Introduction to Trail Running: Time to Gear Up!

Introduction to Trail Running: Time to Gear Up!

The next article in our trail running series will focus on the different types of equipment you may need to hit the trails, and do so safely! We will be covering some basics, but the list is non-exhaustive, so if you find something else that may benefit you never hesitate to add on!



The most important piece of equipment any runner can have is shoes. Good trail running shoes not only protect your feet from the elements, but provide orthopedic support to reduce fatigue and soreness all over your body. Trail running shoes specifically will vary from your everyday track shoes and there are a few key features you want to look for:

  • Grip: Trail shoes should have an all-terrain, thicker, knottier outsole. Think of off-road tires on a car. Good outsoles will be rugged, with deep tread to help navigate the different obstacles the trail may present.
  • Protection: The uppers of the shoes should be breathable, with a water-resistant build. Trail running will present several different environmental elements that could leave your feet soaking wet. The number-one rule when on the trail should be to keep your feet as dry as possible. This prevents not only discomfort, but injury from blisters and sores.
  • Construction: Take your shoe and bend it. The shoe should be flexible, without any visible strain on the material of the sole. The short and variable stride lengths in trail running will cause your foot to rotate and shift within the shoe, and on the ground. A rugged construction of the shoe will provide long-lasting protection to not only your foot, but your investment
  • Spikes: In the snow-filled environment, traction spikes are amazing add-ons to any shoe that will help navigate the otherwise slick terrain. Yatta Life offers a wide array of traction spikes to make you ready for any trail you embark on. (Check them out here!)

Trail running shoes come in many shapes and sizes, and many different price ranges. It is important to remember how important your feet are, not only to your trail-running journey, but to everyday life. Investing in good-quality, well-built, properly fitting shoes will take care of you for years on the trails.


Like shoes, trail-running packs are not one size fits all. There are a variety of different packs that are conducive to running, before entering the realm of hiking packs. Like any equipment, remember you are running with it, so you want something light, yet durable. There are a few different options when it comes to packs:

  • Backpack: Like the name suggests, these are packs that are held on your back. These are a great option for hydration purposes. Many times running backpacks will have a spot for a hydration bladder, leading to a hose which allows you to drink while on the move. You want to look for a light, compact backpack as you will be running with this added weight. In addition, many backpacks offer a cooling, or gel filled section that sits against your back to minimize discomfort. 
  • Waist-Pack: Otherwise known as the fanny pack, these are typically much smaller and worn via a belt around your waist. These are a great minimalist option for a quick run, or for someone who does not need to carry much. These are lightweight and come in many sizes, all still smaller than a backpack. The main benefit is that they can be accessed much easier while on the move, as opposed to a backpack that may need to be taken off to access.

Whether Backpack or Waist pack, it is essential to have somewhere to keep your gear. This allows you to be hands free and travel with a little more than what your hands can carry. Some runners may choose to wear both, the backpack being for a hydration bladder and bigger gear such as a first aid kit, while the waistpack holds snacks and other smaller gear.

Clothing and Accessories

The topic of clothing covers a wide array of options specifically built for trail running. From head to toe it is important to be prepared for whatever mother nature has in store for your run day. We will cover a few important considerations when it comes to clothing.

  • Hats: There is no one size fits all for your trail running hat choice. However, protection from the sun, rain, or cold will be the primary benefit to the hat choice. A baseball cap will protect your face from the sun preventing sunburn. There are hats specifically designed for running that will be light weight and moisture wicking. A full-brim hat, much like a “cowboy hat” provides protection around the head and neck area, and may be more suited for the rainy season as it can deflect the rain from getting to your face, or back. Lastly, a winter “skull cap” is the obvious choice when running in the cold seasons. Cold weather injuries are detrimental to the body, and can be prevented with keeping the head and ears protected. A good portion of heat is lost through the head and keeping your head and ears warm will be one less thing to worry about on your run. Like any gear, there are winter hat options made for running, again incorporating moisture wicking, lightweight technologies.
  • Neck Gaiter: Another option of protecting the neck and also the face from any sun or wind damage is a neck gaiter. Neck gaiters are tubes that go over the head and bunch around the neck almost like a scarf, they can be essential to staying warm and protecting another part of your body from the elements. They can also be pulled over the nose and mouth to keep your face protected from the inclement weather. 
  • Outerwear: Many people choose to run in shorts, after all, cardio can get pretty hot. However, in trail running, pants may come into play many times. Things like cold weather, or the threat of obstacles in the path can put your legs in danger. Tree limbs, or kicked up stones can physically hurt your legs, and finding a pair of lightweight, cooling trail running pants can prove to be essential in keeping your journey safe. In addition, coats or long-sleeve shirts are some other pieces to consider when it comes to clothing. Again, finding these clothes in a light-weight, breathable material will be important to staying comfortable and safe.

Picking out the proper clothing for trail running is just as important as picking the proper attire for a meeting, or party. Keeping your body safe, and in tune with the elements you will be exposed to is something you should consider every time you hit the trail.

Other Essential Gear:

You have the shoes, you are dressed the part, you have your pack on, but what else should you be carrying? Staying safe, hydrated, fueled, and prepared, are all things to take into account, especially as you decide to take longer trail runs. Here is a list of some good things to keep handy when you are trail running:

  • Runner Snacks - Trail Mix, energy gummies, nuts, dried fruit
  • GPS Watch/Tracker - In addition to tracking your distance or calories burned, many fitness trackers have options to get you back to your start point in case you take a wrong turn
  • Sunscreen - Even in the cold, the sun can still be harmful
  • Bug Repellant - Don’t let mosquito bites ruin the fun
  • Hydration Bladder or water bottle
  • Small First Aid Kit - Be prepared for whatever the trail throws your way
  • Cell Phone - Getting lost or hurt is never the plan, but be ready to call for help if possible
  • Socks - If your socks get wet, it is important to change into dry socks to prevent injury
  • Coat/Poncho - Even if the weather is supposed to be clear, be ready for when it isn't
  • Headlamp/Flashlight - Be prepared for when the run goes a little longer than expected
  • Traction Poles - These will help disarm the intimidating slopes by giving you an extra edge. (Check out our poles here!)

The list of gear for trail running is never ending, and non exhaustive. It is important to remember to just be prepared. Research the areas you are going to, the weather, and the climate. Be prepared for injuries, getting lost, or inclement weather. The fun of trail running is it is always different. Each challenge you are presented with is a learning opportunity, so be ready for them!

Reading next

Introduction to Trail Running: Going Off The Beaten Path
Top 5 Trail Running Shoes for 2021

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