Saturday, November 14, 2020

RoadTrail Run's 2020 Runner's Gift Guide and Mini Reviews: Apparel, Gloves, Compression, Lighting, Traction, Masks, Carry, GPS, and More!

Article by RTR Team

In a challenging year for everyone,, we focused our 2020 Gift Guide on gift ideas that will keep your runner safer, warmer, and better informed as for sure we will and should be, more outside than ever before.  

We focus on apparel and gloves from Gore's Infinium line as well as Brooks Run Visible,  Title Nine, Ultimate Direction, Tracksmith's new Off Roads collection, and Odlo base layers and jackets. We highlight a number of masks and lighting options, new traction options from Kahtoola and YakTrax, carry options from Camelbak, Mammut, Compressport, and Ultrapire, lighting from Petzl, and UltrAspire, and for after you get home recovery shoes from Topo, Deckers Lab and Hoka. Finally to keep runners informed and yes to also monitor health stats we feature GPS watches from Suunto, COROS, and Polar.


Title Nine Crash Jacket 2.0 ($149) 

The Crash Jacket 2.0 is a new arrival at Title Nine and a welcome addition to the “Crash” line of apparel, though I may not pair my Crash tights with my Crash jacket -- just personal preferences!  Literally designed for you to “crash” it when active in the outdoors, this jacket delivers performance and warmth in an attractive design that is also plenty trendy for the urbanite.  

Welcome to the world of Polartec® Power Stretch® -- this is what the Crash jacket is made of! 

This 90% recycled polyester10% spandex Power Stretch fabric has a dual surface: tight knit on the outside from some wind protection and durability and fleece on the inside to keep you warm and cozy.  I found  it quite protective against the cold and the wind as an outer layer. Power Stretch® has 4-way stretch and has shape retention so your garment keeps its original shape after wear.  It is highly breathable with wicking properties to keep you warm and dry during your outdoor outings.  

A  jacket that does dual duties as a midlayer or an outer layer depending on the weather conditions. It is fully zippered with a hood. There is no drawcord but you can fold the edges up for a better fit.   The Crash jacket is loaded with pockets (6) so you have dedicated pockets to warm your hands and side drop-in pockets to safely store and retrieve your phone with ease, in addition to two internal drop-in pockets for anything you need to store. 

I love a jacket with thumbholes to comfortably tuck my hands in my sleeves -- it is a cozy feeling and a great way to keep my extremities warm, whether I am wearing gloves or not. 

The striated finish of the Polartec® Power Stretch® is attractive looking and the top-stitched seams sewn inside out adds texture and interest.  

Reflective dots in the right side of the back add a safety element.  

Extremely comfortable and lightweight, the Crash jacket is a great option to keep you stylishly warm in cold weather. 

Available in three different colors: Charred Grey, Peacoat, and Raisin.  

Shop for the Crash 2 Jacket at Title Nine HERE

Title Nine Crash Tights 2.0 Striated ($99)

Dominique: Made with Polartec® Power Stretch® fabric, the Crash Tights 2.0 will keep you warm, dry, and comfortably active, in cool and wintry weather conditions.  They are protective against the cold and the wind; the outer layer is tightly woven to help block the wind and the cozy feel of stretchy fleece on the inside keeps you warm and moving.  
The Crash Tights 2.0 are versatile and can be worn as the a sol0 layer or as a baselayer when you need to layer up.  Thy have excellent moisture management and are highly breathable.  

So far,, I have worn them running and riding my Momentum bike in cool fall weather. I plan on wearing them nordic skiing and running, and under my ski pants when the weather is very cold.  

A side zippered pocket on the right leg is big enough for sliding in my iPhone 11  which stays in place when I am running. The cozy feel of fleece next-to-skin is very pleasing while the look due to the tight weave is not that of baggy fleece pants or the snug and slick look of a tight; indeed, these technical fleece tights are designed for the outdoors, yet they are so comfortable that I am also wearing them indoors.  

The Crash Tights 2.0 Striated come in five attractive color choices as well as in Solid black. I am usually a small leaning medium and here my tights are medium  They are an excellent choice for staying active in wintry conditions. 

Shop for Crash Tights 2.0 at Title Nine HERE


Men's Ventro Jacket ($200)

Sam: I have never run in a "puffy" jacket as I tend to run warm anyways. In need of a new puffy I decided topic up one that promised warmth, breathability, and designed for running. Exactly what the Ventro is designed to do and in my initial testing demonstrated in "relatively" warm temps around freezing. 

Ultimate Direction is first known for their hydration products but has outstanding mountain run apparel Their Ultra Jacket and Pants v2 (RTR Review) have simple durable designs and unique fabrics which have high breathability and strong water resistance. They have proven to be my go to for running in wet conditions.

The Ventro starts with a 90% recycled Clo Eco Vivo insulation which promises to increase breathability by 30% without sacrificing warmth. Exactly what I experienced and the insulation absorbed remarkably little moisture.   Even wearing the Tracksmith crew shown below in the Gift Guide as the base layer, which is a mid layer in weight, I never overheated even in temps just above freezing.  And walking around town I was as toasty as can be. I am confident with this combination and no wind I can go down to at least 10 F and be comfortable.

This not a Michelin man puffy design! 

It has a breathable perforated back and arms with grid fleece (the black in the photo above) on the lower arms and underarms. 

There is even cape ventilation across the upper front and back. The result is a warm core and not a sweat box. This arrangement does a great job of temperature regulation even in mild damp conditions.
The hood has no drawstring but fits well.
UD even includes full hand coverage stowable Flip Mitts.

The Ventro is one versatile  "puffy".  Warm, highly breathable, and with a low enough profile that it can be worn under many run shells and especially UD's Ultra Jacket V 2, it clearly designed for high output activities such as running, hiking, nordic skiing and then can easily transition to every day wear.

Available for men and women 
Ultimate  Direction SHOP HERE
Moosejaw SHOP HERE


We have been following and testing Gore’s expanding line of products featuring Infinium for three years now. Infinium is a new take on the Gore-Tex of old focused not on all out waterproof but totally windproof and highly breathable in much softer feeling and thinner items than Gore-Tex or Gore-Tex Active. With some water repellency in the mix as well, the items we have tested provide outstanding comfort (breathability and wind protection) over a broad range of temperatures while running and hiking.  The clear gift idea stars are Infinium gloves with the Gore-Wear apparel not far behind. 

