We’ve got shoes, apparel, a water bottle and the best accessories, which should help the runner in your life make miles, log PRs and feel seen.
Selected by REI member-testers as the Best Long Distance Road Running Shoe in 2022, the On Cloudflyer is suited to runners going the distance in both comfort and style. Mixing ample cushioning with a lightweight feel, these neutral running shoes help take the drudgery out of those late-in-the-game miles. In her most recent field test, REI member and Expert Advice writer Heather Balogh Rochfort found in the Cloudflyers "a firm-yet-snappy ride with just a hint of cushioning that proved to be perfection for testers running over 10 miles." $160
Running in inclement weather calls for a lot of protection for not-a-lot-of-weight. Patagonia’s featherlight Houdini jacket, which weighs in at 3.4 ounces for the women’s version and packs into its own tiny chest pocket, is an excellent emergency backup for any run when the weather is questionable. Its water-repellent ripstop nylon, adjustable hood and drawcord hem help block the elements while its slim fit and light profile won’t distract your favorite runner, nor hold them back. $109
Read More: Cold-Weather Running Gear: The Perfect Kit
In 2018, COROS burst onto the scene with the sleek, simple yet highly functional PACE GPS watch. Their latest iteration, the PACE 2, feels light as a chain bracelet on your wrist yet durable enough to withstand regular use. With one-charge battery power up to 30 hours in GPS mode, 60 hours in UltraMax mode and a mind-boggling 20 days in regular mode, you won't have trouble tracking your daily runs. Plus, COROS' industry-pioneering Track Mode offers impressive accuracy while you're smashing those speed work sessions at the local high school. $200
Some runners opt to leave the pavement in favor of dirt, and they need a shoe to keep up with them. Salomon’s Sense Ride 4 (a recent recipient of the REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award for the second year in a row, and a second-year pick for Best Trail Running Shoes) pleases the majority of runners with its neutral, 8-mm heel-to-toe drop and moderate (27mm) cushioning. The quick-draw laces are easy to cinch on the go, and the proprietary rubber outsole grips everything from gritty sandstone to the muddiest of muck. New in the 4, Salomon adding padding around the heel, promoting a more secure fit and protection from burrs for the smoothest of, well, rides. $120
REI Co-op Swiftland Running T-Shirt (Women's, Men's and Women's Plus Sizes)
A good running t-shirt is a year-round necessity. Whether your favorite runner is trudging away indoors on the treadmill, ripping fast 400s on the track, located in some enviably warm region or simply loves to feel the wind beneath their wings — they'll need the perfect technical tee. The REI Co-Op Swiftland Running T-Shirt contains microventilated SwiftTex™, among our lightest technical fabrics, which will keep your favorite runner breezy and comfortable as the miles tick by. $19.93 - 39.95
More options: If you're looking for a cozier gift for the chillier runner, try the Swiftland Long-Sleeve Running T-Shirt (women's, men's and women's plus sizes) or the rabbit EZ Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (women's, men's). Going even warmer? The North Face Winter Warm Essential Crew Top is an excellent baselayer for those who fearlessly take on frigid temperatures.
The sun on a blue-sky December day can be just as strong as at the height of summer. Thankfully, the polarized Goodr Circle G Sunglasses take the squint out of winter runs with their glare-reducing, 100% UV400 protection. The light yet stylish frame doesn’t scream cardio, but it does stay in place thanks to a grippy, nonslip coating on the nose pads and temples. Plus, the relatively reasonable price means you can get a pair for any runner in your life. $25
At some point in the year, shorts just won't cut it. Despite protestations from the runner in your life, they'll do well to keep some full-length running tights in the rotation. Janji, a company as committed to the arts and service as it is to performance wear, makes some of the best-fitting and -looking tights out there. The women's Groundwork Tights 2.0 come at a 7/8 length, so you can still show off those flashy socks or agile ankles. The men's tights are equipped with plenty of stealthy pockets, perfect for both road and trail adventures. (For a warmer women's fit, try the Winter Groundwork Tights, with deep pockets and reflective seaming to boot.) $43.83 - 94
Shop: Find more cold weather running gear, from jackets to beanies to spikes, here.
Help your giftee embrace cozy winter running fashion with Vuori’s sweat-wicking, polyester-and-spandex workout pants. Thanks to four-way stretch and a drawstring waistband, these pants are comfier than pajamas but breathe way better. They have two hand pockets and a zippered stash pocket (men’s only) for small items like a car key or credit card. $67.93 - 98
Another option: The REI Co-Op Swiftland Hybrid Running Pants are just as comfortable, and well suited to the trails with their multiple roomy pockets and reflective trim.
Shokz OpenRun and OpenRun Mini Headphones
Sometimes, all a runner needs to get out the door is a good playlist. The Shokz OpenRun Headphones offer that, and more, with an open-ear design that allows runners to safely tune into their surroundings while enjoying their music. And for the audiophile in your life, there's no need to fret about sound quality — Shokz' Premium Pitch 2.0+ technology turns up those bass tones while minimizing vibration. With 8 hours of music and calls per charge, your favorite runner won't have trouble finding their flow. And for those with smaller noggins, the OpenRun Mini is sized to sit snug around the back of the neck without distracting bounce. $129.95.
