We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
Running seems simple enough: Put one foot in front of the other in a semi-speedy fashion. It’s free, it’s safe, and dare we say, it’s fun. The equipment, too, seems appealingly uncomplicated. All you need are clothes and running shoes, right? While that’s technically true, some specialized running gear can make jogging a whole lot more pleasant. Plus, when you feel good, you run good. It’s simple science. Here’s our list of some of the best gifts for runners:
- Best smartwatch: Garmin Forerunner 965
- Best heart rate monitor: Garmin HRM-Pro
- Best headphones: Shokz OpenRun Pro
- Best treadmill: NordicTrack T Series
- Best massage gun: Turonic GM5 Massage Gun
- Best cold-weather sneakers: Nike Air Pegasus Shield 37 Running Shoes
- Best outerwear: Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody
- Best underlayer: Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Long-Sleeve 1/4 Zip
- Best safety gear: Brooks Run Visible Collection
- Best running vest: Nike Aeroloft Women’s Running Vest
- Best running tights: Reebok Women’s Puremove Leggings
- Best gloves: Arc’teryx Venta Gloves
- Best socks: Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Sock
- Best face covering: Nike Therma Sphere Hood 3.0
- Best hat: TrailHeads Fleece Ponytail Hat
- Best compression sleeves: Hyperice Normatec Go
- Best hydration vest: Salomon Adv Skin 12
- Best T-shirt for trail running: Arc’teryx Cormac Crew SS Shirt
- Best running shorts for women: Kari Traa Nora 2.0
- Best running skort: Outdoor Voices The Exercise 3″ Skort
- Best sunglasses: Tifosi Sunglasses
Best all-weather running gear
Best smartwatch: Garmin Forerunner 965
While you don’t need a watch for running, it certainly helps if you are aiming to track your progress and work toward goals. Garmin’s smartwatches are some of the best around for all types of physical activity, but that’s especially true for running. Its Forerunner lineup is the company’s dedicated running line, with the Forerunner 965 sitting at the top.
The Forerunner 965 features a vibrant AMOLED touchscreen display with up to 31 hours of battery life in GPS mode and up to 23 days in smartwatch mode. As with any Garmin watch, it offers advanced training metrics and tools, including VO2 max, performance condition, training effect, wrist-based running power, load ratio, and more. You can plan your race strategies and receive daily suggested workouts right on your wrist. It also offers built-in mapping, music storage, Garmin Pay, and safety features. It’s a watch built for serious athletes and adventurers, so if you know a newer or more casual runner, the 265 would be a cheaper, smaller, more approachable option.
Best heart rate monitor: Garmin HRM-Pro
Most running watches provide wrist-based heart rate measurements, but the accuracy of those tools still doesn’t match what you can get with a chest-based monitor. The Garmin HRM-Pro is a premium heart rate monitor with dual ANT and Bluetooth Low Energy technology. It easily pairs with Garmin devices, online training apps like Zwift, or compatible gym equipment. Beyond heart rate, this monitor also gathers running dynamics, including vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length, vertical ratio, and more. It can even store data when your watch is out of range, such as during a swim. And it’s comfortable to wear; I barely notice it, even on long runs or bike rides.
Best headphones: Shokz OpenRun Pro
Most people prefer to run with music or podcasts, but traditional in-ear headphones can pose some safety concerns. Bone conduction headphones are a fantastic option for runners because they allow you to hear your music while still staying alert to the world around you. The Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones offer a secure, lightweight fit that is comfortable even for long runs. They produce clear, high-quality sound with plenty of volume, even when running near traffic. It also features a mic so that you can call your runner when they are out. And the 10 hours of battery life will keep them from needing to charge their headphones constantly.
Best treadmill: NordicTrack T Series
Whether it’s a blizzard or extreme heat, there are times when it’s not safe to run outside. That’s why it can be helpful to invest in a treadmill. We recommend NordicTrack’s T series. There’s a reason why NordicTrack treadmills are considered some of the best treadmills on the market: they’re reliable, durable, long-lasting, and come with several luxe features to mirror gym-quality workouts.
This model comes with incline controls up to 15 percent, a 10-inch interactive HD coaching touchscreen, and 30 days free iFit membership, which comes with several on-demand and live workouts with automatic trainer control. also easily folds up and can be stored away for more space-saving. While it’s more expensive than other models, we believe it’s the best if you’re serious about running, want to invest in a higher-end product for the long haul, and are looking for a piece of equipment that mimics what you’d find in a high-end gym.