GoreWear R3 Partial Gore Windstopper Shirt ($160, On Sale $112 in my color at Gore Wear)

Sam: This super soft stretchy “shirt” is really a jacket, a very versatile one,, as it combines totally windproof, high breathable Windstopper areas (green) with breathable stretch jersey panels (yellow). Gore calls it out as ideal between 41F and 59F and my testing shows this to be so but I also see it and have used it as just about the ideal winter running and nordic jacket for high output activities. Due to the stretch all over and soft material it fits somewhat more generously than typical GoreWear which tends to be more “cyclist” fit. 

men’s Windstopper Shirt  AMAZON SHOP HERE

men’s and women’s Gore Wear Infinium  RUNNING WAREHOUSE SHOP HERE

Gore-Tex R5 Run Infinium Pants ($150)

Jeff: The Gore R5 Run Infinium pants are a semi form fit pant, ideal for cold, breezy and light snow conditions.  Fully windproof, water resistant and yet surprisingly breathable, the R5 pants are soft, somewhat stretchy and lightweight, with a comfortable wide range of motion.  Gore recommends a temp range of 41-59 degrees F, which I think is a very reasonable suggestable range, but I find that while running, I am plenty comfortable while running in the mid 20’s with some breeze and light precipitation.  The elasticized waistband is wide for comfort and flexibility with a tie if needed.  There are no zippers at the bottom of the pant leg, but have not yet wished for them.  There are two handy pockets, a small pocket at the back, enough for a car key or a few gels, then a right side larger thigh pocket, which can accommodate my iPhone 11 in case, but I find that to be a bit much in that spot, so limit what I put there, although Sam had no issues storing his phone there for his flatter than Jeff’s mountain runs road runs yet it is a great phone storage spot  for a stop at the store on the way home.

Sam: Soft, totally windproof and highly breathable, the Pant fits roomier than a tight but is in no way baggy.  While there are no ankle zips due to the stretch I can easily pull them over road running shoes. The stretch, room and light feel is exactly what i look for in a run pant. I can’t generally stand tights as they constrict motion and are often cold and clammy unless super thick and overly warm.

Men’s and women’s R5  Gore-Tex Infinium Pants AMAZON SHOP HERE

Men’s and women’s Gore Wear & Infinium RUNNING WAREHOUSE SHOP HERE

Mountain Hardwear WindLab Gore Tex Infinium gloves ($50)

Jeff V:  These are among the best thin gloves/liners I have used.  If fit correctly, they should be somewhat difficult to put on, though this is aided by a sturdy pull loop at the opening of the glove.  These are very thin and not particularly warm, though I can comfortably run in temps down to freezing or a little below if high output, but for casual use, probably not below 40 degrees.  The beauty of these gloves are how amazing they are for touch screen operation.  I have had other touch screen capable gloves in the past where I can futz around and maybe answer a call or take a photo, but with the MH WindLab Gore Infinium gloves, I perform most functions, coming just short of texting (which I can barely do bare handed anyways).  These also make a fine glove liner under a thicker glove or mitt, as they are slim and low profile with no bunching.

Shop AMAZON for WindLab Gore-Tex Infinium Gloves and other Mountain Hardwear Gloves  SHOP HERE

Gore Tex Infinium Thermo Split Gloves ($80)

Jeff V:  The Infinium Thermo Split Gloves are a great solution for those with cold hands/cold temps, yet who find mittens to be a bit awkward and lacking dexterity for minor tasks or for cycling, skiing, snowshoeing or hiking with poles.  

The split gloves are lined with Windstopper material, are well insulated and even have touch screen capability. 

I find ideal temps to vary depending on output.  If running hard, I would reach for the split gloves if the temperature is in the 10-25 degree F range.  Any colder, and I would choose a more insulated mitten and any warmer, my hands would overheat in them.  For more casual use, 25-40 degrees seems to be the sweet spot for these gloves.

Shop AMAZON for Gore Wear Gloves & the Thermo Spit SHOP HERE



Off Roads Crew and Off Roads Shorts

Sam: The Off Roads Collection takes to the backroads and trails with rugged classy apparel designed for the ever changing weather in New England. They make for classy, very versatile gifts for any runner trail or road.

We particularly liked the Off Roads Crew  ($138) and Off Roads Shorts ($98) (RTR Review) which also reviews the Packable Jacket. All are also available in women's versions, review soon. Together they make a great fall and spring pairing with the crew a fantastic winter base layer and the shorts an all year go to.

The Crew has a roomy longer looser fit and is a reimagining of a “sweatshirt” but lighter. Constructed of a blend of merino for breathability, warmth, and odor resistance and polypropylene for wicking and insulation it has proven to be a very versatile run piece over a wide range of conditions and temperatures,,, and once you are done it dries very quickly. I have kept it on all day for several days straight for just about everything as it is so comfortable and fits many occasions beyond the run. 

The last short you will ever need for any adventure. The Off Roads Shorts ($98) are a 5” 2-1 short that just works. The lightly compressive liner joins a dense very thin outer shell of Italian stretch knit and together never bind, breathe incredibly well and even provide some light weather resistance. 

The inner short has two deep pockets on the thighs for bounce free carry of your phone or other items with the rear having two easy to reach drop in pockets. The stretch soft belt gives them some non run styling for after. 

Shop for the Off Roads Collection at Tracksmith HERE



Sam: Odlo is a Swiss based brand with long time Norwegian ski and outdoor heritage. Catch the combination of Swiss engineering and nordic weather and sport use. As such Odlo creates truly spectacular performing apparel for all seasons with intricate and effective fabric technologies including body mapped ventilation, ceramic based cooling and warming features, and very robust anti stink properties, all styled modern and classy. Odlo outfits many national ski teams with base layers including of course the Swiss team. We were delighted with their summer Blackcomb Pro Tee and now bring you their real “speciality” of winter apparel as gift ideas.

