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The Best Running Accessories to Get You Geared Up

Of course, you have shoes. But these must-have gear additions will up your game.

best running accessories
Staff, Courtesy of Ciele

Although it’s true that all you really need to take up running is a pair of (comfortable, sturdy) running shoes, we’d be hard-pressed to find a runner who didn’t also like a good accessory—or several.

But where to begin? What you need to dress up your run, so to speak, will depend on your training and racing goals. When logging higher mileage for a marathon during the summer months, for example, a handheld water bottle or hydration vest might be a good accessory. If you’re coming back from injury and need to focus on recovery, there are massage tools that can help you come back stronger than ever.

Complete your look, if you will, with these tried-and-true running accessories, no matter your goals.

How We Recommend Running Accessories

I’ve been running for 20 years, steadily getting faster thanks to training, improved know-how, and yes, gear. I have been writing about running, general health and fitness, and nutrition for 15 years and am the former food and nutrition editor at Runner’s World and the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook. Although I’m a loyalist to certain pieces of gear, one of the best parts of my job is trying new brands, model updates, and innovative apparel and running accessories. I used this hands- and feet-on experience and shoptalk with fellow runners and RW editors to make these gear recommendations, prioritizing performance, comfort, durability, and price.

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Best Minimalist Running Belt
Amphipod MicroStretch Quick-Clip Race Plus Belt

  • Stretchy design expands to fit all your essentials

  • Race bib clips are unnecessary for most runners

When you don’t need to carry water while on the move but still need to store your essentials, this Amphipod belt goes the distance and stands the test of time. This newer model allows you to clip a race bib to the belt, which is unnecessary and a little goofy, we think. It’s lightweight but stretches four times its size to fit your smartphone, credit cards, keys, and fuel. For minimal interference and comfort, wear the pouch on your lower back. It might bounce a bit at first, especially if it’s holding heavier items, but it’ll settle in for a barely there feel.

Best Running Hat for Sunny Days
Ciele GOCap Athletics

  • Quick-drying fabric

We saw Ciele first on cyclists, but now the GoCap is making its way onto the heads of runners across the globe. The signature-style design is fun, yes, but it’s also lightweight with quick-drying fabric for those days you’re sweating or getting rained on—or both.

Related: The Best Running Hats

Best Handheld Water Bottle
Nathan ExoShot 2.0

  • Collapsible comfort
  • Pocket for stashing fuel

  • Some customers noticed a plastic odor/taste

Stay hydrated without being bogged down, thanks to the Nathan ExoShot 2.0, a sleek, collapsible 14-ounce bottle with a hand strap for grip-free running. Its slim pocket provides space for a few chews or gels, and the bite valve makes midrun hydration easy peasy.

Related: The Best Handheld and Standard Water Bottles

Best Running Sunglasses
Goodr The OG

  • No-bounce design
  • Affordable

  • Standard fit is narrow

Sorry-not-sorry if you’ve heard us rave about Goodr before. There is no shortage of running sunglasses, but the $25, lightweight, no-bounce model continues to impress. Our biggest complaint is the narrow fit, so for bigger heads, go for the BFG styles for 10 bucks more. On top of providing UV protection and keeping away sweat, Goodr sunglasses come in a wide array of fun (and funny) colorways, like Flamingos On A Booze Cruise shown here.

Best Midweight Gloves
New Balance Lightweight Touchscreen Running Gloves
New Balance

  • Touchscreen-compatible
  • Warmth without the bulk

  • Fleece design isn’t windproof

When spring is trying to eke its way out of winter’s grasp or for crisp fall mornings, this New Balance glove provides warmth without added bulk. The glove has 240 grams per meter of fleece—a good, midweight option—and a touchscreen feature. Silicone grippers on the palm provide traction for when you need to grip your phone, but we wouldn’t call them the selling point. The New Balance logo, albeit small, is reflective.

Related: The Best Running Gloves

Best Waterproof Gloves
Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ultra Grip Knitted Glove
Now 18% off

  • Waterproof
  • Warm yet breathable

  • Pricey

Before you hem and haw at the price for this “knit” glove, hear us out. The three-layer construction keeps you warm and dry in all weather. The waterproof membrane sits between the nylon exterior and merino wool lining, making it more breathable than other waterproof options. Our testers tried their, er, hand at this model, on a rainy, 35-degree night and their hands stayed dry and warm.

Best Running Headphones
Jaybird Vista True

  • Long battery life for earbuds

  • Bluetooth connection can pick up feedback in crowded places

What more could you want than compact, durable, wireless headphones? Maybe ones that last six hours on a single charge? The Jaybird Vista headphones do just that. Plus they’re completely sealed, protecting the buds from moisture—rain and sweat. Our reviewers noticed a little buzzing over the Bluetooth connection in crowded environments like New York City, but the sound stayed smooth compared to its competitors.

