The Best Gifts for Runners

Give a present that will help your favorite runner go the distance.

Updated November 2, 2023

14 reviews with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars
A trail runner in Ojai's Ventura River Bottom

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.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Road-Running Shoes (Women’s & Men’s

The bottom half of a person running in a pair of white Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Road-Running shoes

Winner of both an overall REI Editor’s Choice Award and dubbed the Best All-Around Shoe in our lineup of Best Road-Running Shoes 2023: Tested, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 works well from training day to race day. The latest version of the Endorphin Speed offers more comfort with a fully redesigned mono mesh upper, updated geometry for a smooth yet poppy ride and the addition of stability-enhancing lateral wings. So, what does that mean for the road runner you’re giving them to? “[It] works at any speed,” says REI’s Jeffrey Schmidt, a buyer on the footwear team covering trail run footwear, footwear accessories and run and fitness hardgoods. He adds, “but this shoe is made to go fast. This version is more accessible to the masses than previous editions but can still do speed work with the best of them.” Another noteworthy attribute of this trophy-holder: “It looks fly,” points out REI senior store manager and Run with REI Co-op Spokesperson Alan Ortega in his glowing review. $170 

HOKA Speedgoat 5 Trail-Running Shoes (Women’s, Men’s & Kids'

A person runs through a river bottom in the HOKA Speedgoat 5 Road-Running Shoes in a purple and blue colorway

When asked feedback on the Speedgoat 5 from the maximalist shoe experts at HOKA, Schmidt doesn’t mince words. “Love it! This is a top shoe for a reason,” Schmidt says, referencing its inclusion in REI’s lineup of The Best Trail-Running Shoes of 2023: Tested. “The Speedgoat is incredibly versatile, can handle any trail, and [is] plush enough to be used on anything from the road to the top of the mountain.” As the name implies, this isn’t HOKA’s first rodeo with the Speedgoat, but the brand isn’t resting on its laurels. Version 5.0 retains the same 28-millimeter stack height and late-stage Meta-Rocker profile as previous iterations but has a lighter midsole, double-layer jacquard mesh upper (made with recycled materials) and an updated Vibram Megagrip with Traction Lug outsole for better grip on loose terrain. The kids’ version mimics the adult option but comes with a gauntlet-tossing disclaimer for grown-ups: “You may not be able to keep up with your little one.” Choose a GORE-TEX option (women’s, men’s) if the trails in your giftee’s area tend toward soggy. $110-$170 

Gifts are a great way to tell someone they’re seen. Wrap up a pair of head-turning trail runners like the all-gender La Sportiva x Janji Jackal II for a runner you love, and they’ll know they are seen—and will continue to be seen (especially if you pair them with the Zephyrunner Wind Shell or 5" AFO Middle Shorts). Bold (though not obnoxious) bands of crimson, goldenrod, indigo and sunset orange adorn the recycled, sandwich mesh uppers in a nod to the varied terrain singletrack-lovers crave. Under foot, compression-molded EVA foam with Infinitoo polyurethane inserts offer cushion and stability through long-mileage days, while rock plates built with 1.5-millimeter dual-density compressed EVA provide protection from gnarly trails. The no-nonsense outsole uses a FriXion XT 2.0 rubber compound and 3.5-millimeter lugs for traction but, as ultrarunner Anton Krupicka will attest, takes smoother terrain on the way to the dirt in stride. “No fuss, just lace ‘em up and go,” he reports on Instagram, calling this model of the Jackal II “one of my favorite shoes for when I’m pounding some pavement to get to the trails.” 

Read More: Best Road Running Shoes of 2023: Tested | Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: Tested

Take a vested interest in your favorite runner’s comfort (literally) with the minimalist Arc’teryx Norvan Insulated Vest, which delivers just enough warmth for days when the temps turn chilly but not downright cold. The hero of this no-sleeved show is the Coreloft™ 40 synthetic insulation, a fully recycled, highly crimped, multidenier, siliconized polyester yarn that boosts thermal efficiency (read: It’s warm), while remaining lightweight, breathable and compressible enough that the entire vest can tuck into the handy stash pocket. Coreloft’s trusty sidekick, the bluesign-approved Fortius™ Air 20 face fabric, resists wind and repels moisture thanks to an FC0 durable water repellent (DWR) finish. Our in-house tester can confirm the Norvan moves with her moving body, while reflective hits on the logo, piping and trim keep her visible during dark roadside runs.  

