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Trail Running Gear for the Off-Season

Ready to hit the trails this summer to keep in shape for the slopes? From shoes to recovery tools, this gear makes logging miles fun.

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With the ski season in the rearview mirror, warmer weather and cabin fever have us hitting both the trails and pavement hard. If your goal is to stay in shape during the off-season so you can pick up right where you left off once lifts start spinning again, running and hiking are some of the best cross-training activities you can do for skiing. Whilst trying to clock anywhere from 5 to 50 miles a week, here are the go-to pieces of gear that have elevated our performance.

Salomon Sense Ride 3 Shoe

Salomon Sense Ride 3 Shoe
Salomon Sense Ride 3 in Blue.Photo courtesy of Salomon

It can be hard to find a trail shoe with the perfect blend of performance and cushion. Salomon, who makes trail running shoes for superhumans like Kilian Jornet, tends to skew their running shoes significantly more towards the performance side of the scale instead of maximizing cushion. In the third iteration of the Sense Ride, Salomon does focus on maximizing cushion and comfort while still maintaining a level of trail feel and performance that is a step above companies that approach this formula from the perspective of maximizing cushion and cutting down on that to find performance. The key is the Sense Ride 3’s Optivibe midsole, which uses two types of foam to damp vibrations at foot strike without affecting propulsion. Add in a sticky Contragrip outsole and a performance-oriented upper, and this shoe is right at home on the mellowest gravel trails to the gnarliest technical descents. I’m close to 100 miles in them already this summer on the trails around Boulder, Colo., and they still have the ideal performance-to-cushion ratio. [$120, Men’s Options; Women’s Options] – Jon Jay

HOKA One One Challenger ATR 5 Shoes

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 Shoe
The HOKA One One Challenger ATR 5 for women.Photo courtesy of HOKA One One

Admittedly, I’m not only a trail runner. I also find myself pounding pavement to get to a trail or sneaking in quick runs at lunchtime along the bike path or through my neighborhood. Finding a shoe that can perform both on trails and on pavement has been my quest, and it seems to be what the Challenger ATR 5 is made for. This 100-percent vegan and hybrid option has grown through five generations and this newest installment feels lighter than ever, weighing in at 7.7 ounces. The early-stage rocker propels my instep forward and the 4mm lugs positioned at the outsole give me traction on rocky or dusty trails. The oversized foam midsole provides the cushioning HOKAs are known for and that my knees love when pounding on pavement. Four miles on the road or 6 miles on a trail, these runners keep a bounce in my step, and my recovery is marked by less soreness. [$130, Men’s OptionsWomen’s Options] – Jessi Hackett

Patagonia Endless Run Shorts

Patagonia Endless Run Shorts
The Patagonia Endless Run Shorts for men.Photo courtesy of Patagonia

Don’t let the spandex fool you, these might be some of the most innovative running shorts I’ve ever seen. The quick-drying fabric moves with the runner extremely efficiently and incorporates three handy no-bounce pockets for phones, snacks, and other essentials for those runs that don’t warrant a vest or waist pack but still require some essentials. The fair-trade fabric is also exceptionally soft and comfortable, meaning you’ll probably want to wear these shorts for every run (I know I do). [$79 for Men; $59 for Women] – JJ

Tracksmith Women’s Allston Pocket Bra

Tracksmith Running Bra
Tracksmith Women’s Allston Pocket Bra.Photo courtesy of Tracksmith

A bra with a pocket? Where has this been all my life? This bra from Tracksmith has two layers of breathable fabric with an opening at the neck, meaning I can stash my phone or keys when I’m running without other storage. It offers medium-to-high support for a small-to-medium bust size and rests just above the rib cage, providing more lower coverage for when I want to peel off my shirt and run in just a bra. [$58,] – JH

LéBent Le Sock Trail Ultra Light Mini Socks

LeBent Ultralight Trail Mini sock
LéBent Le Sock Trail Ultra Light Mini SocksPhoto courtesy of LéBent

These unisex running socks incorporate sustainable bamboo, odor-fighting Merino wool, and mapped nylon to create perfectly fitting socks that you can feel good about wearing. Not to mention, they make your feet feel great on the trail, too. Minimal cushioning underfoot also means that you won’t have to sacrifice trail-feel while staying blister-free. These socks also dry quickly and don’t stink after long days on the trail. [$20,] – JJ

Tracksmith Harrier Tank, Tee, and Long Sleeve Tops

Tracksmith Harrier Long Sleeve tee
The Tracksmith Harrier Long Sleeve Tee for women.Photo courtesy of Tracksmith

Founded in New England, Tracksmith’s designs are reminiscent of traditional low-profile track and field attire with elevated, modern fabrics. The Merino blend has me wearing these tops several times a week before they see the wash. The Harrier Tank has a high neckline and scooped hem with open shoulders that peek out at the collar bone and 11-percent of elastane gives this shirt a relaxed-yet-tailored fit, so it’s not baggy but also doesn’t cling to me—which I appreciated on a 6-mile run during an 87-degree afternoon. The Harrier Long Sleeve has become my go-to piece for cool mornings, evenings, or high alpine exploration, and like its sister tank, its Merino blend means it doesn’t get smelly after one long run. [$68 for Women’s Harrier Tank, $72 for Men’s Harrier Tee; $78 for Men’s and Women’s Long Sleeve Harrier Tee] – JH

Julbo AeroLite Segment Sunglasses

Julbo AeroLight Segment
Julbo AeroLite Segment Sunglasses.Photo courtesy of Julbo

There might be nothing better than when photochromic lenses (which change tint based on exposure to UV rays) actually work. But when they work and they are incorporated in a super lightweight, comfortable frame system, it makes for the perfect combo for trail running and just about everything else. The AeroLight Segment sunglasses’ REACTIV photochromic lenses go from clear to a category 3 rating, meaning I start wearing them when my run starts (or finishes) in the dark, but keep my eyes protected from the sun during high noon. They are so comfortable, and the lens tech works so well, I usually forget I’m wearing them until the end of the run, no matter what time of day that is. [$220,] – JJ

Arc’teryx Calvus Visor 

Arc'Teryx Calvus Visor
The Arc’teryx Calvus Visor.Photo courtesy of Arc’teryx

Featuring polyester with a modest foam brim and an elastic strap, the Calvus Visor does what it’s supposed to do without unnecessary added weight or doodads. Tested on every hike and run this spring, it’s kept sweat from my eyes while protecting my face from the harsh Colorado sun (a top priority these days). Sure, I may look like my mom in a visor, but I’ve accepted it because unlike a hat, visors let me free my ponytail, keeping my long hair from sticking to my neck or upper back. For this visor, keep in mind sizing—the elastic strap is not adjustable, which is an A+ for minimalism but does require a proper, snug fit to do its job right. [$29,] – JH

Tracksmith Women’s Session Shorts 

Tracksmith Session Shorts
Tracksmith Women’s Session Shorts.Photo courtesy of Tracksmith

Hands down my new favorite shorts. The anti-microbial built-in liners feel like butter against my skin while I’m moving, and the elastic waistband rests perfectly above my hips, hugging my tummy in the friendliest of ways, never leaving a mark or feeling too tight. In the past, I’ve found if I want this kind of fit, I normally look like I’m wearing shorts a size too big, but not with these thanks to a blend of 86 percent nylon and 14 percent elastane. The length is ideal and not too short with a 3.25 inseam, and the airy, silky fabric provides nonstop breathability. The vertical zippered pocket rests on my right side below my hip and fits my keys and fuel no problem. [$68,] – JH

Injinji Liner + Runner Socks

Injinji Socks
Injinji Women’s Liner + Runner Socks.Photo courtesy of Injinji

I’ve seen baselayer socks used in skiing and mountaineering, but to integrate a liner sock into my running kit is new for me. Designed for the male or female foot, the Injinji sock system is simple: the liner is a thin, breathable toe sock made of a mix of CoolMax fabric, nylon, and lycra fibers that allow for wicking, while the thicker, outer sock offers cushioning to avoid blisters and arch support. On longer, chillier morning runs on dew-covered trails in the foothills of Colorado’s San Juan mountains, the freedom of toe movement provided by the liner, combined with the cushioning of the outer layer, is noticeable. I’m prone to soreness on the roof of my flat feet and I often ignore pain felt when cinching up my shoelaces—that pain dissipated while wearing these socks. In super-hot weather, they do feel like a lot of sock, but if cushioning and mobility are something your feet are lacking, the Injinji system makes it worth it. [$24, Men’s Options; Women’s Options] – JH

