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Apparel & Accessories

Our 15 Favorite Running Products of 2018

Women’s Running’s editors share which products they trusted most while logging miles in 2018.

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It’s been quite a year for Women’s Running—we’re in the process of revamping our website and recently completed a complete redesign of our print magazine, which hits newsstands on December 18 (mark your calendars!). But through it all, our editors have continued logging miles before, during and after our days in the office, testing new shoes, apparel, gear, nutrition and so much more to provide our readers with honest feedback about the products in which they’re investing their time and money. There are tons of products currently on the market that we see as worthwhile; even so, there are a few pieces in particular that stand out, gear we find ourselves returning to again and again. To close out the year, Women’s Running asked its editors to share the 15 products they trusted most in 2018.

Nuun Immunity, $7

I’ve been a long-time fan of Nuun electrolyte tablets, but these Immunity tablets, which launched early this year, have been a lifesaver in my day-to-day life. Not only do they contain a mix of electrolytes to keep me hydrated, but they also give my immune system a serious immunity boost with more than just vitamin C. Nuun’s own unique mix of plant-based, nutrient-packed ingredients—specifically anti-inflammatories such as turmeric and ginger and antioxidants elderberry and echinacea—has done wonders in helping me fight off viruses from the very start, help me recover more quickly if I’m already sick and keep me healthy when traveling. Bonus: The two flavors, blueberry tangerine and orange citrus, are delish. —Bethany Mavis, managing editor

Suunto 9, $599

“This watch has everything. …” Whenever I strap the Suunto 9 around my wrist, I feel like I’m channeling Stefon from Saturday Night Live—because this watch really can do just about everything. Going for a run, bike ride, swim, hike? It’ll calculate your splits no problem. In fact, this watch has the ability to track activity engagement in more than 80 sports, and that’s on top of its GPS navigation tracking, heart rate monitoring and long-lasting battery life (it’s able to operate several days on a single charge). And if you really want to see the nitty-gritty details of your workouts (such as post-exercise oxygen consumption, peak training effect, daily step and calorie targets, etc.), the Suunto 9 provides those too, alongside training plans that’ll help shape your workout routine. —Meghan Roos, web editor

Under Armour SpeedPocket Shorts, $45

I tested these shorts for WR’s annual bra and bottom awards this year, and wow(!) was I impressed. I enjoyed the stretchy, moisture-wicking material, the slightly looser fit and the length (the 2.5-inch inseam didn’t ride up), but what really sold me was the large pocket built into the wide knit waistband. The pocket was large enough to fit my iPhone and a key, plus it had a water-resistant liner, so neither sweat nor rain got inside. Because of where the pocket is placed, the phone doesn’t bounce on the run so that I can comfortably run without anything in my hands. They’ve become my go-to run shorts this year. —Bethany Mavis

Hidrate Spark 2.0, $55

I’m not great about remembering to stay hydrated throughout the day. If it were up to me, I’d drink nothing but caffeine while in the office—but doing so doesn’t set any athlete up for success when it comes time to work out. This water bottle, though pricey, sits next to my computer and illuminates throughout the day, a gentle—and much appreciated—reminder to set my coffee cup aside and drink some H2O. Though it doesn’t have a handle, the bottle is shaped in a way that makes it easy to hold and features a cap that you can trust to remain closed when it’s not in use. (Even so, I’d advise against letting it flop around inside your bag or backpack, as I’ve known it to leak some water when the bottle’s left to its own devices.) —Meghan Roos

Hyperice Hypervolt, $349

This was my favorite product to come out of WR’s 2018 Tech Awards this year. While it may look like a torture device, it can deliver a pretty incredible self-massage to help you recover from hard runs or recover from injury. The cordless device uses vibration (three speed settings go up to 3200 percussions per minute!) for self-myofascial release, helping you relax sore and stiff muscles and restore motion. It’s a must for after long runs to accelerate your recovery and promote circulation, and with four interchangeable heads, you can use it for practically every muscle. The lightweight design (2.5 pounds) means you can take it with you when you travel, especially for destination races! —Bethany Mavis

Under Armour Horizon BPF, $130

Our editorial team tested dozens of shoes in 2018 to assess which we’d feature in our Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 shoe reviews. Every shoe included in these reviews stood out to our testers in some way, but there were some shoes that made an even stronger impression on the Women’s Running team—shoes we find ourselves pulling out of their boxes again and again. For me, Under Armour’s Horizon BPF has become my go-to trail shoe, a dependable tool I can use no matter what surface I plan to cover. The light weight makes me feel confident I can run for speed, and the small, thoughtfully placed lugs provide the kind of grip I need. It’s my first pick when I’m running trails for fun, and when I’m testing a new trail and am uncertain about what the conditions will be like, this is the shoe I trust to keep my feet supported and protected. —Meghan Roos

Brooks Levitate 2, $150

The first iteration of the Levitate was one of my favorite shoes ever, so I was eager to test out the second version of this neutral shoe this summer. Even though it underwent some changes, mainly replacing (what I considered) a very plush and comfy traditional upper with a more flexible knit upper, it completely lived up to my expectations. The midsole (Brooks’ DNA AMP cushioning) strikes the perfect balance between springy/responsive and supportive. And while these shoes may have a bit of a hefty appearance, they’re incredibly lightweight and not clunky at all—they’ve become my shoe of choice for long runs. —Bethany Mavis

Darn Tough Vermont Vertex No Show Tab Ultra-Light Cushion, $17

You’re likely getting the gist at this point in the list: We’ve tried a ton of new gear this year. For our April issue’s “We Tried It” page, we tested running socks to figure out which brands are strongest in terms of comfort, fit and durability. Darn Tough Vermont was a standout in all three categories. Sending each customer home with a lifetime guarantee, Darn Tough socks are made with a blend of merino wool, nylon and Lycra and feature the kind of support you can see—just by looking at how the fabric is pieced together to cover the foot. Made in four key lengths with several patterns available, these socks add a dose of color to workout wardrobes while providing the cushioning and seamless feel that runners are starting to expect from their socks. —Meghan Roos

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, $450

Announced early this year, the Forerunner 645 Music brings not only the high-quality features that the Forerunner line of GPS watches is known for, but also the ability to download up to 500 songs straight on to your watch, which you can listen to by connected Bluetooth headphones to the watch. The idea is to allow you to leave the phone at home (something I still don’t feel comfortable doing on solo runs for safety reasons!), but it’s still easy to have so much capability on your wrist. In addition to the music, the 645 provides advanced running dynamics (e.g., ground contact time, balance, stride length, etc.), monitors your stress through wrist-based heart rate and has breathing exercises built in to help you get it under control, accurate GPS tracking and even contactless payments through Garmin Pay. The battery lasts a whole week as a smartwatch, or you can get up to five hours of GPS mode with music during workouts. —Bethany Mavis

ProBar Bolt Energy Chews, $30 For 12-Pack

These chews provide the exact kind of quick energy dose I crave before a long run—and they taste like candy. Made in seven fruity flavors (the orange and pink lemonade packs top my list) with 24 grams of carbohydrates and the Food and Drug Administration’s daily recommended amounts of vitamins B6 and B12 packed into each five-bite serving, these gummies take ProBar’s mission of gluten-free plant-based nutrition to deliver a clean pre-run fueling option. If I’m anticipating a longer workout, I eat four or five of these bites 30 to 45 minutes beforehand—and in addition to enjoying the taste, I can also feel the energy bump at the start of my run. —Meghan Roos

Gatorade Endurance Energy Gel Mango, $30 for 21-Pack

I’ve tried a LOT of gels over the years, and this one stands out as a winner. I have been pleasantly surprised by Gatorade Endurance the last couple years—ever since the products underwent an ingredient revamp in summer 2017 in favor of cleaner ingredients (no artificial flavors or sweeteners). I enjoyed the other flavors I’ve tried (especially apple pear), but this mango one is an awesome addition to the line. The texture is thinner and easier to swallow for me than other gels, and the flavor is spot on with a cleaner finish (no fake sweetener aftertaste). Each gel has 80 calories, 20 grams of carbs and a mix of electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to fuel workouts. —Bethany Mavis

Thinksport Natural Deodorant, $8.99

When our team set out to test the best natural deodorants for runners earlier this year, I was doubtful I’d find a product that would really work for me. I’ve tried a few natural deodorants in the past with little success: some irritated my skin and left rashes, others simply didn’t work as intended. That all changed when I tested Thinksport Natural Deodorant, and it has since become a product I use daily. The bar comes in four pleasant, subtle scents—Chamomile Citrus, Bergamot Cedarwood, Grapefruit & Currant and Aloe & Tea Flowers—and one unscented option, delivering sweat protection with easy application and without all the nasty chemicals found in many traditional deodorants. —Meghan Roos

Locker Lifestyle Wrist Locker, $23

At this year’s The Running Event, I heard one running shoe and apparel brand suggest that, based on its customer feedback, most women prefer to hold on-the-go items (i.e., their phones, gels, keys, etc.) in pockets around their waist or on their backs. Though this is true for a few of my running friends, I personally like keeping my phone and keys strapped to my arm when I’m running. It can be tricky to find an armband that checks all the boxes on my list: comfortable, flexible enough to fit different phone sizes and built with a secure close so I can be sure that none of my carefully-selected items will fall out mid-run. This wrist locker by Locker Lifestyle meets all of these qualifications, though it is trickier to fit larger phones inside (the size of an iPhone 8 fits with very little wiggle room). Even so, it’s become another one of the few gear items I’ve come to rely on this year and rarely run without. —Meghan Roos

Reebok Running Essentials High Impact Bra, $40

The importance of sports bra fit is second only to running shoes—but just barely. Women runners who wear ill-fitting sports bras will be able to feel the difference in every step they take—and those steps can be quite painful. This year, Reebok caught our attention for its sports bra developments three times: first for its Gal Gadot collection, then for the release of its PureMove Bra (which uses motion sense technology to mold the fabric to its wearer’s body shape) and finally for one of the sports bras we featured in our annual Bra and Bottom Awards. The Running Essentials High Impact sports bra is comfortable, breathable and keeps everything locked down as promised, enabling women—our editors included—to run without thinking twice about the apparel technology involved. —Meghan Roos

Perfect Bar Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter, $24 For Box Of 8

We are gleefully ending our “best of” list with one of our editors’ all-time favorites: Perfect Bar. The Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter flavor tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for grown-ups but is thankfully far healthier. Each non-GMO bar features a blend of more than 20 superfoods and is low on the GI scale, with plenty of protein and healthy fats (as much as 30 percent of the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily value for a 2,000-calorie diet) to keep you feeling full. Perfect Bar also makes bars especially for kids, which is a relief for moms who don’t want to share. (Did we mention there’s a flavor that tastes like a peanut butter cup?)