The Best Running Accessories to Start 2021 on the Right Foot (Quite Literally)
Trust us when we say the best running accessories are the items that get you excited to lace up and head out the door, whether you’re a new runner or someone who’s been hitting the pavement for years. These add-ons don’t always have to be flashy or expensive, like a GPS watch or wireless headphones; sometimes a simple sweat-wicking cap or a funky new running belt is all it takes to fire you up for another sweat sesh. These 19 accessories have all been tested and vetted by runners of all levels (including me, a two-time marathon finisher) and are pretty much guaranteed to add a little extra pep to your step whether you’re hitting the track, trail or road. And who doesn’t love treating themselves to a fun new toy every now and then?
1. SPIBelt Running Belt
This simple single-pocket running belt is great because it easily stretches to fit all the basics, including a phone, keys, credit card and an ID. The adjustable elastic waistband (which closes with a buckle) can be loosened or tightened between 24 and 47 inches and comes in a huge variety of colors and. So, there’s definitely a color combo to coordinate with your running gear, whether you prefer classic black or stand-out green. Lots of reviews give two pieces of advice for minimizing bounce with the SPIBelt: First, position the belt at your smallest point (which may be up by your belly button rather than around your hips) to avoid having it slip and move as you run. Then, rotate the belt so that the pouch sits at the back. Now, go on and clock those miles.
If you’re hoping to take more than just your keys and phone on your jog, the FlipBelt, which has multiple pockets throughout, might be a better option. There are four slot openings for lip balm, sunscreen, fuel or even an EpiPen. In addition to holding more, some reviewers really loved how the FlipBelt doesn’t obviously look like a running belt and can blend in with the waistbands of their leggings. As for fit, sizes range from XS (22 to 25 inches) to XL (35 to 38 inches) and they aren’t adjustable, so be sure to measure your waist before you order. Similar to the SPIBelt, runners with wider hips and a smaller waist recommend buying a belt you can wear at your smallest point to minimize movement.
3. Koala Clip Original
So this one obviously isn’t a belt, but it is the coolest storage option we’ve seen. The Koala Clip is a water-resistant phone pocket that uses a magnetic closure to clip onto the straps of your sports bra, keeping your belongings out of the way for a totally hands-free run. And while some runners did say it took them a few minutes to get used to the feeling of having their phone on their back, it wasn’t long before they considered it a must-have. The pocket also has a zipper closure, so you don’t have to worry about anything flying out as you bounce along the trail. (P.S. It can also clip onto the waistband of your shorts or leggings, if you prefer.)
4. Simple Hydration 13 oz Water Bottle
“I do most of my runs in Central Park because there are regular water fountains which means I don’t need to carry water with me, because I loathe carrying things in my hands when I run,” says Emily H., a former division one track athlete living in NYC. “But when COVID hit I didn’t feel comfortable using public fountains, so I was over the moon when I came across this ingenious bottle that’s designed to fit in the waistband of your shorts.” The bottle tucks comfortably into the waistband of just about any pair of leggings or shorts and there’s virtually no mention of leaking in the reviews. However, since the bottle isn’t insulated, reviewers note that the water tends to warm up fairly quickly while sitting up against your body.
5. Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated 18 oz Water Bottle
If you don’t mind a handheld design, this Nathan bottle holds more H20 than the Simple Hydration design and, because it’s insulated, will keep water colder (or warmer, if you’re headed out in winter) for longer. It also incorporates a race cap, meaning you just have to squeeze the bottle to open the valve for water, minimizing leakage as your arms pump back and forth. The adjustable hand strap is built with a handy thumb hold so you don’t need to grip the bottle (and waste energy) as you run and also incorporates reflective materials, making you t more visible at night. Lastly, the zippered pocket can fit most phone models, in addition to keys and an ID or other small items, like fuel or sunscreen.
6. Ultraspire Iso Versa 2.0
Built for those who don’t want to stop for refills any time soon or who simply require a lot of fluids, this handheld bottle holds 20 oz of water. To offset the weight of all that liquid, the mesh hand strap doesn’t include a pouch for essentials. However, it is incredibly breathable (to limit excess hand sweat) and is adjustable in a myriad of ways—it can be reconfigured to fit either in the palm or on the back of your hand, right or left.
