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If you’re not a runner, but you know and love one, you know it can be tough to get them a great gift, whatever the occasion. I’m a runner, and I’m well aware we can be quite quirky in our likes and dislikes, and very specific about our gear. 

That’s why I’m here with this guide to the best gifts for runners, whether you’re looking to help your favorite pavement-pounder with hydration, post-run soreness or chafing, or provide them with some comfy new shoes.

As a former competitive cross-country runner and current recreational half-marathoner and triathlete, I’ve used my fair share of running gear. There are 13 gift ideas on this list, and I’ve used almost every single one—or a model/generation of it—at some point in my running career. Not only that, but this list has been vetted by other members of our product testing team to ensure it’s the most comprehensive gift guide for the runner friend in your life. 

Best Gifts for Runners

SPIbelt Reflective Running Belt
Best Running Belt

SPIBelt

The SPIbelt is a running belt designed with stretchy material to have a low profile and expand to hold your belongings on your run. SPI states that the SPIbelt is compatible with all phones and has an extensive list of phones that can fit into the belt on their website.

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ospreu duro vest
Best Running Vest

Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Vest

The Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Hydration Vest is a lightweight, breathable, adjustable running pack from outdoor recreation brand Osprey. The vest features mesh side panels, front strap closure, and many pockets to stash everything you need on a run.

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shokz open run
Best Running Headphones

Shokz OpenRun Waterproof Headphones

The Shokz OpenRun headphones have a new name, new packaging, and a new quick-charge feature. Formerly known as Aftershokz Aeropex, the OpenRun headphones utilize 8th-generation bone conduction technology to transmit sound directly from your cheekbones to your inner ear.

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darn tough micro crew pair
Best Running Socks

Darn Tough Micro Crew Running Socks

Darn Tough Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running Socks are a blend of nylon, merino wool and Lycra/Spandex available with or without extra cushion. They have arch support, which Darn Tough claims reduces foot fatigue.

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brooks ghost 14 side view
Best Running Shoe

Brooks Ghost 14

The Brooks Ghost 14 is the most recent model of the popular road running shoe, which Brooks claims is now smoother and softer than ever. The Ghost shoe is designed for people who need neutral support and want a moderately cushioned feel.

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Maurten Gel 100
Best Running Gel

Maurten Gel 100

Running gels don’t get simpler than Maurten Gel 100. It’s basically straight sugar in a packet, in an optimized ratio for quick digestion, absorption, and delivery of nutrients.

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garmin forerunner 55 watch product photo
Best Fitness Tracker for Runners

Garmin Forerunner 55

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is a smartwatch with multiple sport profiles and five activity profiles dedicated to running alone. With this watch, you can track running, outdoor track running, HIIT, cardio, yoga, and more.

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goodr blue sunglasses
Best Running Sunglasses

Goodr The OGs Running Sunglasses

Our team loves Goodr sunglasses—specifically The OGs—because they’re inexpensive (under $40 on amazon) and stay put during the longest, sweatiest runs. Featuring fully polarized lenses with an anti-glare layer and scratch-resistant finish, you really can’t beat these for the price.

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nathan speedraw bottle grip
Best Running Water Bottle

Nathan Handheld Water Bottle

This water bottle comes with a zippered pouch that fits most smartphones and car keys. The pouch features an adjustable strap and a thumb loop that secures the bottle to your hand, so you don’t have to actively hold it—this is great news since clenching your fist during a run is a huge waste of energy!

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athleta mesg racer black
Best Running Shorts for Women

Athleta High-Rise Mesh Racer 3” Short

These Mesh Racer Shorts left our product testers are more than pleased thanks to the wide leg opening, breathable fabric, mesh panels that allow extra air flow, comfortable cotton liner, and wide waistband.

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ten thousand sessions short
Best Running Shorts for Men

Ten Thousand Session Short

If you’re looking for an extremely lightweight, minimalist pair of men’s workout shorts, you’ve found them. The Ten Thousand Session Shorts, constructed of 86% polyester and 14% Spandex, have a GSM (grams per square inch) weight of just 124.

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lululemon fast and free
Best Running Leggings for Women

Lululemon Fast and Free

Created with unrestricted movement in mind, the LuluLemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight is lightweight, breathable, and sweat-wicking. These leggings have compression around the waist and are designed with four-way stretch for the best fit.

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chirp wheel
Best Foam Roller for Runners

Chirp Wheel

The Chirp Wheel is a new take on that classic and, boy oh boy, is it interesting. It comes in four different sizes to stretch, mobilize, and help you recover. Constructed of a durable plastic core covered in soft, sweat-resistant foam, Chirp Wheels are a great investment for your mobility and recovery routine.

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Best Running Belt: SPIBelt

Good for: Runners who carry minimal personal items and want a way to safely store those items

Best Running Belt

The SPIbelt

Product Highlights

  • Designed to expand and hold phone, keys, ID, credit card, and cash
  • Compatible with all phones, including larger phones like iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • SPI claims the SPIbelt is bounce-free and won’t cause chafing 
  • Made in Austin, Texas

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Fits large variety of phones
  • Wide variety of colorways and pattern options
  • Made in Austin, Texas
  • Free shipping for US orders
  • 1-year warranty
  • 30-day returns

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Hand wash and hang dry
  • Contains dry natural rubber which may irritate people with a latex allergy
  • Some reviewers found it hard to fit more than a phone
  • Users report difficulty retrieving 1 item from the belt without everything else falling out

Bottom Line

The SPIbelt is a low-profile belt offered in a variety of colors that can hold running essentials. However, it can be difficult to get multiple items into the pocket and retrieve one item out of the belt at a time.

It took me years—years!—to find the best running belt. Although I prefer to run with a vest now (my favorite pick below), I still appreciate the SPIBelt for its lack of bounciness, which is really tough to find. “SPI” stands for “small personal item” and it’s the perfect name for this soft, bounce-free belt that can safely store your smartphone, credit cards, car keys, and even a snack. 

Constructed of an elastic blend, both the belt itself and the pouch are stretchy enough to fit most waist sizes and most combos of small items people take running. The belt fits waist sizes from 25 inches up to 47 inches, but there’s also a belt extender available (for a separate cost) if you need more room than that. 

The zipper held up just fine on mine for the two years I ran with it before switching to a running vest. I also didn’t have any issues with the fabric thinning or pilling. Truly, my only complaint is that my SPIBelt got pretty stinky after a while and I couldn’t get the smell out, but what’s a runner to do? 

Pocket dimensions8″ x 4″ x 2″
MaterialElastic blend
Fits waist sizes25” to 47” (extender available)
ClosureStandard buckle
Price$24.99

Best Running Vest: Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Vest

Good for: Runners who need to store multiple small items, snacks, and water in a bounce-free vest

Best Running Vest

Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Hydration Vest

Product Highlights

  • Bounce-free vest 
  • Holds 1.5 L of water
  • Multiple pockets for snacks and personal items
  • Water reservoir and tube included
  • Safety whistle attached and included 
  • Breathable mesh construction

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Impressive capacity for water and personal items
  • Zippered and unzippered pockets
  • Water reservoir included
  • Holds 1.5 L of water

Cons

  • Limited colorways
  • Only available in 2 sizes (S/M and M/L)
  • Air-dry only

Bottom Line

The Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Vest is a great choice for mid-distance runners who need to carry water, snacks, and personal items such as a cell phone or car keys while running.

I cannot overstate how much I love this Osprey hydration pack. Every time I slip it on and head out for a long run, I’m amazed at how much water and how many items this minimalist pack can hold. This is the best hydration vest for short and long runs alike, and I’m confident all distance runners will love the carrying capacity it offers. 

With it, I can tote a tube of face sunscreen, my car keys, cell phone, snacks, up to 1.5 liters of water, doggy bags, and more if I wanted to. I also love that I can clip my pup’s leash to various places on the vest so I can be completely hands-free.

osprey back on back
(The women’s version of the Duro is the Dyna, which you see in this photo.)

Even in the blistering Florida heat, the breathable fabric keeps me cool enough to keep going. Pair the vest with a moisture-wicking sports bra or tank (or long-sleeve if you’re running in cold weather), and you’ll be good to go. 

