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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.

Putting in Miles Since 2010 

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

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
The 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. Along with your phone, the SPIbelt can hold your keys, credit card, ID, and energy gels. However, many reviewers found it difficult to fit more than a phone.SPI claims the belt is bounce free and will not ride up or move around while you run. The belt fits waist sizes from 25 to 47 inches. SPI also sells a belt expander which increases the waistband size by 12 inches. The sturdy buckle and glides are designed to hold up during even the longest runs and the soft elastic is designed to prevent chafing.The SPIbelt is popular among runners for being lightweight and holding essentials securely without bounce. Customers have also used this belt for cycling, walking, and visiting theme parks. Many buyers even returned to purchase a second belt as a gift.People that disliked the belt complained of difficulty getting their phone in the pocket or being unable to fit anything along with their phone. People have also complained about not being able to get a single item out of their belt: When they unzipped their belt every item inside would fall out.

Pros:

  • Small and discreet
  • Doesn’t bounce
  • Fits most waist sizes 
  • Adjustable 
  • Easy to zip and unzip while running
  • Affordable (under $30)
  • Compatible with all phones (stretchy!)
  • Can also use for hiking and biking

Cons:

  • Not recommended to machine-wash and dry
  • Lackluster color options
  • If it’s not tightened right, it’ll twist around while running

It took me years—years!—to find the perfect 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

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
Osprey Duro 1.5 Running Hydration 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.The vest supports (and comes with) a 1.5-liter hydration bladder, which funnels through the included tube and mouthpiece. The vest also features a magnetic clasp for the reservoir tube so it doesn't flop around while running.This vest is bounce-free even with snacks, water, a phone, and keys stored in its many pockets.Our only callout is that the sizing is limited (S/M and M/L) and women with larger busts may have a hard time determining which size fits.

Pros:

  • Stores up to 1.5 liters of water
  • Water reservoir and tube included
  • Magnetic clasp keeps water tube out of the way
  • Breathable mesh construction
  • Multiple pockets for small item and snack storage 
  • Safety whistle attached to vest 
  • Adjustable stretch chest straps 
  • Completely bounce-free

Cons:

  • Limited sizing: S/M and M/L
  • Customer reviews indicate sizing is tough for women with larger busts 
  • Material rubs on the back of arms a bit 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. I use this 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

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
Shokz OpenRun Waterproof Bone Conduction 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, bypassing the ear canal. This allows you to listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts while maintaining awareness of your surroundings because your ear canal is not blocked.The OpenRun headphones have a wireless connection distance of 33 feet, are IP67 waterproof, and have a lab-tested eight hour battery life. making them prepared to hold up for whatever workout you have in store. If your headphones die, the quick charge technology allows you to charge your headphones for 1.5 hours of use in just ten minutes of charging. The headphones charge via a magnetic induction cable and the headphones have a moisture detection alert to keep your headphones working well.Users have enjoyed these lightweight comfortable headphones that still allow them to hear road traffic while cycling or running. Other users complained of the headphones dying after two to three hours of use despite having a full charge. They also struggled with the volume not being loud enough. Many users experienced broken headphones after weeks or months of use; with sound cutting out in one headphone, broken buttons, or failure to charge.

Pros:

  • High-fidelity sound
  • Bone conduction technology allows you to hear environmental noise
  • Makes outdoor runs with music safer 
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable, flexible headband 
  • Lightweight 
  • Available in two sizes 
  • Built-in mic for talking on the phone
  • Bluetooth-enabled (no cords)
  • Up to 8-hour battery life

Cons:

  • Takes some getting used to the style
  • Can be annoying with certain hairstyles (e.g., ponytail at the back of the head)
  • Loud beep when pressing buttons

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 most motivational playlist 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. 

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

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

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

Darn Tough Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running Socks are a blend of nylon, merino wool and Lycra/Spandex. These socks are available with or without extra cushion. They have arch support, which Darn Tough claims reduces foot fatigue. Darn Tough also claims these socks won’t slip, bunch, or create blisters. They’re built to last with extra durability in the heel, footbed, and outside toes and Darn Tough unconditionally guarantees them for life.Due to the merino wool, Darn Tough socks should not be machine-washed, but even if you do machine-wash them you retain the lifetime guarantee. It is recommended that you hand wash the socks while inside-out and air dry them.Customers love these socks for their thin profile and comfiness. They are both warm during the winter and cool during the summer because of the merino wool. Customers love wearing these socks for long runs and hikes. Some users found the top of the sock to be uncomfortably tight around their calves, though.

Pros:

  • Made of high-quality Merino wool
  • Sweat-wicking 
  • Full coverage for heels and ankles 
  • Available in many fun colors and designs 
  • Wearable for winter running, summer running, and everything in between
  • Targeted cushioning in the underfoot 

Cons:

  • Expensive for socks
  • Only sold in pairs, not packs

I first bought Darn Tough socks for hiking and backpacking, knowing that Merino wool was the perfect all-season fabric for outdoor adventures. 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. 

darn tough micro crew pair

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). 