Odlo base layers

Dominique: It is easy to marvel at ODLO Baselayers when browsing all the options as all combine excellent design, high performance, top quality, enhanced thermoregulation and next-to-skin comfort, seamless construction, attractive looking but without the frills, and built to last.  Feeling comfortable in my ODLO Baselayer and good about ODLO’s sustainability efforts — check out theirBe Aware of What You Wear” campaign!  

Featured here is the Natural + Kinship Warm Baselayer Crew and Bottom ($100 each).  

Natural thermoregulation from a soft merino blend (52%) is enhanced with body-mapped ventilation zones.  In short, a high performance baselayer with the perfect blend of natural fibers and fabric technology in a seamless design that is very form fitting.  

Depending on your preferences and activities, the long sleeve top comes in 3 different versions: crew ($100), half-zip turtleneck ($110), and with facemask ($115), above. 

Available in two vivid colors: Charisma Melange and Submerged Melange as well in black for the top, and in Submerged Melange and black for the bottom.  Incredibly comfortable before, during, and after your workout in wintry conditions!  

Corviglia Kinship Midlayer Top – Full Zip with Hoody ($120) and Half Zip ($100)

A warm, comfortable, and stylish top, that can be worn both as a top layer in cool weather and as a mid layer in wintry conditions.  Extremely versatile and good looking, it has become my go-to top this fall whatever the occasions/activities — grocery shopping, going on a walk or a hike, ridding my “Momentum” bike, to the outdoor tennis court, attending a socially distanced gathering, and even in my house when I need an extra layer.  

Named after a ski resort in Switzerland that is connected to St-Moritz and which I was fortunate to travel to as a teen attending a ski camp, this Corviglia Kinship full-zip hoody, with its advanced thermoregulation and enhanced comfort, will be the perfect mid layer to wear under my ski jacket.  Engineered mid layer made with 3D quilted AIR TECH fleece to keep your warm without the bulk and with plenty of stretch to keep you moving comfortably. 

The AIR TECH fleece has a classy and stylish outer layer that is made with an embossed heritage design, and which is available in four different colors: Black, Diving Navy, Submerged, and Charisma.  There are two zippered side pockets and the full zip top has a well-fitted hoody that is super comfortable. 

It is easy to tuck my hands under the sleeves when cold as the they are pretty long.  Reasonably priced for a high performance mid layer that is so versatile.  Just loving my Corviglia Kinship as a top layer for now until ski season begins!  

Shop for the Corviglia Mid Layer and Odlo women's jackets at Odlo HERE

Shop for the Corviglia Mid Layer and Odlo women's jackets at HERE

Adam: I’ve been a fan of Odlo products for several years, as they’re my go to for cold weather Nordic skiing Baselayers.  While they are expensive, they are extremely comfortable, warm, and wicking.  

Blackcomb LS Baselayer:

Adam: I can not speak highly enough of the Blackcomb Baselayer. Consider them primarily if you live in colder climates, but other than that it is comfortable, dependable, durable, and versatile.  I’ve worn it for ski races below 0ºF under my race suit, long runs in the rain, and mountain runs above treeline.  The fabric is extremely stretchy with seamless transitions between different body mapped zones allowing for excellent wicking, quick drying, and warmth.  Especially when combined with a light shell jacket, the Blackcomb baselayers can create a warm air pocket that keeps you toasty even in very cold conditions.  

Blackcomb Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top with Face Mask ($110)

Sam: The ultimate base layer? A slim fitting body mapped base layer that is highly breathable and moisture managing. It allows for unusually good freedom of movement and layers easily under outer jackets such as the Ceramiwarm Hybrid Running Jacket below.  It has a 3 way hood/mask ideal for all weather conditions: down, as mask only, as hood only or as hood and mask. We have found it exceptionally versatile even in milder fall conditions. Your runner will be prepared for anything! Available for men and women.

Shop for Odlo Baselayers at REI HERE

Shop for Odlo baselayers at HERE

Zeroweight Warm Hybrid Jacket: ($140)

Adam: This jacket is of similarly high quality to other Odlo products I’ve tested.  As well as being a fun shade of yellow, it features a wind proof front and stretchy, with a breathable engineered Jacquard knit sleeves and back and includes reflective detailing. 

It’s very comfortable, has two large, practical zippered pockets, and is nice to throw over a Blackcomb baselayer for some extra insulation and wind protection.  

Zeroweight Warm Running Pants ($110)

Sam: I am very fussy about winter/cooler weather run bottoms. I find most tights overly constrictive and not always that warm as they get soaked. The Warm Running Pants have proven ideal for cooler to colder conditions as they are incredibly light, have windproof panels only above the knees in front, and have a highly articulated knee that opens to a stretch mesh layer below. They are thinner, lighter and more breathable than the Gore R5 Run Pant in the guide here but not quite as warm.

The rest of the pant is a very light stretch breathable fabric and there are even laser cut holes behind the knees at a warm spot for ventilation. They have some reflectivity. zip ankles, a flat thin waistband, and a key pocket. You will forget the cold and wind or that you are even wearing them. They are ideal for cold weather racing and training.. 

Men and women Zeroweight Warm Pants & Warm Hybrid Jackets available at HERE

Zeroweight Dual Dry Waterproof Running Jacket ($300)

The ultimate waterproof run jacket ? As far as we know it is one of the lightest if not the lightest, at a mere 137g, full 3 layer (outer, membrane, inner) waterproof breathable jacket on the planet. The DualDry has a very, very stout 50,000 MVP breathability and a 20,000 mm waterproof rating. 

We have yet to try a 3 layer or even 2.5 layer jacket with the very decent 20K waterproof rating to go with such a high breathability rating. Update: some comments to the article indicate there may be some. This means you will be well protected from moisture and will not overheat and this is what we have found in testing from winter all the way through summer.

It was the gold medal winner at the worldwide  2020 ISPO sporting goods show in the running category: "The ODLO DUAL DRY ZEROWEIGHT WATERPROOF JACKET provides an innovative, flexible but water resistant layer and can be stored as a very small package. It can be used in different kinds of sport such as running, hiking and cycling. The jury is therefore convinced by its versatile usage."

