The 50 Best running gear

You don’t have to be training for a marathon to invest in the right kit. Whether you’re a casual jogger or a pro, Jonathan Thompson has all you need to start pounding pavements

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The Independent Online

The experts:

Joe Mackie is Deputy Editor of best-selling sports magazine ‘Runner’s World’ (

Cathy Brown is Personal trainer at Third Space and columnist with ‘Women’s Health’ (

Ryan McKinlay is Manager of the Runner’s Need flagship store in Holborn, London (

David Cooper is Operations manager at the Gymbox fitness chain (

John Byers is Welsh officer for REPS: The Register of Exercise Professionals (

Brian Cole is GB Ultra Marathon Runner and ambassador for nutrition brand Maxifuel (

Men's shoes:

Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2, £95

“These strike a perfect balance: incredibly light, yet incredibly stable,” says Brian. “When you’re on uneven ground you can rely on these to keep you steady.”

Adidas Adistar Ride 4, £110

“These are like the Tardis of trainers,” says Brian. “They pack tons of cushioning and technology into a lovely light shoe. They’re ideal footwear for fast-paced road runs.”

K-Swiss Men’s Blade-Max Stable, £100

“As a high-mileage stability shoe these will take some beating,” says Cathy. “Lightweight foam blades collapse and compress as you run, cushioning your foot on impact.”

Brooks PureFlow, £90

“If you want to dip a toe (or 10) into the lighter, stripped-down world of minimalist running without leaving the comfort of cushioning behind, then these are for you,” says Joe.

Saucony Kinvara 3, £95

“The Kinvara 3 somehow manages to deliver the best of all worlds,” says Joe. “It’s responsive, but also has a decent amount of support and plenty of flex.”


Women's shoes:

Nike Structure Triax+ 16, £100

“These will help correct any overpronation in your gait,” explains Ryan. “They use an ingenious system based on two densities of foam, giving your foot dynamic support.”

Asics GEL-KAYANO 18W, £138

“Ideal for those long and painful training runs,” says John. “The blend of cushioning and support equates to maximum comfort over maximum distance.”

Brooks Ghost 5, £99.99

“If your priority is a comfortable ride, then this shoe delivers,” says Joe. “You don’t get the ‘ground feel’ but it’s a small price to pay for floating through runs.”

Reebok RealFlex Active TR, £65

Built with ‘multi-directional flex nodes’ designed to help your feet move naturally. “These give you an increase in spring,” says Cathy.

Salomon XT Wings S-Lab 5, £116.95

“Available in soft or hard ground versions, these will handle any conditions Mother Nature cares to throw at you,” says Joe.



Gore Running Wear Classic baggy shorts, £31.99

“Gore delivers top quality on fabric, build and fit,” says Joe. “The fixed inner tights on these baggy men’s shorts offer chaffe-free comfort with plenty of support.”

Helly Hansen men’s pace tights, £50

“Packed with little touches to improve your comfort and performance, from reflective panels to lower-calf zips for swift on-off access over your trainers,” says David.

Arc’Teryx Solita women’s shorts, £50

“Flattering ladies cut, comfort and top-end performance combine in these fitted shorts with integrated briefs,” says Joe. “Good for runs or on the treadmill.”

Adidas Women’s Sequencials Brushed tights, £60

“A really good, tight fit, but also very breathable,” says Brown. “In other words, they’ll keep you warm, but also let the sweat out.”

Ashmei 2 in 1 shorts, £140

“A splurge on shorts for sure, but it pays back in quality, cut and runner-specific detailing,” explains Joe. “Those hard miles on the road are considerably more comfortable.”



Adidas Supernova Short Sleeve Tee, £28

“I love this top,” says Brian. “It’s made from ClimaCool fabric, so it pulls in cool air as it pushes the sweat out. I’ve got the long-sleeved version, too.”

Asics Women’s ½ Zip L/S Winter top, £60

“If you’re ever thinking twice about running on a cold day, owning this top will make up your mind,” says Cathy. “It  keeps you nice and toasty.”

Reebok Crossfit Performance top, £40

Chaffing is the nemesis of the female runner – but this top is your first line of defence. “The construction is ingenious,” says Cathy.

Odlo seamless RACE shirt, £100

“Minimal seams, a ‘zip garage’ under the chin and a ‘free move’ zone make this one of the most comfortable tops you’ll ever wear,” says Joe.

Nike Dri-Fit Wool Crew seamless RACE shirt, £48

“Designed to keep runners warm from the inside out, this top delivers the feel of merino wool with Nike’s wicking fabric technology,” says Joe.

Underarmour Cold Gear Longsleeve Compression Mock, £40

“Underarmour compression kit delivers a locked-in feel that keeps your posture correct,” says John.

Helly Hansen Pace Longsleeved ½ Zip Top, £55

This top pulls excess heat away from your skin during runs, while the half-zip at the chest gives you additional control of ventilation.

Rohan Ultra Silvertee, £28

Rohan claim this is “the lightest technical T-shirt in the world”. It’s very soft and unbelievably comfortable to wear. It also has clever anti-microbial technology.

