This Valentine’s Day, why don’t you go out and buy yourself one of these sweet running accessories. Sure receiving them unprompted at Christmas or Chanukah would have been better, but now you can show yourself, or favorite running partner, a little love – maybe even at a sale price.
Patagonia Down Sweater ($200)
My current favorite, wear-everyday, you-may-not-borrow-it piece is the Patagonia Down Sweater. No, it isn’t a running jacket. But slip into it post run, and you will thank me! 800-fill goose down is lightweight enough (320 grams for women, 343 grams for men) to provide just enough warmth on cool spring and fall evenings with a t-shirt underneath, and toasty comfort on cold winter days when layered with a zip-t and vest. The DWR ripstop shell is tear-resistant, windproof, comes in a rainbow of all-season colors and is made from 100% recycled polyester. Other sweet details include two exterior zippered pockets; a zippered, mesh interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack and a draw cord hem.
If you really want to show your love, get the Special Edition Down Sweater. It had the same great features, but is filled with 900-fill goose down for even more warmth at less weight, 264 grams for women and 281 grams for men. It comes in two hot colors. The translucent silver features purple zippers for women and green for men, while the shiny black Raven version has blue zippers for men and merlot for women. It retails for $275.
Powertraveller Solarmonkey ($105)
Gadgets really aren’t my thing, but I’m learning. I even found one I won’t travel without—the Powertraveller Solarmonkey solar charger. With a rechargeable iPhone, headlamp, camera and watch, the Solarmonkey is just what I needed to stay recharged and prepared on my recent trip to India. The charger is super easy to use – just leave it in the sun to charge. You can even use the included Velcro strap to attach it to your pack for the day. When you are ready to recharge, choose one of ten plugs to power a dizzying array of gadgets. The entire package weights in at just over a pound (553 grams), but to reduce weight, I put just the pieces I needed in the handy pouch and was ready to go. It features an LCD screen that displays battery capacity and charge level, has short-circuit protection and over-charging protection. And, did I mention, it was so easy to use, even I could do it!
Smartwool NTS Microweight Crew ($65 men’s and women’s)
Being a reasonably practical girl, I’ll take a Smartwool NTS Microweight Crew over flowers any day. It’s light weight (155 grams), long-sleeve, cut long enough to stay tucked in my pants as a base layer and pretty enough to be worn on its own. Flatlock, princess seams are as flattering as they are comfortable in this 100% Merino wool shirt, and I put it through serious running and travel trials last fall. The Crew was comfortable for a run, ready to go the next day after a quick sink washing and, when paired with a scarf, did double duty for evening festivities. The NTS Microweight Crew has also been my go-to base layer for winter aerobic pursuits. Worn with a jacket for warmer days or with the addition of a zip-t and vest for chillier temperatures, it’s kept me warm and dry. Thanks to the odor-free properties of wool, while I may not smell like a Valentine’s Day rose – if you can find one that still has a fragrance, I don’t smell like I’ve worn the Crew for two or three days in a row either.
Pentax Optio W90 ($280, although it can be found for under $200)
One of my favorite aspects of trail running is the views. But, without a camera, they are more difficult to share than mileage, elevation and total time. I didn’t want to bother with a disposable camera and my ‘nice’ one (before I dropped it) was not an option. Then, I discovered the Pentax Optio W90 and I have the running shots to prove it. Weighing in at 5.7 ounces, this camera is waterproof, dustproof, shockproof (I can attest to all three), shoots in high or low-res, has a 12.1 megapixel sensor and wide angle 5X optical zoom (the equivalent of 28-140mm) and can capture movies in widescreen 720p HD video at 30 frames per second. It even has a 2.7 inch LCD screen for easy viewing with tired eyes. The Optio W90 comes with a carabineer already attached, so you can strap it to your pack, or slip in into an easily accessible pocket for great shots on the go.
[Disclosure: Sales from Amazon.com links in this article help support iRunFar.com. A sample of each item reviewed was provided gratis by the company with the exception of the Solarmonkey, which was returned to the company after testing.]