10 Best Gifts for Runners Reviewed

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What are the best gifts for runners? Need some last-minute Christmas gift ideas? We’ve broken down some of 2016’s best runner-specific products by category to help you with gift shopping (or perhaps something for yourself!)

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp
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  • Full Strength, Dimming and Strobe
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Danish Endurance 18-21 mmHg
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Nuun Hydration Tablets
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  • Caffeine + B Vitamins
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10 Best Gifts for Runners

 

Run Fast, Eat Slow

Run Fast, Eat Slow
Shalane Flanagan (4-time Olympian) and Elyse Kopecky (chef and runner) teamed up to release this book in August of 2016, and it’s already made the New York Times Bestseller List! The book combines nutritional information, personal stories, and over 100 recipes specific for runners and endurance athletes.
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Favorite features

Unlike other running-specific recipe content, this book focuses on the importance of healthy fat in a runners’ diet and strays away from over-emphasis on calorie counting and protein-heavy meals. The book organizes recipes in a functional way, providing ideas for delicious treats, satisfying snacks, healthy meals, and thirst-quenching drinks that family and friends will love. Fan favorites include: High-Altitude Bison Meatballs, Can’t Beet Me Smoothie, Kale Raddiccio, Recovery Quinoa Salad, Marathon Lasagna and Superhero Muffins. If you’re still uncertain, check out Runner’s World for a great podcast interview of both authors!

Value

The book is a hardcover format that most reviewers found affordable given the value and usefulness of the content.
Pros
  • Great, modifiable recipe ideas with beautiful photos

  • Info may also help with energy, inflammation, gut issues

  • Each recipe has a “story” and explanation of purpose

  • Great resource for athletes and non-athletes alike

Cons
  • Some felt recipe ingredients were hard to find

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp
There are many great running headlamps on the market, and the Black Diamond Sprinter is our top pick for mid-range running lighting options. This Triple LED light boasts 200 lumens at its highest setting to light the way for trail and road nighttime running.
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Favorite Features

The lithium rechargeable battery out-performs most headlamps that require AAA’s. The top strap ensures a great and comfortable fit without the need to readjust a sliding single-strap headlamp. The Sprinter features a red rear light that’s a great feature for city running visibility. The light features several illumination levels and is tiltable so you can adapt it to the terrain.

Value

High value considering the cost, with plenty of features for both roads and trails.

Also Consider

If your budget is on the high end, consider the Black Diamond Icon Polar, a more powerful and cold weather-proof model for runners with a higher price tag than the Sprinter. The Petzl Reactik+ is another higher-end model featuring 300 lumens and a double strap design for a comfortable fit without jostling. If you’re looking for a low budget option, the Petzl Tikka is a popular choice for night running.
Pros
  • Doesn’t wobble when you run

  • Positive reviews for use during races

  • Performs well on trails

  • Rear flashing light is great for city running

Cons
  • Battery life may not cover longer multi-day trips

Compression Sock: Danish Endurance

Compression Sock: Danish Endurance
An effective compression sock will assist your blood-low and circulation and some will be more comfortable than others. This has quite a bit to do with the fit and design of the sock. The anatomically accurate fit and soft material will prevent blisters while placing pressure where it's needed in the foot.
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Favorite Features

Our favorite features are certainly it's accurately contoured fit and soft material composition made up of ninety-five percent polyamide and five percent elasthane. The sock has just enough padding to keep a lightweight, easy fit without compromising performance. The elasticity in pair with the design allows the full length of the sock to hug the leg naturally while focusing gradual compression upward from the foot.

Value

You have a sock that will perform well across the board, in many different activities and many different sports. The value they offer is in diversity and performance. It's only in addition that you get them at a significantly lower price than similarly performing compression socks. For the reasons mentioned the Danish Endurance Graduated Compression Sock has landed as a practical buy that's worth considering.