As a runner, we have certain reliable, no-fuss pieces in our kits. The Craft ADV SubZ Long-Sleeve Shirt 2 is precisely this type of product. It features plenty of thoughtful details—think moisture-wicking recycled fabric, polyester mesh for airflow and moisture movement, a woven pocket on the left sleeve and a zipper garage to help prevent chafing at the neck—but its aesthetic is as smooth and streamlined as each of your strides. For an extra punch of visibility, go for the Vibrant colorway.

Patagonia Houdini Jacket (Women's & Men's)

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

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

Sure, Craft refers to the athletic-fitting ADV SubZ Sweater 3 as a sweater, but let’s be real. It’s a high-tech, zippered turtleneck—and we are here for it! Your running-loving giftee will be, too, once they burrow into the wind-deterring high neckline. The Ventair front body, which has a lightly padded, three-layer construction, likewise defies wintery gusts, and the thumb loops at the end of the brushed recycled poly/elastane jersey sleeves along with the drop-cut back add a dose of warmth. Reflective details around the garment boost visibility for no- or low-sun runs. For men—or whoever prefers a style with a looser fit and that's easier to get on and off—essentially the same piece comes in jacket form, so you can zip up from bottom to top.

Think of the Winter Warm Pro Running Jacket from The North Face as the iconic (circa 1988) Denali fleece’s (women’s and men’s) athletic younger sibling. Where the Denali is designed with uber-cozy Polartec recycled polyester fleece, the Winter Warm Pro Running Jacket puts a premium on performance with a non-PFC DWR finish and wind resistant WindWall™ fabric (air permeability rated at less than 10 cubic feet per minute) across the front, shoulders and upper back. Nick Lobb, REI’s assistant category merchant for men’s and women’s run apparel, adds that the “grid-fleece lin[ing] with additional targeted insulation in key areas [helps] to keep you warm but also dump[s] heat” when you start to warm up. The internal, secure-zip pocket lets you keep your cards—or your essentials—close to your chest.

On Performance Bra 

Three runners, each in the On Performance Bra, in light blue, purple and black, respectively.

Looking for a running bra that means business? Rave reviews of the medium-impact On Performance Bra indicate this might just be The One. Its recycled polyamide/elastane fabric wicks sweat, dries fast and “locks the girls in place while somehow managing to still be comfortable,” says one 34D cup-size reviewer. But the Performance Bra is not just for those with larger busts, confirms one A-cup runner: “My cup size is small, so I usually choose compression-style bras rather than cupped bras. … This bra was totally comfortable, super easy to get on/off, none of those annoying removable pads and no chafing seams. I really like the little bit of grippy material on the band that makes it stay put on my ribs and back.” A higher neckline, light padding and a ventilating mesh racerback panel round out this top-rated bra’s list of attributes. $75 

goodr Circle Gs Polarized Sunglasses

Goodr Circle G Polarized Sunglasses

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 

Running-ready sunnies are a special breed. Full UV protection is a given, of course, but the springy, sweaty, forward propulsion of running is best served by shades with bounce-preventing nose pads and no-slip grips. A lightweight design matters too, and personally, we’re fans of larger frame styles that are both on-trend and offer protection against the sun’s harmful rays. The Corridor from respected sunglasses brand Oakley delivers all these benefits with the vital addition of top-of-the-line lens technology. Their proprietary Prizm lenses (available in a rosy Prizm Road tint for medium light conditions or golden Prizm 24k for full light conditions) promise to enhance color and contrast so your giftee doesn’t miss any scenic details—or tripping-hazards—along their run.

Want to make sure your favorite running buddy has fewer excuses to bail when temps turn frosty? Gift them the Winter Warm Pro Tights from The North Face. These winter-weight, full-length leggings feature moisture-managing FlashDry™ materials, a comfortable mid-rise that just reaches the belly button and an inner lining so soft your giftee won’t want to take their tights off when they’re back home. Two mesh side hip pockets, two handwarmer (or phone-holder) pockets on the upper thigh and a final zippered pocket on the center back of the waistband mean they can bring a Gu, stash a snack and securely tuck in their keys. 

Vuori Ponto Performance Pants (Men’s) & Vuori Performance Jogger Pants (Women’s)

Vuori Ponto Performance Pants

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. 

