The 17 Best Gifts for Runners
Merino beanies, British sweatshirts, carbon-plated running shoes and so much more
Visit InsideHook’s Holiday 2020 gifting hub to find gift ideas for every person on your list this year. Also, who are we kidding? Find lots of ideas for yourself there, too.
Somehow, the world of running had an okay 2020.
The sport experienced a mid-year boom, which sprang from sheer necessity. It welcomed back returning runners, rolled out the mat for new ones, proved a godsend during the darkest hours of quarantine, and even kept the pros happy, with a variety of virtual tournaments and, to be frank, some absolutely batshit challenges.
All told, there are probably more runners out there at the end of this year then there were at the beginning. That’s a good thing, especially because you probably know one or two.
We’ve compiled a list of gifts that these people would love. It’s difficult to shop for a runner (we can be a bit picky), but everything here, from ankle socks to the fastest shoe ever released, will keep them happy — and keep them running — well into 2021.
A bad pair of $2 socks can ruin the best efforts of a $150 pair of running shoes. Opt for better running socks, like these from Bombas, which are actually built for movement. It’s a stocking stuffer, sure, but it’s one with moisture-wicking yarns, airflow vents, a built-in arch support system, and cushioned tabs to prevent blisters or bunions.
This book is eye candy for anyone, but a travel holy grail for die-hard runners. It includes 50 runs throughout the world, with illustrations, interviews, and actionable details for each, from course maps to directions on how to get there. We’d completed a few of its runs before the world shut down, and can’t wait to start crossing routes off the list again in 2021.
Earlier this year, we ran a wild, single-elimination, March Madness-style race called Survival of the Fastest. It was staged by Trials of Miles, a running collective that has since hosted several more virtual races, and also diligently tracks “Fastest Known Times” (FKTs) for iconic routes across the States. This limited-edition print is a hand-drawn map of New York City’s most famous FKT: Central Park’s Bridle Path.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a running vest: it’s the perfect way to retain body heat without putting any fabric in the way of your arms. Lululemon makes one of the best around, a water-repellent, windproof shell filled with 700-fill-power goose down. Discrete pockets offer more options for catch-all items, while a reflective detail on the back is clutch for running in low light.
This small Montreal label has only been around for six years, but you’ll find its hats dotting the heads of well-known runners all across social media. The brim, front panel, and back panel deliver UPF 40+ protection, the material is made from recycled fabric, and reflective details throughout are meant to keep you safe in low light. Oh, and you can chuck it in the wash whenever you want.
These lightweight gloves feature elastic pull on/off loops, built-in stretch, and e-tip panels on the thumbs and index fingers so you can effectively use your phone while in motion. Beats that “pull the glove back from the thumb” move every time.
From independent Swiss running brand On Running, this beanie was optimized to regulate temperature, ward off odor and dry quickly under pressure. That means it’s perfect for long trail runs in the Alps, where it was literally engineered and tested. But it can also handle any comprehensible workout, errand, or couch lounge. We’re huge fans of the Merino wool used here, which looks dapper and prevents your head from ever overheating.
This Tracksmith tee salutes the real backbone of the sport: everybody else. Those without Olympic dreams make up the vast majority of running communities around the globe, and here, the term “Amateur” is highlighted as a point of pride. Making time for miles every day is impressive, especially when you’re holding down school, a job, or raising children. Tracksmith put this graphic on a cotton tee, knitted at a 165-year-old, family-run factory in its home state of Massachusetts.
This sweatshirt feels a bit like someone made a moisture-wicking top out of your favorite blanket. It’s from British running brand Iffley Road, which is named for the track where Roger Bannister first broke the four-minute mile in 1954. The label’s vibe is “1950s dual meet” meets modern performance tech. The pound isn’t kind to Americans at the moment, so the cost is steep here, but it’s worth it.
For those who want something more powerful than a pedometer on their wrist, but don’t need a veritable spreadsheet of biometric data every time they finish a loop around town. This is a perfect “entry-level” Garmin watch, built for runners and cyclists, which provides performance stats on speed, distance, and pace, and wellness info on heart rate, calories burned, and sleep quality. The watch face is easy to read, and the price is great, especially with the current discount.
In recent years, Hoka has made a habit of releasing sneaks that look wacky, but actually offer uncommon stability and response. Case in point: the Clifton Edge, which features an oversized outsole. See how the foam extends past the heel? All that extra cushioning actually functions to tone down the violence of heel strikes, taking pressure off your joints and ligaments. Thanks to a barely-there, air mesh upper, meanwhile, the whole shoe is somehow less than nine ounces. This is a perfect shoe for those who run long and slow every day.
The only knocks on Theragun’s percussive therapy devices were that they were too loud and too expensive. Then the brand went ahead and dropped the Mini, which is $400 less expensive than the Theragun Pro, and a full lawn mower less noisy, but just as effective. We use it every single day, both before and after a run. For a limited time, Therabody is pairing with (RED) to raise money for the fight against pandemics around the world.
Outdoor tech brand Jaybird sent endurance athletes to some crazy places to test these headphones: the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, the jungles of Veracruz, Mexico and the high desert of Moab. As a result, these buds actually meet U.S. Military-grade rugged compliant standards. But they also meet the basic needs of a guy running around the neighborhood. They don’t budge, don’t mind a little sweat, and provide a crystal-clear sound.
Possibly the most underrated label in the industry, Janji designs hardy, technical running apparel inspired by running communities around the world. We’ve been wearing this all-elements jackets for rainy days since early October and probably won’t take it off until May. It’s made from a lightweight stretch ripstop, features vents in all the right places, and has thoughtful tapers at the wrists and waist.
It took Saucony several years and dozens of prototypes, but their entry to the carbon-plate revolution is one of the fastest racing shoes ever released. Simply put, they’re just fun to run in. That “propels you forward” concept isn’t marketing mumbo-jumbo; this is a tall, foamy, responsive sneaker that puts you on your toes and pushes you to fast times. Unsurprisingly, Saucony has had trouble keeping it in stock. If you see your giftee’s size (or your size, for that matter) don’t hesitate.
This collab is unfair. Combine one of the most respected names in technical bags from the West Coast (Mission Workshop) with one of the most respected names in running gear from the East Coast (Tracksmith) and you have a dream running backpack, built for active commutes, long-distance trail runs, or anything else you can think of.
The fastest (and most controversial) shoe ever made. Marathon records are shattered when pro runners wear Nike’s hyper-foamy, carbon-plated racing shoe. That advantage extends down to casual runners, too. It’s usually never in stock for long, so make your move while supplies last.
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