As activities go, running has a range of excellent benefits: it’s not only known to reduce your risk of illness, including from cardiovascular disease, but it is also beneficial for mental health and wellbeing.
As a result, running is enjoying a boom in the UK. Research by Sport England showed that the number of people who went jogging outside last year increased by 731,000 and the NHS’s Couch to 5K app saw a surge in downloads as people turned to new forms of exercise during lockdown.
What’s more, research indicates that an estimated 7 million people turned to it during the pandemic to boost mental health – so much so, it proved more popular than meditation or yoga.
One of the best things about running is that you don’t need a costly gym membership, but there are plenty of tools and accessories that can help you on your journey and make your jaunts outside a little more fun.
So, whether you’re just getting started or are embarking on your 100th marathon, here you’ll find only the crème de la crème of running gear. From the best men’s running trainers to fitness trackers, here’s everything you need to set a new personal best.
The best running gear for 2021 is:
- Best trail running shoes – On Running cloudventure waterproof: £150, On-running.com
- Best running shoes – Saucony men’s endorphin speed: £154.99, Sportshoes.com
- Best running shorts – Columbia titan ultra II: £32.71, Hardloop.co.uk
- Best winter running jacket – Berghaus men’s hyper 100 jacket: £250, Berghaus.com
- Best running tights – Montane trail series running tights: £60, Montane.com
- Best running sunglasses – SunGod classics polarised 8KO: £55, Sungod.co
- Best running belts – FlipBelt classic: £28, Runnersneed.com
- Best running armbands – Proviz y-fumble reflective arm pocket, £14.99, Provizsports.com
- Best running headphones – Earfun air pro: £69.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best running watches – Garmin forerunner 945: £499.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best heart rate monitor – Kalenji dual ANT+/Bluetooth smart runner’s heart rate monitor belt: £29.99, Decathlon.co.uk
- Best running app – Strava: Free, Apple.com / Play.google.com
The best men’s running shoes
Whether you’re just starting out on Couch to 5K or you’re an experienced marathon runner, having the perfect pair of trainers is essential.
On Running cloudventure waterproof: £150, On-running.com
Best: Trail running shoes
If you’re just getting started with off-road running, you need a pair of shoes designed for the different terrain. In our review of the best trail running shoes, these trainers came out top on test, with our writer noting that no matter what your level of experience, it’s “a confidence-boosting shoe that will help you get off the beaten track without sacrificing speed”.
“Light, comfortable and very well-designed by the manufacturer, this is a shoe that will appeal to a wide selection of trail runners,” they said.
Saucony men’s endorphin speed: £154.99, Sportshoes.com
Best: Running shoes
If tarmac is your preferred terrain, these Saucony shoes took the top spot in our guide to the best men’s running shoes.
“Runners of every experience level are looking for a compromise between comfort and performance,” said our writer, and these trainers ticked both boxes by “imparting control and cushioning when running [and] responding well when it’s pure speed you’re after”. A great all-rounder.
The best men’s running clothing
Once you’ve found the perfect pair of shoes for your terrain, making sure you’ve got the best running clothing should be your next focus. From leggings to shorts, now’s the time to give your exercise wardrobe a refresh.
Columbia titan ultra II: £32.71, Hardloop.co.uk
Best: Running shorts
For training in warmer climes, running shorts are a must-have and these came out top in our review of the best. Providing comfort on long and short runs, they offered our writer a “much-wanted second-skin effect thanks to good design and quality materials that eliminate chafing and keep all your personal items secure”.
Montane trail series running tights: £60, Montane.com
Best: Running tights
As for winter running, leggings are the way to go. This pair shone supreme in our review of the best men’s running tights. With “a rugged design” and “excellent weatherproofing and warmth”, our writer praised for feeling “reassuringly strong and durable”.
Boasting an anti-odour treatment, there’s also calf zips and a clever silicone ankle hem grip to keep the leggings securely in place above your trainers.
Berghaus men’s hyper 100 jacket: £250, Berghaus.com
Best: Winter running jacket
It’s not just leggings you’ll want for your colder runs – a jacket is also essential for keeping warm. This particular Berghaus number came out best on test in our review of men’s winter running jackets, with our writer praising it for “striking a fine balance between weight, waterproofing and breathability” and being “simply unbeatable”.
