With the holiday season upon us, finding gifts for the women in your life who run can seem overwhelming. Luckily, most companies have moved away from the “pink it and shrink it” motif and are creating gear specifically designed for women’s bodies and needs. Whether your spouse, daughter, sister, or friend needs a new running shirt, hydration vest, recovery tool, or heart rate monitor, we’ve got you covered. Our guide can help you choose the perfect gift in a sea of options.
Be sure to check out our other gift guides, too:
Named the top choice in the iRunFar Best Running Shirts for Women guide, the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt is incredibly light and breathable. It dries quickly and is a great shirt for running on the hottest summer days. Made of double-knit polyester fabric, it’s soft on the skin and a joy to wear. The little details make this shirt stand out from the rest. It’s a comfortable cut, not too tight or too loose, and it’s long enough to sit right below the hip bone. The sleeves are long enough to cover plenty of the upper arm, and the gussets under the arms ensure a full range of motion. While at first glance, the flatlock seams around the shoulders may cause issues when wearing a pack, the shirt is soft enough not to cause any problems, even with a heavily loaded pack. The neck opening is wider than some, enhancing the shirt’s breathability but reducing its sun protection.
The material is quick-drying and stretchy. While it’s a synthetic material, it has a Polygiene treatment that helps prevent odor by keeping bacteria from growing — an important factor because who wants to get back from a run with a shirt that needs to be shoved in the back corner of the car to not be offensive. In fact, this shirt can be worn multiple times between washes without acquiring a stench. The incredibly fine and lightweight fabric isn’t the greatest at providing sun protection, but the shirt weighs less than two ounces, making it a great option if there’s a chance you’re going to take it off mid-run and carry it in your pack.
Patagonia apparel is an excellent option for someone in your life who strives to make environmentally conscious decisions. This shirt uses some recycled materials, and Patagonia has a generous gear repair policy should you damage it.Shop the Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt
Oiselle is notable as a company that only makes women’s-specific running apparel, and it shows in the quality of the products. While women’s products from other brands occasionally seem like an afterthought, Oiselle focuses on making functional and stylish women’s clothing. The Oiselle Flyout Long Sleeve is an excellent option as a base layer and a stand-alone long-sleeve shirt. The proprietary Flyout fabric with HoverFit technology makes it an incredibly breathable and comfortable layer. To optimize heat transfer, the fabric is designed to hover over the skin instead of sitting tightly on it. It dries quickly as well. The raglan sleeve design minimizes the chance of chafing along the seams, and the thumb holes at the end of the sleeves are a nice touch. They keep the sleeves from riding up underneath other layers and allow you to pull the sleeves down over your hands and get a little extra warmth and protection. The watch window is also a unique feature that will be loved by anyone who wants to keep track of the time or their splits without having to roll up their sleeves.
Oiselle is proud to use environmentally conscious manufacturing practices. They strive to source materials responsibly and upcycled materials to reduce waste with their Fabric Forward Program. They also offer a vast array of sizes for women of all shapes and sizes.Shop the Oiselle Flyout Long Sleeve
Everyone loves a good pair of running shorts, and the Janji W’s 3″AFO Middle Shorts are light, breezy, and incredibly comfortable. And they look good, too. With some of the softest and smoothest fabrics found in running shorts, so light that it’s easy to forget you’re even wearing them, they make a great functional and stylish gift. The ultralight AFO woven fabric is made from recycled synthetic materials and dries incredibly quickly. The liner is also light and comfortable and stays in place throughout runs of any length. The mid-rise waistband is made of a stretchy knit material, and it sits between the hip bones and the natural waist of most people. An internal drawcord helps to dial in the fit.
The internal pocket has a small elastic cord so you can carry a key confidently, and a zippered pocket on the back of the shorts can easily carry coffee money or a snack. These running shorts have a flattering and functional profile. The inside of the legs is slightly longer to minimize any chance of chafing while still allowing for a full range of motion, regardless of how fast you’re running. They also have a tiny side split.
One of the fun features of these shorts is that they come in a variety of colors and patterns, including plain black, so you can choose one that fits the personality of the person you’re getting them for.Shop the Janji W's 3-Inch AFO Middle Short
While buying a sports bra as a gift can feel intimidating, you can count on the Athleta Ultimate Bra to be appreciated. It has a style and sizing that will work from an A cup to a DD, and it’s an option for many different body sizes and types. And a good sports bra is a crucial part of nearly every runner’s closet.
This bra has a compression-style racerback design, and the back cutout minimizes fabric and maximizes breathability while still providing plenty of support. The design also allows for a full range of motion, and it looks good, too! The sizing is split between an A to C cup design (in sizes XXS to XL) and a D to DD+ version (XXS to 3XL), and they come in multiple fun color options.