7. Camelbak Rogue Hydration Pack
For longer runs or extremely hot days, you might want to consider a hydration pack over a water bottle. This Camelbak design holds a whopping 85 oz of water and features an easy, leak-proof on/off lever you can use without stopping. There are also two external pockets, both waterproof just in case of leakage, for your phone, keys, wallet and any extra layers you want to bring along in case of changes in the weather. And although it was originally designed for cyclists, it works equally well for running (provided you don’t mind the sound of swishing water) with little to no bounce and no irritation from the straps.
8. Osprey Dyna 1.5 Hydration Vest
Part water pack, part backpack, this running vest has plenty of room for everything you might need while out on a run. The included removable reservoir holds about 51 oz of liquid, with a twist-lock mouthpiece. But it’s the numerous pockets we really love. At the front there are two easy-access mesh pockets for small items, two large stretch pockets intended to fit Osprey’s soft-sided water bottles (but really you could stow just about anything in there), and a vertical zippered pocket for your phone or anything else you don’t want falling out. At the back there’s a large zippered pocket for extra clothes or snacks, two lower stretch pockets and trekking pole straps for trail runners. Oh, and it also has a handy safety whistle built right into the right-hand front strap.
9. New Balance Packable Speed Run Hat
This sweat-wicking cap can fold up—brim and all—to fit in the pocket of your jacket or leggings so you can easily pull it out or stow it away again as needed. Mesh side panels help prevent your head from overheating on hot days, and the back strap is made of an adjustable elastic to give you a better fit, whether you’re rocking a tight ponytail or a low braid. It’s also machine washable, so you won’t have to worry about gross sweat stains or unpleasant odors and bacteria building up over time. One thing to note: Some reviewers found the hat ran on the smaller side, so if you’re working with a lot of hair or a larger noggin, you might want to consider something with more wiggle room.
10. Brooks Carbonite Hat
Of course, you could sport this lightweight cap on just about any run, but it’s especially great for rainy runs. Why, you ask? Two reflective strips, one at the front and one at the back, make you easier to spot by cyclists and drivers who are also dealing with low-visibility, while the wide brim helps keep rain from splashing in your eyes. The super light polyester material easily wicks away sweat to keep you comfortable and is also machine-washable (although you may want to hang dry this cap instead of tossing it in the dryer).
11. Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones
For those who prefer totally wire-free earbuds, we recommend Powerbeats for two main reasons. The first is the adjustable over-ear hooks which help secure these buds in place and make it almost impossible for them to fall out mid-run, unlike many other bud designs. Second is the superfast charging time—five minutes gives you up to an hour and a half of solid listening time, and it takes just 30 minutes to achieve a full nine-hour charge. Another benefit is that you can run with just one earbud, if you’d like, without encountering any weird unbalanced sound (you know, outside of the obvious), and both the right and left buds come with control buttons, making them easy to adjust. And for those worried about wearing over-ear hooks with sunglasses or a hat, many reviewers said they encountered no issues thanks to the adjustability and thin size of the hooks.
12. AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
Unlike the noise-cancelling headphones you bought to drown out the sound of your neighbor’s leaf blower, running headphones shouldn’t totally block surrounding noise. For your safety it’s important that you remain able to hear oncoming cars, bikes or other runners, which is why we’re so enamored with the idea of bone conduction headphones. These innovative designs send sound waves through your jaw and cheek bones to stimulate your inner ear allowing you to listen to music, podcasts or guided runs without actually putting anything inside your ear. Pretty trippy, we know, but they really work and don’t skimp on sound quality, as you might assume. This particular pair is also waterproof and won’t bounce or shake loose, despite not being anchored to your ears. All in all, if you’re worried about long term effects of in-ear headphones, the AfterShoks are definitely worth investigating.