HeadSweats Crusher Hat

HeadSweats Crusher Hat
HeadSweats Crusher Hat with mountainsPhoto courtesy of Headsweats

There is something comforting about having a go-to trail running hat, and since my first run with it, the HeadSweats Crusher has become just that. This lightweight hat incorporates plenty of cooling mesh, a soft foam bill that does an excellent job of keeping both the sun and sweat out of my eyes, and more than enough graphic options to please every aesthetic. It also works well with larger-than-average heads and can handle ponytails with ease. [$23,] – JJ

Arc’teryx Lightweight Incendio SL and Cita SL Jacket

Arc'teryx running jacket
The Arc’Teryx Cita SL Jacket.Photo courtesy of Arc’teryx

Tested in 45-degree weather, with 15 to 20 mph winds in the southern Rockies at 9,000 feet of elevation, I was surprised at the warmth the Cita “superlight” Jacket provides. The shell, made of ultra-lightweight synthetic fiber, performs like a little windbreaker that can ball up to the size of a 2.3-ounce fist. It pushes moisture out via the vented back while somehow locking in heat—ideal for the chilly weather in higher altitude. There’s also the option to choose the Cita that comes with a hood if more coverage is something you crave. [$129, Men’s Options; Women’s Options] – JH

RECCO Reflector

FitBit RECCO Band
The Fitbit Versa Family RECCO Band.Photo courtesy of FitBit

Going deep into the wilderness? Make sure something in your kit includes a RECCO Reflector in case of an emergency. As a number of North American search and rescue operations start utilizing helicopter-assisted RECCO detectors to search large territories quickly, bringing a RECCO reflector on a long trail run is a no-brainer. Considering they are built-in to a number of items like smartwatch straps, rain jackets, and stand-alone reflectors that can be attached to anything, it’s a great idea to bring one with you whenever you’re covering lots of ground far away from a cell phone signal. – JJ

Ned Hemp Infused Body Butter

Ned CBD Body Butter
Ned Hemp Infused Body Butter.Photo courtesy of Ned

A hot and cold shower followed by stretching is my personal favorite form of recovery and the Ned Hemp Infused Body Butter made in Boulder, Colo., is perfect to apply right out of the shower. Not only does it moisturize, but the vitamins, cannabinoids, and fatty acids also activate the muscles so you can increase circulation, dive into a deep stretch, and speed up the self-healing process. Tested for 15 consecutive days and combined with other recovery methods, like regular stretching, eating right, and muscle massages, the benefits are subtle but evident: my chronic ankle swelling decreased and my notoriously tight calve muscles loosened. Ned also makes CBD tincture oil, lip balm, and other plant-based products that can be delivered to your door every month. And if not this balm, consider implementing some form of CBD into your regime, because the benefits are notable. [$52,]- JH

HyperIce Hypershere Mini Massage Ball

HypeRice Massage ball
HyperIce Hypershere Mini Massage BallPhoto courtesy of HyperIce

This three-speed, softball-sized massage ball gives me the ultimate recovery power. While a foam roller is my first love in muscle recovery tools, this little cordless ball has become my mistress. Like a lot of skiers and runners, I’m constantly combating muscle soreness and working to break up scar tissue left behind after surgeries, and this vibrating silicone sphere allows for acute attention to tension—tight calves, foot arches, hamstrings, shoulder blades, you name it. The Hypershere Mini comes from the bigger family of at-home recovery tools and I love using it at night while watching Netflix. My mini now lives on a little stand out of site while it charges, packs as easy as a piece of clothing, and its affordability makes it an ideal gift. [$99,] – JH

These reviews were written by Jessi Hackett and Jon Jay, two skiers who know that running is the best exercise to be better skiers, bikers, and athletes.