The Long Game: Gifts for Ultrarunners

We’ve pulled together some of the best gifts for the ultrarunner in your life.

By and on November 20, 2022 | Leave a reply

So many miles, so much time. 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:

Salomon Adv Skin 12 Unisex Running Vest and Salomon Adv Skin 12 Women’s Running Vest ($160)

Salomon Adv Skin 12 Hydration Vest - Product ImageSalomon 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, so that 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 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, shaped for Salomon’s unique soft flasks. This means that you basically have to use a Salomon 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.

Shop the Salomon Adv Skin 12 Unisex Running VestShop the Salomon Adv Skin 12 Women’s Running Vest

Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Waterproof Jacket ($240)

Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Waterproof Jacket - product photoOh, an excellent rain jacket made by a company from the U.K. where it rains plentifully? We are not surprised that the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Waterproof Jacket is such a great running rain jacket.

The jacket is a 2.5-layer jacket with a Pertex Shield waterproof membrane, which provides excellent protection in wet condition as well as amazing breathability for those high aerobic output activities like running.

The jacket has a full set of features which help it to be high performing for wearing in your longest ultramarathons. The technical features of this jacket set it apart from a lot of jackets on the market today and include: fully taped seams, a water-repellent zipper with an internal storm guard, an adjustable hood and hem, a microfleece-lined chin guard, two pockets including one with a headphone port, and a chest snap for the ultimate in ventilation.

The combination of stretch in the material and a slightly wider profile allows for layering over a small hydration vest. If you are planning to wear a larger pack inside the jacket, we recommend sizing up.

This is not the lightest rain jacket, as a men’s size medium has an actual weight of 7.2 ounces (205 grams), but the level of protection it affords is worth the weight. Finally, it packs into its own pocket for efficient storage.

All of this together is why iRunFar named this the Best Running Rain Jacket in our Best Running Rain Jackets guide.

Shop the Men's Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Waterproof JacketShop the Women's Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Waterproof Jacket

Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 5″ for Men ($79)

Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 5 Inch - product photoThe Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 5″ is the number-one pick for several men on the iRunFar team, including Editor-in-Chief Bryon Powell, two of our men’s gear reviewers, and a weekly columnist. Because of this, it’s our number-one pick in our Best Running Shorts for Men guide.

These shorts have it all: a reasonable price, built-in odor control, numerous pockets, and a solid waistband that doesn’t bounce when loaded down with your phone or other goodies.

The material is great as well: substantial enough to keep you protected, airy enough to keep you cool, and thick enough that it doesn’t ride up between your legs.

It has a brief liner and comes in a variety of colors. The only potential downside is that sizing is a bit on the small side, so if you trend between sizes in other brands, try the larger size first. If you’re not keen on showing so much thigh, the shorts come in a seven-inch option as well.

Shop the Men's Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts 5 Inch

Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts 6″ for Women ($75)

Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts 6For our primary tester who tried the six-inch version in our Best Running Shorts for Women guide, the Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts 6″ received the best long inseam vote. The extremely comfortable and wide waistband is solid — no bouncing if there’s stuff in your pockets, the butter-soft recycled material prevents chafing, and the lower-rise inseam means you don’t have to pull your shorts up to your belly button if you don’t want.

Once you try these shorts, you’ll see they’re the perfect weight, material, and style for both ultrarunning and long hiking days.

For those who prefer a shorter inseam, there is a four-inch option.

Shop the Women's Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts 6 Inch

Hoka Speedgoat 5 Trail Running Shoes ($155)

Hoka Speedgoat 5 - product imageThe Hoka Speedgoat 5 in is the latest iteration of Hoka’s most-loved trail shoe, and it topped the list in our Best Trail Running Shoes guide. Hoka shoes have been synonymous with ultrarunning since they first appeared on the market in 2009. Known for their cloud-like cushion, they can keep feet happy for hours on unforgiving hardpacked trails.

