Footwear

The Best Gear for Summer Trail Runs

Warm weather means it's time to go farther, and get there faster. Here are our top picks for summer trail runs, from smooth singletrack to alpine ridges.

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Want to make the most of your limited time on the trail? Go faster. Tying on your running shoes and picking up the pace provides an entirely new way to see familiar trails, and lets you squeeze more mileage into your afternoons and weekends. Get started with our favorite trail running gear of the summer.

Salomon Sense Ride 2

Salomon Sense Ride 2
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Running shoes are the most important part of this kit, and it’s important to find a pair that fits correctly. That’s why we like the Sense Ride 2, which accommodates a wide variety of runners: The spacious but not-too-wide toe box plays nice with most foot shapes, an 8-millimeter heel drop hits a versatile sweet spot, and the EVA midsole provides moderate cushion that maximizes comfort without losing sensitivity on the trail. The Sense Ride 2 has a breathable mesh upper, and our tester says it usually dried by the end of a run if her feet got wet. She wore this shoe on rough scrambles through Colorado’s Gore Range and during high alpine marathon races, but her feet never suffered. Buy Salomon Sense Ride 2 now for $120

1 lb. 3 oz.; m’s 7-14, w’s 5-12

Stio Second Light Short

Stio Second Light Short
Stio

Fussing with your shorts is a sure way to break your flow, so good thing the Second Light’s airy, ripstop nylon material feels like you’re wearing almost nothing at all. The fabric is thin enough to breathe easily and dry quickly, but not so thin that it’s see-through. Even so, after a summer full of scramble-filled runs across Colorado’s Tenmile Range, our tester pair didn’t sustain any signs of wear. The inseam—8 inches for men and 4 inches for women—hits the sweet spot of providing enough coverage without getting in the way. Buy Stio Second Light Short now for $79

$79; 5 oz. (men’s M); m’s S-XL, w’s XS-XL

Nathan VaporAir 7L 2.0 Hydration Vest

Nathan VaporAir 7L 2.0
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Long runs and adventurous days call for more gear and snacks, so you’ll need something to hold it all securely. The VaporAir fits snug in all the right places, with ample compression straps along the sides and chest that help the pack cling to your body. (It comes in men’s- and women’s-specific versions for a tailored fit.) Dual top-loading pockets on the back hold a bladder and extra layers, while a side-zippered pocket fits snacks and a headlamp. The included HydraPak bladder holds 2 liters of water, and we stuffed everything from gummy worms to sports bars and a cell phone in the front chest pockets to sustain us during all-day endeavors. Buy Nathan VaporAir 7L 2.0 Hydration Vest now for $150

12.2 oz.; two sizes each, m’s and w’s

Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Tech Tee / Merino Sport 150 Tank

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Summer heat calls for ultrabreathable apparel. The Merino Sport 150 Tech Tee (for men) and Tank (for women) use body-mapping to combat swampiness on the toastiest days. Mesh paneling—under the arms in the tee and along the back in the tank—increases airflow where it’s needed most. Our heavy-sweating tester wore the tank for 85°F runs on Colorado’s Uneva Pass and didn’t have to wring it out afterward; she also praised the high neckline for extra sun coverage. Buy Smartwool Merino Sport Tech Tee now for $65 / Buy Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Tank now for $60

4.7 oz. (m’s M); m’s S-XL, w’s XS-XL

Skratch Labs Passionfruit Sport Hydration Drink Mix

Skratch Labs Passionfruit Sport Hydration Drink Mix
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Some hydration mixes taste better than others, and some are packed with the nutrients you need. Skratch Lab’s Passionfruit Sport Hydration Mix excels in both categories. Our testers thought it tasted better than most other electrolyte drinks they’d had with a just-right sweetness level, so they never got taste fatigue even on six-hour runs. And unlike many other drink mixes on the market, Skratch Labs doesn’t use unnecessary fillers—it’s just sugar, fruit, electrolytes, and minerals like magnesium and potassium that provide an extra boost when you need it. Buy Skratch Labs Passionfruit Sport Hydration Drink Mix now for $20 (15.5-ounce bag)

Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto 9 Baro
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For some runners, tracking training is vital their success; for others, it’s just fun to have all the data at their fingertips. Whichever type you are, the Suunto 9 Baro captures it all. This is a versatile, multisport GPS watch with myriad features, including a touch screen, heart-rate monitor, a barometer, and more than 80 built-in sport modes. The user interface is intuitive, and the battery life is exemplary—in certain modes, it offers 120 hours of GPS tracking. One tester brought the 9 Baro on a three-day trip in southern Utah and used it constantly—tracking runs, bike rides, and hikes—and never needed to top up. Buy Suunto 9 Baro now for $599

2.8 oz.; one size

Patagonia Houdini Air

Patagonia Houdini Air
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Ideally, you want to pack as little as possible on trail runs—but sometimes the forecast calls for an extra layer. When that was the case, one tester found herself constantly reaching for the Houdini Air. This updated version is even more breathable than the previous Houdini, and its nylon-polyester fabric feels softer against the skin and wicks better, too. “I kept this shell on even when temps creeped into the 70s on a windy run up Cable Mountain in Zion National Park,” our tester says. “I never got even a hint of the trash bag feel that plagues most windshells.” The Houdini Air doesn’t stand up to downpours, but it can handle drizzles and short cloudbursts. Plus, it’s unbelievably packable: You can ball it up to fit in your fist. Buy Patagonia Houdini Air now for $169

4.1 oz. (m’s M); m’s S-XL, w’s XXS-XL

Smith Caravan MAG

Smith Caravan MAG
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Protecting your eyes from the sun is crucial, especially on long runs above tree line. The Caravan MAG blends function and style, so you’re not stuck with an ultrasporty pair of shades that you only use for running. But that’s not the best part: It comes with two sets of easily interchangeable ChromaPop polarized lenses—one for high light and one for low—and the transition takes less than a minute. We used the dark lens for bluebird runs along Colorado’s Front Range and then swapped to the lighter-tinted one for dawn and dusk missions, and enjoyed great clarity and contrast all day. Flexible rubber ends on the arms help the glasses stay put while avoiding pressure points. Buy Smith Caravan Mag now for $249

Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat

Patagonia Duckbill Trucker
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We have a love-hate relationship with our running hats: We know we need to keep the sun off of our faces, but we also want our heads to breathe as much as possible. The Duckbill Trucker makes that problem moot. Our hat-hesitant tester found herself reaching for this cap every time, thanks to its comfortable fit and mesh paneling on the back and sides that’s both soft and breathable. A DWR finish means this hat sheds water in drizzles. Bonus: It stuffs into a pack or pocket without losing structure, and it’s stylish enough to wear off the trail. Buy Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat now for $35

2.2 oz.; one size