I will say, I had no concerns about durability—until I accidentally tossed the vest into the dryer. When it came out, the vest was missing one of the closure straps and the mesh beneath the armpits on both sides was fraying. It’s still usable (I reattached the chest strap), but word to the wise: Air-dry your vest. 

MaterialMesh, elastic
SizingS/M and M/L
Water capacity1.5 L
Price$112-$120

Best Running Headphones: Shokz OpenRun Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones

Good for: Runners who want to safely listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts while being able to hear vehicles, wildlife, and other pedestrians

Best Running Headphones

Shokz OpenRun Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones

Community Score: 1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • New name, new packaging, and new quick-charge feature
  • Formerly known as Aftershokz Aeropex
  • 8th-generation bone conduction technology 
  • 4 colors available for standard size and 2 for mini size

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • IP67 waterproof (not for swimming)
  • Bluetooth 5.1 connection up to 33 ft
  • Free shipping and returns
  • 2-year warranty, 90-day exchange program, and 45-day return policy
  • Built-in mic for talking on the phone
  • Bluetooth-enabled (no cords)
  • Up to 8-hour battery life

Cons

  • Some customers report product failure within weeks or months
  • May receive older pair from before rebrand with AfterShokz branding instead of Shokz
  • Customers complain of low volume and bluetooth connection cutting out

Bottom Line

The Shokz OpenRun bone conduction headphones are great if you would like to simultaneously listen to music and remain aware of your surroundings. Some users have had their headphones fail after months of use, so you might have to use the two-year warranty.

When running outdoors, it’s extremely important to remain aware of your surroundings, whether your usual route crosses busy city streets or involves trekking through remote wilderness areas. Drowning out the noise to focus on your best workout playlist on Spotify may sound nice, but it’s dangerous. 

Enter: Shokz headphones, previously known as Aftershokz. 

Shokz are not true earbuds or headphones—they don’t insert into your ear or cover your ear, and that’s exactly why I love them. Thanks to bone-conduction technology, Shokz allow runners to listen to their favorite tunes or podcasts and still hear people, cars, cyclists, and wildlife. 

RELATED: The Best Running Headphones

The Shokz OpenRun Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones sit in front of your ears, just behind your cheekbones, and transmit sound waves through the bones in your skull. It sounds wild (and it kinda is), but it’s the safest way for runners to get high-quality sound without drowning out environmental noise. 

The OpenRun headphones are Bluetooth-enabled, rechargeable with an 8-hour battery life, waterproof up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes (but not intended for swimming), and extremely lightweight. 

Available in two sizes (regular and mini, which features a shorter headband), these are the perfect gift for runners who are adamant about hitting the pavement with music, but want to stay safe. 

StyleBone-conduction
Water resistanceIP67 (waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
Battery life8 hours
Warranty2 years
Price$125

Best Running Socks: Darn Tough Micro Crew Running Socks 

Good for: Runners who want all-season socks that help prevent blisters and hold up for long-distance runs

Best Running Socks

Darn Tough Women’s Stride Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running Socks

Product Highlights

  • Darn Tough claims the performance fit prevents slipping, bunching, and blisters 
  • Flex windows to minimize material where your foot needs to move 
  • Arch support that Darn tough claims alleviates foot fatigue

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Unconditionally guaranteed for life (unless you lose them)
  • Free returns and exchanges if you are not satisfied
  • Extra durability knit into heel, footbed, and 1st and 5th metatarsal (outside toes)
  • Made in Vermont, USA

Cons

  • Limited to 2 colors
  • Very specific care instructions
  • Some reviewers found them tight around the leg
  • Limited size range

Bottom Line

These low-profile socks will last forever, and if they don’t, Darn Tough will send you a new pair.

I first bought Darn Tough socks for hiking and backpacking, knowing that Merino wool was the perfect all-season fabric for outdoor training. One day, all of my regular running socks were dirty, so I slipped on my singular pair of Darn Tough socks for a run. 

And I knew afterward that I never wanted to run in anything else! 

These socks fit like a glove. There is no bunching, no slipping, no twisting—so there is no blistering. They also wick sweat like magic but keep your feet warm in the winter months. Merino wool is one of the most versatile fabrics out there. 