This shoe doesn’t have the most aggressive-looking lugs, but our testers found it to be sufficiently grippy on a range of terrain and in different weather conditions. For those who have worn previous versions on the Speedgoat, the midsole of the Speedgoat 5 feels even softer than previous versions and is comparable with that of the now-discontinued Hoka Evo Speedgoat.

A word of warning though — if the ultrarunner on your gift list has a very narrow foot, this shoe might not work so well, as our testers found it to be quite wide fitting. However, for most folks with a standard foot shape, this extra room is welcomed on a very long run when feet can swell and other trail running shoes can feel a bit constrictive.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our in-depth Hoka Speedgoat 5 review.

Shop the Men's Hoka Speedgoat 5Shop the Women's Hoka Speedgoat 5

Salomon Ultra Glide Trail Running Shoes ($140)

Salomon Ultra Glide - product imageThe Salomon Ultra Glide is a relative new-comer, having hit the market in August 2021. Designed by ultrarunner Mike Ambrose, the Ultra Glide has a cushy midsole, rockered bottom, a breathable upper, and a road-running style last. This is built to be a fast yet comfortable trail shoe appropriate for ultramarathons of any length.

It has a six-millimeter drop, and while it’s not the lightest shoe, it is sleek, agile, and responsive as compared to other shoes in its category.

It has moderate lugs on the bottom for gripping wet surfaces, and Salomon’s single pull string-like lace system that you’ll love, hate, or simply get used to.

Coming in a variety of fun colorways, this is a great all-around comfy gift for someone who wants to try something a little bit new.

To learn more, check out our Salomon Ultra Glide review and read why we named it the Best Cushioned Trail Shoe in our Best Cushioned Trail Running Shoes guide.

Shop the Men's Salomon Ultra GlideShop the Women's Salomon Ultra Glide

Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Running 1/4 Crew Socks ($36)

Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Running 1/4 Crew Socks - product imageThe Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Running 1/4 Crew socks might be the most expensive pair of running socks you’ll ever buy, but they’ll also be the most comfortable. These socks are maximally cushioned in all the right places to prevent blisters on the longest days.

According to Drymax, Ellie Greenwood wore these socks during her record-breaking day at the 2012 Western States 100 and, apparently, she suffered zero blisters.

As with most Drymax socks, the combination of olefin, polyester, elastane, nylon, and polytetrafluoroethylene literally pulls the sweat away from your feet to keep away stink, hot spots, and dreaded blisters. The 1/4 crew height protects your ankles from scrapes when you inevitably kick them as your form starts to break down from fatigue. If you or your ultrarunning loved one is a minimalist, then these socks aren’t for you, but if you like cushy socks to go with your cushy shoes, check these out.

Shop the Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Running 1/4 Crew Socks

Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove ($50)

Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip GloveA long-time favorite at iRunFar and chosen as the best convertible glove in our Best Running Gloves guide, the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove is fun and functional. They’ve evolved a bit over the years since they came out: they’re now warmer, more durable, and better at warding off the weather.

Besides riding pretty high up your wrist to keep out the cold, one of the best elements of these gloves is that the mitten actually tucks back into the wristband — no more floppy tops like grandma’s knit mittens, though we love those, too!

The outside mitten is pretty waterproof for most conditions. And while the inner glove could use a bit more grip for even more durability, these convertible gloves are some of the best out there for a wide variety of weather and long days on the trail.

Shop the Ultimate Direction Ultra Flip Glove

UnTapped Maple Syrup Packets ($11 for 5 packets)

Best Running Nutrition - UnTapped Energy Gels - product photoI have yet to find someone who truly enjoys the gels we choke down to fuel our longest runs and races. While many come in delicious flavors, trying to swallow the thick texture when palate fatigue sets in is not really enjoyable.

Not so with Maple UnTapped syrup packets. These tiny packets are full of exactly what they say — pure Vermont maple syrup.

The change in texture, consistency, and flavor as compared to regular gels is welcome. These tiny energy bombs are the perfect gift for someone who isn’t averse to trying a new, more natural source of energy.