Best Earbud-Free Headphones
Shokz OpenRun Headphones

  • Fewer fit issues than with earbuds
  • Bone conduction tech lets you hear ambient noise

  • Bulkier than earbuds

Although earbuds dominate the on-the-go music scene, they’re not one-size-fits-all, and many runners prefer a different option with fewer fit issues. Shokz, formerly Aftershokz, is known for its bone-conduction headphones, which sit above the ear so you can hear ambient noise, including car traffic, a bicycle bell, or a yell. RW Deputy Test Editor Jeff Dengate hails an older model that he’s worn for thousands of miles. The current model withstands rain and sweat and provides eight hours of battery life, whether you listen to music, podcasts, or work calls while on the run.

Tested: What It’s Like to Run with Shokz OpenRun Pro

Best Crew-Cut Running Socks
Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance Socks

  • Merino wool blend is moisture-wicking and naturally antimicrobial

  • Pricey

Smartwool is one of the OG sock brands to show the power of merino wool for performance. This crew-height running sock, designed by ultrarunner legend Rob Krar, goes the distance without weighing you down or stinking up your shoe. The blend of Merino wool, nylon, and elastane includes light underfoot cushioning plus padding around the ankle and Achilles, making for a comfortable ride on the road and the trails.

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Best Medium-Cushion Running Socks
Darn Tough Run Quarter Ultra-Lightweight Running Sock
Darn Tough

  • Comfortable, stay-put fit
  • Lifetime warranty

  • Some runners might not like the snug fit

Darn Tough is a fan favorite around the Runner’s World office. Deputy Test Editor Jeff Dengate has been running in the now discontinued Press Crew for five years, while I reach for the Run Quarter Ultra-Lightweight sock. It’s breathable with a little bit of cushion underfoot, something I love in a running sock but not a shoe. The quarter height makes for a comfortable ride without slippage. And Darn Tough is, well, darn tough. The company backs all its socks with a lifetime warranty, and that’s saying something considering runners wear their socks hard.

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Best Headband
Sweaty Bands 1-Inch Headband
Sweaty Bands

  • No-slip design
  • Affordable

  • Hand-wash only

Sweaty Bands and runners who need to keep hair out of their faces go way back—like way, way back. A staple at race expos across the country, the OG velvet-lined band really does not slip. The hardest thing to think about when it comes to Sweaty Bands headbands is choosing the design. (Why not stock up on many?)

Related: Running Headbands That Never Slip Off

Best Advanced GPS Watch
Garmin Forerunner 945

  • Fully featured GPS watch with color maps

  • Pricey

For runners who do want all the GPS watch frills, the Garmin Forerunner 945 takes the cake. It tracks your steps (while running and going about your day) and logs your resting heart rate while you sleep to help paint a picture of who you are as an athlete. If you’re a music lover, the 945 supports 1,000 songs for on-the-run listening. And the 945 now has color maps, which helps you navigate new running routes.

Best Affordable GPS Watch
Coros Pace 2

  • Great value
  • Ultra light with a long battery life

  • Nylon strap traps sweat
  • Dial can be tricky to navigate while running

For a lightweight, long-lasting, and affordable GPS watch, the Coros Pace 2 stands head and shoulders above the rest—including the major players when it comes to GPS running watches. The no-frills Pace 2 clocks in at just 29 grams; comparatively, the Apple Watch Series 7 ranges from 32 to 51.5 grams, and the previous Pace was a whopping 48 grams. Don’t worry about battery life either; the Pace 2 will keep you up to speed for 30 hours in between charges, with GPS tracking on.

Full Review

Best Sports Bra
Shefit Ultimate Sports Bra

  • Several points of adjustment for customized fit
  • Wide range of sizes

  • Expensive

This fully customizable bra has been an editor and tester favorite for four years in a row. The Ultimate allows wearers to adjust the band and straps, thanks to eight inches of Velcro. Plus, you can switch from an H-back to a crossback in a cinch. If you’re constantly fighting with your sports bra, the Ultimate’s front zipper will make dressing and undressing a breeze—although we don’t think you’ll ever want to take it off.

Related: The Best Sports Bras

Best Headlamp
BioLite HeadLamp 750

  • Bright
  • Rear lights for extra visibility

  • Only one button to operate many settings

Comfortable and, er, light, the BioLite 750 will guide the way with constant 500 lumens power, plus a 750-lumen burst and rear flashing lights for extra visibility. It even plugs into a portable charger to keep you lit while on the go.

Related: The Best Headlamps for Runners

Best Hydration Vest
CamelBak Zephyr Vest

  • Includes two water bottles
  • Lots of storage room for water and gear
  • Adjustable straps for the perfect fit

  • Water bottles are hard to open and can leak easily
  • Can cause chafing

When a handheld water bottle won’t do the trick or when you need ample storage for hours on the trails, a hydration vest or pack will get you through. CamelBak is known for its hydration products, and the Zephyr takes hydrating to the next level. The lightweight mesh design comes with two of the brand’s QuickStow bottles for easy-access hydration as well as a space for a reservoir (not included). The pack also provides 11 liters of storage for your essentials, a secure phone pocket, trekking pole attachment, and a safety whistle. CamelBak also offers a women’s cut, designed to fit a smaller frame.

