Trail running can be some of the most rewarding and challenging experiences that take you places you might not be able to go otherwise. As these adventures take you into remote areas, proper planning and preparation are crucial.
You should consider the length, weather, remoteness, and difficulty of the run while planning your trail run as they may change what you bring with you.
Here is a list of items you should consider taking with you on your first trail run.
Water / Energy drink
Hydration is key when getting after it in the outdoors, and you want to make sure you have enough to sustain you for your entire run.
According to The Running Magazine, for runs up to 90 minutes, drinking 16 ounces of water 20 minutes before your run should do the trick.
After that 90 minute mark, it’s recommended you drink 16 to 24 ounces per hour from the start of the run, adjusting for your sweat rate and the conditions. For any run over two hours, you’re going to need to replenish your electrolytes (think energy drinks, gels, etc.).
Some runners use hydration vests while others prefer carrying handheld water bottles. Another option is to bring a water filter.
“Depending on where you are trail running, I enjoy carrying a small/minimal water filter. This allows me to save energy by carrying less water during my runs. Also, it can double as a piece of safety equipment in case of an emergency,” said Jessee Lynch, Swiftwick Ambassador
Whatever your preference is, make sure you’ve done your research on the length of the run so you know how much water you’ll need.
Food, bars, gels
Another essential - snacks! It is important to make sure you have the fuel you need to crush your trail run and replenish lost energy. We opt for options that are light but pack a punch when we need it.
“For my hikes and trail running I love to take honey stinger waffles (my favorite flavor is Cinnamon). Hydration would be Nuun tablets to replenish my electrolytes!” said Kendra Lopez, Swiftwick Ambassador.
PRO TIP: Stash some extra food in your car in case you need a little extra motivation.
Proper socks and shoes
Finding proper trail running socks and shoes is one of the most essential components of trail running. Our FLITE XT® TRAIL socks are designed to provide your feet with stability on uneven terrain while simultaneously keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
Trail running shoes will also help keep you stable and protected on slippery trails and routes that present varying features.
Layers for colder weather
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation (we hear our mom’s voice in our head as we write this, but it’s true). Be prepared for anything by checking the weather forecast before you head out and bringing some extra layers just in case. You’ll be thankful you brought those gloves when the temps drop unexpectedly.
Depending on how long your trail run is, you’ll want to bring a belt or running pack in order to carry everything you need. There are tons of options out there depending on how long you plan to run for and how much you need to carry.
Our friends at Salomon recommend that if you plan to run for:
Less than 1 hour: A belt or 2 liter vest pack
1-2 hour trail run: 2 to 5 liters
3 hour+ trail run: 6 to 10 liters
Ultra trails: 12 liters
"A comfortable pack is so important for trail running – especially for longer runs. You never no what the elements or trail conditions will throw at you so being able to comfortably bring along fuel, hydration, extra layers and a phone makes me feel prepared for anything," said Lindsey McDonald, Swiftwick Ambassador.
Make sure your phone is fully charged before heading out. This will help ensure you can contact someone for help if needed. You can also access loads of navigation apps to help guide you on your run. Not to mention being able to capture those special moments with your camera.
It’s critical to know where you’re going before you even head out on the trail. As the saying goes, not all who wander are lost… but sometimes, you get lost. Avoid this mistake by using downloaded maps or apps like Avenza, Gaia, or All Trails to know where you are at all times.
Depending on how long your run is and what the terrain looks like, you may want to consider bringing a mini first-aid kit or some items that could come in handy.
“A few things I hate to be without when hitting the trails are bug spray, baby wipes and anti-chafe. You never know what kind of adventure you'll get into and these 3 have come in handy for me a few times” said Haylei Banister, Swiftwick Ambassador.
You should also be prepared for emergency situations when taking trails less traveled.
“When I make plans to run into lesser traveled areas I ask myself if I am prepared for a serious injury, either to myself or someone else. A debilitating injury can create an even worse situation if the weather is not cooperative. I keep an emergency space blanket hidden away in my running pack for these situations,” said Nick Cornell, Swiftwick Ambassador.
Headlamp (if required)
If you’re up before or after the sun, you’re going to want to make sure you have a headlamp. Not only does this allow you to see where you’re going and not get lost, it helps others on the trail see you as well.
Sun and skin protection
Nothing is worse than a bad sunburn. Don’t forget to lather on the SPF when heading out on the trails!
"Protect your skin and feet! Sunscreen, leukotape, and a pair of good socks (FLITE XT TRAIL) are my essentials for any trail runs, especially for longer efforts,” said Phillip Tran, Swiftwick Ambassador.
Remember to do your research before going on any trail and have proper socks and shoes, clothes, and fuel to sustain you for the entire run. The more trail running you do, the more you’ll be able to fine-tune your specific needs.
We had the chance to sit down with Eric Hill, founder and president ofProject Echelon, a 501c3 veterans non-profit that engages, equips, educates, and empowers veterans and their families through physical activity and self-discovery.
In honor of Veterans Day, your purchases will help support Project Echelon.
If you've got active friends and family on your gift list, we've got you covered. Welcome to Swiftwick's 2023 Holiday Gift Guide, where we're not just talking socks (although we've got some fantastic ones) but a whole array of gift ideas that’ll leave them jumping for joy. Let's dive in!