Also Consider

Danish endurance also has Calf Compression Sleeves (18-21 mmHg) and Organic Compression Socks (14-20 mmHg) available that are built similarly. The Calf Compression Sleeve will function just as the socks other than the compression being focued from the bottom of the leg up rather than the foot. The Organic Compression socks have an alteration in the material composition being sixty-five percent organic cotton, twenty percent elastane and fifteen percent lycra.
Pros
  • Great fit and ample compression
  • holds in place well: No slipping
  • Effective Wicking  & Breathable material
  • Multiple color options
Cons
  • Compression socks typically cost more than standard socks.

Garmin Forerunner 230

Garmin Forerunner 230
The “best” Garmin in 2016 is subject to much speculation, so our recommendation is based on the best reviewed middle-budget Garmin options in a wide consensus at the end of 2016. The Garmin 230 doubles as a watch and activity tracker, keeping track of steps and sleep data, in addition to boasting excellent performance for logging running data.
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Favorite Features

This watch features a 44% larger screen than the popular Garmin 220. It’s been tested and approved by females with smaller wrists and it is one of the lightest GPS watches in its class. The battery life is excellent (5 weeks battery life in watch mode and 16 hours in training mode). The Forerunner 230 also has a useful “Find My Phone” feature and is compatible with android and IOS, with the ability to deliver Bluetooth smart phone notifications. It does not feature a wrist-based heart rate tracker, but does have the option to purchase a chest strap for monitoring your heart rate. Available in three color options: Purple Strike, Force Yellow, and Black & White.
Value
Given all of the features of this product, most agree it’s a great deal for a reliable middle-level GPS watch.
Also Consider
Several more expensive watches (like the Garmin Forerunner 735XT and Garmin Forerunner 235) and more budget choices (Garmin Vivoactive HR and Garmin VivoFit) are also worth looking into, based on your price considerations.
Pros
  • Lightweight (1.44 oz.) and comfortable

  • Bluetooth functionality

  • Great battery life

  • Waterproof and durable

  • GPS is fast and reliable

Cons
  • Does not track elevation gain until connected to internet / app

  • No virtual pacer feature

  • Some find the screen is too dim

Running Movie: “Unbreakable

Running Movie: “Unbreakable
In a culture where online streaming companies are rendering Blockbuster obsolete, DVD’s may be going out of style. But what about those favorite classics that you want on hand to watch over and over? And what about the smaller production movies that aren’t available online? There are so many great running movies out there, so the “best” and “most inspirational” is a hard category to tackle. “Unbreakable: The Western States 100,” is one of our top newer picks for the running-themed home cinema experience.
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Favorite Features

The movie was released in November of 2012, and features super-athletes Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, and Geoff Roes as they battle for the title of the 2010 Western States 100. This has been described as one of the best race showdowns in one of the toughest trail races in the world in recent times. Director JB Benna follows the top four athletes through their homes and personal lives and also does a great job keeping tabs on each racer during the event.

Value

This is a bit on the expensive side for a DVD, but it’s a unique gift for everyone from those who are just getting into running to those who are experienced ultra-runners.

Also Consider

“The Last Mile,” “Spirit of the Marathon” and “Without Limits” are also popular running movies this season. “Prefontaine” is a timeless classic that many runners have most likely already seen (but won’t mind seeing again!)
Pros
  • Incredibly inspiring

  • Beautifully documented race

  • Easy to watch more than once

Cons
  • Expensive

Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats

Yaktrax Run Traction Cleats
Slipping and sliding around this winter? Yaktrax Run features steel coils that are attached to the outside of the running shoe to enable runners to have superior traction for training in winter months. This newer product also features 3mm carbide-steel spikes. Yaktrax Running Cleats are promoted for use by the manufacturer for “running in urban and rural environments in which a person may encounter ice, snow, slush, and potentially transition across bare asphalt and cement.”
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Favorite Features
This product has rubber framing that encompasses the top of the shoe for a sturdy fit so that you don’t need to stop to readjust the coils from slipping off, compared to other brands. Yaktrax Run is lightweight and the spikes under the forefoot assist with even the iciest conditions.
Value
A very affordable option, typically under $40.
Also Consider
Outside Magazine recommends MICROspikes for superior traction if you’re mostly running on trails. Kahtoola NANO and MICROspikes are also a popular choice for backcountry running.
Pros
  • Reflective straps for night-time visibility

