Updated: Nov 17, 2022
If you are like me, you are probably pulling out your gear and starting to prep for your hikes, trail runs and obstacle course races. If so, this top five best gear list is exactly what you need to freshen up.
For the last 12 years, I have run numerous obstacle course races in the US and abroad, run thousands of miles on trails, and hiked some pretty crazy mountains. Here is the top five pieces of gear that will get you across any terrain you might encounter and will not leave you disappointed. Shoes:
Vj Shoes IRocks
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When it comes to shoes, I’ve gone through a bunch. From Solomon Speed crosses, to Ice-bug Zeals. All of which have been amazing shoes, however nothing has compared to the Vj iRock Shoes.
Now, I have to admit, I was skeptical at first when all the professional athletes seemed to be promoting them. I thought… “oh, just another shoe company that paid to get athletes to promote the shoes”, but when I got a pair as a gift last year, I was blown away. These shoes are everything as advertised and more. With a boisterous #thebestgripontheplanet they really live up to the hype. They are narrow and fit tight, so if you want to get a looser feel, make sure you get a half size up. In addition, what these shoes lack on cushioning, they make up on giving you the confidence running on wet rocks, trudging in the mud, and drying off after they get wet. A small price to pay for the added speed and control you will have on the trails.
To summarize, these shoes far exceeded all my expectations in grip, style and the trust for the trails and hikes. Because, with everything said and done, if you can trust your shoes on technical terrain, loose rock, mud and water you know you have something special. So whether it’s racing, hiking , or just getting out on the trails you can’t go wrong with these shoes. Price: $160
Camelbak Hydration Pack
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When it comes to hydration packs there’s only one I’ve used and it saved both money and my legs many times. There’s no comparison to the Camelback Rogue 85oz hydration pack. If you’re running, racing, or going on any hike this bag gives you enough water and storage to keep you hydrated and light on all the trails you are on. With an exceptional price adding to its massive value and a chest strap to keep the bag from bouncing. This bag is worth the price to add to your gear.
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Socks are more important than you think. Honestly, hot spots and blisters are always the first thing to come, before muscle cramps or dehydration and they can wreak havoc even on the easiest hikes. There are many that I’ve come across such as Dissent mountain biking socks, which comes in a close second on my mind and in which I still wear and love. However, nothing can compare to the styles and the value that Mud Gear socks has on hiking , OCR and trails. With a durable sock lining and various styles from ankle, calf and high knee compression, you cannot go wrong with any pair. With a padded heel and calf protection it makes for any rope climb seem easy coming down and well worth getting for your next race.
Price: $27 Salomon Bonattie 2.5L Jacket
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Are you going to run or hike in questionable conditions? Well I hope you are prepared. Its makes for a bad day if the weather changes. It is why I recommend grabbing a Salomon Bonattie shell jacket. With its taped seams and waterproof outer layer you won’t get wet finishing up your trek.
Now, at $180, its one of the most expensive pieces of gear on this list, but it’s definitely a safe bet and well worth the cost to stay dry and protected from any changes in weather. It is also super light and can be bunched up and thrown in your bag taking up very little space.
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Now, here’s the toughest one of all, the shorts. I’ve always valued my Lululemon lined shorts and the quality of their material as well as a basic pair of Nike trail running shorts. However, I have yet to come across any shorts that compare to the HyperFlex Shorts, especially for the price. These shorts have been a staple for me for almost a decade as they are super light, durable, and best of all has zipper pockets that help keep my phone, small bars, Gu’s and keys handy right when I need them. The sweat wicking, breathable ,and quick drying technology built into these shorts, make these ideal for running long distances, OCR, and daily hikes. Oh, and for the record, I am never going to recommend running with tight compression shorts on like many racers do. I just can’t bare thinking that if those rip, we could have a much bigger problem on our hands.
Summary Overall, there so many different pieces of gear out there that I love which are not listed here. Many of which I have bought, still use in my training and will recommend for people if asked. So I will end by saying that most gear does depend on you. It’s all personal preference, so you might need to try various things before one sticks.
And if one piece works, stick with it. Don’t always look for the next best thing or new gear. Sometimes the original is the best.
However, with that being said, after all the years of me hiking, running and racing, these top five pieces of gear will exceed your expectations in all areas of durability, comfort, and value. I can’t see anyone going wrong with any of them. Do you have any other suggestions or thoughts on gear you like? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts.