A Guide to Every Accessory You Could Possibly Need on Your Next Run

From a pair of $14 socks, to a $600 satellite watch

October 20, 2020 11:58 am
running accessories

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Running isn’t so simple anymore.

It’s tempting to wax poetically about the sport’s straightforwardness — “Just lace up your shoes and go!” — but that would ignore all the hard-earned advancements in high-performance tech throughout the industry. Running is better thanks to the breakthroughs of the last couple decades. They’ve made the sport safer, faster, and (somewhat ironically) more accessible than ever.

Importantly, this geared revolution isn’t just confined to record-breaking sneakers with energy-giving foam, or Merino wool half-zips that allow runners to crank straight through New England winters. Fledgling and heritage brands alike are now affording as much time and attention to running’s accoutrements. Socks, caps and hydration packs may seem inconsequential, but they can make a massive difference — both in training, and on race day.

Below, we’ve rounded up every accessory you could possibly need on your next run. From compression calf sleeves, to sunglasses that’ll actually stay on, to a nifty invention called “light spurs,” it’s all here.

Happy trails.

balega socks

Balega Enduro V-Tech Quarter Socks

Ask a serious runner who makes their favorite socks, and there’s a very good chance they’ll say Balega. The North Carolina label has been around for almost two decades and uses high-performance tech to keep feet dry, prevent hot spots, provide arch support and lock the midfoot down while you’re on the move. They have some great no-show options, but we like the quarter socks, which do well to protect the heel, especially when you’re breaking in a new pair of shoes.

Janji neck warmer

Janji Swift Tech Reversible Neck Warmer

From one of our favorite running brands, Boston-based Janji, this neck warmer uses a poly-merino blend to keep your neck warm when heading straight into chilly winds. Its origin story is telling — Janji began making neck warmers by cutting banana-like shapes from their winter tights. Rest assured, you’re getting the best material on offer, even for a running accessory.

running sunglasses

Goodr Lightweight Running Sunglasses

Running with sunglasses is tricky. Too often, “sport sunglasses” can look super gung-ho and lame. And the ones you’d actually want to run in around town just slip right down the bridge of your nose. Enter Goodr and its polycarbonate frames with polarized lenses, which are explicitly designed not to fall off your face. Great price, too.

running spur

Nathan Lightspur Rx

As running accessories go, this is getting pretty niche. But that’s what Nathan Sports is good at. The specialty running purveyors built a nifty “shoe safety light” that clicks onto the heel of your trainer. When you’re on the roads at night (or early in the morning), it can flash three different LED color options. The spurs charge via USB.

Moab case

Lander Moab Case for iPhone

Calling all “phone runners.” You know who you are. For those who run with a phone in order to listen to music or map an effort on Strava, it’s in your best interest to have a separate case meant specifically for the activity. Whether it’s really hot out and your phone’s slipping out of your sweaty hand, or it’s really cold out and you can’t get a grip on it to begin with, you’re covered. We love this rugged option from Lander, which also includes a lanyard for securing the phone to your wrist.

tracksmith beanie

Tracksmith Varsity Runner’s Cap

Most beanies don’t look this handsome. But make no mistake, this cap — from our friends at Boston running label Tracksmith — is built for performance. It’s stitched with 100% Merino wool, and was originally trialed over two straight 18-degree New England days. Suffice to say, it passed the test. The beanie filters sweat, repels odor and keeps dry. Wear it from now until April.

calf sleeves

CEP Calf Sleeves 3.0

Compression sleeves can work miracles for runners, especially those who suffer from shin splints or strains in leg muscles. With each wear, they improve the efficiency of oxygen flow to your lower half, while limiting lactic acid build-up and potential inflammation. CEP is the industry standard, and uses a strong polyamide-spandex blend to keep blood in the spots that needs it. Unlike other calf sleeve options on the market, CEP has also mastered a “climate system” that maximizes breathability and keeps legs cool even while tightly covered up.


Ciele Athletics GOCap Standard

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. Come for the effortless street style, stay for the thoughtful design. 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.

Nathan flask

Nathan SpeedView Insulated Flask with Phone Case

Another offering from Nathan Athletics. Fun fact: we “invented” this concept on a run a few weeks ago. Too bad it already exists. For phone runners training for a marathon, this is an absolute no-brainer. You can now keep your mobile tucked in touch-sensitive sleeve connected to an 18-ounce hydration flask. The race cap guarantees easy access while on the move, while an adjustable hand strap makes sure the whole shebang is miraculously easy to carry.

asics face cover

ASICS Runners Face Cover

Last month, we went to a track and ran the same mile three different times: one with a disposable mask, one with an everyday cotton option and one with this face covering from ASICS. It blew the other options out of the water, and until other industry brands release their own takes on the “running mask,” it’s easily the best one out there. That’s thanks to mesh air vents “strategically” placed at the bottom of the mask (which filter air droplets down, instead of out, to better comply with CDC guidelines), adjustable, bungee-style cords and a moisture-wicking material.


Camelbak Podium Flow Belt 21 OZ

They’re the hydration pack kings for a reason. This is one of Camelbak’s newer models, a hip pack that contains a 21-ounce “high-flow” bottle. For those who are looking to carry a lot of water, but reluctant to carry a water pack on your shoulders (because, sweat) a hydration belt can prove a handy change of pace. This pack was actually built to withstand mountain biking, so it can handle whatever run you throw at it.

Patagonia gloves

Patagonia Capilene Midweight Liner Gloves

Almost every running brand makes a pair of gloves or mittens. It can be hard to know where to look. We recommend honing in labels that really know the outdoors — that have to make gloves for six other snow sports, on top of running. Patagonia fits the bill there. 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.)


BioLite HeadLamp 330

It’s difficult to admit, but we’re a few weeks away from the sun disappearing at 4:30 in the afternoon. For the EOD runners out there, you need to consider either running during lunch (to be fair: easier than ever this year) or picking up a reliable head torch for when the sidewalks are dark. No need to get too cute here. The best option for campers is also fthe best for prospective night runners. Stick with BioLite, which offers 330 lumens of bright light and 40 hours on a single charge. And thanks to an adjustable strap, that thing’s not going anywhere.


Jaybird Vista Earthproof Wireless Headphones

Fifteen years ago, Park City-based Jaybird was already busy developing the first pair of athlete-driven, wireless buds. As a team of adventure junkies that happens to make consumer electronics, they’ve been close to the mountains — and those who run up them — from the beginning. These are our favorite Bluetooth headphones to run with, thanks to the weatherproof design, snug fit, and crystal-clear sound. On runs with most earbuds, it’s necessary to crank up to 80% volume capacity to drown out surrounding noise. But with Jaybirds, 20% is more than enough. Plus, they literally meet U.S. Military-grade rugged compliant standards, which is saying something.

Garmin running watch

Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Watch

Possibly the most comprehensive fitness wearable currently on the market. This isn’t just a satellite watch (though it’s quite good at that, with intricate, full-color mapping). Garmin’s Forerunner 945 can access vitals like heart rate, VO2 max, or even “body energy,” and will coach you based on recent exercise history, running specifics like ground contact time and stride length, and your optimal training load. It connects to, well, everything (that includes Spotify and Strava, don’t worry), and is built with a silicone band and a Gorilla Glass lens. There are cheaper, simpler options from Garmin — like the reliable Forerunner 235 — but if you’re looking for a show-stopping final accessory, this is it.

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