SPIRO S176 training shirt, £14.50

“It’s lightweight, it’s breathable and it looks good,” says David. “But the big selling point here is that it’s also extremely good value.”

BAM Zip neck baselayer, £30

For runners who want to truly get back to nature, BAM’s eco-friendly bamboo clothing is worth checking out. The baselayer is also moisture wicking and anti-bacterial.



Nike Element Shield Max jacket, £130

“Comfortable for running and a great, stylish fit,” says Ryan. “It’s waterproof and wind resistant but, best of all, it’s got handwarmers built into the cuffs. Genius.”

Rohan Elite jacket, £225

Somehow, this jacket is constructed from three layers of technical fabric, but only weighs a puny 330g. It also folds down into a tiny pocket. No wonder Trail magazine has showered it with awards.

Adidas Women’s Sequencials Adiviz vest, £45

“This will make sure you’re always seen when you’re running home from work,” says Cathy. “It’s windproof and showerproof too, so will keep you warm.”

Haglofs Men’s Endo jacket, £230

“With this, wearing a waterproof for running no longer needs to feel like a compromise,” says Cathy. “The stretch woven chest pocket is handy, too.”

Franklin & Marshall Women’s Nylon and fleece hooded jacket, £127

“Perfect for warming up before races: it’s showerproof and has a fleece lining to maintain your body temperature,” says Cathy.



Sony NWZ-B173 4GB Walkman MP3 player, £35

“So lightweight you won’t notice it’s there at all,” says Cathy. “You get an impressive 90 minutes playback from just three minutes charging, too.”

Scosche Rhythm, £99.95

“A great way to track your training runs,” says Cathy. “You pair this with your iPhone or iPad and it measures your calories burned, speed, pace, route and distance.”

Garmin Ladies’ Forerunner 110 GPS watch, £152

“A GPS watch you can actually wear – rather than a clumpy computer,” says Brian. “It’s a heart rate monitor, too.”

Nike+ FuelBand, £129

“A great motivational tool to get yourself running,” says Ryan “The FuelBand tracks and measures your activity in terms of time, steps taken and calories burned.”

Suunto Ambit HR GPS watch, £400

“This is pretty much the Ferrari of GPS watches,” says David. “The 3D electronic compass will also help you score plenty of cool points.”



2XU X-Form Active Race Compression socks, £30

“Yes, you’ll look like a bit of a fruitcake wearing these, but they’ll work wonders for your legs, post-race,” says Brian. “I put them on after a long run.”

Thorlo Experia socks, £12.50

“Cushioned on the heel and forefoot, but light and thin everywhere else,” says Joe. “So they protect you from blisters but also keep your feet from getting hot and sweaty.”

Freya Active Performance Top with built-in sports bra, £56

Freya Active has mastered the balance between comfort and performance with this Coolmax top and built-in sports bra.

Extremeties Windy Lite gloves, £22

“When buying running gloves, you want a pair that are windproof, light and breathable. And these tick all three boxes,” says Brian.

SealSkinz Hi Vis Ultra Grip gloves, £32.50

“Waterproof, windproof, close fitting and breathable, these would be a top purchase, but the great grip make these an essential buy,” says Joe.

Bose SIE2i Sport headphones, £129.95

Bose’s first in-ear headphones, these have been designed for running. “Not only do they never fall out on the treadmill, but they’re sweat resistant, too,” says Cathy.

Oakley RadarLock Path sunglasses, £195

“These were worn by a number of athletes during the Olympics,” says Joe. “The interchangeable lenses are easy to switch and allow you to adapt to different lights.”

Salomon XA 20M rucksack, £60

“This is a snug fit and everything’s in the right place,” says Brian. “The extra shoulder pocket means you can access sports gels during a race without stopping.”

Hilly Hydrafuel waist pack, £16.99

Great for storing energy tablets and gels for longer runs, this pack also has an earphone outlet if you prefer to run to music but like to keep your arms unencumbered.

Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream, £7.19

“The last thing you want on a long run is chaffing and this cream – which contains Shea butter – is very popular as an antidote to that scenario,” says John.

Sidas Flashfit Custom running insoles, £69

Profeet’s ‘Express Custom Running Service’ offers gait analysis before the custom moulding of Flashfit insoles into your ideal running shoes.

Ron Hill Vizion LEDcap, £19.99

“A great wicking cap, with a magic button,” says Ryan. “Press it and you activate three LED lights. Not only can you see where you’re going, but are seen by other road users, too.”

JanSport Catalyst Pack, £84.99

At a weight of 1lb 8oz, this bag is all about minimalism and ease of movement. The addition of a sternum strap means it fits firmly into the small of your back.

Nike Wool Skully, £12.99

“This Nike Wool Skully pulls sweat away from your skin, while flat seam construction adds comfort and reflective details keep you visible,” says John.

Yoshie & Nico SHOCKSOCK Reflective iPhone Sports Armband Holder, £9.99

“This armband, with screen protector and controls access, is invaluable,” says John.

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