Ultra runners are a special group of people. They love lots of miles and time on their feet, and their passion for the sport comes with specific gear needs. We’ve pulled together the best gifts for the ultrarunner in your life: the person who gets up early and stays out late cranking out double-digit training days up steep slopes and through the desert while training for their next 100-mile race. These products are aimed at making your loved one’s next long run or ultramarathon more comfortable and convenient.
Be sure to check out our other gift guides, too:
Every runner needs a solid pair of shorts. The Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short is not only comfortable, but it lets you carry a small hydration bottle in your shorts rather than in your hand or in a pack. So it’s a highly functional and practical gift to give the ultrarunning man in your life (also check out the women’s option below). The reason they’re clutch for ultrarunners? The entire waistband doubles as storage, giving a runner 360 degrees of possibility to store water, fuel, and even trekking poles. It won’t replace a hydration pack, but it will replace a running belt. These shorts weigh just 130 grams, feature a comfortable liner, and a four-inch inseam with a slight split for maximum mobility and range of motion. We named them one of our favorite men’s running shorts in 2023.Shop the Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short
Similar to the Jacob Schlarb shorts above, the Ultimate Direction Women’s Velum Short is designed to haul a lot of gear in its 360-degree storage waistband, making a running belt redundant. These shorts can fit a full soft flask, a smartphone, and a few gels in the waistband without any bounce or risk of things falling out. Our testers were thoroughly impressed with the storage capabilities of these shorts, saying Ultimate Direction basically took a pair of shorts and a running belt and combined them to make the Velum Short. While our testers found these shorts extra comfy, we do wish there was another inseam option. You’ll have to appreciate short shorts as the split-legs only come in a 2.75-inch inseam. Still, that didn’t keep our testers from naming these shorts one of the best women’s running shorts of 2023.Shop the Ultimate Direction Velum Short
When it comes to battery life, the Coros Vertix 2 reigns supreme among all GPS watches. We admit that this watch might be overkill for the average ultrarunner (but it’s a gift, so overkill is fine!), but it truly does set the industry standard for GPS watch batteries, as it can run up to 60 days in basic mode or 140 hours with full GPS running. We put this watch to the test at the 126-mile multiday Snowman Race in Bhutan where we were truly impressed by its battery life chops. We also love the watch’s “At a Glance” widget, where you can easily scroll through stats like daily step count, sleep, average heart rate, recovery status, and more. Also impressive is the watch’s durability. After more than two years of testing, the only noticeable wear is some dirt on the band. Yes, this is the most expensive gift suggestion we have in this guide, but it’s one that will not disappoint and give the ultrarunner in your life consistent run tracking for years to come. It’s also one of our favorite GPS running watches in 2023.
Read our in-depth Coros Vertix 2 review to learn more.Shop the Coros Vertix 2
Salomon has some of the sleekest running vests with huge amounts of storage for ultras. The Salomon Adv Skin 12 seems to have it all. A high and tight fit on your back to prevent bounce, quick-drying non-chafing fabric, and enough storage to last you for an all-day adventure, this pack is one of the best out there.
It has a cord in front to quickly tighten or loosen the pack so you don’t have to mess around with individual straps and buckles, pockets pretty much anywhere you look, space for your trekking poles, and all the other bells and whistles. All that said, the vest is lightweight and cinches down flat on your back when you tug the compression cords on the main compartment. It can be easily worn when you’re traveling light as well.
We absolutely love the kangaroo-style pocket which extends in between stretchy mesh openings around the side ribs. You do need at least some shoulder mobility to access this pocket on the run, but it’s huge and seems to swallow up whatever we need it to, making it so efficient when you’re making relentless forward progress in your ultra.
The one thing we don’t love is that the soft flask pockets on the front of the pack are tall and thin and basically only hold Salomon’s uniquely shaped soft flask.
The women’s fit comes with lower-placed soft flasks with long straws, which larger-chested runners may find more comfortable, although many of our female testers preferred the unisex model.
The Salomon Adv Skin 12 was amongst our top picks in our Best Hydration Packs for Running buyer’s guide.
The Smith Reverb sunglasses have a few standout features, but most notable is the interchangeable, standard ChromaPop lens, which uses Smith’s in-house lens technology. The technology is designed to bring out the full colors of red, blue, and green, which can blend together with the naked eye. We love that these sunnies come with a second clear lens that is easily swapped with Smith’s PivLock system when you’re running in low-light conditions but still want eye protection. We tested these sunnies on runs of up to 10 hours, and thanks to how light and comfortable they are, we had no issues with friction or any other pain or sore points. We named them one of our favorite running sunglasses in 2023.Shop the Smith Reverb Sunglasses
The unisex Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles and the women’s specific Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles – Women’s are considered the best trekking poles among many trail runners and ultrarunners, and for good reason. They have a simple, lightweight design that is very reliable. The100% carbon shafts are reinforced at the joints, making them incredibly durable. We love how the poles fold into three sections, making it easy to store in a hydration pack or running belt when not in use. The straps are moisture-wicking and easy to get in and out of, making these ideal for races or runs when you’re frequently having to use your hands to grab snacks or rocks if you’re scrambling on technical terrain.
You can read more about these poles in our in-depth Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles review.
With lots of features, an ultralight weight of 2.6 ounces (73 grams), and an affordable price, the Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket is our top choice for windbreaker jackets. This jacket is made out of a seven-denier nylon, which is one of the lightest fabrics currently used in windbreaker jackets. While the fabric feels like it should be delicate, we’ve had no issues with ripping or tearing throughout our testing. And one thing that we absolutely love is this nylon doesn’t have that annoying swishing sound while you’re running. This jacket, while minimalist, doesn’t skimp on features like a hood, elastic hems at the cuffs and waist, zippered pockets, a Velcro inner pocket, and a full-length zipper. It’s also treated with a DWR finish to help resist light moisture.
The Therabody Theragun Elite is a light but powerful massage gun that was one of our favorites while testing for the best massage guns of 2023. This massage gun has five speed settings, and a display screen that shows battery life, speed, and pressure level. It comes with five attachments, including ball, wedge, thumb, cone, and dampener, and it has a triangular ergonomic handle that’s comfortable and easy to hold while letting you tilt the device at various angles to reach target areas of muscle tension.Shop the Therabody Theragun Elite
How to Choose the Best Trail Running Gifts
We wanted to provide a range of prices so there would be a suggestion for almost every budget. And whether you’re purchasing the Ultimate Direction Women’s Velum Short, which is the least expensive item in our guide, or the Coros Vertix 2, which is the most expensive, you’ll be getting the trail runner in your life a quality item that should last for hundreds of miles. Of course, only spend what you can afford.
Perhaps a present isn’t supposed to be the most practical thing in the world, and some of the best gifts are things that someone wouldn’t buy for themselves. But, as trail runners ourselves, we can definitely appreciate the practicality of a gift. So whether it’s a new pair of running shoes, like the Ultimate Direction Jason Schlarb Short running shorts or the Therabody Theragun Elite, know that practicality in a gift is a good thing and something the trail runner in your life will likely appreciate.
We wanted to pick products we know are functional and will work for many different types of runners. We also wanted them to be easy to use. The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles were some of the most user-friendly and functional trekking poles we tested in 2023. Likewise, the Salomon Adv Skin 12 hydration pack is well loved by many ultrarunners because of its practical and functional design features.
Why Trust iRunFar
We are avid trail runners and picky about the gear we choose. It’s also a large part of our job to test the latest and greatest products from some of the most popular running brands and differentiate which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash, and which ones are not. All of the products above were thoroughly tested this past year by iRunFar staff and testers. We stand behind our recommendations.