The Best Running Gear

Running is one of the most accessible forms of aerobic exercise: You can do it almost anywhere without needing a gym membership or expensive equipment. But although you can run while wearing just about anything, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a good time doing it. We spent more than 90 hours researching and testing running gear and enlisted the help of a current collegiate track coach (and former podiatrist), a former Runner’s World editor, and several of the most passionate runners on our staff to help us find the best gear to get you up and running.

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100 are very comfortable, easy to use, and good sounding. The band between the two earbuds is long enough to accommodate any head size yet short enough that the slack won’t snag or bounce noisily when you’re jogging. The BackBeat Fit 2100 has a battery life of seven-plus hours, so the pair will last for a week of training runs before you need to charge. The headphones also fit well on a wide variety of ears, have a sturdy feel, and come with a neoprene pouch that doubles as a smartphone armband. Overall, these aren’t as minimalist and satisfying to use as the 3150, but they still perform great and cost a lot less. 

If you want to free up your arms and not feel like one side of your body is heavier or bulkier because you have a big phone strapped to your arm, we recommend the SPIbelt Large Pocket running belt. The single stretch-fabric pocket can hold a large phone, cards, and keys. It can be adjusted from about 25 to 47 or more inches, so it shouldn’t bounce around during normal runs when tightened snugly. It isn’t water-resistant though, so contents can get a bit soggy, but its synthetic fabric wicks sweat well.

The Tune Belt Sport Armband had a straightforward design and was intuitive to use. It felt great around the arms and barely budged during our runs, so we didn’t have to worry about the armband shifting around tediously. The Tune Belt comes in a number of slightly different sizes for different iPhone models,

As the temperatures begin to fall, you can best keep your hands warm and dry with liner gloves. They make great stand-alone running gloves because they’re cozy enough to take the bite off a chilly morning while you warm up but not so thick that they get hot as your heart gets pumping. If temps get really cold, you can always add a shell or a mitten. We like merino liners because all of the natural sweat-wicking, odor-resisting characteristics that make the material great for socks apply to gloves as well.

If you want a waist-mounted bottle, the Nathan Trail Mix Plus 2 is your best bet. It has two 10-ounce bottles—for carrying both water and Gatorade, for example—that you can easily grab and replace while running, and its compartmentalized pack holds an XL phone, cards, keys, and gels. But with all of that weight to the back (or front), the belt can bounce or slide up unless worn snugly around your body’s smallest circumference

If our top pick is sold out or you do more high-intensity interval training than lifting, the Under Armour Ultimate Speed in women’s and men’s sizes is a good option. It performed just as well as the New Balance in workouts that included high-intensity intervals and plyometrics, with great traction and a secure, comfortable fit. This shoe has the best arch support of any of our picks and a slightly curved sole for facilitating running, walking, and general mobility.

If the Mizuno is out of stock in your size or you prefer lighter, less pillowy running shoes, the Under Armour Charged Bandit 3 is an excellent choice. Testers raved about this model’s true-to-size fit, seamless knit upper, and sprightly ride. One tester described it as “a solid all-arounder” and his—and others’—only real quibble was that the sole isn’t super-plush; runners who like more padding underfoot will be happier with our top pick.

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