If you have a runner on your Christmas list and don’t know what to get them, check out some of my gift ideas. I have used all of these things for years and promise they will be welcome gifts.
Epic Bison Bacon and Cranberry bars ($25 for 12)
Think of these bars as a more flavorful beef jerky that’s soft, easy to chew and packs in the protein. I can eat them while running ultramarathons when I need something savory and solid in my stomach without having to worry about feeling sick.
Camelbak Quick Grip Chill water bottle ($20-$27)
By far the best hydration solution I’ve found. The top has a self-opening valve, so just squeeze and the water comes out. The bottle is insulated to help keep your water cool in the summer and not frozen in the winter. Comfortable strap (I’ve carried mine on several 100 milers) and ample storage. Much easier to drink from than a bladder, especially when you’re racing and working hard.
OK, first let me say that $14 seems ridiculous for a pair of socks… I’m a really cheap guy, but these socks are amazing and I have about six pairs. I have never gotten a blister wearing these socks, even when running 50-mile trail runs IN THE RAIN! They also dry quickly and actually pull sweat away from your feet.
RooSport Magnetic Pouch ($27)
This is the way I’ve carried my iPhone on just about every run for the last three years. You wear it inside your waistband, but the top flap flips over the waistband and magnetically holds it in place. Very comfortable and has a zippered pouch for change or keys. PROTIP: to prevent any bounce, wear it in the front and to the side a little bit, right where your hip bends
Brooks Sherpa 2-1 shorts ($56)
These shorts have a light compression, full leg liner to prevent chafing, lots of pockets (two side, one zipper in back and one long one on the inner thigh) to hold nutrition and are totally unrestrictive. The cloth also holds very little water/sweat, so they don’t get weighed down when it’s hot or raining. These shorts are so comfortable, they are now the only ones I run in.
Pearl iZUMi Select Thermal Jrsy ($70-$100)
Yes, I know this is a bicycle jersey/jacket, but I bought one years ago and it is my favorite running outerwear. It’s soft, stretchy and warm… it actually feels like a warm hug when you put it on. There are three big pockets on the back that can hold your phone and lots of grub without bouncing. It’s also sturdy as hell.
OLight S1A ($50)
This flashlight is a must have for anyone who runs at night. It’s small, powerful, has the control button on the side and runs on a single AA battery. On trails it will help you avoid tripping as a handheld light gives you better perception of the height of rocks and roots. On the road it will help keep you from getting hit by a car. I especially love that if you triple tap the button (double tap if it’s already on), you get a super bright strobe. I shine this at cars when I cross intersections and it really gets attention. If you don’t like wasting batteries, get this awesome $12 USB rechargeable LiIon battery that will also get you much more power out of the light.
This headlamp is the perfect balance of brightness, comfort, weight and battery duration. It uses 4 AAA batteries for longer life which makes it a little heavy, but I added a top strap and for races load it with Energizer Lithium batteries for twice the duration and half the weight. If I use the PowerTap feature to toggle between a low setting when I’m hiking uphill or running slowly and high when I’m bombing a downhill, I can get through an entire night race on one set of lithiums. Black Diamond also is awesome at customer service (see entry below).
This headlamp is super light, super well balanced, rechargeable and is perfect for road running and light trail running. It won’t get you through all-night run, but if you only need 5-6 hours it’s perfect. I especially love the PowerTap feature. Tap the side and it goes to full power. Tap again and it returns to whatever the previous brightness was. The brightness is infinitely adjustable and it also has red leds on the back for extra visibility. I had a previous model sprinter for years and the elastic had finally given up its stretch. I emailed BD about buying a new headband and instead they sent me the current model Sprinter for free… and didn’t even ask me to return the old one! That’s awesome customer service.
If you have a trail runner on your list, this thing is a must have. It is a light-weight UV water sterilizer that runs on AA batteries. Fill a water bottle from a stream, stick the light in it for 45 seconds and the water is safe to drink. Carrying loads of water is no fun and this is by far the fastest and most convenient way to purify water on the go. It’s also great for hiking or traveling to countries where the water isn’t safe.
Garmin Fenix 3HR ($300 for refurbished)
This isn’t the newest or fanciest GPS watch, but it does everything I need, is rock solid, locks onto satellites quickly, has a long battery life and is comfortable enough that I wear it all the time. It tracks all the normal things (speed, pace, distance, altitude, temperature), uploads run data through your phone, shows txt and Facebook messages and has a built in optical heart rate sensor. To be fair, no optical heart rate sensor is very accurate for running, but it’s nice to have for all day heart readings, resting heart rate, etc… For training by heart rate, a chest strap monitor should be used with the watch.