I particularly love the Micro Crew height, but Darn Tough socks are also available in full crew, no-show, no-show tab, and quarter-crew. If you need a simple, relatively affordable running gift, these socks are a no-brainer. 

I must say that these socks are expensive at $21 for one pair, and I wish they came in packs of three or four pairs for a slight bulk discount. But, they are “Unconditionally Guaranteed for Life,” meaning you can return them for another pair for free if they don’t hold up (but they will). 

RELATED: The Best Running Socks

MaterialMerino wool
SeasonAll seasons
CushioningYes, underfoot
SizingS, M, L 
Price$20.95

Best Running Shoes: Brooks Ghost 14

Good for: Runner who prefer a middle-of-the-road amount of cushioning and want laces that stay put

Best Running Shoes

Brooks Ghost 14

Product Highlights

  • Neutral running shoe from Brooks 
  • Brooks’ first carbon-neutral shoe 
  • 32 colorways 
  • Moderate cushioning and heel-to-toe drop

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 3 width options: Wide, Medium, Narrow
  • American Podiatry Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance for products that promote good foot health
  • Brooks Run Happy Guarantee: Try for 90 days and return for no cost if you are not satisfied
  • Many colorways

Cons

  • Longtime Ghost wearers find these to be less comfortable than previous models
  • Some buyers dislike the toe box
  • New midsole construction: Switched from combination of DNA LOFT and BioMogo DNA Foam to all DNA LOFT

Bottom Line

Brooks has made some changes to the Ghost 14 so that it is softer than ever. This change has been received with mixed reviews among runners and longtime Ghost wearers.

I got my first pair of Brooks Ghost running shoes when I started training for my first half-marathon in 2016. I think I’ve owned three or four more pairs of the same shoes since then because they are the best running shoes

brooks ghost 14 on runner

I love the wide and reinforced toe box, traction on the rubber outsole, and moderate cushioning. I’m also the type of person who doesn’t want any pair of shoes I can’t slip on and off without unlacing each time—and the Brooks Ghosts fit the bill. 

These are phenomenal for road running even in wet conditions, but due to the low cut around the ankle and lack of water resistance, I don’t recommend them for trail running, unless the trail is relatively flat and packed.   

OutsoleRubber 
MidsoleDNA LOFT EVA cushioning
UpperMesh, reinforced toe box
Heel-to-Toe Drop12 mm
Price$85-$130

Best Energy Gels: Maurten Gel 100

Good for: Distance runners who need a quick, dense source of calories that doesn’t taste like complete garbage 

Best Energy Gel

Maurten Gel 100

GGR Score: 4.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Single-serving energy gel 
  • Available with and without caffeine 
  • 100 g of carbohydrate uptake per hour 
  • 60% carbohydrates 
  • Uses hydrogel technology, so it is gel instead of a syrup

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No added colors, preservatives, or flavors
  • Vegetarian and vegan
  • Available with or without caffeine
  • Only 6 ingredients
  • No allergens
  • Extremely positive customer reviews

Cons

  • Limited reviews
  • Comparatively expensive at more than $3.50 per packet
  • Only available in unflavored option

Bottom Line

Maurten Gel 100 provides energy for your workout with only six ingredients and without any additional colors, flavors, or preservatives. Maurten shares that they use hydrogel technology, which makes their gel actually a gel instead of a syrup like many other “gels.” They also share that their gel is 60% carbohydrates and results in the absorption of 100 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Customer reviews for this product are very positive. There were some complaints about the high price, but customers did love the product.

“Run fast, eat slow” is a popular mantra among runners. But a nice, relaxed meal isn’t an option on race day or during a long, grueling session. Want to run fast for a long time? You’ll need a dense source of calories and quick-digesting carbs and electrolytes that’s portable and easy to eat. That’s hard to come by. 

My favorite way to delay and prevent bonking (read: hitting a wall) during a long run is to keep a pack of the best running gel, Maurten Gel 100, in my running pack. The ingredients list is just water, glucose, fructose, calcium carbonate, gluconic acid (maintains the balance of electrolyte solutions), and sodium alginate (gelling agent). The consistency is more like Jell-O, making it easier to handle while running or cycling.

maurten gel 100
The texture of Maurten Gel is unlike that of any other gel I tried.