  • Affordable option

  • Most agree that these stay well secured to shoewear

  • Tested in temperatures up to -41F

Cons
  • Not as useful for climbing steep slopes and trail running

  • Some reported sizing issues

Salomon Agile 2 Hydration Pack

Salomon Agile 2 Hydration Pack
For shorter runs, the Salomon Agile 2 is a great lightweight choice. This pack includes a 1.5 liter bladder, waist and chest straps, and breathable back panels.
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Favorite Features

The design features 2 exterior pockets and has enough room for your car keys, an energy bar, and a light outer layer. The Salomon bladder performs well and is durable, and the hydration sleeve in the pack is insulated which brings an added bonus for year-round use. This vest is also comfortable for skiing, bike riding and hiking.

Value

Moderately priced for a highly reputable brand and product.

Also Consider

Nathan Sports Endurance Pack was the Editors’ Pick for 2016 from Runners World Magazine. The Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest and Gregory Tempo 5 are trail-designed and higher priced but have more storage capabilities. The High Sierra Propel is a nice lower-budget option.
Pros
  • Lightweight and versatile

  • Excellent bladder/insulated sleeve design

  • Attractive & stylish

Cons
  • Water storage not ideal for longer runs (>4 hours)

  • Not a lot of space to pack extra layers

Extra Long Medal Holder

Extra Long Medal Holder
Know anyone who’s a running fanatic? Need an attractive design for the running race medal collection? Gone for a Run provides a fun way to display your accomplishments (and provide future daily motivation too!)
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Favorite Features

This medal display features an attractive cityscape/runner silhouette scene and the words “RUN STRONG.” It holds an impressive 96 medals but also looks nice with a lower quantity of medals spaced out on the bar attachment system. It’s durable and easy to install.

Value

On the expensive side, but the details would be hard to replicate yourself. A unique and classy alternative to other medal display products.
Pros
  • Simple design, no wordy quotations

  • Holds a large amount of race medals

  • Bar display system also makes smaller collection look nice

  • Durable, high quality material

Cons
  • Expensive

Original Buff Headwear

Original Buff Headwear
Buffs are a popular accessory for runners year-round, as they can be used for neck and face protection in the winter and folded into a headband for hotter climates. The product is made from 100% microfiber, is seamless, quick-drying and moisture-wicking.
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Favorite Features

Unisex, one size fits all and most agree that the product does well with its intended uses. Versatile product that can also be used for mild wind/cold protect, sweat wicking in the heat, as an armband or even an eye mask for sleeping/travel!

Value

Some find this product on the pricey side considering it’s a small amount of fabric (neck sleeve). Fair price compared to reputable competitors.
Pros
  • Lightweight, versatile, simple

  • Attractive designs

  • Tons of color and pattern options

Cons
  • Some complain about the prominent logo

  • May not perform as well in extended use once it’s wet

NUUN Energy Electrolyte Drink

NUUN Energy Electrolyte Drink
Not all runners like Gu/Gels or other edible running products, but most will appreciate the gift of a hydration product. NUUN Energy Tablets dissolve in water to provide electrolytes pre or mid-workout. The fizzy blend of Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Niacin boosts athletes and energy levels and may assist in preventing muscle cramping and dehydration. NUUN Energy contains the same essentials as NUUN Active, plus a boost of Vitamin B and caffeine.
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Favorite Features
These tablets contain 40mg caffeine (about 1/3 cup of coffee) and come in 4 flavor options: Fresh Lime, Wild Berry, Cherry Limeade, and Mango Orange. NUUN boasts a product that utilizes plant-based sweeteners, and is free of gluten, soy, and animal based-ingredients. NUUN energy tablets are generally less sweet than other hydration beverages and the container is nice and portable – simply throw them in the car or gym bag and go!
Value
When priced out, these little tablets provide a better value per serving than purchasing Gatorade and other pre-mixed hydration products (and less plastic bottle waste!) They are a particularly good deal when purchased in packages of 4.
Pros
  • Clean ingredients and great electrolyte balance