Due to the fabric being so thin, and amazingly also translucent,  it is not recommended to wear it with a backpack. Head over to Odlo’s DualDry Water Resistant for heavier pack use.  I have used it with race type vests with no issues. It is the ideal full weather gear to take along, just in case, for a run or hike as it weighs so little and stuffs down so small into its chest pocket.

Shop for men’s and women’s Zeroweight Jackets at Odlo HERE

Shop for Odlo at HERE

Inov-8 Stormshell Waterproof Jacket ($230) 
Nils in Germany: 
The Brits just know how to deal with bad weather!One of the best waterproof - bang for your buck - jackets on the market. Awesome fit which isn't too bulky but nevertheless can fit OVER a running vest to protect from rain whatever you carry. 
It has a Pertex Shield 2.5 layer construction with 20,000 HH waterproof and 20,000 B-1 breathability rating along with taped seams so it will pass every gear-check and is UTMB requirements grade . 

Shop for the Stormshell at Inov-8 HERE

ASICS Winter Accelerate Jacket ($180)

Sam: The Winter Accelerate is a fully seam sealed waterproof breathable running jacket with an added winter “bonus”, a quilted hanging very light insulating layer. The insulating layer stands off from the outer layer, allowing air to flow between which not only helps with insulation but in my testing even in moderate windy conditions above freezing I was never chilled or overheated as it seems the insulation also absorbs and wicks moisture towards the outer layer. 

It is proving to be not only a great run and warm up jacket but a great piece for around town in and out of the car on chilly damp days. I think it will be a fantastic deep winter snow run jacket. The fit is true to size but fairly snug but even in deep cold only thin base layers likely will be required,

Jeff V:  Agreed with Sam on all points above and find it to be ideal on colder snowy/rainy/windy days, but in testing was a bit warm and steamy inside in temps over 40 degrees F.  As Sam mentions, fit is somewhat slim and athletic, so not a lot of room underneath for layering, but given the features of the jacket, I find a long sleeve wool baselayer to be sufficient for most conditions in which I would reach for this jacket (25-40 degrees, wind, precip).  The hood is very substantial, which is great for bad weather, though I had to be creative in tucking it in when not in use to prevent bounce.  Easily performs double duty as a casual jacket as well.

Winter Accelerate Available Below

RUNNING WAREHOUSE USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE On Sale $152.95

FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns


Sam: Brooks has created a vast array of apparel, shoes, and socks all focused on making runners more noticeable in daylight, dawn and dusk, and at night. RTR Review

Using the teachings of vision science which says that a body seen as in motion is more visible even during daylight,, whites contrast with neon yellow and the black which is Carbon Black a stretch 3M reflective material which when it is dark and lit by headlights has powerful 300 candle visibility. 

The team tested a number of pieces including the shorts and Carbonite Short Sleeve ($70) and Shorts ($75) above as well as the Carbonite Jacket ($180) and women's Tights ($130). (RTR Review)

My personal favorite and a year round useful gift idea is the Short Sleeve. 

With a roomy,, long stretchy fit, I tested in summer’s heat where it proved very breathable and moisture wicking with the white color not absorbing heat. Day or night it is a very fully visible shirt.A women's tank ($60) is also available.

But there is more. It is a great alternative over other layers as reflective “vest” so your runnner will get year round safety use out of it.

If you want a warmer piece that will do similar duty check out the Carbonite Hoodie ($120) with its front handwarmer pockets and stretchy tights like material. 

Brooks Run Visible Collection Available Below


FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns


Free Shipping on most orders over $40

Lululemon Surge Tights, $118

Cheng: Very few tights are made well for men’s physiology. Lulu’s recent tights have a very comfortable lining that allows a no-underwear-no-chafing wear. The ‘Nulux’ material is also very insulating despite the no-fleece approach, functioning in weather colder than you’d otherwise think it could. A potential oddity is that the waist is much slimmer than similarly-sized leggings, but this could be purposely designed to hold up the higher rise. The tights sit closer to the waist than at the hip.

Pro Compression Socks and Sleeves

Made in the USA Pro Compression socks and sleeves feature graduated compression including a zone under the arch. The fabric is anti microbial and moisture wicking. Available in many fun colors and patterns we always travel and race with compression and they make a great gift idea with specials always available at Pro Compression.

Pro Compression PC Racer Mid, $25:

Jeff V: The Pro Compression crew length socks are well constructed and durable, with a snug, but not overbearingly compressive feel.  I appreciate that they are effective, yet with a normal sock feel and easy to put on.  I also like that they are not specific to either foot, so I do not have to perform a detailed analysis by headlamp and magnifier at 5am.  After a few months of use, I have not noticed any wear, stretching or pilling.

Pro Compression Calf Sleeves  ($45)

Dominique had never really enjoyed compression until she tried the Pro sleeves. Full length, they allow mix and match with the correct weight socks for the day’s run or adventure. 

Sam tested the Marathon ($50) and as a long time wearer of sleeves for all races and for travel appreciated the more circular feel to the compression, around the entire leg due to the vertical patterns of the knit than overly squeezing areas not requiring as much compression. 

Shop at  Pro Compression HERE

Shop Pro Compression at Amazon HERE


Article One x Ciele Athletics GTGlass ($275)

You won’t find a finer fitting and seeing through set of shades than the modernized 70’s vibe AOxCiele. RTR Review

Designed in Flint, Michigan and handcrafted in Italy of premium materials from a soft feeling frame and adjustable wire embedded nose pieces, to top of the line Italian Divel polarized lenses with 100% UA/UVB protection and an effective back side polarized lens they look great (3 colors available), feel great, and the view through my green lenses in all light conditions has been protective, soothing and sharp. 

Given AO and Ciele here the GTGlass is all business when it comes to performance with no slip from the nose pieces which have bendable wires embedded in them for a truly custom fit.

It includes a superb cord retainer which unlike most doesn’t flop on the neck. 

Clearly an “heirloom” type runner’s gift they have proven well worth it in terms of style and comfort for everyday wear and any kind of run or outdoor activity performance. And yes, GTGlass naming and all, they are superb driving glasses as well. 