Best massage gun: Turonic GM5 Massage Gun
Recovery is key for runners. A massage gun can help relieve those tired leg muscles to promote recovery after runs, preventing injuries and keeping your runner active even during busy training schedules. The Turonic GM5 is a relatively affordable massage gun that still packs a punch. It comes with a range of attachments for different parts of the body and a handy case to keep it all organized even during travel. It offers variable intensity between 1200 and 3200 rpm, so they can fine-tune how intense their massage is. And it’s quiet, so they can even massage their muscles while you watch a movie.
Best cold-weather running gear
Best cold-weather sneakers: Nike Air Pegasus Shield 37 Running Shoes
Let’s get started with the basics: sneakers. There’s nothing worse than missing a carefully calculated step and landing right into a puddle on a cold and rainy day. To avoid this mishap, Nike took one of its most popular running shoes, the Pegasus, and winterized it with a water-repellent upper material and an outsole with wet weather traction to keep you from slipping on the slick pavement. The outsole’s micro grooves feature multidirectional shapes that displace the water when the shoe makes contact with the pavement, so your feet can leave and arrive home dry and warm.
Best outerwear: Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody
Layers are essential when it comes to cold-weather running. Arc’teryx’s sleek Squamish hoodie provides plenty of assistance, keeping you warm without slowing you down. The lightweight shell is windproof yet protects you against rain and snow. It’s also made from nylon that is moisture-wicking and allows sweat to escape, helping to keep your body temperature steady during frigid runs. Plus, this minimalist option is a cinch to roll up into a backpack or carry-on. It’s available in men’s and women’s styles.
Best underlayer: Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Long-Sleeve Shirt
Speaking of layering, a merino wool base is the way to go for those frigid days. This long-sleeve base layer has a nylon lining that will help keep you warm and dry all day. The company’s Pro Tech fabric is comfy and lightweight, but still wicks moisture away and keeps odor under control. They’re available in four matte colors (Deepest Red, Deep Ocean, Black, and Ginger Bisquite), you can pair the zippered top with the Woolies Tech Bottoms for full-body coverage.
Best safety gear: Brooks’ Run Visible Collection
Some of the best gifts for runners aren’t only about keeping warm—they’re about keeping people safe. When North America is experiencing the shortest days of the year—with the sun rising around 7 a.m. and setting by 5 p.m.— that means if they’re trying to squeeze in a run before or after work, they’re probably going to be doing at least some of those miles in the dark. Brooks Running’s Run Visible collection features clothing—from hats to windbreakers and leggings—that all come equipped with 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black Stretch Reflective material with neon colors. The material and coloring (which covers the most visible part of the light spectrum in low-light conditions) are strategically placed in so-called motion zones. That includes the joints that move the most while you’re jogging, like elbows, wrists, and ankles, so they can run safely no matter when they’re able to get that jog in.
Best running vest: Nike Aeroloft Women’s Running Vest
In addition to keeping hands and feet from freezing, maintaining a warm core will keep the rest of your body toasty without adding too much bulk that could make you overheat mid-run. When looking for the best gifts for runners (or yourself), Nike’s Aeroloft running vest provides necessary warmth where you need it most. It also has pockets to store your keys, cell phone, or anything else you might need mid-run.
Best running tights: Reebok Women’s Puremove Leggings
Many runners have a love-and-hate relationship with running tights. You need a pair that fits in just the right places for them to work well and feel comfortable. To make that happen, Reebok used its Motion Sense Technology (that the company originally designed for sports bras) to fill its tights with a material that stays liquid-like when in stasis and becomes more solid upon impact. This gives you a full range of movement on a run, while adding support precisely
Best gloves: Arc’teryx Venta Gloves
Running in the cold sometimes feels like a tease. When you first step outside, the frigid temperatures can be startling, making you want to bundle up with extra pant and shirt layers. But as you ease into the miles, you can quickly overheat with all those clothes. Instead, wear lighter layers (unless the conditions are truly frigid) and focus on making sure your core and extremities are well-protected. Arc’teryx’s Venta glove uses Gore-tex’s Infinium material, which protects from water and wind and is extremely thin and light. Plus the mitten design allows your body heat to keep all your fingers tight and warm.