Made of recycled nylon fabric, this bra is breathable and dries quickly. While it fits tightly, it doesn’t require acrobatic movements to get on and off. The bra has removable pads for extra support, but many runners tend to remove them to keep them from trapping moisture. The fabric alone provides plenty of support without them. Billed as a medium-support sports bra, it’s plenty supportive for running.Shop the Athleta Ultimate Bra
The Salomon Adv Skin 5 Women’s Running Vest is an excellent option for a low-volume running hydration vest with a women’s-specific fit. The two front pockets, which are situated lower on the vest than those on the unisex version, carry 500-milliliter soft flasks with long straws that allow access to your hydration without having to remove the bottles. Overlaying stretchy pockets hold small items, and a zippered pocket can secure important objects. An elastic loop secures the flask straw so it doesn’t flop around.
There is plenty of storage for gloves, nutrition, chapstick, or a hat. The pockets can also hold most cell phones. The rear compartment fits a 1.5-liter bladder, and a dividing panel separates the bladder from the rest of your gear. You can also stash a jacket in the pass-through stretch sleeve on the lower back of the pack. For its size, this pack can carry a lot of stuff!
The elastic sternum straps are easily adjustable, allowing a customized fit with a single toggle. Several options are available on the pack for carrying trekking poles, and it’s also easy to attach the Salomon pole quiver. A whistle on the front is a nice safety feature.Shop the Salomon Adv Skin 5 women's running vest
A good foam roller is important for any runner, and the Roll Recovery R4 Body Roller is an excellent gift for anyone who values recovery. While foam rollers of all sizes and shapes are available, this one is a well-balanced option that will work well for just about any runner in your life, whether they’re new to foam rolling or devoted to the practice. The high-density foam on the outside provides an excellent level of pressure without being too hard, and it has a variety of contours and textures that make it a versatile tool. A pronounced central groove is perfect for rolling the spine, forearms, and Achilles tendons, while the flatter parts of the roller are great for larger areas like the hamstrings and quadriceps. The contoured areas of the foam roller make it easy to adjust the pressure applied to different parts of your body. The diamond-pattern texture on the surface adds a little extra pressure and grip. Beneath the outer layer of foam is a hard plastic layer for stability, and the hollow core keeps the foam roller light for its size. The surface does tend to pick up dust and animal fur, so adding a yoga mat to the gift package should be considered.
Read our in-depth Roll Recovery R4 Body Roller review to learn more.Shop the Roll Recovery R4 Body Roller
The old adage claims that runners should recover as hard as they train, and the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager is an excellent addition to any recovery tool collection. The small and lightweight massage gun is useful in its own right and great to use on legs and arms, but when it attaches to the included talon, it really shines. The 20-inch long extension makes using the massage gun on your back and other hard-to-reach places on your body easy. It’s excellent for knots behind the shoulders, getting different angles on the glute muscles, and achieving better leverage on other spots that normal massage guns can’t reach well.
When you want to use the massage gun without the extension, it has a soft, ergonomic handle and four massage heads, a flat head, a fork, a ball, and a bullet. The rechargeable battery provides plenty of power, and the device has four speeds and a 12.5-millimeter amplitude, which is on par with other quality massage guns. This package also has a gua sha scraper that can be attached to the extension arm instead of the massage gun for manual massage. With this product, you’re getting three separate quality massage devices and attachments at a very competitive price point.Shop the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager
The Coros Apex 2 Pro is an excellent option for a GPS watch with all the features a runner needs for a competitive price tag. The vivid display makes it easy to see, and the touchscreen is convenient for navigation when using the watch. The watch also comes with pre-loaded maps, which is incredibly convenient. While getting a GPX route onto the phone still involves emailing yourself the file and sending it to the watch, the process is relatively painless.
The digital dial on the side is less at risk of accidental starting and stopping than the buttons that many other watches use. And true to the Coros brand reputation, this watch has a long battery life. If you’re only headed out to run a couple of hours every day, this watch can go about 30 days without a charge. The big battery is impressive, given the watch’s size, which isn’t overbearing on the wrist.
Coros also uses more advanced GPS technology than many other watches. The All-Satellite GNSS chipset uses a five-satellite antenna compared to the more common three-satellite antenna (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo). This increases accuracy, especially when the watch doesn’t get a clear view of the sky. The fast processor minimizes the time you have to wait between finishing an activity and seeing your stats.Shop the Coros Apex 2 Pro
Heart rate monitors for women have always been tricky, and the Myzone MZ-Switch takes much of the difficulty out of getting an accurate heart rate measurement. Traditional chest straps are often uncomfortable under a sports bra, and optical watch monitors tend to be inaccurate, but armband monitors like this are a great alternative. This heart rate monitor can be worn in a variety of configurations, including with an ECG-measuring chest strap, the most accurate way to get a heart rate measurement. The green light optical sensor also provides an accurate measurement for people who want to wear it on their wrist, forearm, or upper arm.