MaterialMerino wool
SeasonAll seasons
CushioningYes, underfoot
SizingS, M, L 

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
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 that need neutral support and want a moderately cushioned feel. The Ghost is available in sizes 5.0 to 13.0 with half sizes and three widths: wide, medium and narrow.The Ghost 14 is Brooks' first carbon neutral shoe, which Brooks achieved via recycled materials, decreasing manufacturing waste, and purchasing carbon offsets.Brooks states that the Ghost 14 has softer cushioning, smoother transitions, and an improved fit. A big change from the previous Ghost model is the midsole cushioning. Now the entire midsole uses DNA LOFT technology, rather than a combination of DNA Loft and BioMogo DNA foam.This creates an even softer run because DNA LOFT, a combination of EVA foam, rubber, and air, is Brooks' softest midsole technology. Smoother transitions are achieved with the softer midsole and a segmented crash pad. The segmented crash pad is a series of shock absorbers shaped like a caterpillar to help heel-to-toe transitions regardless of your foot landing. The improved fit is achieved via 3D-printed upper, which helps add structure to the upper while maintaining flexibility.The Ghost 14 has mixed reviews. Many reviewers loved that the Ghost is available in three widths. Additionally, they loved the soft, cushioned feel. However, long-time Ghost users disliked the 14. Many even say this is the worst Ghost ever in their reviews. They complained that the toe box felt too narrow and they experienced joint pain after going for a run in the 14s.

Pros:

  • Moderate cushioning and heel-to-toe drop
  • Reinforced toe box
  • Easy to slip on and off without unlacing (if that’s your thing) 
  • Laces stay put
  • Design assists with stride transitions
  • Enough cushion for soft landings
  • Thick outsole lugs last a long time

Cons:

  • Low-cut, so not much ankle support – wouldn’t recommend for trail running
  • Lots of sizes are often sold out online
  • Not waterproof

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. 

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

Best Energy Gels: GU Energy Chews

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

Best Energy Gels
GU Energy Chews Variety Pack
GU Energy Chews Variety Pack

GU Energy Chews are an alternative to energy gels when trying to stay energized during long exercise sessions. They are designed to have one serving, eight chews, every 45 minutes while exercising. Each bag has two servings, so you’ll have enough fuel for even your longest training sessions or races.Each GU Energy Chew has branched-chain amino acids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. The strawberry flavor also has caffeine. GU Chews use two types of carbohydrates (maltodextrin and fructose) in non-competing pathways to maximize absorption.According to GU, the branched-chain amino acids might help to reduce mental fatigue, decrease muscle damage and jump-start recovery. Finally, the chews have sodium to replace what is lost in sweat and help with hydration. GU reports that the chews will take about 10-15 minutes to have an impact when taken on an empty stomach.The chews have very mixed reviews on taste. Many people found the chews tasty and easy to eat while on runs or bikes. They liked that the chews were much less messy than the gels. However, some people found the pouch difficult to open, but buyers fixed this problem by cutting open the bag prior to their workout for easier access to the chews. They also found them very chewy, dense, and sticky, to the point they are difficult to eat while exercising.

Pros:

  • Taste and texture are much more palatable than gels 
  • Available in multiple flavors
  • Can buy in bulk for a discounted price
  • Only one flavor (strawberry) is caffeinated 
  • Contains quick-digesting sugar and electrolytes

Cons:

  • Takes a while to chew and swallow
  • Comes in packs of several servings; would like to see smaller packs
  • Expensive

“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. 

gue energy chews close up

My favorite way to delay and prevent bonking (read: hitting a wall) during a long run is to keep a pack of GU Energy Chews in my running pack. Available in four flavors, one of which is caffeinated (strawberry), these are the best-tasting source of quick fuel I’ve come across. And I’ve tried many. 

These chews are the only thing I can force down during a long run or race without wanting to vomit it back up, honestly. And they really work—if you time your chews correctly, you’ll never experience the severe dip in energy that often occurs during long training sessions. 

Related: Best Pre-workout 

FlavorsStrawberry, Blueberry Pomegranate, Watermelon, Orange
Key IngredientsMaltodextrin, fructose, sodium, branched-chain amino acids, caffeine 

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
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, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Virtual Running, HIIT, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Pilates, and Yoga.The watch also tracks a number of running-specific metrics, including time, distance, pace, cadence, run workouts, race predictor, pacing strategies; as well as wellness metrics like heart rate, respiration rate, sleep, VO2 max, recovery, calories, intensity minutes.The sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display has a resolution of 208 x 208 pixels and the watch has a water rating of 5 ATM, which means it can withstand depths of up to 50 meters.

