10 Great Gifts for Runners

Need a holiday gift idea for the 5-K newbie or marathon runner in your life? This winter running gear tops our list

December 7, 2010
pile of Christmas presents in woman's arms
1/11 Thinkstock
Our Favorite Things

Plenty of running gear passes through our office each year, but when heading out on a run we often find ourselves reaching for a few select items, time and again. With the holidays approaching, we'd like to tip our running cap to the new products in 2010 that stood out from the pack. Consider this Gear-of-the-Year list our gift to you. Use it to shop for others--or, even better, for yourself.

40 Years of running-gear innovation

Brooks HVAC Synergy shorts
2/11 Mitch Mandel
Sweat-Proof Shorts

Brooks HVAC Synergy Shorts ($44) became a staple in our running repertoire because they refuse to get bogged down with sweat midrun. They're made of a quick-drying fabric and have mesh panels that increase airflow for long runs or steamy treadmill sessions. And the shorts' soft liner uses silver fibers to regulate temperature and fight odor. brooksrunning.com

Also, don't miss 10 Bottoms Made to Fit Your Style as Well as Your Stride.

Saucony Kilkenny retro zip track jacket
3/11 Mitch Mandel
Throwback Track Jacket

Saucony's track-inspired Kilkenny Zip Jacket II ($85) is a stylish throwback to the bygone days of the first running boom. It looks and feels good enough to wear casually (it's great with a cotton tee on a lazy Sunday). And when we actually ran in the jacket, it didn't let us down: The interior wicked sweat like a champ. Note: Men's version is named Retro Track Jacket. saucony.com

The top choices

Minzuno Wave Universe sneakers
4/11 Mitch Mandel
Light Done Right

Sure, with all the fuss over minimalist footwear, the Vibram FiveFingers grabbed the headlines in 2010. But it was the Mizuno Wave Universe ($120) that got our pulses racing. Its wispy weight (3.8 ounces) and extreme flexibility made us want to go crazy-fast. For one staffer, the shoe's barely-there feel all but returned him to his track days. mizunousa.com

Compression socks for runners

Apple iPod nano
5/11 Thomas MacDonald
Little Wonder

We're blown away by how much flashy technology fits into the 1.54" frame of the latest Apple iPod Nano ($149, 8GB; $179, 16GB). It has a touch screen, like an iPhone, which is great for navigating playlists midrun. For one contributor who tracks all her runs using Nike Plus, the lightweight Nano is a godsend. It's petite, yet still displays (and offers audio prompts for) vital details, like pace and distance, onscreen. apple.com

Running with music

CW-X Ventilator Compression Socks
6/11 Mitch Mandel
The Big Squeeze

The jury may still be out on the benefits of compression socks, but the mesh venting and squeezy feel of the CW-X Ventilator Compression Socks ($45) are highly addictive. Not only did we find the socks comfortable during workouts, we almost always wanted to wear them after a run (one of our writers gets downright frantic if she can't slip into her pair postrun). What's the attraction? Just wait till you see how much support the socks give your calves as well as the arches of your feet. cw-x.com

More? Check out 7 Best Running Compression Socks.

Native Eyewear Vigor sunglasses
7/11 Mitch Mandel
Made in the Shade

Running sunglasses need to be lightweight and nonfogging yet substantial enough to stay on during fast and furious speedwork. Native Eyewear Vigor ($139) do just that--and they look sharp, too. The polarized lenses cut down on surface glare (like long stretches of pavement) to keep your eyes fresh on the run when the rest of your body may not be. nativeeyewear.com

Gear that keeps you cool

Smartwool arm warmers
8/11 Mitch Mandel
Your Second Skin

Paired with a short-sleeve tee (or a singlet, for the bold), Smartwool Arm Warmers ($25) offer adjustable warmth. Once you heat up, simply push them down or whip them off. The fabric blends temperature-regulating wool with stretchy elastic and nylon to maintain its shape. We loved how these arm warmers felt against our skin, and we wore them for everything from training runs to marathons. smartwool.com

Winter Advisory

Scape Athlete Sunblock
9/11 Mitch Mandel
Sunblock with Stamina

Sunblock may seem a rather mundane item to include in a list of the year's best products. But Scape's Athlete Sunblock ($14.95) is a fully waterproof, SPF 50+ lotion that bonds so completely, it lets your skin breathe and sweat freely without gunking it up. Plus, we were so pleased to discover a lotion that didn't run into our eyes when sweating, we thought everyone should know about it. scapelabs.com

Beat the heat

Brooks Infiniti Beanie
10/11 Mitch Mandel
Climate-Control Cap

Some hats are just too dang hot, causing us to rip them off our sweaty heads 10 minutes into a run. But the Brooks Infiniti Beanie ($24) proved just the right thickness to take the chill out of a cold day--while not trapping heat like a sleeping bag. The hat's soft fabric blend works just like the most technical running shirts to wick away sweat. Note: The ponytail-set liked the dedicated opening in the back. brooksrunning.com

The Mane Thing

Nwe Balance NBX welded half-zip jacket
11/11 Mitch Mandel
Foul-Weather Friend

The New Balance NBX Welded Half-Zip ($75) is our go-to top on cool days. It layers over a thin shirt to trap warm air close to the body and keep the cold out when the weather turns nasty. But it's the details that made us really love this half-zip. It has welded seams that reduce chafing and extra material at the cuffs that pulls over your hands for cozy warmth, allowing you to leave your gloves at home. newbalance.com

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