We use these for both cycling and running (for conventional cycling cages, we’ve found that CamelBak Podium Big Chill bottles work great). We use the packs on rides and runs over 1-2 hours, and belts for shorter durations.
- Flip Belt Zipper for shorter activities
- (Kelly) Salomon Adv Skin 8 W for longer activities
- (James) Salomon Adv Skin 12 for longer activities
We have found that vFuel, Larabar, and Tailwind are the best activity fuels for us. We recommend the “Vanilla” and “Fudge Brownie” vFuel flavors, as the others taste a little off in our opinion.
One of the biggest investments in gear you should make, the Garmin Fenix series watch tracks all sports, activities, and metrics for you, as well as serves as a navigational aid. With the most recent “Plus” line, the entire lineup provides turn-by-turn navigation ability with onboard maps.
Go for the Sapphire version, which is a more scratch resistant lens. Kelly wears the 5S version, whereas I use a 5X Plus. The 5X Plus is the better and more powerful watch, with longer battery life, but that comes at the expense of size.
In addition to the Garmin watch, you will want at least a HR strap. I use a HRM-Tri, which is waterproof and can store data when it cannot reach the watch, and Kelly uses the original HRM, which is less expensive, but does not provide running dynamics and is not waterproof. We also use Garmin Foot Pods, which improve accuracy, but they are not mandatory. If Cycling, you will want to add Garmin Speed and Cadence Sensors to your bike, and consider a power meter of some kind.
I use GAIA GPS, an online and Android/iOS trail GPS service, to plan routes and upload them to my watch. In turn, I have turn-by-turn directions on my watch and can pull out my phone for a backup if I happen to get extraordinary lost, as the paid versions have offline map capability and don’t require Internet access to function. This is amazing for trail running, because I don’t have to focus on navigation and can instead focus on the trail in front of me. Kelly recently incurred a bad sprain on a run, and I used GAIA to find the quickest route back to a service road, and after helping her to that location, used it to find the quickest route back to my truck and back to the site. These trails aren’t present on Google maps.
Some purists might disagree, but music can be a powerful tool to use on a run or ride. Kelly uses SONY WS-623 headphones and I use a pair of Sony WS-625s I ordered from Japan on Ebay (same as the WS-623, but with 4x (16GB) the storage, a (useless) remote you can wear on your finger, and for some reason not sold in the USA).
We started out using basic bluetooth headphones, but quickly realized that battery life and Internet access (if relying on streaming services without “offline mode”) are major issues. Since the Sony WS-62X headphones have built-in storage and music playback, we can load music directly onto them and avoid battery drain on the phone, and on the headphones from the BT protocol. When natively playing 128Kbps MP3s, we get a full day of music out of them. If we switch to streaming music via bluetooth from our phones, that drops to just a few hours.
They also fit really well and snug, are waterproof (you can even swim with them, with the correct (included) earpieces), and have ambient sound – microphones that pick up your surroundings and echo them into your ears, so you are not tuned out from your surroundings. That makes them extremely safe compared to most headphones, and is reason by itself to choose them. You can also turn off that functionality to save battery life and zone out to music, if you so choose.
I bought a cheap $12 lamp off Amazon and had it die on me one night in the woods. Even when it was functioning, I could barely see where I was going, and kept stumbling over tree roots. My running coach recommended a Petzl Nao+ headlamp to replace it, which is what he and most of the people at events use. It is very expensive – $199 – but I happened to snag one for nearly half off for Black Friday. You can buy a spare battery (I didn’t) and it supposedly lasts up to 12 hours but I have not ran that far with it. I don’t have much to compare it to, but I’m adding it to the list as a solid light that shouldn’t leave you stranded. Even with this headlamp, I carry a spare that I received as gift with me if I plan to be out after dark, because lighting is so essential.
Shirts, shorts, pants, and underwear
When running, we wear a variety of items from different companies. In general, most of my gear is Nike and Kelly’s gear is highly assorted from different manufacturers. I prefer to run in compression pants – either in cooling or warming material, depending on the weather – and loose, long running shorts over them. I wear running tees and rely on layers to keep me warm. Kelly dresses similarly, though she’s more comfortable skipping the shorts.
Again, we’ve found that Nike tends to work well for us and we have a lot of it. I’ve found that I really love my Arc’teryx Incendo Hoody for milder (down to 45F or so) temps, and Arc’teryx Argus Jacket for colder ones. I love Arc’teryx products and would have a ton of them if they weren’t prohibitively expensive. You can occasionally find their stuff for 25% off, which is when I buy it, or you may be able to find something used on Ebay or Poshmark.
Kelly, on the other hand, loves her Eddie Bauer Ignitelite Hybrid Jacket for anything north of 40F or so, and doesn’t run when it is cooler out.
Socks & Shoes
We have both been wearing Salomon Sense Ride shoes and Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex No Show Ultra-Light Cushion socks. We highly recommend them. When I first started running, I wore Merrill Trail Glove 4s, and I shaved probably a minute off my pace just by switching shoes (and not by heel striking).
We use a ton of Buffs. They’re extremely versatile and great for everything. We have some of the name brand ones, and knock-offs that are 90% as good for 10% of the price. Additionally, we both picked up used and/or discounted (on Amazon/Ebay) Jublo Aerolite glasses with Zebra Light lenses.
We use Zwift for indoor training. To get started with cycling, you need a bike and trainer. For running, a treadmill and foot pod (see the Electronics -> Garmin section for a link to one). We use a Bowflex BXT216 treadmill and a Tacx Neo trainer
While you can use your mobile phone, we prefer a computer for the full experience. You will also need a USB ANT+ Stick and USB extension cable.
In theory, a direct drive trainer is probably a large improvement over the wheel-on trainer we are using. However, we have multiple bikes, each with different gearing setups – 9/10/11 speed – that we use, and it’s simpler to have a wheel-on trainer. If you have a single bike, you might look into a direct drive unit.