Camelback Ultra Handheld ($40)

Nils: Awesome one to carry it all: Phone + 2-3 Gels + Water all in one package! It comes with a 17 oz / 500ml soft flask, has an X-Grip hold and even some reflective accents. 

Shop for Ultra Handheld at RUNNING WAREHOUSE HERE

Shop for Ultra Handheld at AMAZON HERE

Compressport Free Belt Pro ($49)

Sam: The best gear does many jobs well and stays out of the way.The Free Belt Pro from the Swiss compression pioneer is just such gear, as discreet as a Swiss banker, and is a great gift idea. 

The Free Belt Pro is a 6” wide, very fine and soft mesh tube that is secure yet not overly snug. With 360 degrees of storage, in two sections from center front to side of hips and one in the back, I have easily carried two 500 ml flasks plus my phone with no movement and great comfort as it is seamless, non constrictive and the mesh is breathable. 

Handy tabs allow you to easily locate the openings. It has rear grippy loops for trekking poles with race bib attachment bungies up front. Most versatile, it is a great light carry alternative for road and trail runners from just a phone and keys all the way up to the load for a long run or race.

Available from Running Warehouse HERE (My 2019 edition on clearance $29.88)

Ultraspire Plexus Waist Belt ($70)

Sam: Been a long time since I used a “fanny pack” on the run but the Plexus is for sure fanny pack 2.0. 

Instead of a big belt and single compartment, it separates the load into front and back connecting sides with a single layer mesh belt with an easy to rapidly release  metal speed hook with instant strap adjustments for cinch. The front belt can be substituted for one of the UltrAspire's Lumen Ally lighting front units. The front mesh pocket is 4 way stretchy and ideal for run nutrition or a phone. Two front bungee straps can hold trekking poles or clothing The rear has a large divided zip pocket with back of that a reach around partially insulated and stiffened sleeve to rapidly grab a bottle on the go. 

I recommend the Ultraspire UltraFlask 550 Hybrid Bottle as it molds to the back very well and stays put. 2 cinch cords allow rapid to the back and draw the water bottle pocket forward towards your back for bounce free running. An attempt to carry a Camelbak soft flask in the rear sleeve did not go as well, it didn’t stay in, although one could stuff it in the very easy to unzip rear pouch leaving the sleeve for a jacket for example  It is a great gift idea for short hikes, trail or road running, and as I planned to most use it, nordic skiing. It can be combined with UltrAspire Lumen Ally waist light front belts all the way up to the Lumen 800 Multisport also in the Gift Guide here.

Shop for Plexus at UltrAspire HERE

Camelbak Octane 25 70 oz Hydration Pack ($145)

Sam: Clearly the most versatile pack I have ever used. With a 25L capacity suitable for any long run, adventure, travel, and commuting, the Octane stands out for its multitude of pockets on the race vest type front, sides and rear,, and that is even before the many stretch mesh organizer pockets and zip pocket inside, the separate zip hydration bladder compartment (holds a laptop too) for the excellent supplied 2L Crux reservoir and even a totally waterproof removable rain cover stored in a zip pocket at the bottom.

I have used the Octane for just about every hike, and I did many this year in Utah and New Hampshire, as well as many trail runs, for skiing, and for travel/work as it will easy hold my MacBook Pro in case. The fit is totally secure, light and comfortable no matter the load and the flexibility and capacity of all the accessible pockets will only have you taking it off to retrieve your lunch sandwich! RTR Review

Shop for Camelbak Octane 25 L at REI HERE

Dominique: The MAMMUT brand - and its logo - is emblematic of the Swiss outdoor industry and of the Alpine experience, something I grew up with as a Swiss native.  In my days, hiking is something you did as a child whether you liked it or not, but it paved the way for the kind of mountain adventures - glacier hiking/ski mountaineering - that was pretty accessible and felt safe.  Ironically, the French label “MILLET” on my backpack, winter jacket, and gaiters, is what I remember most from my outdoor outings as it was probably a more affordable 
option then, but MAMMUT is what the true Swiss Alpinist would wear and what you see most Swiss wearing today in the mountains and on any trail.  

Over the past decade, I have gravitated toward Mammut when purchasing ski pants, hiking shorts, and checkered shirts, his and hers.  The past two years, I have tested hiking apparel from Mammut, wearing them over and over, not only for hiking, but as my go-to outfits for a wide range of activities, and despite the many washes, they still look amazingly fresh.

This is to preface the MAMMUT Trion Norwand 38 L backpack ($170) which is labeled “MAMMUT EIGER EXTREME” and is described as “Alpine Backpack for women.”  

In short, this is the perfect backpack for glacier hiking and ski mountaineering, which I did back in the day, as it is equipped with reinforced side ski attachments, 2 strong ice axe attachment points than can also be used to carry trekking poles, and a rope attachment on the flap. 

I love the roll-top closure which is a distinctive feature as well as the fit tailored to the female anatomy.  This is a very light backpack on the shoulders (960 grams/less than 3LBS), and the MOTION V Frame provides great maneuverability.  Extremely comfortable and controllable — thanks to the padded shoulder straps, padded hip belt, and elasticated chest strap.  There are two zippered pockets: one external at the top and one internal on the interior side of the backpack, which is easy to miss if you have not read the description.  It is designed for a hydration system which I prefer on the trail  but you won’t find on this “Alpine”  backpack an outside mesh pocket to carry a water bottle or stuff clothing on the go.  

This is part of the design, so understand what are your needs are before selecting a MAMMUT backpack, because you have many options specifically tailored for different types of activities. Swiss precision  For sure, you have come to the right place for that. 

Sam for example likes his more hiking and trekking focused Ducan Spine 28-35 with its Active Spine technology and multitude of exterior pockets..

Even though I have not used my Trion Norwand backpack for the kind of mountain experiences it was designed for, I really like it for hiking and Nordic Ski touring as it is lightweight, extremely comfortable, attractive, functional, and great to carry around.  

A great backpack for hiking, but specifically designed as an “Alpine” backpack  which will set the tone for your mountain adventure!