According to Myzone’s site, the ECG-chest-strap sensor boasts 99.4% accuracy, while the optical monitor is 95% accurate. Color-coded lights on the optical monitor correspond to your different heart rate zones, a useful feature to see effort level during training without staring too hard at small numbers on a watch. The ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity make it easy to connect the monitor to a smartphone to record data. The device also has onboard memory if you’re running without a watch.
Battery life is reported to be three to six months per charge by MyZone, and while this will vary depending on how much it’s used, it’s still a very long battery life.Shop the Myzone MZ-Switch
A pair of high-quality headphones can turn any everyday run into a dance party or a chance to learn something new with a podcast or audiobook, and the Beats Powerbeats Pro is a premium earbud with all the upgrades that make a set of headphones stand out. Buying a nice pair of headphones for yourself can feel extravagant, but receiving them as a gift is great. These headphones have exceptional sound quality for podcasts, audiobooks, and music. They connect easily to phones, especially iPhones, and allow for hands-free voice commands with Siri. You can also answer text messages with them without pulling your phone out of your pocket. The nine-hour battery life is long enough for all but the longest outings.
The over-ear hooks keep these headphones in place and always feel secure in our ears. While not all runners appreciate music or other audio during runs, the ones that do will love the quality of these.Shop the Beats Powerbeats Pro
How to Choose Women’s Running Gifts
One of the hardest aspects of buying clothing for another person is getting the size right. And the best way to get the correct sizing for the person you’re buying a gift for is to ask. Unless you’re trying to buy someone a new sports bra, like the Athleta Ultimate Bra, and asking about the specifics of sizing related to chest size, questions about sizing don’t give away the surprise of a gift. And it saves the hassle of returning something that isn’t too big or too small. Women’s clothing is often cut differently than men’s, so sizing comparison between women’s clothing and men’s or unisex clothing is often inaccurate and difficult. Our advice? Just ask.
Women’s-Specific Versus Unisex Items
While many items in this guide are unisex, women’s clothing differs from men’s. Since body shapes are significantly different between men and women, the cuts of women’s clothing are unique. All this said, some women prefer the cut of men’s clothing. If you’re unsure about the style of clothing the person you’re buying a gift for wants, it might just be best to buy a non-clothing item for a gift. Several items in this gift guide work equally well for both men and women, like the Beats Powerbeats Pro headphones or the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager. Items everyone wants but often can’t justify buying for themselves often make the best gifts.
For a long time, women’s running gear manufacturers took a “pink it and shrink it” approach to items without much thought to the differences between men’s and women’s bodies and their individual needs. And in some cases, women’s gear was of lower quality than the men’s counterpart. Luckily, a lot has changed recently as brands have started understanding the need to make good gear for women. And while there is still a gap between men’s and women’s gear, especially in both the quality and quantity of pockets available in running shorts and tights, things are moving forward. Buying high-quality gifts from brands that focus on women’s gear makes a big difference, and the Oiselle Flyout Long Sleeve is a great gift and a vote towards having good gear for women available.
Frequently Asked Questions about Women’s Running Gifts
How do I choose the right size of clothing?
Women’s bodies come in a vast array of shapes and sizes. If you’re unsure what gift size to buy, it’s always good to ask. Most running clothing runs true-to-size, so you can feel pretty good about purchasing an item the same size as a person usually wears. Running clothing comes in various cuts, from skintight to loose, so consider these factors as well. When it comes to shorts, many women’s options trend towards very short inseams. This isn’t a universally loved style, so it’s good to notice in-seam length when choosing. The Janji W’s 3″AFO Middle Shorts are a good option that fits many women’s bodies well.
Is women’s-specific running gear different from men’s or unisex items?
Women’s clothing is cut differently than men’s or unisex clothing to accommodate different body types. For many women, men’s clothing is far too tight around the hips and the chest. Many brands make hydration vests and packs with a women’s-specific cut, such as the Salomon Adv Skin 5 Women’s Running Vest. Most of these vests have lower pockets on the straps to take pressure off the chest area. This fit works well for many body types, but some women prefer the styling and fit of unisex hydration packs.
Is pink an appropriate color to choose for an item?
The use of pink and other pastel and soft colors in women’s running clothing and items seems to fade in and out over the years. Some love it. Some hate it. Unless you know that the person you’re buying gear for likes pink, may we recommend you choose one of the many other options available. The Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt comes in a good variety of colors.
Call for Comments
- What gifts would you give to the trail-running women in your life?
- For the women, are there any types of gear that you prefer to buy unisex rather than gender-specific?