the trail.