If you really think about it, trail running is just hiking, but on steroids. And that means it’s gonna be pretty tough, and way tougher if you’re ill-equipped.
Before you hit the trails, you gotta be all set with everything you’ll need to make it less of a nightmare (or just a mild inconvenience if you’re a pro).
From clothing needs depending on the weather to nice-to-haves you probably never knew you’d need, here’s the ultimate trail running checklist that’ll hopefully save you from being mad at yourself for forgetting something.
Let’s break it down!
Warm Weather Needs
When it’s looking pretty hot, these can make it so you don’t pass out within 30 minutes or so. I’m a noob so I’ll probably pass out in 10 if I don’t have these with me.
Jokes aside, keeping your shirts short-sleeved and pants short makes it so you don’t sweat 2 buckets worth, and them being quick-dry means you won’t be virtually drowning in your own sweat.
(Fun fact, we lose up to 20 times more body heat when submerged in water than through the air.)
And when the sun is blazing, sun sleeves and hats or visors make for great sun protection.
Cold Weather Needs
Hat / balaclava / bandana
If you’re in Malaysia like me, you probably won’t need these 80% of the time but it wouldn’t hurt to have these along if you’re expecting rain. I wouldn’t recommend running when it’s raining though, so you gotta switch to hiking mode.
And of course, if you’re ever trail running in other countries where it’s cold, these will keep you warm just fine.
Running gaiters (optional)
The most important thing for any form of running (including running away from your ex) involves a good pair of kicks. Knowing what to shop for is crucial. But here’s a short breakdown of what you’ll have to look for.
A good pair of trail running shoes will always have a stiff construction to keep your foot rotation in check, good foot protection to reduce the impact from rocks and sticks, and excellent grip for rugged terrains so you won’t slip as often.
Handheld GPS (optional)
Topo map (optional)
If you’re one of those trail runners who prefer staying on the actual trail, then these aren’t exactly needed, but you’ll never know when things happen and you’ll be wishing you had a compass at least.
Now if you prefer a bit of exploring and wanna go off-trail on your own, then it’s best to have a compass AND a handheld GPS and topo map so you can find your way back.
Now the real question is, do you know how to use a compass, a handheld GPS and a topo map? You gotta learn how to walk before you can run, right?
Click here to check out our guide on how to use these navigation tools. It’s made super simple, I promise!
Headlamp / flashlight (for nighttime)
Heart rate monitor (optional)
To keep all your data in check so you can flex those steps, a smartwatch and/or smartphone are excellent choices (although smartwatches are way more accurate).
Since heart rate monitors and a camera are actually in your smartwatch and smartphone respectively, they’re not exactly needed but these dedicated options are much better at their jobs.
And of course, a headlamp and/or flashlight for those night time adventures. Just be extra careful if you’re ever on the trails at night.
Not much to explain here. Water keeps you going and you’ll need plenty of it, followed by some energy gels or bars to give you that boost you’ll need for the tougher trails!
As the name suggests, these ain’t exactly needed, but they’ll be nice to have on you depending on the trail you’re hitting and how long you’ll be out.
A running backpack is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re on a longer run, having a backpack to keep your bottles and snacks is gonna come in handy.
In case of any accidents and emergencies, you can for sure rely on a knife, emergency whistle and first-aid to get you out of any sticky situation. Bandage up your wounds, and signal for help with the whistle!
And of course, having a good pair of polarized sunglasses and some sunscreen to keep them UVs at bay, lip balm to keep your lips moist and an insect repellent to save your ears from the pesky buzzes.
And yup, that’s about everything. Of course, there’s more you can add into the checklist, so print yours now right below and fill it in!
Happy packing, and happy trails!