The 2016 Minneapolis Running Summer Running Gear Guide
The summer running gear guide was a collaboration between Nathan, Krysta and Claire.
A summer running gear guide you say? Why would the place known for their expertise in cold weather running put out a guide for hot weather running? As it happens, Minnesota has some of the most extreme temperature swings in the entire country. Weather can range from 20 degrees with a 20 degree windchill in January, to 90 degrees with 100% humidity in July.
Minnesotan runners are a hearty, versatile people. We adapt and conform to whatever nature throws at us. As a result, we’re kind of experts at dressing for any weather condition.
Below you will find our favorite gear for summer running. We asked some of our writers, as well as a few members of Team USA MN to give us their favorite hats, tops, shorts, water bottles, and other essential items to help us get the most out of summer running.
A note from our writers: when we sat down to compile this list, many of us declared, “The gear I use isn’t particularly special, it’s just what I use!” And so, perhaps unlike the winter gear guide, summer running gear is more about finding what you like, and less about which products are best. Our list below encompasses the gear that we love, use, and trust for our summer workouts; Let’s start at the top and work our way down!
Hats, Visors, Headbands, and Sunglasses
When you’re running in the sun, heat, and humidity of summer, the purpose of wearing something on your head is to block these elements as much as possible. Some prefer a visor to a hat, whereas others hate the feel of something on their head. Regardless, nobody wants to be squinting mile after mile.
Krysta prefers to run with a pair of cheap sunglasses from Target. She says they are “Inexpensive and do the trick, plus they get covered in sweat anyway.” Claire echos that sentiment. “It seems silly to spend a lot of money on sunglasses when they could easily get scratched.” She likes a pair of sunglasses that will also fit well under bike helmet straps for double-sport duty, such as the Ironman label available for about $30 at Sports Authority. (Pro tip: the big box sports retailer is going out of business, so you may be able to snag deals on all sorts of summer running gear as the liquidation sale proceeds.)
Similarly, Meghan Peyton of Team USA MN never leaves home without her Oakley Radar sunglasses because they provide full coverage for all areas of the eye. “People often think about protecting their skin with sunscreen, but forget that our eyes are just as susceptible to sun damage as the rest of our bodies.”
Nathan sweats profusely, and it usually all ends up running into his eyes. Thus, he needs something to keep it at bay. He loves the Nike Featherlight Dry Fit hat. Of the 5 running hats he owns, this one is the lightest, thinnest, and allows heat to escape, but prevents sweat from running into the eyes. He is also a huge fan of this style of headband (in solid colors) paired with these inexpensive sunglasses.
T-Shirts, Singlets, Tank tops, Sports Bras and More
T-shirts, tanks, and summer running go hand in hand, and you probably own dozens of them already. (We’re looking at you, free race shirts!) But if you’re anything like the writers at Minneapolis Running, then you probably have a few go-to summer tops. Here are some of our favorites:
Krysta is a huge fan of the Oiselle Wazzie Wool tank. Yes, wool. In summer. She says, “This tank is magic! It’s light, breathable, super-wicking, and like all good wool pieces, doesn’t hold stink.” Plus, its beautiful design lends itself for both run and casual wear.
Heather Kampf of Team USA MN notes, “if it’s warm enough for a tank, I’d rather just sports-bra it. (Less laundry plus less heat.) Her favorite bra right now is the Posture Bra from Asics. “It covers and supports enough to make you still feel like a ‘proper lady’ if you happen to run by a school playground or something.”
Claire and Megan love a good breathable and loose-fitting tank such as the Saucony Hydrolite Tank and the Saucony Freedom Tank. Megan says, “light and airy tops are perfect for humid summer days in Minnesota.” For cooler days, Claire says “A nice dri-fit tee, homemade top, old race shirt, or something from the C9 section at Target do the trick.” She also notes that a thin rain jacket is invaluable for summer downpours. This packable hooded version from New Balance works great!
The T-shirt decision for Nathan rests on whether or not the shirt will get ditched part way into the run. The Nike Miler singlet is one of his favorites (and also happens to be what our Minneapolis Running singlets are printed on)! He says, “It stays as dry as you can expect anything to get, and flows well.” Nathan also loves the Nike Tailwind shirt because “they are amazingly fitted, and can be worn even when you’re not running.”
Shorts are the ultimate summer running apparel, so finding the right pair can make a huge difference when slogging through sticky, sweaty summer runs. Naturally, the right pair for one runner might not be the right pair for another, so our writers have a few differences in opinion.
Hands down, Nathan’s favorite summer running shorts are the NIKE 5″ Racing short. He says, “They are well ventilated…. and never chafe!.” Plus, “they’re rarely soaking wet, even after a long humid run” and feature a tiny built-in zippered pocket for GUs, keys, or cash. Justin loves the Puma PE shorts because they are lightweight and comfortable, and Rich loves his Brooks Essential 7″ 2-in-1 (discontinued, but try these similar options) shorts so much that he has 3 pairs!
The women of Minneapolis Running love shorts that are breezy, light, and comfortable (because summer). Krysta and Claire love a good pair of shorts with storage. Krysta loves the Oiselle Distance Shorts complete with 3 pockets, including one big enough for a phone, and lots of room to stash all of your long-run gear. Whereas Claire is a big fan of the Brooks Racey Short. Heather prefers the Asics Everysport Short for their fun, colorful patterns. She also loves the Asics Curve Boy Short for racing because “they don’t crawl up your butt!” (Ladies, you know what we’re talking about!)
Shoes and Socks
All you really need to know about summer running gear for your feet is that it’s important to keep them dry. Dry feet equal happy, blister free feet!
Most of our writers love a good light, wicking no-show or crew sock. Nathan and Rich rave about the Fitsok F4. They are super thin, wick well, and haven’t given either of them any blisters (fingers, or in this case, toes crossed!).Claire absolutely loves the Elite Ultra Light No Show Tab socks from Feetures. She first tried them for a review post last spring, and has since picked up a few pairs and made them her go-to racing sock!
In the event you’re looking for a fun summer compression sock, Krysta constantly wears these hot pink Runlove socks. They are perfect for standing out in a summer race, or feeling badass paired with short shorts on a sweaty run.
Hydration, Water Bottles, and other Gadgets
The key to staying hydrated during summer running is to either plan your route around a water source or to carry something. Since reliable water sources can be few and far between, we suggest bringing your own. (Though, to be sure, there are a plethora of water fountains along the popular Mississippi River and Chain of Lakes trails if you’re lucky enough to leave near them.)
Rich uses the UltraSpire Isomeric Pocket handheld bottle which also works as a great gel holder. Nathan uses the Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld Bottle Carrier, mostly because it has his name on it, but also because of the extra pouch. Claire doesn’t run with water very often (supported long runs and carefully mapped out runs that hopscotch between public water fountains usually take care of it), but in a pinch, she turns to the Nathan Quickshot Plus, the little brother of the Quickdraw model Nathan prefers. It holds 10 ounces, which is usually plenty, and also has a pocket for stashing keys and gels.
As far as what to put in your water bottle… well, several of us love NUUN as an alternative to straight water. Heather likes it because, “it’s not sugary or sticky in my mouth like a lot of other sport drink alternatives.” Plus, it’s plant-based and comes in a variety of delicious flavors.
Generation UCAN, another popular item with many elite runners, is a favorite of Jillian Tholen. “I love nothing more than getting back from a steamy run and drinking an ice-cold glass of this stuff. It tastes a little sweet and a little salty, and does a great job of satisfying my thirst and replenishing all those lost electrolytes.”
If you thought tanks, shorts, and water bottles were the most essential summer running gear, then you were wrong! You should sooner complete all of your runs naked and dehydrated than neglect the most important summer running gear: sunscreen.
“Sunscreen is a big part of my life whether I’m running or simply hanging outside for a BBQ,” says Jenna. Non-greasy, 2-in-1 moisturizers with SPF were a common trend amongst female writers because easy! Jenna loves Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer and Krysta loves Andalou Naturals Color + Correct Sheer Nude SPF 30 because “it’s tinted and perfectly balances out my ‘morning face’ before an early group run.” And Claire likes Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Oil-Free SPF 15 Lotion because it’s made specifically for skin that breaks out easily and doesn’t feel greasy.
Easy to use, spray-on sunscreens are the popular SPF for body. Heather loves COOLA’s SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen because of it’s delicious guava, mango, and coconut flavors (who wants to smell like stinky chemicals)? And Jenna loves Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen. She says “It sprays on nice and light” and “when sweating profusely, I don’t feel like I have sunscreen dripping all over my body.”
Where to Get your Gear
We’re huge fans of purchasing running gear from your local specialty running store. Hands down they offer the best service, and often the best deals, too. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to live a convenient distance from a great store, so we’ve included links to Amazon and other online retailers.
We also thought it important to note that there are tons of options for summer running gear if you’re looking for a deal. Shop the clearance racks at your local running store or Target (the C9 line is great), or outlet stores (Under Armor, Asics, and Reebok often have great deals). Discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls are good too, but be prepared to look at 10 items that make you say “Why would anyone ever wear that?!” for every item that you’d like to add to your running drawer.
What’s your favorite summer running gear?
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