  • Great reviews for a number of different sports

  • Not too sweet

  • Contain (small amount of) caffeine

Cons
  • Some people did not like the flavor(s)

 

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The Criteria Used For Selecting The Best Gifts For Runners

 

A Thoughtful Gift That Goes A Long Way

Anyone who’s has a close relative or friend that is passionate about running will tell you that a sport-related present is always very much appreciated more than any gift card or fruit basket. It seems that there are a few things that some runners would not buy for themselves. Maybe it’s a little extra gear for their runs, or something that they’ve never considered before. We know that it can be hard to select something for the person that already has the standard running gear they need. So we have provided thoughtful gifts that all runners could enjoy without having to worry about their favorite color or personal preferences. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest gifts out there for the runner in your life.

 

Media

For your runner that likes a great book or movie, we have selected one of each. Our book comes from a critically acclaimed chef and runner working in conjunction with a four times Olympian to bring you an excellent New York Times Bestseller. It’s a wonderful collection of personal stories and experiences they’ve had and delicious recipes that are healthy and tasty. For those runner’s that love a good inspirational movie about their sport, we have selected an excellent documentary that follows runners along their training and running of an ultra marathon. Any trail runner or marathon runner would absolutely love this movie and it received high marks among all those who watched it. So whether they enjoy a good book, or a good movie, there are great choices for them on our list.

 

Safety For The Stubborn

Do you know a runner that runs during low lighting conditions, but stubbornly doesn’t buy any lighted accessories for their outings? Maybe you know a runner that has been using the same light for the past ten years that’s about as bright as a single birthday candle? Our buying guide features a top rated running headlamp that is sure to light up their expression when you gift it to them. Sporting different settings and illuminating up to two hundred lumens, this headlamp will give your runner a better view of where they’re going. They will also be a lot more visible to distracted drivers that typically are not looking out for runners or cyclists. This is one gift that can save a life, so if you know a runner that runs in low light, make this a gift for them.

 

Practical Gift For The Trail Runner

It doesn’t matter if they run a technical trail or a non-technical outdoor course, if they’re outside, chances are that dust and tiny pebbles find their way into their shoes. There is nothing more annoying than having to stop your run and unlace your shoes to remove a painfully present small stone. Most runners simply don’t know just how much a running gaiter can do for their outdoor runs. This is a must have for any outdoor enthusiast, so if you are shopping for a hiker or trail runner, this would be a gift that will make them remember you every single time they hit the great outdoors.

 

A Gift For Every Budget

One of the best things about our best gift guide is the wide range of price points. A great gift doesn’t need to break the bank; in fact most of the gifts on our list are less expensive than the average birthday or Christmas gift. If you were looking for something a little smaller, the running buff is a great choice. It can be a headband, cap, or neckband and is moisture wicking and quick drying. This is another example of a gift that will be well received even though most runners wouldn’t think about buying it for themselves. They are sure to get use out of a product that is so versatile.

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Other Important Things to Consider When Searching For The Best Gifts For Runners

Although you may have already narrowed down your selection to a couple of choices, here are some additional points that you should read. Below are some additional factors to keep in mind when selecting a gift for your runner friend.

 

Do They Love Data?

If you know a runner or athlete that absolutely loves to have every single metric about their workout available to them, the Garmin activity tracker is for them! It was the year’s highest reviewed accessory and is much better suited for the active person in your life than the limited Apple Watch. Track advanced metrics such as sleep, steps, pace, and speed all while having the longest battery life on the market. It’s a nice middle-budget option, too. This waterproof and rugged dynamo will make a great gift.