Best socks: Smartwool Run Cold Weather Crew Socks
In addition to keeping their hands warm, snuggly and comfy feet also make for a happy run. Smartwool’s Run Cold Weather Socks are made of sweat-wicking wool that also provides comfort and durability. The mid-crew length hits that perfect sweet spot of not too short to let wind in but not too long to cause overheating. Lastly, the socks have the company’s Light Elite cushioning that provides targeted support in the ball and heel of the foot. Otherwise, too much layering between your feet and shoes can restrict blood flow.
Best hat: TrailHeads Fleece Ponytail Hat
When cold weather hits, a good hat is essential. But for those with longer hair, stuffing your long locks into a hat can be annoying at a minimum and cause a headache at the worst. Trailheads’ ponytail hat features an opening in the back to fit your hair through so it doesn’t get trapped, tangled, or bungled in your hat as you run. The piece is also made of quick-drying polyester fleece and flaps so your head and ears can stay warm for the duration of your run.
Best face covering: Nike Therma Sphere Hood 3.0
When the wind is howling and moisture from your eyes is starting to freeze on your face, it’s time to call in the reinforcements. Nike’s Therma Sphere Hood is a balaclava-style head covering that’s made with Therma-Sphere fabric that helps wick moisture away. It’s designed to be comfortable and customizable, with a foldover design you can adjust to cover more or less of your face and neck as the day warms up.
Best compression sleeves: Hyperice Normatec Go
Colder weather can cause arteries to tighten and restrict blood flow. Runners can recover better from workouts with Hyperice’s Normatec Go. These wearables are designed to be strapped to the runner’s calves and provide a symmetrical massage to increase circulation and reduce pain in the lower body. The Bluetooth-enabled controls and associated app allow the runner to choose between seven levels of compression for a better recovery and the battery lasts up to three hours.
Best warm-weather running gear
Best hydration vest: Salomon Adv Skin 12
For those who enjoy long runs or running in all sorts of weather, a hydration vest is a critical tool. The Salomon Adv Skin 12 comes with two soft flasks that fit snuggly on the chest straps, providing quick and easy access to hydration without stopping. It can also hold a hydration bladder for hot days that call for extra water. Additionally, the pack offers plenty of pockets to hold a jacket, snacks for fueling your run, and attachment points for stashing poles. It fits snugly and comfortably without jiggling around on runs, and the pockets are easily accessible so as not to slow you down. It will keep the runner in your life prepared when hitting the trails.
Best T-shirt for trail running: Arc’teryx Cormac Crew SS Shirt
When the warm weather comes and a runner is out everyday in the sun, it’s great to have a trusted T-shirt to rely upon. Arc’teryx’s Cormac Crew SS Shirt is designed for trail running and hiking. Made with recycled fabric, this T-shirt is designed to wick moisture away and is odor-resistant. Should the gift recipient get caught in a shower, this shirt also repels water. When the sun is out, this T-shirt provides 50+ UPF protection. And it’s available in five colors.
Best running shorts for women: Kari Traa Nora 2.0
Good running shorts can be hard to find, but the Nora 2.0 shorts from Kari Traa are a fantastic choice and have been my favorite pair since discovering them. They feature a loose fit with no liner to keep airflow going. The material is very lightweight and effectively wicks away sweat. They feel dry even when running in the Florida heat and humidity, which is very impressive. The elastic waistband offers a drawstring, and there’s a small zippered pocket at the back to store keys or a gel. They are definitely the most comfortable running shorts I’ve used in a long time.
Best running skort: Outdoor Voices The Exercise 3″ Skort
Running skorts are a great alternative to shorts in part because they feature built-in compression shorts to help prevent chafing. The skirt design also means that you won’t be constantly adjusting the legs of your shorts while running. Outdoor Voices’ The Exercise is one of the best skorts for running that I’ve tried for many reasons. The compression shorts are made with sticky grippers at the bottom hem to keep them in place, and they are long enough to prevent chafing successfully. The liner also offers pockets to hold a phone, and there’s a zippered side pocket on the skirt for keys or snacks. The material of the skirt is very flexible and sweat-wicking to keep you moving freely and dry on runs.
Best sunglasses: Tifosi Sunglasses
If you haven’t heard, Tifosi Sunglasses makes some of the most brilliantly colored UVA-/UVB-protected sunglasses on the market. With frames that come in enough colorways to match nearly any aesthetic, the Swank and Swick lines (and more), offer bright polarized lenses that will keep your eyes safe even on the snow or sand. These sunglasses are one of the best gifts for runners, as well as people who like extreme sports, desert hikers, and skiers alike.