Shop MAMMUT for the Trion Norwand 38 and Mammut Packs  HERE

Shop BACKCOUNTRY for the Trion Norwand 38 and Mammut Packs HERE

Shop AMAZON for the Trion Norwand 38 and Mammut Packs HERE


Topo Rekovr 2  ($115)

Jeff V:  The Topo Rekovr 2 is the ultimate recovery shoe.  With a blended antimicrobial wool upper, an Ortholite 3D Wave Sense footbed and Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole, the Rekovr 2  is one versatile “slipper”.  I wear them around the house all day and all evening as slippers, but with such a sturdy outsole and aggressive lugs, a 23/20 stack height and secure upper (while being easy on/off), they easily handle snowy and cold trips to the mailbox, taking out the trash, running errands, walking the dog or even would suffice in a pinch for a hike or mellow run if you forgot your running shoes.  Quality is outstanding and they elicit a lot of slipper envy.

Sam: The Rekovr 2 follows last year’s model with a more comfortable velcro stretch strap free fit over the instep which makes a big difference in comfort. Jeff describes it well and I would only add that the recovery feel here is more stimulating than pillow soft from the texture of the felt like upper to the soothing tingle of the 3D Wave footbed. And of course they are warm, but not too warm even in summer and they have plenty of traction and support from essentially a run shoe undercarriage.

Shop for men’s and women’s Rekovr 2 at Topo HERE

Topo Vibe  ($110)

Want yet more support and a bit firmer “ride” consider the Topo Vibe. It shares the massaging 3D Wave footbed with the Rekovr 2. It is a bit snugger, a bit firmer, a bit more stable which makes them not only a great recovery shoe but a wonderful everyday travel shoe. Heck you could even run a few miles in them!

Shop Campsaver for men’s and women’s Topo Vibe HERE

Shop Topo for men’s and women’s Vibe at Topo HERE

Hoka Ora Recovery Shoe ($80)

Sam: The 100% Vegan Ora brings wide Hoka support and the trademark Meta Rocker to a recovery shoe. It’s light mesh upper holds the foot well and the cushion is deeper and a bit softer than in the Topo above. Very light in weight, they fold making them a great travel or after a long day on the trail option for backpackers and trekkers as well as of course recovery shoe and everyday shoe. 

Shop for Hoka Ora Recovery Shoes, Slides and Flips. Many Colors!


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Deckers Lab KO-Z SNPR Mid ($150) 

Everyone likes slippers but most don’t go much further than kitchen to TV! The SNPR is a slipper with a performance shoe undercarriage. Constructed of EcoTan Sheepskin and cow suede leather with PFC free water repellent it is sumptuous lined with thermo regulating recycled looped wool which of course keeps you warm in winter but is also quite pleasant in summer. For sure they pamper your feet! 

SNPR shown with Dominque’s KO-Z Sport Low Wedge

Underfoot it is pure Hoka (both the Deckers  Lab and Hoka are part of Deckers). We have a compression molded EVA midsole, Meta-Rocker geometry and a sponge rubber outsole so while the upper is not the most supportive and they size big they sure cushion and can take you for a winter walk in the snow 

Shop  Decker Labs shoes HERE



None of the masks below are medical grade fitted masks.

Buff Filter Tube ($29 with 5 filters)

Sam: Early in the Covid era many relied on their Buff for face coverings yet quite frankly many of  the oh so breathable Buff tubes did not provide much protection. Buff went to work and created a summer weight highly breathable tube with a top filter pocket. 

The 3 layer filter is a surgical grade insert with 98% bacterial filtration efficiency. I found that unlike many such filters or blue masks, the material, while close to the face did not absorb as much moisture as other such filters or blue masks as it is water repellant. 

The combination of Buff and its filter is very easy to breathe through. The Filter Tube is ideal for running or hiking as it can rapidly be pulled up or down ( although care must be taken as the filter itself is quite thin and flexible) and bonus you have a full Buff that can be used for some many other things on the run. Same filter system also available in a Buff Mask.

The Buff Filter Tube and Mask is available from Buff here

ASICS Runners Face Cover ($40)

Sam: Of all the masks here the ASICS is most specifically designed for running and our testing in even hot humid conditions had us breathing best on the go. It has a shape that keeps it well away from the mouth, below the outer antibacterial fabric is a 3D mesh honeycomb with below the chin no outer fabric just the mesh for breathing out. There is no filter here so I don’t feel there is enough protection for indoor use but one can easily put a blue mask underneath. I flew 5 hours with the combination after trying some of the others in my collection and its face stand off proved it the most comfortable 

Halomask with one NanoFilter ($35)

Sam: The stylish Halomask combines hypoallergenic and anti bacterial, very soft, breathable outer fabric with a soft moisture wicking Bamboo lining. To go with soft it has a stout nose clip and stands off the face. Replaceable latex nose pads help keep my glasses from fogging and are needed here. The feeling on face is very pleasant if a bit warm. 

The NanoFliter (see description and lab test here) is designed to capture 99% of airborne particles down to 0.1 microns in size. Unlike other filters we have tested the NanoFilter is thicker and has more substance than the essentially paper thin filters often seen and is less likely to fold or wrinkle in the mask (although inserting requires a fairly complex set yet easy to follow process).  I found the mask with filter among the most pleasant to wear for day to day use. Given the thickness of the filter (a good thing for protection and staying put) it had its limits while running as on a 68F day with 80% humidity it proved overly warm while in cooler conditions it was fine. And unlike some, it allows my glasses to stay bounce and fog free on the run with included the stick on pads in place.

Additional filters are available in different pack sizes. A 6 pack is a quite pricey  at  $24.95 but unlike other filters we have seen for daily use such as for shopping and travel they recommend changing every 2-4 weeks with weekly change for direct daily contact or if higher risk so a longer expected use than many. 

Shop for the Halomask at HALOLIFE HERE

Boco Gear X Performance Mask  ($14)

Sam: Many of us on the RTR team tested the Boco Mask. It is easily the softest and lightest with no light showing through the layers (always look for that in a mask): an outer layer and an inner layer designed to hold Boco’s optional filter (not tested). Smaller in coverage than some of the others it is sleek with a beautiful subtle topo map design. It is available in many, many other colors and patterns.

