Trail runners in the forest

Top running gear and trends you should know

Whether you’re a newbie trail runner or a seasoned marathoner, it’s natural that a fresh running season brings a sense of excitement about the latest tech and gear on the scene. There’s lots to see for 2018, from GPS run watches that store over 500 songs to reflective details that come to life on night runs.

We’ve gathered up the gear that’s getting us pumped for longer days and sunshine in one place:

Throwback details

Asics is one of the original players for running shoes, and we’re digging the throwback splatter and mesh on the Asics Roadhawk road runners. Retro colours and prints are also making their way onto clothing. One example? Patagonia’s popular Houdini jacket for running, hiking and even climbing.

Patagonia Houdini jacket and the Asics Roadhawk shoes.

Yellow: A Colour Story

Whether you call it lemon, lime, sulphur or just plain yellow, we’re noticing every running brand has an offering in this summery shade which is said to evoke energy, joy, and clarity which are all the emotions we associate with running (or at least post-run).

Here’s a round up of yellow favourites, all shown below:

Thick cushy soles

Hoka is known for being a ‘maximalist’ brand, thanks to their cushy, floaty, runners with stack heights above 30mm,” says MEC running shoe specialist Sean. “Stack height is basically the total thickness of material between your foot and the ground, and is a useful proxy for how cushy a shoe will feel,” he explains.

With all that cushion, they’re still surprisingly light so you can respond quickly to twists and turns on technical terrain. Side note: if you’re a runner who just can’t adjust their heel strike then these shoes might be ones to try thanks to their immense cushioning. We’re pumped about the Hoka Challenger ATR 4, the Hoka SpeedGoat 2.

Challenger ATR 4 helps with stability on technical terrain, and the SpeedGoat 2 has an wider midsole and toebox than their earlier version.

Zero drop

Altra running shoes are known for their zero drop which means the shoes are exact same distance off the ground at both the heel and the ball of the foot. Zero drop shoes support proper foot striking. Altra’s founder, Golden Harper, says, “Landing anywhere between a slight heel strike and a slight forefoot strike is a safe zone for most people.” With proper running form, it’s possible to reduce your impact, avoid runner’s knee, and prevent shin splints while running.

Zero drop shoes are same distance from the ground at both the heel and the ball of the foot.

For reference, a traditional running shoe drop is 10–12mm. An increasing number of trail running shoes are coming in at 8mm or lower, and there are more shoes in the 0–4 mm (low-drop range). Basically, low-drop is one concept that’s stuck around from the minimalist trend; even as stack heights are on the rise, you can still find options across the drop spectrum (from 0–11mm in the MEC trail assortment).

roomy toe boxes

In terms of shape and fit, Altras are all about the wide toe box shaped like a human foot, compared to a pointier toe on the Hoka.

“Altra specifically designs shoes with a broad, wide toe box to allow your foot to spread and splay naturally, and people with average to wide feet will likely want to try on the Altras,” says Sean. “Hokas have more of a performance fit, so runners that have feet any wider than average (and particularly those running longer distances/races, where your feet tend to swell a bit) will want to confirm they’ll get the width they need from Hokas.”

Go for Gore

Gore-Tex that is. Salomon and Asics released options that we’re fond of for rainy day runs, including the Asics FujiTrabuco and Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX shoes. They’ll keep your feet dry so you can run in shoulder season when puddles and splashing are abundant. (Want more? This way to all our waterproof trail runners).

All in one watch: Garmin Express Music and GPS

Garmin Express, which you can access with the Forerunner 645 Music watch, lets you store up to 500 songs to play from your watch to your Bluetooth headphones. That means it’s easy to always make sure you have your power song ready for your hill workout.

The Garmin Vivoactive (left) also comes in classic black, while the Forerunner 645 Music has another option with colour.

Pair the Jabra Sport Pace wireless headphones with the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music.

What music do you listen to when you run?

The best in vests

When you’re hitting the trails, you’ll want to carry a few trail running essentials. Some runners opt for a pack, while others are discovering what makes run vests so great: they’re streamlined, fit close to your body, and still give you lots of places to stash your must-haves.

One with rave reviews is the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set pack. Perfect for longer runs, it’s got 12L capacity, and mesh that stretches around you to help wick sweat as you tick off the kilometres.

“I bought this pack a couple months ago… It fits very snugly, which helps to reduce chafing and makes it so you hardly notice the pack on. The included bottles are great, no pressure points and you can use them without taking them out. Plenty of pockets for fuel or gloves, etc, and the included bonuses of whistle and space blanket are a nice touch. Highly recommend!” says one reviewer on mec.ca.

One bonus of the Salmon ADV Skin 12 vest is that it comes with 2 soft flasks that ride up front.

Another option – one that leaves you extra budget for energy gels – is the MEC Pace Running vest.

With 2.5L of room, it’s just the right size for runs that last up to a few hours and has garnered great reviews. It comes with a hydration reservoir, has tons of adjustment options, and the quick-draw shoulder pocket lets you access nutrition without breaking stride.

Bonus: Many of these packs will serve you well for more than just running – you can use them for day hiking and even cross-country skiing too.

Fun socks, ‘cause why not?

Short socks, high socks, colourful socks, toe socks – we love ‘em all. Fun running socks let you show off a bit of personality, increase support and keep feet dry (to keep blisters at bay).

Stance Cushion Run Crew socks give you a bunch of fun running sock options, from bright neon to flowers or stripes. If you’re into merino wool, the Smartwool PhD Run socks are super comfortable (if you’ve never given merino-wood blend socks a try, the Smartwool Ultra Light Micros are fantastic for hot summer runs). Want to make sock shopping fast and easy? Pick up a Wigwam 3-pack of bright ankle socks and call it done.

Tights vs. running shorts

Everyone has their own preference on the tights versus shorts topic. Some runners even opt for a combo and wear shorts over tights on chilly days. Our stance? Whatever keeps you the most comfortable ultimately helps you run better. For men, tights or compression shorts can, ahem, keep things in place when bouncing around on trails or pounding the pavement.

Nike makes two options, a women’s compression short that comes in a 3inch inseam, and a longer men’s short with a 6-inch inseam:

Tights can be a good way to help prevent bug bites and scrapes. One of my favourites is the Sanctuary tight – it has a wide waistband that stays up on my hips and never digs in. For men, the MEC Instinct tights work great on the road or trail, and have a rear pocket for your keys/ID.

MEC Sanctuary Tights, along with the Tempo Wind Breaker, both come in print or solid colour options.

Loose-fitting shorts allow for more movement and let the cool air in when it’s warm out. If that’s your jam, then check out the BPM Trail Short – they’re antimicrobial, sweat-wicking, kitted out with two expandable pockets, and have a back zippered pocket big enough for a phone. These shorts come in two lengths for men, so if you like more leg coverage go for the 7in. MEC BPM Shorts, or the 8in. Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts.

MEC BPM Shorts designed for running or any other sweat-inducing sports.

Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts are made of breathable fabric that resists snagging.

Subtle and not-so-subtle reflective details

When it comes to reflective gear, there are two types. Active reflection includes headlamps, flashing lights and LED accessories – the more “shouty” reflective option. Passive reflection is gear that illuminates once light shines on it, such as the reflective trim on clothing, arm bands and straps.

A few options for active reflection include the uber visible LED run vest and an LED wrist slap, both from the brand Nite Ize who specialize in LED safety products.

Stay visible on those early morning or late evening runs with LED illumination.

You can never be too visible on night runs, so why not combine both types of reflection? A few options for passive reflection include the MEC Fury Reflect jacket – it looks like a simple normal grey jacket in daytime light, and shows off its overall reflective print at night when light shines on it.

MEC Fury Reflect Jacket by day and with passive reflection features for night runs.

For women, New Balance offers a jacket made with reflective yarn called the Reflective Pack Jacket. Thanks to the reflective nature, the jacket is visible from all angles. It’s also breathable and packs into its own pocket.

 

The New Balance Reflective Pack Jacket offers 360 degrees of reflectivity.

We’re also a fan of the pattern detail in the New Balance Reflective Tights and Reflective Shorts:

New Balance hones in on the reflective details of their shorts and tights.

Trends from MEC Run Ambassadors

We also checked in with Nick Elson and Jim Willett about the trends they are noticing in the running world:

“The gear and technology is ever evolving, but I think there are more people than ever out on the trails, discovering and exploring. I’m noticing a lot of runners sporting GPS run watches these days.” – Jim Willett, ultrarunner and coach  

“I’m excited to see that increasingly, runners are challenging themselves outside of organized races. Racing is great, but an exciting aspect of trail running is the ability to choose different adventures that inspire you and work towards achieving them. That could mean anything from setting a personal best time on a favorite trail, running up and down a remote mountain, or completing a multi-day fast-packing trip.” – Nick Elson, ultramarathon champion

Here’s to a fantastic 2018 running season. Share your running pics with #goodtimesoutside to show us what new routes, races and run crews you’re into this year.

Missy Shana
Missy Shana

A social media specialist, Seinfeld-quoter who repeatedly travels vast distances for good food. Has probably creeped your Instagram profile.