Running, unlike cycling or skiing, doesn’t require a lot of gear. But a full running kit can still get expensive. To help you dial in a basic but reliable and comfortable set, we tracked down Brett Rivers, 34, owner of San Francisco Running Company and asked for his top picks. “When you break it down, all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, some good socks, and a good pair of shorts," says Rivers, who has finished at least eight 100-mile running races, including the Western States 100.
Rivers says spending a little extra money on shoes will get you a much better pair with improved fit, durability, and support. He recommends trying the Nike Pegasus ($110), the Brooks Ghost ($120), and the Hoka Clifton ($105) and then figuring out which one works best for you (all three pictured above). Go into a shop to have them help you fit your shoes: the experts will help you decided which model works best with your foot and style of running.
The same advice applies to socks. Pull a cheap cotton pair from your sock drawer and you’re almost guaranteed to come back with blisters. Rivers likes the Nike Elite Cushioned Running socks ($16) because of the extra foot-top padding and because they wick moisture well. But any sock made from synthetic or merino fibers will do—just avoid cotton.
You can get away with running in a cheap pair of athletic shorts, but running-specific shorts come with supportive liners that cut down on chafing. A pair of Better Than Naked shorts ($55) from The North Face are a big favorite, and they include several pockets so you can bring your phone, ID, and a gel.
Any synthetic shirt designed to wick moisture—including the ones you find in big box stores or at your local thrift store—will do for a top. If you want a running-specific top, Rivers suggests the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight t-shirt ($40)
And you don’t need an expensive running watch. “Just download Strava for free [on your phone,]” Rivers says. “You can get great route options, track your workouts and it is inherently social by nature.”