When I first started this blog around 3 or so years ago, I did an initial round up of the gear I use, both on the roads and on the trails. (You can find that initial wrap up here!)
My advice with regards to buying gear that is best for you hasn’t changed. I still don’t think you should buy the fanciest watch when you aren’t going to use the features you are paying for or the latest cute shoes that rub your feet.
Here’s my gear go-to’s in the year we would all rather forget, 2020.
In July 2019 I tried on my first pair of Altras and it was pretty much instant love. They were Escalante road shoes. The next day I ran a half marathon PB for the first time in four years and I never even tested out the shoes in a training wrong (you can read that race wrap up here).
After that I was all in and got me some Timps, Olympus, Torins and provisons.
After some unapologetic gushing, in January 2020 I became part of Altra Team Red in Australia.
My road must haves are the escalante but I also have a pair of the Torins that I wear on longer runs. The escalante are my dream shoe, light, flat, wide and fast.
My trail fave is the Timp. It’s pretty much trail version of the Escalante but for a race like Old Ghost which is super rocky and technical, I go with the Olympus. So much foam! Just practice in them if you are used to a slower stack height so you don’t wreck your ankles.
Disclaimer: I’m lucky enough to be sent some free shoes and accessories from Altra Australia now but I was converted way before the freebies. Feel free to hit me up if you have questions about a particular model.
Ok you know I’ve been wearing Garmin since I started running 10 years ago. I’ve never tried or wanted to try anything else. I’m currently rocking the Fenix 5x plus and love it.
It has all the features I want and great battery life for long runs and everyday use.
If you follow Garmin Australia you’ll see they are super blokey and don’t appear to give a rats about the female market (very disappointing) but the products are great and the rest of the world are much more female friendly so you can find some great reviews and size guides for women from other parts of the world.
I’m keen as to test out the solar, I think this is a game changer for us all day ultra runners but there isn’t a big enough difference between my current model and the 6 pro series just yet. Stay tuned though!
If you are unsure where to start, jump over to dcrainmaker.com and check out the reviews of different watches, then enter the shortlist into the product comparison tool. My advice: don’t spend $$$ on features you are never going to use like triathlon or open water swimming or golf metrics, unless that is your bag. You’re just wasting your money. Look for the features that are the reason you are getting a watch in the first place, accurate GPS, battery life, comfort, running metrics.
Gosh there is so much mandatory gear for some races. (Here is an intake of all my gear and how I pack it!)
Up until recently I’ve used the Ultimate Direction Jenny vest, I’ve had both versions and they have both served me very well. I don’t like/use a bladder at all and love the front bottles. I’ve recently been gifted (via a spot prize at this years Shotover) an Ultraspire vest. I absolutely love it but I’m not flexible enough to reach the bottles at the back. That should be my 2020 resolution.
I also use Leki poles and injinji trail socks. For races a smother my feet in vasoline before putting on the socks and have never got a blister using them.
My seam sealed jacket is ultimate direction and my thermals are a bit of a mixed bag. For cold races I also throw in a North Face polar fleece, extra gloves and buffs because when they get wet, I get cold. ( see race review for Berry Long Run)
I’ve said it many times before but please don’t just go looking for the cheapest option for your mandatory gear thinking that you will never use it. It is in there for a reason and I have seen many people wearing every piece of their gear, even the space blanket (bag is better than blanket!). If you love trail running and ultras, invest in the gear that is good quality and will last and more importantly look after you.
Other random gear
Remember when running was simple and you didn’t need anything but shoes, nope me neither!
Some other things I would highly recommend:
Buff everything- I’m a big fan of Buffs and buff style bandanas but it’s hard to go past the quality of real thing. I can’t run in the wind without one, I use it to cover my ears and it stops it feeling so hard or the wind drowning out the sound of my headphones. There are summer weight and winter weight and a crap done of great hats as well. I get my Buff gear through Glimmer Gear Australia (tell Sarah I said hi!)
Go Pro – is it required? Hell no! But does it take amazing photos and videos to share with your friends and family after your epic trail run, hell yes! I have the 7 black, but just look for one with great stabilisation.
Headphones– headphones are just one of those things that have never worked for me! I think I have strange shaped inner ears. I’ve tried so so many and the best by far that I’ve used are the Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro. I’ve had jaybirds and all sorts with the band around the back of your head but they either fall out or the band is too big for my tiny head and it bounces around and drives me nuts. These come with the charging carry case and don’t fall out or hurt my head.
Phone carrier– I’ve narrowed it down to the Hello Regalo magnetic pouch and the Flip belt. I like both but the Regalo pouch only works when my tights are high waisted enough and snug enough, otherwise I go with the flip belt.