Flavor-wise, it tastes like sugar water. The light taste and texture makes it easy to get down during heavy exercise. There is 0.8 grams of fructose to every 1 gram of glucose in this gel, which is very close to the 2-to-1 ratio recommended by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I always feel great when I use Maurten gels.

RELATED: Best Pre-workout 

FlavorsUnflavored
Key IngredientsWater, glucose, fructose, calcium carbonate, gluconic acid (maintains the balance of electrolyte solutions), and sodium alginate (gelling agent)
Price$44

Best Fitness Tracker for Runners: Garmin Forerunner 55 

Good for: Runners who want a GPS watch that can track heart rate, pace, and distance 

Best Fitness Tracker for Runners

Garmin Forerunner 55

Product Highlights

  • Running-specific smartwatch 
  • 5 running profiles available 
  • Tracks upward of 20 metrics 
  • Classic circular watch face

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Touchscreen display
  • In-depth running metrics
  • Water-resistant face
  • Integrated GPS
  • Sweatproof silicone band
  • Up to 2 weeks of battery life
  • 5 running activity profiles available

Cons

  • Somewhat bulky; may be too big for smaller wrists
  • Amount of features can be overwhelming at first

Bottom Line

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is a multisport watch, but it has several features that make it advantageous for runners.

You can track literally anything you can think of with the Garmin Forerunner 55. Although most Garmin watches can be used to track running-specific metrics, this specific fitness tracker takes run stats to a whole new level. 

With this water-resistant, anti-glare smartwatch, you can select from five different running profiles to best match the type of workout you’re doing and track things like time, distance, pace, cadence, and recovery time. 

The Garmin Forerunner 55 also collects data for a ton of wellness and health metrics, including various heart rate measurements (resting, active, sleeping, abnormally high and abnormally low); breathing rate, sleep stats, calories, steps, VO2 max, and stress. 

With this running watch, you can gather a complete picture of your health and fitness, and understand how your daily habits affect your running performance. 

Running profilesRunning, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Virtual Running
Other Running FeaturesTime, distance, pace, cadence, run workouts, race predictor, pacing strategies
Key MetricsHR, respiration rate, sleep, VO2 max, recovery, calories, intensity minutes
Price$199.99

Best Running Sunglasses: Goodr The OGs Running Sunglasses

Good for: Runners who want an inexpensive but durable and comfortable pair of sunnies to wear for outdoor runs 

Best Running Sunglasses

Goodr The OGs Running Sunglasses

Product Highlights

  • Fully polarized lenses 
  • Shatter-proof, scratch-resistant, UV-protective
  • Durable plastic frame coated in grippy silicone 
  • Designed specifically for running

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Bounce-free frame
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Silicone grip on frame
  • Durable plastic frame
  • Fits snugly but not uncomfortably

Cons

  • Extremely limited colorways on Amazon
  • Only available in one size
  • Side coverage could be better

Bottom Line

Goodr The OGs Running Sunglasses are some of the best sport sunnies for the price. They’re nice, fashionable, and durable, and it won’t be the end of the world if you lose them.

As with most running accessories, bounce is a primary concern. If you weren’t aware, running with sunglasses becomes extremely problematic and annoying if said glasses bounce around all over your face while running. Who wants the bridge of their nose repeatedly smacked for 30 minutes to an hour? 

These classic Wayfarer-type sunglasses sit snugly on the face without being too tight. They don’t bounce, but they don’t squeeze the sides of your head either. Additionally, they feature a grippy silicone material all around the frame so they won’t slip even during the sweatiest runs. 

Finally, the lenses are fully polarized to enhance your vision during runs. They’re also anti-glare, scratch-resistant, shatter-proof, and UV-protective. Doesn’t get better than that for a pair of sunnies under $40!