Read More: 10 of the All-Time Best Running Hacks
Running isn’t just about running, per se, and the best runners know that regular bodyweight training can help build strength and avoid injury. The TRX Strong System, which comes with eight prescribed workout plans, lets the runner in your life to work through a series of toning exercises to boost balance, agility and strength. All important when they’re pounding out miles on the roads or trail. $149.95
There's nothing worse than freezing hands on a morning jaunt. The North Face scores both sustainability and practicality points with these cozy running gloves made of recycled materials and equipped with full-finger and -palm touch-screen conductivity. The Etips don't get in the way, either: 4-way stretch fleece and a proprietary 5 Dimensional Fit™ guarantee both even warmth and extended comfort throughout the run. $45
Gift the blister-prone runner in your life a pair of these comfies and we bet they’ll never experience forefoot hot spots again. Unlike other socks, Injinji’s “toe socks” wrap each individual digit like a glove, eliminating skin-on-skin friction inside of the running shoe. The result: no more blisters to ruin the day. $13
If your runner needs a little TLC, gift them the Hyperice Hypervolt 2. This quiet-yet-powerful percussion massager allows runners to warm up and cool down specific body parts and target and soothe angry muscles after pounding the pavement. It has three speed settings and five interchangeable head attachments, and the 24-volt lithium battery is rechargeable. Improving on the original Hypervolt, the Hypervolt 2 is lighter and easier to move around your body, featuring a dialed-in ergonomic design that allows for longer recovery sessions. But the highlight is the Bluetooth connection: Once the device is synced with the app, users have access to several programmed massage routines for relieving soreness and promoting recovery. $299
The best runs tend to happen when a bunch of little things go your way — you down a hearty pre-workout breakfast, your leggings stay put, your hair stays out of your face. That’s why every runner on your list can use one of these. A Buff, be it used as a headband, neck warmer, hair tie or other accessory, is always useful. Be a good gift giver and spring for the soft, odor-resistant, 100% merino wool version, which is extra plush, and not itchy. After all, the best presents are the ones that are slightly nicer than what the giftee would get for themselves. $29
Once a runner graduates from steady mileage to speedy sessions, they very well may want a handsfree device that lets them track their stats while listening to music. Pro tip: Snag them the Forerunner 255 Music, one of many options in Garmin’s legacy line of GPS watches. Not only does the 255 Music monitor training data like distance, pace, intervals, heart rate and VO2 max, but it also stores and plays up to 500 songs (and you can sync a playlist from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer). It boasts other conveniences, too: There are safety tracking features that allow runners to share their location with emergency contacts, and with Garmin Pay™ contactless payments, they can grab a mid-long-run snack without a card or cash on hand. $400
Foam rolling is a necessary evil. Why not make that task easier by gifting the runner in your life the Trigger Point Performance GRID, which is specifically designed to stimulate and release muscle knots (or trigger points) via localized rolling. The multi-density foam has a 3D geometric pattern that mimics a massage therapist’s hands, so your pal should be back up and running in no time. $35
Speaking of winter, shorter days mean visibility is critical for runners logging miles before and after work. Help light up the night—and your pal’s run—with this illuminated vest from Amphipod. Vibrant light tubes glow to bright-green to provide 360 degrees of high-viz without adding weight or bulk, and can blink or stay solid. Nice touch: The battery, which lasts four hours on solid and eight hours on flash, is rechargeable via an included USB cable, so your buddy can juice it between jogs. $60
Runners who go long need to stay hydrated, and that’s a lot easier to do with a hydration vest. The REI Co-op Swiftland 5 comes equipped with a 1.5-liter bladder that sits in a sleeve in the main, 5-liter compartment; the hose threads through the shoulder strap for convenient sipping when on the move. Your giftee should be able to fit extra layers like a rain shell and gloves in the main pocket, plus sundries like snacks and keys in the five other pockets. Possibly the best part? The vest has adjustable torso straps and load lifters to provide a dialed-in fit so athletes won’t experience annoying sloshing or bouncing while trying to make a run for it. $99.95
It’s not sorcery; it’s just HydraPak. The 500-mL UltraFlask Speed 500 weighs a mere 1.4 ounces so runners going fast and light will barely notice it — until they need a sip. Fitting up to 17 ounces of liquid, the soft, collapsible flask fits neatly into running vest pockets like above or can be held while on the move if that’s your friend’s jam. A nifty race-ready update: the Speedfill™ cap flips open for quick refills at aid stations. The UltraFlask comes with an extra-long drink tube, but the bite valve can also be attached directly to the lid for those not wanting to suck through a straw. $22
Swiftland Half-Zip Running Pullover (Women's, Men's and Women's Plus Sizes)
Running in inclement weather calls for a lot of protection for not-a-lot-of-weight. Enter the Swiftland Half-Zip, REI Co-op's ultralight running pullover with 4-way-stretch Polartec Power Grid™ fleece. The bluesign® approved polyester/spandex mixture is moisture-wicking and quick-drying, leaving your warmed but not stifled. Polygiene® antimicrobial treatment will allow your friend to keep this layer in the rotation without incurring an extra fee of stench. $49.93 - 89.95
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