Running, whether on the trail or off, is ultimately just the same sport on different terrain. But there are a lot of things from road running that don’t translate to the trail — including the gear.When the mountains call, you must go (and make John Muir proud!). But first, make sure you have all the essential gear for a smooth journey. Whether it’s climbing up a rocky path or running on single-track through the woods, being prepared is half the equation of a successful off-road run. Check out these trail must-haves before your next run.
The clothing on your body is the most essential component of trail running, and all you really need for a short run. Everything should fit well, and be free of tags or other annoyances that will only grow with every mile. Choose proper trail running shoes for your environment, shorts or tights, a synthetic or possibly light merino wool shirt, and quality socks for the job. A light windbreaker like the Patagonia Houdini is great to carry in case the weather turns windy and cold.
Hydration is a no-brainer. Runners tote H20 with hand-held water bottles or a running vest or pack (see below). Many bottles will do the trick, but the Nathan SpeedDraw Plus has served us well for runs under about seven miles.
Food (and electrolytes)
Don’t forget calories. We skip food for short runs, but anything beyond about 90 minutes of running and you want to keep energy up with bars, cookies, or store-bought gels. 100 – 200 calories an hour is best if you can stomach it on the trail. Electrolytes, in the form of drinks like Scratch Lab’s hydration mix or tablets like Salt Stick, help fend off muscle cramps on long runs over 10 miles when salts may get depleted.