Here is my handy wee guide for great kit that will help you get the most out of your trail run.
- TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
You are looking for two things in a good trail shoe, traction and protection. Let’s start with traction, lovely medium to large lugs on the sole, strategically placed to give you maximum grip on muddy, rocky and uneven terrain. Protection comes in three forms. A tighter-weaved mesh upper blocks trail debris from entering your shoe, protecting your foot from blisters caused by this debris. A rubber cap on the toe of a trail shoe protects your toes from the potential pain of bashing a rock or a root. And finally a flexible hard plastic plate within the midsole of the shoe will save the undersole of your foot from sharp jabs caused by sharp rocks on uneven surfaces.
Entry: Kalenji Kiprace trail 4 – £49.99. What I say: A lightweight trail shoe that performs well on muddy trails.
Mid-range: Addidas Kanadia – £69.95. What I say: A reasonably priced trail shoe that does exactly what it says on the tin.
High-end: Inov8 Roclite 290 – £115. What I say: A light flexible shoe that is totally versatile. Perfect for mountain rock, muddy grass and hard packed trails.
There are no hard on fast rules on what you should wear for a trail run, other than it must be comfortable and give you a full range of movement. I am a big fan of running skorts but these aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Layering is the way ahead. Wear less when moving, but once stopped you can cool down very quickly, especially if you have patches of sweat from working hard. It is important to put layers on once you have stopped to prevent you from getting cold. Materials to think about: cotton takes a long time to dry and will make you cold if wet. Wicking fabrics take moisture away from your skin and rapidly evaporate that moisture. Merino wool is excellent, synthetics tops often get smelly very quickly, but merino, wicks, keeps you warm and somehow never (well rarely ever) gets smelly.
Up here in Scotland we are used to the rain, a good lightweight waterproof jacket is vital. I often carry a pair of lightweight water proof trousers as well depending on the length of my run.
Entry: Kalenji Run Rain running rain jacket – £24.99. What I say: Lightweight and breathable and will keep you dry on runs up to 2hrs long.
Mid-range: OMM Kamleika Jacket – £180. What I say: I have tested my OMM Kamleika jacket on numerous mountain marathons, it is lightweight, breathable and stretchy and well worth every penny spent.
High-end: Inov8 AT/C Protect-Shell Waterproof Jacket – £270. What I say: One seriously tough piece of kit that keeps you dry and protected in even the wildest of storms. I am actually saving for one of these!
And finally, don’t forget:
Buff: one of the most versatile pieces of kit around, great in the summer for wiping away sweat and fantastic in the colder months for keeping your head warm.
Gloves: If your hands tend to get cold, then make sure you add a pair of gloves as well.
Socks: If there is one thing that should be fresh for each run then it is a pair of socks!
- HYDRATION PACK
It is important to stay hydrated on longer runs. Hydration packs these days come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Here at Simply Run Retreat we make sure that we don’t just carry water but that our packs have room for any spare clothing and food that we are taking with us on our run. But let’s not take the kitchen sink, it is important to stay light, your legs will thank you.
Entry: Kalenji Bag Trail Running bag 10l – £27.99 What I say: Superb budget option, good quality, comfortable, with a bladder included, why spend more?
Mid-range: Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest – £80. What I say: Light weight, flexible and solid construction. You may prefer to use your own soft flasks rather than the ones provided. Check sizing before purchasing for the optimal fit as there are a few options.
High-end: Salomon Advanced Skin 5 set – £120. What I say: I am a convert to the Salomon vest having used a bum bag or small rucksack for years. I have used it on day-long mountain runs over Munro’s and it has carried everything I could need. It can carry a bladder or soft bottles and you barely even notice you are wearing it.
Nothing to stop you now – have fun exploring!