They do come in a variety of flavors, but even those have minimal ingredients.

Shop UnTapped Maple Syrup

Squirrel’s Nut Butter ($3 to $18)

Squirrel's Nut ButterChafing is one of the worst things to happen during an ultramarathon or long day out on the trail. It’s probably even worse than blisters because chafing can happen anywhere there is friction, particularly on a hot day: under the arms, between the thighs, and in your nether regions. Unfortunately, severe chafing can cut a run short or even lead to a DNF at a race.

Luckily, Squirrel’s Nut Butter comes in multiple formulations to help you prevent chafing and blisters. You can buy this awesome stuff in deodorant-like sticks for on the go, and in tubs for a bit more all-around coverage. At least one of our ultrarunners on the iRunFar team keeps a small container in her first aid kit at all times, and has even used it for chapped lips in a pinch. It did the trick!

Squirrel’s Nut Butter also has specific formulations for trying to fix dry and cracked toes between your long runs — Happie Toes — as well as one blend that is completely vegan.

Squirrel’s Nut Butter is a small company based in Flagstaff, Arizona, and the formula was originally created to help soothe the founder’s daughter’s eczema — a condition that makes patches of the skin red and itchy. So, if you or your loved one struggles with skin conditions, Squirrel’s Nut Butter could help with this as well.

Shop Squirrel's Nut Butter

Petzl Nao+ Headlamp ($200)

Best Running Headlamps - Petzl Nao+ - product photoPetzl has been making headlamps for decades, and while their more economical models — like the Actik and Tikka — have a dedicated following, the Petzl Nao+ will power you through one or more nights of ultrarunning.

The headlamp has some ridiculously cool features, like the ability to sync the light and program it through an app on your phone, reactive lighting where the beam’s brightness changes based on available ambient light, and a 15-hour burn time on a lower setting.

The strap is a combination of traditional elastic up front and a sort of cord that goes around the side and back of your head. At 6.5 ounces, it is not ultralight, but if you care more about burn time and not having to switch batteries midway through your night on the trail, the Nao+ is an excellent choice.

We named the Petzl Nao+ our best ultrarunning headlamp in our Best Running Headlamps buyer’s guide.

Shop the Petzl Nao+ Headlamp

Coros Vertix 2 GPS Watch ($700)

Coros Vertix 2Rated as having the best battery life in our Best GPS Watches for Running guide, the Coros Vertix 2 should have plenty of battery power for your longest run-ventures. Expect the battery to last 240 hours in reduced tracking mode, 140 hours in regular GPS mode, and 50 hours in dual GNSS mode, the last of which provides the most accurate tracking available in the GPS watch market right now.

This Coros watch is big, there’s no getting around it, and it can sometimes dwarf a smaller wrist (i.e., that of many women). But there is a huge amount of technology packed into the watch, so the tradeoff is worth it.

The Vertix 2 has onboard mapping in multiple formats, can hold music you can connect to via Bluetooth headphones, and has a bright and easy-to-read screen as well as impressive durability. This watch feels like you could run it over with a truck and survive, à la the Nokia brick phones of the early 2000s.

If you’re a runner who wants a durable watch that has enough battery power to keep up with your adventures, along with great mapping technology, then the Coros Vertix 2 is for you.

Shop the Coros Vertix 2 GPS Watch

iPhone 14 and 14 Plus (from $800)

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus - product imageAh, the iPhone. The eternal divider between those who love Apple products, those who hate them, and those who tolerate them because of their cross-product compatibility.

Apple comes out with a new model every year, and the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are the newest and most technologically advanced models. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus claim to have the best battery life of any iPhone so far. They also have up to 512 gigabytes of inbuilt storage.

iPhones are known for their high-quality cameras, and this newest version boasts a “huge leap in low‑light photos.” The picture-taking technology has come so far since the first generation that there have in fact been entire feature films shot solely on the iPhone.