 

Do They Have A Place To Display Their Accomplishments?

This is truly the gift that every runner doesn’t know they need until they have it! A running medal holder will display all their collection in a fun yet elegant design. It’s easily overlooked, but when you have been participating in events for years and years, medals tend to pile up. This makes it the perfect gift to get them out of those shelves and drawers and get them properly displayed where they can be a cool conversation piece and source of inspiration. It’s a really neat gift that looks great once it’s been hung up on the wall.

 

Do They Need A Little Pick Me Up?

Got a hard to shop for runner, and can’t think of anything else? Our selection of hydration energy tabs from NUUN is a great choice. They give runners a fun and fizzy burst of vitamins and nutrients to keep them going. There are several flavors to choose from and since runners are always looking for fast and more convenient ways to get their energy up, this is a great little gift to show them that you care. We also made sure to pick a middle of the road flavor that most people will enjoy; it’s not too sweet and not too tart.

 

Combine Gifts For More Of A Wow Factor

If you feel like your runner deserves a little extra special gift, consider joining to matching gifts together to really make it a huge surprise. Most items can be paired to fit a theme, like the traction cleats and the headlamp, or the hydration backpack and the running buff. As runners, we can say that any combination of gifts on this list would really knock our socks off.

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FAQ

No matter which gift you select for the runner in your life, we are sure that they will be more than thrilled to get a thoughtful item that helps them to keep enjoying the sport that they are so passionate about. We know that runners could be picky, but these options are sure to please even the most discerning runner. Before you head to your local running store, read the commonly asked questions below about shopping for gifts for runners.

 

Q: This is a nice selection of running gift ideas; where did you get your inspiration from?

A: We went through a large amount of data from runners and outdoor enthusiasts in regards to what kind of gear they wished they could add to their repertoire. We also looked at which items were extremely popular and consistently earned high rating from fellow runners everywhere. We are all runners here, so we made sure to include items that we would love to receive ourselves.

 

Q: What’s the range on the headlamp included in your guide?

A: This is an awesome running headlamp that gets anywhere from two hundred to four hundred feet of illumination depending on the setting. We made sure to include a great model that get’s excellent battery life as well. The best part is that runners themselves will be much more visible in low lighting conditions, making it a great piece of safety equipment. Remember that drivers are typically looking for stoplights and other cars which all have lights on them, so it’s crucial to remain visible out there.

 

Q: How long is the hydration pack suggested for; and what’s the capacity?

A: Our option was a lightweight option that rated very high for most runner’s needs. It’s bladder will hold 1.5 liters and it’s intended for less than four hour outings. Another reason this hydration pack made the “best gift” list is because if you know a runner that is going out for longer than four hours or needs more than one and a half liters of water, chances are they already have a hydration pack or some option for staying hydrated on their long excursions. This is also great to give as a smaller option for their shorter trips.

 

Q: What are the best choices for the outdoor runner; is there anything that you can recommend?

A: There are several gifts on our list that will be great for Mother Nature. If they happen to transitions from snow and ice to concrete a lot while they are out, the traction cleats are a great choice. They can slip them over whatever type of footwear they already use and they will get a significant amount of traction. It’s almost like buying snow tires for your car. If they run out in the sun a lot and you don’t want to spend too much, you can consider the running buff that is made from very comfortable microfiber. It’s moister wicking and quick drying, so it will keep them nice and cool on hot days.

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Here Are Some Sources We Used While Conducting Our Research

Many sources were consulted when creating this list. They span a variety of industries and expertise so that you are provided with the most accurate and useful information available.

 

 

 

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Sources

  1. Human Zoom, Human Zoom, Active Lifestyle Blog,
  2. Amazon, Amazon, Product Reviews,
  3. Rock Creek Runner, Rock Creek Runner, Running Blog ,
  4. Training Peaks, Training Peaks, Training Website,
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