We know you’ve all been waiting patiently for the annual Best in Gear Awards to come out, because how else would you know what to buy? So here it is– Believe in the Run’s Best in Gear 2019 Awards.
There are some surprises (like the first thing on this list), some unexpected hits (newcomer Iffley Road), and some downright obvious choices (just look at the starting line of any race). We think you can’t go wrong with anything on this list, and if we’re wrong, we’ll refund nothing because we have nothing except our dedication and love to giving you the best reviews possible.
Here’s to a great year in running, and an even more exciting year in 2020.
Best Overall Shoe
» Nike Pegasus Turbo 2
THOMAS: I have to go with the shoe I kept going back to. I ended up putting more miles on the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2 than any other trainer this year. Check out the review for my thoughts on the trainer. Close considerations would be the Kinvara 10 and the winner of Best Daily Trainer, New Balance 1080v10.Read the Review Shop TURBO 2
BEST DAILY TRAINER
» New Balance 1080v10
THOMAS: The 1080v10 was so close to being my best overall shoe. It has everything you need in a daily trainer, for some it could even be a marathon shoe depending on your goals. Read the review for the high points, but I feel strongly that this shoe will work for the majority of runners and they will love it too.Read the Review Shop 1080
BEST RACE DAY SHOE
» Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%
THOMAS: While this is a boring pick, it is really the only pick for race day. I ran only one race this year where the shoes on my feet weren’t some version of the Vaporfly. If you are trained and ready to roll, you’ll want the Vaporfly on your feet. In 2020 we will see some contenders, but then we should be seeing the Alphafly too. I predict that race day will belong to Nike for a few more years. Did anyone see the CIM coverage? It was basically a sea of Vaporfly Next% going for OTQ.
P.S.- in case you are curious, the one race I ran without Vaporflys was a half marathon in the Skechers Razor 3. Amazing shoe, but not the Vaporfly on race day.Read the Review Shop NEXT%
BEST CUSHIONED SHOE
» HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6
MEAGHAN: The HOKA Clifton 6 got lighter and better looking– what more could you ask for? They’re comfortable, accommodate wide feet, can withstand hundreds of miles and, to top it all off, they’re good for all types of running– from recovery to tempo days. Go get at least two pairs (I did.)Read the Review Shop Clifton 6 – US Shop Clifton 6 – EU
BEST TRAIL SHOES
» Topo Athletic MTN Racer
TAYLOR: This shoe was an eye-opener to me from a lesser-known company that focuses on low-drop foot-shaped shoes. The Mtn Racer is light, agile, and has plenty of protection (with low stack height) for long days in the mountains. Add in the Vibram Megagrip outsole and this becomes a real close-to-perfect mountain shoe. I’d recommend a half size up.Read the Review Shop MTN Racer
» HOKA ONE ONE EVO Speedgoat
MATT: The EVO Speedgoat is impossibly light for a shoe with so much cushioning and grippy rubber, thanks to the performance fit, whisper-thin-yet-durable MATRYX upper. The lycra strip by the toes allows for foot swelling as miles rack up, and while it wouldn’t be my top pick for extremely technical terrain, it’s blazing fast on the trails and comfortable on the feet.Read the Review Shop EVO SPEEDGOAT – US Shop EVO SPEEDGOAT – EU
BEST WIDE SHOE
» New Balance FuelCell Rebel
JARETT: There’s no doubt that the New Balance FuelCell Rebel is THE go-to shorter distance race shoe for my fellow wide footers. First, a wide shoe that weighs 7.8oz?! My shoes are normally in the 10 oz. range. It’s shocking how light the FuelCell Rebel feels on foot. Second, the bootie construction upper is super comfortable. I love the sock-like fit. It’s snug, but not suffocating. Third, the FuelCell foam is light, bouncy, and responsive. The only downsides are that it’s definitely meant for neutral runners and my pair is no longer clean. I NEED MOAR!Read the Review Shop FuelCell Rebel
BEST WATERPROOF JACKET
» Janji Rainrunner Pack Jacket
MEAGHAN: If you’re in one of those running groups that cancel runs when it rains, you probably won’t need this. For the rest of you, this jacket works for everything: misty mornings to torrential downpours. The Rainrunner Pack Jacket is totally waterproof, seam-sealed and fully breathable with core panel venting (this makes it great for all types of temperatures). The fit is not only flattering, but it’s also designed with the runner in mind– no unnecessary material that can get in the way of your stride.Shop Janji
BEST WIND SHELL
» Black Diamond Deploy Wind Shell
MATT: Yes, I know this jacket is around $150, it’s not waterproof, and doesn’t breath as well as some others; but, it’s 48 friggin grams and when I average out cost vs miles it’s coming in pretty cheap. How light is 48g? I’ve hocked loogies heavier. It also packs down easily to the size of D battery, meaning I can stuff it in any pocket. It’s with me on all commute runs from fall through spring and goes in my pack on all my trail runs. Sure, it’s pricey, but it’s surprisingly durable and useful. Just note: it runs a bit roomy.Shop Deploy Wind Shell
BEST HYBRID JACKET
» Outdoor Research Vigor Hybrid Hooded