How does all this tech play into your adventure capabilities, you might ask? From tracking other runners or yourself; incredible photography; storage for thousands of photos, songs, and podcasts; enhanced glass (remember how the earlier iPhones would absolutely shatter the first time you dropped them?); and a long battery life make it one of the best tools to have with you out on the trail for a very long day.

It’s also water resistant, meaning you won’t need to leave it in a bowl of rice overnight if you get caught in the rain on a long run.

Shop the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus

Therabody Theragun Mini ($200)

Best Recovery Tools for Athletes - Therabody Theragun Mini - product photoThe Therabody Theragun Mini was named the “Best Budget Percussive Massager” in our Best Recovery Tools for Athletes guide. We loved it not only because it was half the price of some of the other massagers we tested, but also because its smaller size makes it more portable — perfect for your ultrarunning friend to add to their kit bag when traveling to a race. It’s clever ergonomic design can easily be maneuvered to target a range of muscle groups, helping to sooth aching limbs after a long race or big training weekend.

Despite its size, it is almost as powerful as some of the larger massagers we tested. It has three speeds and a straightforward single-button control. It is conveniently cordless and with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a full charge will last up to 150 minutes of use. This powerful little handheld massager is the perfect gift for the sore ultrarunner on your list.

Shop the Therabody Theragun Mini

Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite Poles ($220)

Best Trail Running Poles - Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite - prodict photoThe Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite was among our top picks in our Best Trekking Poles guide. Leki poles are not inexpensive, but they are the brand of choice for many in the ultrarunning world. Their latest release are light as a feather and designed for moving fast for a long time in the mountains.

The poles are fixed-length rather than adjustable, so you’ll need to take care to get the correct length if you’re shopping for someone else. However, they are available in lengths of 105 to 135 centimeters, sized to 5-centimeter increments, so there should be a size to suit most anyone. Many pole users prefer fixed length poles as there is less faff involved with adjusting them and also, they tend to be lighter.

The carbon shaft of these poles collapses and folds easily into three sections for stashing when not in use. A unique feature of these Leki poles is the Trail Shark mesh straps, which slip on like gloves, to attach the poles to the hands. When you need your hands free for grabbing snacks and other tasks, the glove-like straps stay on, but it is quick and easy to detach and then reattach the poles.

One slight downside to these otherwise great poles is that they don’t come with a choice of tips as with some other poles on the market. That said, we did find the standard carbide tip to be pretty effective on most surfaces.

Shop the Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite

Katadyn BeFree Water Filter ($45 for the filter and 600-milliliter bottle, $27 for the filter only)

Katadyn BeFree filterThe Katadyn BeFree water filter sets you free from your kitchen sink and other filtered water sources. This lightweight filter, especially when combined with its 600-milliliter soft flask, is a game-changer on backcountry adventures where tap water sources aren’t readily available. That’s why we chose it as our top overall pick in our Best Water Filters for Trail Running guide.

The nice thing is, you can buy this filter with or without the attachable flask. If you already have a soft flask with the same threads, it will fit just fine on that. That said, we’ve found that the BeFree water filter and 600ml soft flask fit in the front pockets of most hydration packs on the market today.

The filter effectively removes microorganisms that thrive in nature but wreak havoc if introduced to your gut. It’s very lightweight and collapses down small when not in use. You can drink straight from the bottle or use it to quickly refill other water reservoirs.

To learn more about this great water filter, check out our in-depth Katadyn BeFree review.

Shop the Katadyn BeFree Water Filter

Call for Comments

  • What would you like to receive as a gift, as an ultrarunner?
  • What are some other gifts you’ve given to an ultrarunner in your life that we might have missed?
Alex Potter
Alex Potter is a contributor and former editor at iRunFar. Following a nearly decade-long hiatus from running after college, she has found a new love in trail running. As a photojournalist, Alex has reported throughout the Middle East and East Africa for publications like 'National Geographic,' 'The New York Times,' and 'The Washington Post.' She lives in Alaska with her partner Pete and her two cats.
Alex Potter

Sarah Brady is Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for eight years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Dublin, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie.