16 must-have items for runners at REI
From shoes to tech accessories, the popular outdoors retailer has what you need.
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Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned pro who's run marathons from Boston to Tokyo, you need to have the proper gear before you step outside. Some essentials are obvious—sturdy running shoes and a water bottle, for example—but other products you might not realize you need until later (on longer runs, the chafing is real).
Whatever your running goals are, we’ve rounded up the very best running gear from REI, one of our favorite outdoor stores around. So whether you’re about to attempt your first mile, 5K, or training for a full 26.2, here’s what you need to equip yourself for success.
1. Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Watch
If you've been tracking runs with a smartphone app but want faster access to your stats during a run, it might be time to get a GPS running watch. This advanced watch from Garmin is a trainer on your wrist, showing you details like how far you've run and at what pace. Via the app, you can program interval workouts that make it easy to know how many reps to do and whether you're on pace. The Forerunner 245 also gives you access to free race training programs.
2. Goodr OG Sunglasses
Runners adore Goodr’s OG Sunglasses—and not just because they’re just plain cool-looking. They’re “much-beloved by runners for staying put on sweat-slippery noses and ears,” writes Reviewed’s running expert Amy Roberts. And chances are, if you’re on a good run, there’s going to be some sweat.
3. Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Formula Skin Protectant
Chaffing is one of those things that you probably don’t think about ... until it happens to you. Bodyglide is “priceless for eliminating painful chafing in hot spots on your skin as your miles increase, and therefore more friction builds.” To use, apply a liberal amount wherever you feel clothing rub skin or skin rub skin, including under the arms, between the thighs, under a bra strap, all over the feet, around the ankles, and over the nipples (trust).
4. FlipBelt Zipper Running Belt
With its multiple zipper pockets, this stretchy fabric belt offers a hands-free way to bring along your belongings while running. Tuck away your keys on the internal key hook and zip up your cell phone in its own pocket. The machine-washable belt is made of moisture-wicking to help keep you more comfortable, and comes in several sizes so you'll find a good fit.
5. Osprey Duro 1.5 Hydration Vest
On long runs or in hot weather, you may need a way to bring along your own water. Consider a hydration vest, like this popular one by Osprey, which allows you to carry 1.5 liters of water on your body with an easy access drinking tube for sipping without breaking your stride. The handy pockets in the front and back let you store a gel or stack and keep your essentials safe on the go. Multiple REI shoppers say this vest is especially great for trail running.
6. BioLite HeadLamp 330
If you’re running at night or in the wilderness, it’s a good idea to illuminate your way with a headlamp. This compact lamp sits flush on the forehead without bouncing and provides 330 lumens of light for up to 40 hours via its USB-rechargeable battery. It offers five light settings—dimmable spot, flood, spot + flood, red night vision, and strobe—and its band wicks away sweat.
7. Amphipod Xinglet
Stay visible while you're running at night with this sleek, adjustable running vest designed to fit any body type. The Amphipod Xinglet is extra-reflective and a breeze to put on and pull off, thanks to its slide-to-lock clips. Even better, its airy design isn't as sweaty or constricting as other vests out there.
8. Women’s Vuori Performance Jogger Pants
Vuori claims that these joggers, made from a blend of polyester and spandex, are the softest ones out there—and customers agree. One reviewer on REI called these “the best all-around pants ever,” and considering that they wick away sweat, dry quickly, and stay secure with a drawstring waistband, we won't quibble.
9. Women’s REI Co-op Active Pursuits Shorts
If you want a running short that does it all, look no further. This pair from REI’s own brand has a built-in liner that wicks away moisture, a small pocket to securely hold keys or money, and a drawcord waistband for a secure fit.
10. Men's Wrightsock CoolMesh II Quarter Socks
One of the most important ways to protect your feet while running is having a great pair of socks. This pair from Wrightsock has two layers to keep your feet dry, cool, and comfortable. The inner layer wicks away moisture while the outer layer helps to dissipate it away. and both layers work together to prevent blisters. The reinforced arch provides support for the feet.
11. Women’s Icebreaker Tech Lite Low Crewe T-Shirt
A lightweight shirt that can be worn year-round, this crew-neck is made of 87 percent merino wool and 13 percent nylon for superior sweat control. One REI reviewer says she’s had hers for 14 years and it’s still going strong and that “the fabric is still really lovely and looks new.” Besides the shirt's comfort and durability, it also protects the skin with a rating of UPF 35.
12. Hoka One One Bondi 6 Road-Running Shoe
This Hoka One One road shoe has over 700 five-star reviews on REI, and for many good reasons. People especially love the Bondi 6 for its thick cushioning and the “Meta-Rocker” sole that give them a super smooth ride. The Bondi 6 is available in men's and women's sizes.
- Get the Women’s HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6 Road-Running Shoes for $150
- Get the Men’s HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6 Road-Running Shoes for $150
13. Brooks Ghost 12 Road-Running Shoes
Having more than 800 five-star reviews, the Brooks Ghost is one of the most popular that REI has to offer. According to one reviewer, these shoes “are like running on a cloud,” thanks to its responsive sole cushioning. And who wouldn’t want to run on a cloud? They’re available in men and women’s sizes.
- Get the Women’s Brooks Ghost 12 Road-Running Shoes for $109.99
- Get the Men’s Brooks Ghost 12 Road-Running Shoes for $109.99
14. Men's Arc'teryx Incendo Hoodie
Don’t let a little wind or rain stop you from stepping outside for a run. Just grab this versatile nylon hoodie to protect you. Made with mesh underarm panels and front chest snaps, you’ll stay dry and aired out despite the weather. If the rain stops, you can easily roll back the hood and snap it out of the way. The reflective blades on the back and sleeves will keep you safe and visible, and the convenient "media pocket" keeps your phone covered while you listen to your tunes.
15. Men’s Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts
Made with a recycled blend polyester-spandex blend, the shorts' outer layer repels water, while a boxer-brief liner has an antimicrobial treatment to control odor. Zipper pockets keep your money and phone secure and a drawcord keeps the shorts themselves secure on your body. The shorts are designed to be rolled up and tucked inside their own back pocket, so you have no excuse not to pack them for your next destination race.
16. Balega Hidden Comfort Socks
I said it once and I'll say it again: You need good socks to run! Despite being a low-cut, no-show style, these won't slip down into your shoes, thanks to deep heel pockets and a high heel tab. They'll also keep your feet cool and dry, with their ventilation panels and proprietary sweat-wicking yarn. Finally, the seamless toes and the protective cushioning reduce your risk of blisters and damaged toenails.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.