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The Best Women’s Trail-Running Gear

Our favorite off-road gear this year.

Photo: Hannah DeWitt

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Having the right gear on the trail can make or break a run; ending up with blisters, running out of water, or getting chafed is no one’s idea of a good time. From shoes to sunglasses to hydration packs, we tested tons of the top products to find the best women’s trail-running gear. Here are our favorites.

Salomon Wildcross | $130

Salomon Wildcross in teal and black is one our picks for the best women's trail-running gear

Push the pace without worrying about your footing, no matter how rough the conditions. The 8mm drop is optimized to keep your foot close to the ground, increasing stability as you pick up speed, while the high-density rubber outsole and multi-dimensional 6mm lugs give you more traction in muddy and wet terrain.

Altra Olympus 4 | $170

Altra Olympus 4 shoe in black, white and orange

Roll over rocks with ease thanks to this max-cushioned, flexible ride. Your feet will love the brand’s signature foot-shaped toe box and women’s anatomical fit, which allows your toes to spread naturally, keeping you steady and comfortable on uneven surfaces. The rounded heel and improved tongue create a smoother, more locked-in feel mile after mile.

Saucony Switchback 2 | $140

Saucony Switchback ISO shoe in olive and pink

You’ll find some pretty major updates in style and performance on this already-popular trail shoe, thanks to years of work between Saucony and the BOA Fit System. The new upper configuration tested highest in independent scientific studies for improved speed and agility in BOA’s Performance Fit Lab, and the bootie construction works seamlessly to keep debris out.

Kahtoola Instagaiter Low | $40

Purple shoe gaiter

Tired of dumping out your shoes on the trail? Keep out all that pesky trail stuff—sand, dirt, pebbles, snow, mud—with this simple accessory. The adjustable instep strap, lightweight upper (made from stretch-woven nylon with a durable water-repellent finish), and offset zipper create a firm-yet-comfortable seal around your shoe.

Swiftwick Pursuit Ultralight | $22

Teal calf-length sock

You may not think there’s a whole lot to get excited about when it comes to socks, but you’d be wrong. When it comes to hitting the trail, the socks you choose can make a huge difference. Made with the finest-gauge merino wool, this new model delivers maximum moisture and sweat management, so your feet stay dry and blister free.

Julbo Spark Sunglasses | $130

All-pink sunglasses

With days that range from cloudy to bluebird and trail routes varying from sunny to shady, the REACTIV Photochromic lenses of these shades are ideal for shifting conditions while trail running. They change from light to dark (between 9 to 20 percent light transmission), depending on the light levels at hand. The lenses are also made of durable polycarbonate and treated with polarization for glare reduction and clarity.

Garmin Fenix 6S Pro Solar Smartwatch | $850

Garmin smartwatch

Thanks to a solar-charging lens and power manager modes, this smartwatch can stay on and performance-ready for weeks. Plus, it delivers pretty much anything you could possibly need during an off-road adventure, right to your wrist: running pace guidance, elevation and acclimation specs, topographical maps, round-trip routine, and turn-by-turn navigation. And in multiple colors, including white with a rose gold face, this checks all the boxes for the best women’s trail-running gear.

The North Face Flight FUTURELIGHT Jacket | $280

This black hooded jacket from North Face is one of our picks for the best women's trail-running gear

Finding a great trail-running jacket can often feel a bit like a Goldilocks situation—few are just right. This jacket is about as ideal as it gets: lightweight and uber-packable, it won’t weigh you down; ultra-quiet and soft, it won’t annoy you on silent stretches; breathable yet waterproof, it will keep you protected from the elements while impressively shedding excess heat and moisture as you work up a sweat.

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles | $170

Blue and black trekking poles folded up

For alpine climbers and long-distance runners, performance is directly related to the weight they carry into the mountains, and these packable poles—which weigh a crazy-light 10 ounces—are a dream. (Pro tip: For running, uphill propulsion matters most. Size down if you’re right on a size cusp for the best fit.)

La Sportiva Comet Skirt | $60

The La Sportiva skirt is one of our picks for the best women's trail-running gear

When it comes to the best women’s trail-running gear, consider the skirt: Loose-fitting shorts can bunch when you’re moving quick on the trails; leggings can easily get weighed down by water and mud. Enter this lightweight, quick-drying, and versatile trail-running skirt. No bunching. No chafing. Crazy comfortable and optimal range of motion as you move through the mountains. Not to mention a cute look if you’re hitting brunch or a brewery post-run.

Black Diamond Sprinter 275 Headlamp | $75

Blue and black over-head headlamp

Built for long runs that start early or push past daylight, this lightweight headlamp runs on both a USB-rechargeable battery or standard AAA batteries. Athletes love the front-to-back weight balance while running (no bobbing around with every step!), and a red taillight strobe adds helpful visibility in urban areas.

Patagonia Duckbill Cap | $30

The Patagonia duckbill cap is one of our pick's for best women's trail-running gear

The iconic brand kept getting requests from ultrarunning ambassadors for a breathable, packable hat, and the company delivered a fan favorite. The open-mesh design of this 100 percent recycled, adjustable hat dissipates heat and increases airflow; the foam brim easily folds down into a pocket or pack when not needed, rebounding to its original shape as soon as you pull it back out.

Buff Coolnet UV+ | $24

Dark blue patterned neck buff

This is a must-have accessory to bring on every trail run, thanks to its incredible versatility: Use it as a face mask (when passing other runners); a headband or hair tie (to keep flyaways out of your face, or extra comfort under a headlamp); a wristband (to wipe sweat and snot away); a towel (soak it in cold water and put it on your head or back of your neck); or in an emergency, a bandage or tourniquet (let’s hope you don’t need that one).

Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest V2 | $90

Black hydration vest

Whether you’re new to trail running or just looking for a streamlined, budget-friendly hydration vest for your weekday training runs, this is one of the best values you’ll find. With nine total pockets, there’s no shortage on storage, allowing you to go completely handsfree. If you’re heading out for a short run, you’ve got two 300-ml soft bottles stashed in the front. Looking to go long? The large back pocket can hold up to a 2-liter reservoir.

Hydrapak Ultraflask 500ml Insulated Flask | $27

Gray insulated flask with straw

Utilizing new insulation technology, this model is engineered to keep water cold 38 percent longer than a standard flask. The four-layer construction and matte-feeling finish not only give a better grip for carrying during your short runs, but also prevent the flask from sweating in hot temps. Interchangeable caps give you flexibility from one run to the next (the drink tube, shown, is perfect in the front pocket of a hydration vest).

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