The best running accessories
Whether it’s a pair of headphones to keep you grooving through your jogs or a running app to track your distances, when it comes to achieving your personal best, having the right accessories on hand can make it just that little bit easier.
SunGod classics polarised 8KO: £55, Sungod.co
Best: Running sunglasses
Sprint into summer with these shades, which took the top spot in our guide to the best running sunglasses thanks to their ability to handle all weather conditions – from “snow glare to grey morning runs” – with ease.
As with other SunGod glasses, “the frame is light and flexible”, and while our writer dropped them on a hard surface from head height, they couldn’t spot any damage – “including to the lens, which has three layers of scratch protection”. And even if the worst did happen, they have a lifetime guarantee.
FlipBelt classic: £28, Runnersneed.com
Best: Running belt
If you’re looking for a means to carry all your bits and bobs, this trusty bit of kit can help. It’s just one piece of stretch fabric with no clips or zips. “A simple concept but so effective,” said our writer in the review of the best running belts.
“It doesn’t move an inch while you’re running and its soft, light, moisture-wicking material doesn’t chafe either,” they said, and, while it’s not waterproof, “it tends to sit underneath your running top so nothing gets too wet in a shower and the fabric offers some protection too”.
Proviz y-fumble reflective arm pocket: £14.99, Provizsports.com
Best: Running armband
If you’d rather forgo having to carry your phone around your waist, another great option is this arm pocket, which wowed our reviewer in our guide to the best running armbands. “It was easily the best on test for comfort thanks to its construction from a soft, stretchy material,” they said.
It “adapts to fit you – meaning there’s no way it can slip down your arms, regardless of how hard you’re pumping them”.
Earfun air pro: £69.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best: Running headphones
A quiet run without any music or podcast isn’t for everyone, so investing in a high-quality pair of headphones is always a good idea. And “the first thing you’ll notice when you press play on these buds is the crisp, sharp treble, big bass and the kind of noise-cancelling technology that you usually get with earphones double the price”, said our writer in his review of the best running headphones.
They come with “three sizes of silicone ear tips that make it easy to get a nice, tight inner ear seal and the buds are sweat- and water-resistant”. What’s more, “they are feature-packed and truly excellent value for money”.
Garmin forerunner 945: £499.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best: Running watch
For a tech-packed timepiece that will help you track and meet your fitness goals, look no further than the Garmin forerunner 945, which The Independent’s technology editor, Andrew Griffin, noted as being “as close to the ultimate running watch as currently exists” in his review of the best running watches.
“For your money you’ll get: your music synced to your watch; an almost befuddling amount of metrics on both your workout performance and your all-round health; full maps to plot out your long runs and adventures; a battery life that will last longer than you do; and top safety-tracking features,” he said.
Kalenji dual ANT+/Bluetooth smart runner’s heart rate monitor belt: £29.99, Decathlon.co.uk
Best: Heart rate monitor
To really help you push your fitness, a heart rate monitor can take your training to the next level. If you’re feeling unsure about which one to choose, turn to our review of the best, in which this chest strap was a firm favourite. Unlike others, it doesn’t connect to its own app, so you’ll need to link it to a device like a watch or running app, but for a mere £29.99, it’s “an absolute no-brainer”.
Best: Running app
Whether you’re after a little extra motivation, want to keep track of your runs or want to take your training to a whole new level, Strava took the top spot in our review of the best running apps.
“The app is probably best known for its ‘segments’” noted our writer, “which are small or sometimes very long sections of road or path, defined and named by users.” It means that “every time you run, you can measure yourself against your last effort on specific sections, helping you to track your training and fitness”.
“Strava also lets you analyse a wide range of data, including heart rate, power and cadence, with #statmaps – colour overlays of your GPS route – helping you understand how your elevation or pace may have changed across a run. Plus, you can use the app to find new routes, explore popular places for runners in your local area and set monthly or weekly milage goals.”
For the latest discounts on running gear and other sport equipment offers, try the links below:
Looking to get jogging? Read our beginner’s guide to running
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.