Pros:

  • In-depth running metrics
  • Suggests training sessions based on performance
  • Touchscreen display
  • Cross-training activity profiles available 
  • Sweatproof silicone band
  • Water-resistant face
  • Up to 2 weeks of battery life
  • Integrated GPS 
  • 5 running activity profiles available

Cons:

  • Bulky watch face
  • A bit overwhelming to figure out all of the features
  • May be overkill for casual 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

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
Goodr The OGs Running Sunglasses

It’s tough to find good sport sunglasses that A) don’t bounce around, B) don’t slip once you work up a sweat, and C) don’t break the bank.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.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Fun branding
  • Available in many colors 
  • Snug but comfortable
  • Don’t bounce while running

Cons:

  • Only one size
  • Limited colors available on Amazon
  • Side coverage isn’t the best

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
Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Handheld Water Bottle

For running distances up to a 10K (6.2 miles), you don’t really need to carry that much water. Something like a running hydration vest that holds a liter or more of water is kind of overkill. Enter: handheld water bottles like the Nathan SpeedDraw.This water bottle comes equipped with an attached zippered pouch that fits most smartphones and, depending on the size of your phone, can fit additional small personal items such as car keys as well.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!

Pros:

  • Strap holds bottle in place in palm
  • Squeeze spout makes for quick, easy sips
  • Attached zip pouch holds small personal items
  • Double-wall insulation

Cons:

  • Only holds 18 oz of fluid
  • Pouch doesn’t hold all phones
  • Hard to get the pouch off to wash the bottle

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 a great option. 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

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
Athleta High-Rise Mesh Racer 3” Short

It seems high-waisted running shorts are magical unicorns that only appear every so often and usually, they’re not that great. We’re not sure why biker shorts get all of the high-rise love, and we wish there were more high-rise running shorts.Finally, we found these Mesh Racer Shorts from Athleta, and we bought them in every color we could. (There are only three, unfortunately.) Still, our product testers are more than pleased with these Athleta shorts thanks to the wide leg opening, breathable fabric, mesh panels that allow extra air flow, comfortable cotton liner, and wide waistband.

Pros:

  • High-waisted (!!!)
  • Wide leg opening
  • Breathable mesh panels
  • Stretchy 
  • Pockets (!!!)
  • Sweat-wicking fabric 
  • Machine-wash and dry
  • Wrinkle-resistant

Cons:

  • Kinda short (3” inseam)
  • Only available in 3 colors
  • Runs slightly large (size down if in between)

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. 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

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
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.To reduce bulk in these shorts, Ten Thousand has pared down storage to just one zippered pocket, incorporated bonded bottom hems, and made the antimicrobial silver ion liner optional.The shorts come in seven color options and sizes from XS to XXL. You may also choose to order them with a 5-inch or 7-inch inseam based on your height and/or preferences.

Pros:

  • Breathable, moisture-wicking fabric
  • Zippered pockets to keep items secure
  • Bonded hems
  • Optional brief liner 
  • 2 inseam options
  • 7 colors available

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only 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 running 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

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
Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tights

For a super soft yet breathable, moisture-wicking pair of workout tights, check out Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tights. We probably don’t have to say much more about them, to be honest—most everyone knows that Lulu is quality and Lulu is expensive.But we’ll go on: We love these leggings for the way they stay put even during the most intense workouts and the sweatiest runs, and for the fact that they’re available up to size 20 and in many fun colors.We don’t necessarily love that the fun, bright colors show sweats so easily, but it comes with the territory. We also don’t love the price, but at least we know our Fast and Frees will last for years to come.

Pros:

  • High-rise waist
  • Pockets
  • No bottom seam
  • Reflective option available 
  • Soft but sweat-wicking
  • Compressive but not too tight

Cons:

  • Expensive (as are all Lululemon clothes)
  • Fabric is somewhat thin
  • Continuous drawcord is more annoying than functional

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, was quick to chime in with the Lululemon Fast and Free 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

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
Chirp Wheel 4-Pack

Foam rollers are a well-known and well-established way to promote muscle recovery. The Chirp Wheel is a new take on that classic and, boy oh boy, is it interesting. The Chirp Wheel comes in four different sizes: a 12-inch diameter; 10-inch diameter, 6-inch diameter, and 4-inch diameter. These all have different purposes.The 12-inch Chirp Wheel is perhaps the most experiential one. It's unlike any classic foam roller with the usual 5-inch diameter. The large Chirp Wheel fully stretches out your back, promoting lumbar and thoracic extension simultaneously. It's a great way to unwind from a day of sitting at a desk with your shoulders hunched over.The 10-inch wheel digs a bit deeper into muscle tissue; the 6-inch wheel is great for general use; and the 4-inch one is great for targeting smaller areas like the neck and calves.Constructed of a durable plastic core covered in soft, sweat-resistant foam, Chirp Wheels are a great investment for your mobility and recovery routine.

Pros:

  • Designed to dig into trigger points
  • Weight capacity of 500 pounds
  • 4 sizes target different focus areas 
  • Spinal groove keeps spine comfy and safe
  • Sweat-resistant padding

Cons:

  • Bulky to store (but can buy a stand to help)
  • Not very portable except the 4” wheel
  • Some customer reviews report the wheel’s plastic cracking

Recovering from a run is just as important as the run itself. If you want to help your favorite runner soothe 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. 

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

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: GU Energy Labs Chews
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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