I cut some width off a blue mask and it fit perfectly in between the two layers for more protection indoors, less air leak to fog my glasses and a more secure if warmer and slightly less breathable fit. 

The Boco looks great, folds up very small, provides light protection and has the filter option and as such is a great option for everyday wear or as needed on a run or hike.


Coros Pace 2  ($200)

The Pace 2 is a fantastic value at $200. It is about the thinnest at 11.7mm and for sure the lightest at under 29g full featured GPS wrist heart rate watch yet created. The Pace 2 is as accurate and with as long, if not longer battery life, than far pricier options In our testing it reached about 30 hours in Best mode and beyond 60 hours in UltraMax mode.  

The light weight, thin profile and infinitely adjustable nylon band make it a great option for smaller wrists who have struggled with bigger watches' weight, fit, and heart rate accuracy. 

(RTR Review)

Shop AMAZON for Pace 2 and other COROS GPS watches  SHOP HERE

Polar Vantage V2 ($500)

The new thin (13mm) and light (52g) Polar Vantage V2 sets the bar very high as the ultimate runner's companion. 

In combination with the excellent Polar Flow back end app and especially web view it has deep multi sport training, long term trend tracking, and recovery features. Its elegant looks and rugged build will take it from on road or trail for up to 40 hours of best mode training and up to 100 hours in extended modes and then to the rest of the athlete’s day in style and without constantly thinking of charging. 

Not only does it give you your Nightly Recharge (simple scores and far deeper data) right on the watch but it will suggest (based on your trends) and guide you through mobility, strength, and core exercises built into the watch. 

Loaded with innovative new features such Jump Test to measure leg recovery and guided progressive test runs to set zones,, you will lack for nothing in managing and evaluating your training and yes Polar caved in.. there is music control and phone notifications to go with very detailed weather forecasts.

Headed to new places? Set up routes via partner Komoot or import and the V2 will give you turn by turn breadcrumb based routing and directions and through Hill Splitter show your en route vertical progress.

(RTR Review)

Shop for Polar Vantage V2

Shop AMAZON for Vantage V2 and other Polar GPS watches SHOP HERE

Suunto 7  ($500)

Jeff V./Sam:  The Suunto 7 (RTR Review)  is one of the more innovative GPS watches we have reviewed, bridging the gap between full outdoor adventure GPS/Sport watch functionality and a vast array of Smartwatch capabilities running on the Google Wear OS platform (seamlessly compatible including many Wear OS apps and functionality if you have an iPhone too).  

Unlike most Apple or Android platform watches,  its Suunto app has a full array of highly configurable data fields. The stunningly sharp and crisp Amoled display has roughly twice the resolution of competing GPS watches.. The display clearly stands out especially when accessing the innovative detailed onboard mapping and routing functionality, the highlight feature of the S7 .  

The case is really elegant and the band is soft, making this watch very comfortable to wear and it fits in at the office or social settings (well, hopefully someday we will return to that).  The vivid screen however does come at a cost in battery life, expect up to 12 hours in Good mode with Suunto Fused Track and a bit more than 2 days use (typical for platform watches) in everyday mode, so if battery life is more important for longer outings, look to the Suunto S9.

The Suunto 7 is also now available in a Graphite Limited Edition at $399. 

We have started testing the Graphite and can say it is more comfortable as it now includes a soft microfiber band in addition to the standard silicone and has a super sharp look. It is available at  Suunto SHOP HERE

Shop AMAZON for Suunto 7 and other Suunto GPS watches SHOP HERE


UltrAspire Lumen 300 Sidekick Headlamp ($39.95)

Renee: At $40, the UltrAspire Lumen 300 headlamp makes a great stocking stuffer. I need lighting during certain times of the year only, so I do not need an expensive lighting system. At $40, this headlamp is perfect for runners needing light without spending more money than needed. The headlamp is comfortable and offers spot and flood settings, easily adjusted by simply rotating the lens. The lamp can be turned off and on by waving your hand in front of the light, which is slick. 

With the band extended to the greatest width, I can wear the lamp on my waist too. Many runners use headlamps for secondary lighting, and at $40 this makes a great option. The lamp and band are small and simple enough to be quickly taken off while running and shoved in a vest/pack pocket. Personally, I feel better about throwing around a $40 lamp than I would a more expensive system. 

Shop Running Warehouse for UltrAspire Lumen lighting including the Sidekick HERE

Shop Amazon for UltrAspire Lumen lighting HERE

UltrAspire Lumen 800 MultiSport Waist Belt ($170)

Jacob: The UltrAspire Lumen 800 is a high-quality, powerful, versatile light—a great piece of gear. It is marketed primarily as a waist light but also comes with a head strap and a bike bracket. The light unit features a waterproof (IPX7), aircraft-grade aluminum construction with two bright LEDs. 

The unit is not much bigger than the rechargeable 3400mAh 18650 battery it uses. Controls are simple with a single large button to cycle through the four modes of high, med, low, blinking. The design overall is straightforward and sleek.

The Lumen 800 employs UltrAspire’s “3D Lighting” technology which creates visible but less harsh shadows and makes trail running with a headlamp feel closer to running in the daylight. It works well and makes me feel like I’m in a hyper-real video game world. In combination with the high brightness it definitely makes it easier and more pleasant to run technical terrain. The dual-LED design uses both a wide angle and more focused beam which have soft edges, mesh together seamlessly, and illuminate with a balanced level both at the peripheral and in the distance. I have been using headlamp mode recently—it is not too heavy for this application and the level of light is just great. 

The device has worked flawlessly for me and with a durable design and easily replaceable battery will likely provide years of good service.

Shop Running Warehouse for UltrAspire Lumen lighting including the 800 HERE

Shop Amazon for UltrAspire Lumen lighting HERE

Kogalla UllRA Adventure Light ($179.97 with 13400 mAh battery, other battery versions available)

Jeff V:  You can read our review for more details, but I can’t state enough how key this light has been in transforming my perception of night running.  With 5 warm light LEDs providing a wide beam with great trail definition, near endless mounting options, battery versatility, high output and no bounce perception, this light is an absolute MUST have if you to run at night with any regularity, or if you are iffy about running at night, this will convince you to do so.  Basically portable sun.