13. Garmin Forerunner 45
This user-friendly smartwatch gives you all the basics—pace, time, distance, heart rate—but can also connect to your phone via Bluetooth to keep you updated about calendar appointments, incoming calls and even notify emergency contacts if you find yourself in need of assistant out on the road. In fact, there are a bunch of extra features for you to really delve into if you want to get serious about training, including stress tracking, a “body battery” energy monitor and a built-in Garmin run coach which can deliver adaptive training plans right to your watch. As for the main basics, you can adjust the watch’s screen to display whatever combination of data you’d like during the run, which is shown in a super-simple, easy-to-read format you can digest at a glance (we’re not looking to stop to analyze our pace mid-run, thanks). There’s also an interval training setting and like all Garmin’s watches, the Forerunner 45 can be linked to a number of training apps, like Strava, as well as Spotify or Apple Music.
14. Amazfit Bip
This inexpensive new GPS watch has been slowly but surely making waves in the running world. Yes, it’s great at tracking your pace and other fitness stats, without obviously looking like a sport watch, but it’s the incredibly 30-day battery life that’s really impressive. Yes, you read that right. After about two and a half hours of charging, this smartwatch will be powered up to last a full month, even if you set up call, text and email notifications. The watch has just one button (which you can customize the function of), so most of your interaction with the watch happens in the Zepp App, something some users weren’t too keen about. It can also track your sleep and heart rate, although some reviewers found these numbers to be less accurate than higher priced models. Realistically, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better fitness tracker for under $100, despite its relatively minute flaws.
15. Goodr Sunglasses
Bright colors, bold patterns and cheeky names (like Union Jack Flash, Flamingos on a Booze Cruise and Swedish Meatball Hangover) abound from this affordable brand, although there are also solid options for those who prefer a simple black or neutral-hued pair. Silliness aside, Goodr’s sunnies are super lightweight and won’t bounce or slip, no matter how much you sweat. Lots of reviewers also loved the fact that they don’t look like your typical sport sunnies, meaning they could wear them just about anywhere.
16. Julbo Fury
For those who’d rather invest in a high-tech sport pair, Julbro is one of the best options around. The Fury in particular weighs just 25 g and has a wider, single lens to give you better protection from the sun’s glare. The lenses have also been treated with an anti-fog coating (a major bonus for those who’ve been struggling with the combo of a face mask and sunnies). And while you should always treat your glasses with care, the flexible, shock-absorbing frame is durable enough to stand up to heavy use. Of course, like the Goodr glasses, Julbo also promises no bounce or slipping, no matter how sweaty you get.
17. Nathan Streak Reflective Vest
If you plan to hit the road at night or in the rain then you absolutely need some kind of reflective gear. And while we love a good safety jacket or 3M-striped leggings, a simple, lightweight vest, like this one from Nathan, slips easily over whatever gear you already own. There are two hook-and-loop patches at the bottom so you can easily adjust the fit. There are six reflective patches on the front, two on the sides and three at the back, making you visible from all angles, up to 1,200-feet away. The patches are also strategically placed to help make you identifiable as a person, rather than a cyclist or stop sign, to oncoming traffic.
18. Knuckle Lights Advanced
Besides having an incredibly cool name, these rechargeable, easy to carry flashlights are also great for keeping you safe on dark runs. The hand straps are adjustable and can easily fit over gloves in colder months. They’re also made from silicone, which gives you a better hold without actually requiring you to grip the lights. (FYI, you can definitely still hold your phone to text or change music while holding them.) Thanks to an extra wide beam, the light won’t bounce as you pump your arms, giving you a better view of the road ahead. There are also three light settings—high, low and blinking, which is best for use in oncoming traffic—to fit exactly what you need.
19. SABRE ADVANCED Compact Pepper Spray
No one wants to think about having to use pepper spray while out on a run, but unfortunately there are times when it may come in handy, against animals or other humans. This is especially true if you tend to get your miles in during the early morning, late at night or on remote trails. This handy little spray bottle is super lightweight and comes with a clip, so you can hook it over your waistband if you want, and has a 10-foot range. Pro tip: Practice locking and unlocking the spray mechanism before you head out but don’t actually activate the pepper spray; you definitely don’t want to accidentally get this anywhere near your eyes.