Best Sunscreen
Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Now 28% off

  • High SPF
  • Reef-safe formula

  • A bit pricey per ounce compared to other sunscreen

Unless you’re logging miles before the sun comes up or after it goes down, sunscreen with at least 30 SPF is a must. Thinksport’s SPF 50+ doesn’t have common sunscreen chemicals that can destroy coral reefs and hurt wildlife. The zinc oxide-based cream forms a protective barrier that will hold up (with reapplication) over the miles.

If you have darker skin, try Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30. The sunblock is designed by women of color for people of color, dries totally clear, and isn’t sticky or oily. Plus, the formula includes hydrating ingredients, such as avocado and jojoba.

Best Anti-Chafing Balm
Body Glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm
Body Glide

  • Easy application

If you run, you probably know Body Glide. It’s been the gold standard for chafing protection for years. The deodorant-type stick makes it easy to apply and the balm stands up against sweat.

Forgot to apply your Body Glide? Treat chafing with Desitin Diaper Rash Cream. Yes, diaper rash cream. If you think about it, diaper rashes are a form of skin irritation, just like chafing.

Related: How to Prevent and Treat Chafing

Best Foam Roller
Rollga Standard Foam Roller
Now 20% off

  • Targets pressure where you need it

  • Can slide on slippery surfaces

Foam rolling: a necessary evil for runners everywhere. The Rollga roller was designed by a marathoner who actually foam rolls. Taggart Downare, who suffered from shin splints, wanted to create a roller that was effective and (more) comfortable. Downare’s prototypes included Wiffle balls, super balls, socks, and rubber casings before ultimately landing on this lightweight, bulbous design. The roller’s grooves allow for you to apply pressure where you want it (muscles and connective tissue) and skip over areas not meant for rolling (hips, shins, spine). Downare’s reasoning for this design was simple: If it’s more comfortable, you’re more likely to make the recovery activity a habit.

Related: The Best Foam Rollers

Best Affordable Massage Gun
RecoverFun Mini Massage Gun

  • Great value
  • Includes four massage heads

  • Some customers experienced battery failure after months of use

Pricier massage guns don’t always mean better. In fact, you can reap the benefits of regular percussion therapy at just $79 with this extremely quiet mini model. Weighing in at just 1 pound, the RecoverFun Mini Massage Gun comes with a variety of massage heads—ball, fork, bullet, and aluminum—to target your recovery even more (a comparable mini gun from Theragun does not have any additional attachments). Once you’ve massaged through five hours of battery life, you can charge the RecoverFun Mini anywhere, thanks to its USB cable.

Best Budget-Friendly Running Stroller
Graco FastAction Fold Jogger Click Connect Stroller

  • Affordable
  • One-handed folding mechanism

  • Bulky

We could wax poetic all day about the Thule Chariot Cross and the Thule Urban Glide 2, but they’re pricey. For runners who want a jogging stroller that lets them log a few easy miles with a parent-approved brand, try the Graco FastAction. It’s less than $200, a significant price cut compared to other running strollers, and offers rubber tires and a locking front wheel that doesn’t rotate for a smooth ride. Parents laude the one-handed folding mechanism, though the stroller’s size and bulk might cause some issues when trying to find trunk space.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies not ride in a running stroller until they’re at least six months old, but the Graco is compatible with infant car seats. Your best bet is to speak with your pediatrician.

Best Ponytail Running Hat
TrailHeads Ponytail Hat

  • Designed for ponytail compatibility

  • Not best for warm weather

Runners who need a place to stash their long manes and stay warm, may we introduce you to the TrailHeads Ponytail hat? Its fleece will keep you warm, and its wide visor will protect your eyes from bright sun, all while giving your pony a place to escape.

Best Cold-Weather Running Hat
Gore Wear M Windstopper Beanie
Gore Wear

  • High quality

  • Expensive

For ponytail-less noggins, the Gore Wear Windstopper Beanie will keep you warm and dry. Gore gear tends to be on the pricier side, but for good reason: It’s high quality that lasts forever.

Best Training Journal
Compete Training Journal
Believe I Am
Now 24% off

  • Designed by runners for runners

  • Race features might not appeal to all runners

Sure, there are loads of apps out there to help you log your miles and your training, but there’s something to be said about actually writing it all down. (Just ask Molly Huddle.) We love the Compete Training Journal, from former pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Róisín McGettigan-Dumas. You’ll record your workouts, yes, but the pages will also help you set and assess goals, learn from professionals, and, perhaps most important, reflect.

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