Lens featuresPolarized, anti-glare, scratch-resistant, shatter-proof, UV-protective
StyleWayfarer 
FrameDurable plastic with silicone grip

Best Running Water Bottle: Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Handheld Water Bottle

Good for: Runners who only need to carry a small amount of water and don’t mind a handheld bottle

Best Running Water Bottle

Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Handheld Water Bottle

Product Highlights

  • Handheld water bottle with zippered pouch
  • Holds 18 oz of fluid 
  • Dishwasher-safe 
  • Double-wall insulation 
  • Adjustable strap and thumb loop so bottle stays locked in-hand

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Zippered pouch holds most phones
  • Can fit small personal items like car keys
  • Great for short to mid-distance runs
  • Double-wall insulation keeps liquid cool

Cons

  • Only holds 18 oz of fluid
  • Pouch is hard to detach
  • Zipper isn’t super durable
  • Doesn’t fit all larger smartphones

Bottom Line

The Nathan SpeedDraw handheld water bottle is a great option for runners who typically run short or mid-distances, from one mile to a 10K. It sits securely in-hand thanks to the adjustable strap and the pouch can fit most smartphones.

For runners who don’t need a 1.5-liter hydration vest and just need to keep their palate wet on shorter runs, the Nathan SpeedDraw Plus handheld bottle is one of the best running water bottles. This 18-ounce water bottle features an adjustable strap and thumb loop so the bottle is strapped to your palm, meaning you don’t have to actively hold onto it. This is a huge plus as squeezing your hand around an object is a huge waste of energy during runs. 

nathan speedraw bottle in hand

The bottle features a pop-top squeeze lid that allows runners to quickly take a swig while on-the-go, mid-stride even. I used a version of this water bottle for a couple of years before switching to a hydration vest when I started running longer distances. 

My only complaint is that the cloth pouch is tough to get off of the bottle when it’s time to clean the bottle. Also, some customer reviews report that the pouch isn’t big enough to hold all smartphones, but I never had an issue with my iPhone 10 or 11. 

MaterialPlastic bottle, mesh cloth pouch
Spout typeSqueeze, pop-top 
Water capacity18 oz
Price$36.99

Best Running Shorts for Women: Athleta High-Rise Mesh Racer 3” Short

Good for: Runners who prefer high-waisted shorts with a wide leg opening

Best Running Shorts for Women

Athleta High-Rise Mesh Racer 3” Short

Product Highlights

  • High-rise, thick waistband 
  • 3” inseam 
  • Mesh panels for breathability 
  • Continuous drawcord 
  • Pocket!

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High-rise fit
  • Pockets!
  • Extremely breathable fabric
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Lightweight
  • Wide leg opening
  • Don’t ride up

Cons

  • Limited sizing (no petite or plus)
  • Only 3 colors
  • Runs a bit large (size down if in between)

Bottom Line

The Athleta 3” Mesh Racer Shorts are some of the best high-waisted running shorts available, featuring a wide leg opening, thick waistband, a pocket, and quick-drying, snag-resistant fabric.

Finding high-waisted running shorts has been a years-long battle for me. I can’t understand why it’s so hard to find loose shorts with a wide leg opening that are also high-rise. Why do biker shorts get all of the high-rise love?! 

a woman wearing athletic clothes with a mountain background

Anyway, I found these high-rise run shorts from Athleta and I am hooked because they are some of the best workout shorts for women. I only have one pair, but as I write this, I’m considering buying a couple more. Constructed of a recycled polyester and Spandex blend, the Mesh Racer shorts provide the perfect blend of stretch and contour. 

I admit that the 3-inch inseam is a bit short for my liking, but they do have a soft liner to prevent any cheeks from showing. Plus, the fact that the waistband hits above my belly button and the leg opening is wide enough to where the fabric barely rubs my thighs is *chef’s kiss*. 

MaterialRecycled polyester/Spandex
Inseam3”
RiseHigh-Rise
PocketsYes
Price$49

Best Running Shorts for Men: Ten Thousand Session Short

Good for: Runners who want a pair of super lightweight, anti-chafe shorts with secure zippered pockets

Best Running Shorts for Men

Ten Thousand Session Short

Product Highlights

  • Customizable options
  • 5” or 7” inseam
  • Optional brief liner
  • 7 colors available 
  • Zippered pocket
  • Minimalist design 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Lightweight fabric
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Can opt for liner or exclude it
  • 2 inseam options
  • Anti-odor, anti-chafe liner

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Only one pocket

Bottom Line

Ten Thousand Session Shorts are a minimalist style of short designed to be lightweight and minimize bulk, featuring bonded hems and just one pocket.

I can’t personally vouch for a pair of men’s shorts, but two members of our team—Logan, our director of revenue operations and Coop himself—recommended these shorts as the best workout shorts for men

Based on the specs, I can see why: These pared-down, ultra-lightweight shorts are constructed of a breathable blend of polyester and Spandex; they feature bonded hems to reduce bulk; include an optional anti-chafe boxer brief liner; and have a zippered pocket to keep personal items secure. 

Available in a 5-inch or 7-inch inseam and in a variety of colors, the Ten Thousand Session Shorts are a go-to pick for runners who prioritize lightweight, high-performance technical clothing.

Inseam5” or 7”
FabricPolyester/Spandex blend
LinerOptional
SizingXS-XXL
Price$39-$68

Best Running Leggings for Women: Lululemon Fast and Free Leggings

Good for: Runners who like to train in tights and want a high-performance pair

Best Running Leggings for Women

Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tights

Product Highlights

  • Nulux™ Fabric with Lycra
  • Available in multiple inseam lengths
  • Breathable and sweat-wicking fabric
  • Fun colors 
  • High-rise fit 
  • Sizes from 0 to 20

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Don’t slip down when running
  • High-rise fit for full coverage
  • Several colors available
  • Ultra-soft
  • Wicks sweat away
  • Pocket

Cons

  • Bright colors show sweat easily
  • Fabric is somewhat thin
  • Expensive (3 digits)

Bottom Line

You really can’t argue that Lululemon produces some of the best-quality leggings on today’s market. The Fast and Frees are a fan favorite due to the soft, moisture-wicking fabric and high-rise fit.

I’m not a huge fan of running in leggings, so I asked our other product testers which pair they recommend for running specifically. Kate Meier, GGR head of content and two-time marathoner, was quick to chime in with the Lululemon Fast and Free as the best running leggings.

“The material is fantastic,” says Kate, self-proclaimed obsessee (is that a word?) of the Fast and Frees (don’t care, it rhymes). “They’re not the soft cotton-spandex that you overheat in,” Kate clarifies, and “They don’t have a seam at the bottom along the calf, so they don’t squeeze your legs unnecessarily when you do any plyo or running.”

And, importantly, she exclaims, they have a pocket for your phone and/or keys! 

Kate’s one complaint: “They have one of those single-loop, continuous drawstrings. One, I don’t think with pants like these most people need a drawstring, and two, it’s more annoying to try to tie a knot in these kinds of drawstrings and then undo it”

These high-rise tights are available in a few different lengths to suit various heights and preferences: Get them in a crop, 25-inch inseam, or full-length 28-inch inseam. There’s even a reflective option for runners who prefer to train at dawn, dusk, or (couldn’t be me) nighttime.

MaterialNulux™ Fabric with Lycra
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam19”, 23”, 25” or 28”
PocketsYes
Price$128

Best Foam Roller for Runners: Chirp Wheel 4-Pack

Good for: Runners who need a unique recovery tool to dig into the tough spots

Best Foam Roller for Runners

Chirp Wheel 4-Pack

Product Highlights

  • Pack of 4 rollers
  • Unique take on classic foam roller
  • Soft, sweat-resistant foam
  • Dense, durable plastic core
  • 500-lb weight capacity
  • Different sizes for different uses

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Available in 4 sizes
  • Comes as one package
  • Different diameters have different effects on muscle recovery
  • Soft foam
  • Strong plastic core
  • 500-lb weight capacity

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some customer reviews report plastic cracking
  • Bulky

Bottom Line

The Chirp Wheel is a new take on the classic foam roller that comes in different sizes to accommodate different needs and help with muscle recovery.

Recovering from a run is just as important as the run itself. If you want to help your favorite runner sooth their sore muscles after tough training sessions and races, consider gifting them a Chirp Wheel, a modern take on the classic foam roller which, in my opinion, has a tremendous advantage over the typical type. 