Sam: I totally echo Jeff here. I have run with it on trail and road. I have even had motorists stop and ask me what light I was using. You are that noticeable to cars and of course you will see everything in your path as if in daylight with a warm natural not overly white light.

The Kogalla was even featured in my college class newsletter as I hiked overnight on the AT in a relay: “Most night hikers had a single headlamp; Sam had an array of lights on his chest that was awesome to be- hold” My relay mates repeatedly begged me not to get to far ahead as their puny head lamps essentially illuminateed nothing and mine even in front of them, everything! The included USB battery can also be used to charge your phone.

Shop for Kogalla at their online store HERE

Kogalla is momentarily sold out so they are offering redeemable Pre-Sale Gift Cards!

           $50 Pre-Sale Gift Card: Sold for $40 ($10 savings)

         $100 Pre-Sale Gift Card: Sold for $80 ($20 savings)

$200 Pre-Sale Gift Card: Sold for $160 ($40 savings)

On top of that...

15% Discount by entering code: RoadTrailRun

Petzl IKO Core ($90)

Jeff V:  The innovative IKO Core puts out 500 lumens of light and has a unique design allowing for a lightweight (79 grams) and well balanced feel with no bounce and good battery life.  

For increased light output to 900 lumens with Reactive technology, the Swift RL comes in at a very reasonable weight (100 grams), packs small and has a very secure headband.  The Swift RL is my preferred headlamp to pair with the Kogalla RA. 

Shop for Petzl IKO Core & Swift RL


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Winter Traction 

Keep your runner upright and safe on icy trails and roads.

Kahtoola EXOspikes ($59.95)

Jeff V:  Very similar in outward appearance to normal Microspikes, instead, the EXOspikes feature 12 low profile tungsten studs instead of the larger spikes that can dull over time if used on mixed terrain.  The new EXOspikes are ideal for harder packed surfaces, particularly ice and are much less likely to wear down as they are SUPER durable, so are perfect for those times (frequent here in the Colorado foothills), where conditions often vary frequently from packed snow to ice to bare ground.  They also work very well for road running when conditions warrant because of the lower profile studs.  Now that the trails are getting slick, I show these off and recommend them quite often to friends, strangers and to anyone who will listen.

Shop for Kahtoola Exospikes and their other traction and gaiters at REI HERE

Yaktrax Traverse, $50

Jeff V:  The Traverse is similar in design to the new Ascent, however the spikes are lower profile and do not feature the bonus row of spikes over the toe.  Don’t be fooled however by the lower profile spikes, as they provide surprisingly good traction, even on steep, snowy icy trails.  

The Traverse can also very easily perform double duty for all around use on slick roads, sidewalks and local trails as they are low profile enough to not feel awkward underfoot. I also like that they are very light and compact, so I can easily stow them in a waist belt or vest pocket when not in use or bring along just in case.

Shop for Yaktrax and all Yaktrak at Yaktrax HERE

Free Shipping on orders of $25 or more!

IceSpike ($30, 32 spikes and precision tool)

Sam: Tried and true for decades for running and work traction (even the North Slope of Alaska),  Ice Spikes are cold rolled steel with sharp facets similar to far less durable sheet metal screws and are easy to install and remove with the included tool. They provide great all surfaces traction without being in the way on hard ground. I have used my initial set for many years. I constantly shift them between shoes and their screw profile accommodates all kinds of road and trail run shoes

Shop for IceSpike HERE


Like the Wind Magazine

Like the Wind magazine is a collection of running stories. It features personal anecdotes, inspirational tales, reportage, beautiful illustrations and stunning photography over 116 pages printed on beautiful, matte paper. 

With a motto of “ ‘It’s Not How to Run, It’s Why We Run’ it makes a great gift to the soul of any runner. The 26th edition “26.2” will be available in November and it will be a marathon special.

Gift Subscriptions with single past issues also available as well as beautiful prints of the magazine’s art available HERE 

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores linked above & below.

Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

Running Warehouse US
Savings on all Garmin Fenix 6 and 6 Pro Series ($150 off) Forerunner 245 and 45 ($50 off)
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Seet said...

Great to see a review of the Compressport free belt pro, which we haven't had much of online... How does it compare to the naked running band?

Anonymous said...

Stefan said...

I recently bought the Gore R7 partial Infinium jacket after having read your review (it was on sale). It was a good jacket, but I must say that it feels more like a lightweight rain jacket than a windshell. If you´re going to spend that kind of money the ON weather jacket is much more comfortable IMO.

Marcel said...

two more recommendations:

- if you are a data geek like me and you would like to adjust your training to power metrics, have a look at the Stryd (

- for relaxation (i would not recommend it as a crutch to try to build muscles), i found the Compex EMS devices very supporting (

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks Marcel!

Sam Winebaum said...

Good catch! The 70K breathability is tops! I note it is 6g more doesn’t have a hood and appears to have snugger fit. It is a substantial $65 less though!
Sam, Editor

azer89 said...

I have a Montbell Versalite that can only be purchased from their Japanese online store
It's advertised to have 134g weight, 30,000mm waterproofness (three times UTMB standard) and 43,000g/m^2 breathability. It has a full front zipper but no pocket at all, the fabric feels thick and minimalist at the same time.

I'd still want a shakedry jacket but I'm quite happy with my purchase.

Anonymous said...

here's another request for how the compressport belt stacks up against the naked running band.

ive used the naked band for years, but its driven me nuts the whole time
because, when worn, it refuses to not constantly fold in half, and the "inner"
portion of the band often misaligns while running, making
it difficult ot access the pockets.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
No issues with folding over so far. The key difference to the Naked for me is comfort. I find the Naked scratchy and very snug in comparison even at my correct and their over complicated sizing I think as it has less stretch and is more mesh like thus the comfort and fit issues. As far reaching the trick is to know/feel where the outside loops are 2 in the front for the bungie number holder and one center back.
Sam, Editor