REI Co-op Swiftland 5 Hydration Running Vest (Men’s & Women’s)

REI Co-op Swiftland 5 Hydration Running Vest

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

HydraPak UltraFlask Speed 500 Water Bottle

HydraPak UltraFlask Speed 500 Water Bottle

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

At just 6 and 7 ounces (women’s and men’s, respectively), the nylon/elastane Norvan 7 Hydration Vest from Arc'teryx weighs roughly the same as a deck of cards. That’s a good thing because its seven pockets plus a main compartment are ready to haul—and hold tight to minimize bouncing—whatever your lucky giftee needs on their next bipedal outing (including the two 500-milliliter flasks that come with it). Adjustment points throughout ensure a Goldilocks-approved fit. The co-op’s running editor personally vouches for this versatile vest, calling it “incredibly comfortable to wear at various distances, on the trails and road.” And, she adds: “It has a stylish, minimalist design for those long-distance urban runners who want a piece that fits in with a sleeker running wardrobe.”

Need a timely idea for the runner on your gift list who’s stats-obsessed, directionally challenged and/or in the market for a running coach? Check out the lightweight, low-profile COROS PACE 3. This feature-rich training watch includes advanced sensors for monitoring heart rate, blood oxygen levels, three different sleep stages, altitude and distance (dual-frequency GPS ensures precise calculations). Its on-watch Breadcrumb Navigation system lays out the trail ahead to make course-correction a straightforward process. Users can also download training plans, access and assess their workout results in the COROS App and Training Hub and get personalized improvement tips from the free COROS Coaches service. All that, plus non-running activity modes like hiking, skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding, and the battery provides 38 hours of continuous GPS tracking or 24 days of continuous daily use. 

Even the runner who has it all will smile when they unwrap a pair of new socks. And the Balega Enduro Quarter Socks are a step above the rest. Engineered specifically to keep feet cool and dry, the Enduros are made with reinforced microfiber mesh ventilation panels, proprietary Drynamix moisture-wicking fibers and abrasion-reducing, hand-linked seamless toes. Extra-deep heel pockets and the V-Tech Arch Support System contribute to a hard-to-beat fit, while a non-constricting compression sock band prevents frustrating slippage. “It encapsulates the foot as though it’s being massaged, caressed, and very nicely cushioned,” says one reviewer, adding, “Make you smile with [the] first stride.” 

The North Face Etip Recycled Gloves (Men's & Women's)

A man wearing The North Face Etip Recycled Gloves gives a peace sign hand signal while standing behind two women and smiling

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

The Arc'teryx Venta gloves are engineered for hard workouts (you know, like running) in cool weather. Totally windproof thanks to a GORE® WINDSTOPPER® exterior, snow- and rain-deterring given the DWR finish and cozy soft with a brushed fleece inner lining, these gloves breathe easy even when your giftee isn’t. A bit of stretch enhances dexterity and touch-screen-friendly pads on the thumb and forefinger ensure they can text a “thank you” mid-run without having to remove their gloves.

REI Co-op Swiftland Running T-Shirt (Women's, Men's and Women's Plus Sizes

A woman runs with two friends. She's wearing the REI Co-op Swiftland Running T-Shirt in Army Cot Green Heather.

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).

Shokz OpenRun and OpenRun Mini Headphones

A woman runs in a pair of red OpenRun Shokz Headphones
Photo by Dan DeLong

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

Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Bluetooth Massager

Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Bluetooth Masager

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

Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Multifunctional Headwear 

Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Multifunctional Headwear

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 

Garmin Forerunner 255 Music GPS Watch

Garmin Forerunner 255 Music GPS Watch

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

Trigger Point Performance GRID Foam Roller

Trigger Point Performance GRID Foam Roller

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

Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Flashing Reflective Vest

Amphipod Xinglet Optic Beam USB Rechargeable Flashing Reflective Vest

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

More options: Looking for a more affordable pick for on-road visibility? REI member-contributor Jessica Bernhard writes about another Amphipod great, here.

 

Shop All Gifts for Runners

 

Need more inspiration? Check out our Best Gifts for Outdoorsy KidsBest Gifts for SkiersBest Gifts for Outdoorsy Dogs (and Their Humans), Best Gifts for Hikers, Best Gifts for CampersBest Gifts for Less Than $50 and Best Gifts for Snowboarders.