RELATED: Best Muscle Recovery Tools

Better yet, gift them the entire Chirp Wheel 4-Pack, which includes a 4-inch, 6-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch wheel. It may seem like overkill, but as the proud owner of a full Chirp Wheel set, I can tell you that all of the different sizes have their own set of benefits. 

chirp wheel in use

The 12-inch wheel, for example, provides an amazing stretch for your entire back and, for me, provides the sweet relief of a good back-cracking each time I use it. The 10-inch wheel allows you to dig a bit deeper into your back muscles; the 6-incher is great for use on the glutes, hamstrings, and quads; and the 4-inch wheel works wonders on the calves and neck. 

Chirp wheels are made of PVC-free plastic and sweat-resistant, high-density foam. They can support up to 500 pounds of weight. 

MaterialFoam, plastic
Width5”
Diameter4”, 6”,10”, 12”
Weight Capacity500 lbs
Price$119.99

Other Running Gear We’ve Used and Researched (and Other Gift Ideas) 

None of the above gadgets and gifts feel right for your runner? Here are some other products our team of testers has tried and researched. 

TriggerPoint foam roller: If a Chirp Wheel isn’t the right choice, a regular foam roller could do the trick. Swipe this classic TriggerPoint one for an easy, inexpensive gift. 

HOKA running shoes: If you’ve ever run in a race, you’ve seen a sea of HOKA shoes. This popular brand makes great options for runners who need exceptional cushioning and a lot of support. 

Headlamp: For runners who like to run outdoors in the early morning or late evening hours, a headlamp is essential for safety. I use a PETZL headlamp and haven’t had any complaints.

Blister care kit: Although my recommendations for Darn Tough socks and Brooks running shoes should help prevent blisters, they can still occur. A blister care kit is a great, inexpensive gift option. 

Anti-chafe balm: Chafing sucks. Help your runner prevent chafing with a tube of Body Glide or Chamois Butt’r from Amazon.

If all else fails, a gift card to their local REI, Nike, or other sporting goods store won’t disappoint. 

How I Chose the Best Gifts for Runners

Almost every product in this guide to the best gifts for runners has been personally handled and used by me—and what I haven’t used was recommended by our other product testers. Many of the products on this list are in my rotation of running tools still today. I’ve taken the gear on this list through many runs, from sprint interval sessions to tempo runs to long training runs and race days. 

Buying Guide (What to Look for in Gifts for Runners)

Every runner is different, so it’s hard to say that there are any universally great gifts. A few factors can help you make the right purchase, though. 

  • What distance does your runner run? Someone who runs shorter distances probably doesn’t need a 1.5-liter hydration pack, but would probably appreciate a small running belt or handheld bottle. 
  • What climate does your runner live in? Choose apparel, socks, and accessories based on their typical weather patterns. For instance, a runner in Washington State would probably love a headlamp since, in the winter, darkness persists into the morning and creeps back up in the early afternoon. 
  • What kind of terrain do they run on? Is your runner a trail runner or a road runner? They’ll have different preferences for shoes, apparel, and accessories. 

FAQs About Gifts for Runners

What does a runner need?

All runners need comfortable running shoes, moisture-wicking clothes, and a mode of hydration at a minimum. Other gear, including muscle recovery tools, race-day and long-run fuel, a fitness tracker, and a personal item belt, are optional but nice to have!

RELATED: How to Choose Running Shoes

What should I get my friend for running a marathon?

Great gifts for marathon runners include: running watches, hydration vests, moisture-wicking T-shirts and tanks, wellness products like sunscreen and anti-chafe balm, energy gels or chews, and tools to soothe sore muscles.

What are the best gifts for runners?

Our top picks for running gifts include: 
Best Running Belt: SPIBelt
Best Running Vest: Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Vest
Best Running Headphones: Shokz OpenRun Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones
Best Running Socks: Darn Tough Micro Crew Running Socks 
Best Running Shoes: Brooks Ghost 14
Best Energy Gels: Maurten Gel 100
Best Fitness Tracker for Runners: Garmin Forerunner 55 
Best Running Sunglasses: Goodr The OGs Running Sunglasses
Best Running Water Bottle: Nathan Handheld Water Bottle
Best Running Shorts for Women: Athleta High-Rise Mesh Racer 3” Short
Best Running Shorts for Men: Ten Thousand Session Short
Best Running Leggings for Women: Lululemon Fast and Free
Best Foam Roller for Runners: Chirp Wheel

Further reading

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