ROBBE: One of my favorite jackets of all time is the now-discontinued Outdoor Research Tantrum, and this jacket provides the same quality I came to know from the Tantrum. I’m all about clothing that can transition from run to real life, and I was not disappointed with this. The vest-style front keeps the core warm, while the lighter sleeves keep your arms warm enough without over-heating. I throw this on under 35 degrees with a singlet when running, or for just everyday activities in cooler weather, like almost every day this fall.Shop Vigor Hybrid
BEST RUNNING SHORT (MEN)
» Path Projects – Graves PX 5″ short
ROBBE: I thought I had worn a lot of comfortable shorts until I tried the Path Projects Graves PX short. The fabric is made from Toray of Japan Primeflex, an insanely comfortable tech yarn that’s super light and moisture-wicking. The pocket spaces on these are perfect as well for carrying as little or as much as you want. Note that Path Projects shorts must be paired with a liner (like the Torch FX), but the good news is that their liners are buttery soft as well.Shop Graves Short
BEST RUNNING SHORT (WOMEN)
» rabbit Catch Me If You Can
ERIN: I am extremely picky about what I run in, so when I find something I love, I tend to buy it in multiples. I have five pairs of Rabbit’s Catch Me If You Can shorts, which might be excessive but, unless I’m in a compression shorts situation (i.e. any run over 15 miles in >80% humidity), I am wearing these.
They are the perfect length (2.5” inseam), with a flat, wide waistband that has two internal pockets, a zippered pocket on the back, and are made of rabbitMESH, which is magic. It’s light, breathable, quick to dry, and odor resistant. I also love that these shorts are slim fitting in the leg, so they don’t have that unflattering poof that a lot of shorts have. And the best part? Rabbit is woman-owned and makes all their clothing in the US!Shop rabbit
BEST RUNNING SHIRT
» rabbit Run in Rabbit EZ Tee (Short Sleeve)
THOMAS: Rabbit pulls the lightest and softest fabrics out of its hat to give you stylish comfort that performs. They have come a long way with fit since the early days. The EZ Tee won’t ever make it back to the drawer, ’cause you’ll be grabbing it straight off the drying rack for another run.Read the Review Shop rabbit
» rabbit Run in Rabbit EZ Tee (Long Sleeve)
ROBBE: Almost a year after I got this, and it’s still the most comfortable shirt I own. I seriously don’t know what rabbit does or how they blend materials, but like Erin said above, it’s magic. I’ve actually bought this shirt for people as a present, because I want others to experience the luxurious feeling of wearing rabbit. I also approve of any shirt that can double as running apparel or lifestyle, because I’m getting twice my money’s worth.Read the Review Shop rabbit
BEST RUNNING TIGHTS (MEN)
» Iffley Road Windsor II Tights
THOMAS: The Iffley Road Running Tights fit right. No gapping in the crotch, just the right length, and the perfect amount of compression. With the fit nailed down, the only thing left to consider is the finishing details. Iffley doesn’t miss on the details– vented knees, flat zippers on the ankles with material to protect your Achilles from rubbing, and rubber taping along the waist and ankles.Read the Review Shop Windsor Tights
BEST RUNNING TIGHTS (WOMEN)
» Tracksmith Turnover Tights
MEAGHAN: We’ve been reviewing Tracksmith’s apparel for years at this point, and the quality and comfort remain unrivaled. The Inverno blend fabric stretches and moves effortlessly, while they shed light rain and dry quickly. Yes, the Tracksmith price point is high, but you get what you pay for– gear that you’ll feel and look good in, that will last for years.Read the Review Shop Turnover Tights
BEST ROAD SOCKS
» Balega Hidden Comfort No Show
ROBBE: Balega knows a thing or two about socks, and there’s a reason this sock is a hit. It’s plush underfoot, but still made of Balega’s Drynamix fabric to wick moisture. The heel tab is perfect for preventing any Achilles rubbing. I loved wearing these over the last six months, and need to figure out how to get more pairs in my arsenal.Read the Review Shop Balega
BEST TRAIL SOCKS
» XOSKIN 5.0 Ankle Sock
MATT: I used the XOSKIN 5.0 toe socks for Pine to Palm 100 miler, because they seemed to me to be the perfect marriage of Injinji’s toe separation approach to controlling blisters, and Drymax’s technical fabric approach. While I think there’s a bit of room for improvement on the length of the toes, overall these were perfect and I didn’t change socks once during the race. I continue to use them in road and trail running in all sorts of weather and they are awesome.Read the Review Shop XOSKIN
BEST GPS WATCH
» COROS Apex Pro
ROBBE: Of the multiple watches I’ve reviewed, tried, or tested this year, the COROS Apex Pro is my favorite. The battery life is formidable at 40+ hours on full-GPS mode. The accuracy is on-point, the heart rate monitor is surprisingly good for a wrist-based HRM, and the controls and navigation are immediately intuitive. Not to mention it’s the best-looking GPS watch on the market with a great app that syncs it within seconds to Strava.Read the Review Shop COROS APEX PRO
» Jaybird Vista
THOMAS: I love my Jaybird Vista. This year I reviewed other Jaybird headphones, Powerbeats PRO, Apple Airpods, and nothing came close to the Vista for comfort, sound quality, or battery life. Read the review for all the deets, but you can take my word for it. These are rad.
ROBBE: Jaybird really upped the game when they dropped the Vista. While earlier models of Jaybird were coated with a waterproofing seal that had issues, the Vista is one single encased unit and is rated to IPX7, the second-highest waterproofing rating (able to be submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes). This is the first earbud that’s truly been comfortable in my ears. The battery life is excellent and the charging case is small and beautiful. I’ve used these almost every day for the past 6 months, and I keep on loving them.Read the Review Shop JAYBIRD VISTA
» Petzl Swift RL
TAYLOR: If Manny Pacquiao reincarnated as a headlamp, the Swift RL would be him. It’s compact, durable, and powerful. The reactive lighting system gives the option of having hands-free adjustments in different lighting to reserve battery. Best yet, the potential of 900 lumens will really light up your world! The Swift RL is my go-to for any dark hours on the trail or backcountry.Shop SWIFT RL – US Shop PETZL SWIFT RL – EU
» Buff DryFlx
ROBBE: In colder weather, there is nothing more essential than a Buff/neckwarmer for me. The multifunctionality beats a beanie any day, and it actually looks pretty cool. The ability to keep your head and face warm, while pulling it down as you heat up is invaluable on those sub-40 degree runs. Want to get rid of it altogether? Just wrap it around your wrist. Bonus points for the Buff DryFlx– it has reflective elements built into the design for 360 reflectivity without looking like a crossing guard.Read the Review Shop BUFF DRYFLX
BEST HYDRATION PACK
» Nathan VaporHowe
ERIN: I won’t tell you how many packs I went through before I found the VaporHowe 4L, but I will tell you that this is the only vest I’ve worn since. Packs are unfortunately a necessary evil (unless you’re Karl Meltzer) when racing or training for long distances in remote places and don’t have the luxury of (or desire for) a 5-person crew. Now, I tend to travel on the light side and do love myself a handheld bottle, but I hate packs a lot less now that I have the VaporHowe.
Nathan’s vests come in gender-specific sizes, and man, what a difference that makes. I’m not going to claim that I forget I’m wearing this, but it’s as close as you can get. The fabric is incredibly smooth, lightweight, and breathable, and there are semi-hidden adjustable straps on the sides to dial in the fit. It comes with two 500 ml soft flasks for stashing in the front pockets, and has the capacity to carry a 1L bladder if that’s your thing (bladder not included). There is a surprising amount of storage for such a minimal vest; the front and side pockets fit my non-standard sized SIS gels, phone (if necessary), car key, and whatever else you need to carry, and the back pocket can hold a jacket, gloves, and a buff comfortably.
I think this vest is perfect for 95% of situations. If you need pole storage (let’s be real, you probably don’t) or are doing something stupid like a 200 mile race, try the VaporHowe 12L! Nathan knows what they’re doing.Shop NATHAN VAPORHOWE
BEST RECOVERY AID
» chili OOLER Sleep System
MEAGHAN: Ever since I had the original Chilipad and its thermo-regulated coil system, I knew I couldn’t go back to any old bed. This is a struggle when staying at hotels before race day. It’s even more of a struggle now what I have the chili OOLER, the latest and greatest sleeping tech from chili. The control unit is super sleek and fits right under the bed, while all the temperature settings are controlled through the chili app on your phone. Set the pad to slowly warm up in the morning for a wake-up call like you’ve never experienced.
Use code BITR25 to save 25% off the original chiliPad, or code BITR15 to save 15% the chili OOLER sleep system.Shop chili sleep
As always, we strive to provide the most honest running reviews online. All gear on this list has been thoroughly worn or tested by our team of reviewers. While some companies on this list have been past sponsors, nothing on this list is sponsored content. When possible, shop links go to Running Warehouse, an affiliate of Believe in the Run that helps keeps us alive.
Thanks for reading! If you have any other recommendations, please comment below.