By Cameron Sullivan
(Cameron Sullivan, a member of Alabama Outdoors’ eCommerce team, has been an avid trail runner since high school.)
When you’re starting out running, you’re faced with a lot of “essentials”. Though, they aren’t always essential. Some runners swear by 2 pairs of the same shoes, or only running in the same style of sock, and they’ll fight to the death over running shorts inseam lengths and brands. But it doesn’t really matter.
The basic gear is simple; a good pair of shoes, a few pairs of socks, and some mix and match outfits.
When you are ready to change up your runs with different surfaces and locations, keep in mind how your shoes will perform and protect you on each surface. Like most things, trail shoes, hiking shoes, and road-running shoes are not created equal. So we broke it down for you, here are some of the best do-it-all gear pieces.
Running shoes aren’t complicated. The basics are simple; a breathable mesh upper, a supportive insole, and a grippy outsole. The biggest difference between “road” shoes and “trail” shoes is the outsole. Road shoes use a smoother rubber, that supports your foot’s natural motion. Trail shoes have a sturdier rubber that’s durable and grips well. Fortunately, though, most road shoes can tackle basic trails with ease. Well-groomed, hard-pack dirt or crushed gravel is easy on your shoes and doesn’t require extra protection. For mixed-use shoes, a steady sole is the most important piece.
Hoka Elevon 2
The Hoka Elevon 2 reimagines the essential running shoe. The oversized outsole features asymmetrical support wings for an individualized fit. The asymmetry continues in the tongue, wrapping the upper around your foot for excellent control. For a supportive daily runner that can tackle long runs with ease, this is your best bet. Shop Men’s. Shop Women’s.
On Running Cloudflyer
The On-Running Cloudflyer is an under-rated gem in the On collection. With less flash and more features than their other options, the Cloudflyer is a proven road-runner that ups the support. With Helion superfoam, their bespoke Speedboard, 3D-molded heel, and a wider outsole, it’s all about comfort and support. Take on long runs and daily miles without missing a beat. Shop Men’s. Shop Women’s.
Like running shoes, shorts are not complicated either. All you want is a moisture-wicking shell with a mesh liner. Breathability and comfort are essential. Good running shorts reduce chafing and keep valuables like keys and phones on-hand. There’s no need for trail-specific shorts, but these two options provide some great features that help on any run.
The North Face Men’s Movmynt Short
These simple and versatile shorts are great. At home in the gym, on the trail, and everywhere in between, they work overtime. A liner brief and drawcord waistband maintain the fit, while a back pocket secures valuables. Shop here.
On-Running Women’s Running Shorts
An advanced blend of polyester and elastic, these performance shorts exceed expectations. The oversized waistband provides a functional and comfortable fit. Shop here.
A simple purchase that makes a world of difference, the right socks will make running easier. You just need the right combination of compression, moisture-wicking, and support. The best socks isolate support and provide lightweight, comfortable stretch, with comfy padding just where you need it. Check out these options for running socks that’ll keep your feet comfortable and help you recover quicker than ever.
Swiftwick Vision Six Impression National Parks Crew Socks
Compression and moisture-wicking are critical, and these socks do both with ease. The crew height provides superior protection and the compression and moisture-wicking aid recovery so you can get back out quickly. These come with a sweet design and a crew height, perfect for covering more of your leg on overgrown trails. Don’t these socks just make you want to travel and explore? It might be a hidden feature. Shop here.
Swiftwick Maxus Zero Tab Socks
The gold-standard of running socks, the Swiftwick Maxus Zero Tab Socks do everything and more. These have been runners favorites for a long time, and for good reason. The isolated support covers high-friction parts of your foot, for superior protection. The collar has pull-tabs that keep them from slipping without extra bulk, and the lightweight top wicks moisture for max breathability. Shop here.
Ready to be outdoors this Spring? We have the Spring outdoor gear and fresh footwear styles you need to get you back outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors