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Ultrarunners tend to be unique people. They’re often more dedicated than your typical folk, turning their enthusiasm for running—and running a long, long way—into a lifestyle. To that end, they’re sure to appreciate a gift that somehow lends itself to their unbridled passion for long-distance gallops.
But choosing such a gift can be a challenge, especially if you yourself are not an initiate of the singular realm of ultramarathons. Never fear—we have suggestions. Below, you’ll find the best gifts to help ultrarunners train, compete, and recover.
The Best Gifts for Ultrarunners
The Best Ultramarathon Vest: Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 5
Lightweight Running Flasks: HydraPak UltraFlask Speed 500ml Collapsable Soft Flask
Sweat-Friendly Sunscreen: Verta Invisible Face Stick SPF 45
Low-Drop Trail Shoes: Saucony Peregrine 13
Supportive Road Shoes: Saucony Triumph 21
What to Consider
Your primary consideration when shopping for an ultramarathoner involves which phase of their experience you hope to contribute to: training, competition, or recovery. Here are some ideas for each phase.
Ultramarathoners train for running, obviously, but when it comes to races of ultra duration, they’re specifically training for stamina, mental fortitude, and injury avoidance. There are a variety of tools that can support these pursuits, like fitness trackers, training shoes, resistance bands, and much more.
There are a lot of specific pieces of equipment that can vastly improve an ultrarunner’s competitive abilities once the race has started, like race-friendly hydration vests or energy gels for mid-race refueling. From items that support comfort and safety to straightforward race essentials, you can help them gear up for race day.
While post-activity recovery is important in any sport or fitness pursuit, few endeavors require rest and recuperation quite like an ultramarathon, which can involve running as far as 100 miles. There are many ways you can contribute to your favorite ultrarunner’s convalescence once the race is finished, including cozy recovery shoes, percussive massage guns, and muscle-icing apparatus.
How We Selected
As a lifelong runner, I’ve spent decades experimenting with an expansive range of running gear, and I’m an old shoe at recognizing quality from inconsequential. I’ve bolstered this experience with input from the editors at Runner’s World and other outlets, and have taken into account reviews from customers, too. The recommendations below span a wide range of budgets, tastes, and ultrarunner needs, and each will in some way contribute to ultramarathon training, performance, or recovery—and in some cases all three.
Signature Series Ultra Vesta 5.0
A quality hydration vest is at the core of any dedicated ultrarunner’s kit. The Ultra Vest 5 from Ultimate Direction does everything a runner could want it to, offering plenty of cargo space within its 10 pockets, conveniently located trekking pole holders, outstanding comfort and durability, and high water capacity with its dual 17-ounce flasks and space for a 68-ounce reservoir.
Some buyers do report quality issues with the included flasks, but those are easily replaceable. It’s a great vest in every other way.
UltraFlask Speed 500ml Collapsible Soft Flask
If you’re looking for replacement flasks to include with the Ultra Vest, or simply just a pair of high-quality running flasks by themselves, you can’t do better than HydraPak. These 17-ounce flasks will fit in most vests, collapsing as they empty.
An easy open cap and easy access straw make it effortless to sip while you run, and a speed-fill lid makes stops at the water station as short as possible. A very small number of buyers didn’t like the straw, but they are in the minority.
Invisible Face Stick
Ultrarunners tend to spend a lot of time under the sun, which means they need to pack protection. This sunscreen stick from Verta is a great option as it’s highly packable and easy to apply while in motion.
It has no nasty ingredients and is water resistant for 80 minutes. I’m recommending the clear version in particular, which is SPF 45. There is a stronger SPF 50+ version, but only in the visible cream option, which can start to look very streaky once you get sweaty.
Men’s Peregrine 13 Trail Running Shoe
If you’re shopping for an ultrarunner who tends to race on trails rather than pavement, Saucony’s updated Peregrine 13s are a great fit. Not only are they extremely lightweight and comfortable—as all ultra running shoes should be—but they offer solid foot protection and traction.
Some users say that the large traction knobs take some getting used to, but once that’s accomplished wearers report that they deliver an outstanding degree of stability, and a rock plate built into the sole ensures that sharp rocks don’t jab through and interrupt the race.
Triumph 21 Road Running Sneaker
For long races over pavement, most ultrarunners look for a shoe that offers plenty of cushioning and minimal weight. The Saucony Triumph 21 delivers on both fronts. At just 9.8 ounces, it rates alongside other ultralight shoes, and its pillowy soles will provide outstanding cushioning through dozens of miles of racing.
What’s more, the new flat-knit upper and redesigned lacing system translates into impressive comfort. Support is very limited, but beyond that these are fantastic shoes for long road races.
When a person runs for dozens and as many as 100 miles, chafing can and likely will be an issue. This anti-chafe balm from Body Glide will solve the situation by reducing the friction caused by rubbing while running, and it does so without leaving an oily or greasy residue.
If you hear your giftee often complaining of chafing between their thighs or on their underarms, this is a great gift that’ll get plenty of use. It’s sweat and water resistant, and is sure to help improve comfort over the course of the race.
Garmin Venu 3 GPS Smartwatch
Garmin makes a lot of great fitness watches, some of which are theoretically more running-oriented than the Venu 3. But I’m suggesting the new and improved Venu 3 because it boasts the brand’s most accurate fitness and sleep tracking yet, along with their latest fitness and sleep coaching programs.
This makes it an invaluable tool for training, competition, and recovering afterward, helping the wearer to track data and improve their performance and rest. It’s also a great all-around smartwatch, so you can’t go wrong.
’The Ultra Marathon Bible‘ by Samuel Nash
When it comes to entering the singular realm of ultrarunning, it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. The Ultra Marathon Bible provides a wealth of great information on various race types, training, mental preparation, in-race advice, post-race recovery, and more.
Perhaps just as valuable as all that info is the motivation it imparts, as there are few mental and physical challenges quite so extreme. For the ultrarunner who’s just starting out, this book is a must.
Organic Energy Chews
Ultrarunners almost always rely on various forms of on-the-go energy to make it through their lengthy races. That’s where Honey Stinger enters the picture. These energy chews are easy to pack, taste great, and provide a burst of carbs and calories to keep runners fueled. My only wish is that they would offer a variety pack spanning a range of their sports snack products.
Organic Waffle Variety Pack
I said I wanted more Honey Stinger items, right? So here we are. Sometimes the energy chews aren’t enough, and runners need something a bit more substantial to keep them fueled.
These tiny waffles taste great, are easy to carry in a vest or pocket, and make for solid snacking throughout the race. The variety pack includes five flavors, and I personally am partial to the cinnamon.
BibFOLIO Plus Race Bib and Medal Display
Every ultramarathoner wants to show and share their accomplishments. With the BibFOLIO Plus, they’ll have ample hooks for hanging medals and a bib holder for collecting and displaying race numbers. Its minimalist design fits into any living space, and it’s easy to install. Gone For a Run has even thrown in a dozen bib protectors, just for good measure.
High Performance Ultra Light No Show Tab Sock
Ultrarunners go through a lot of socks. These running socks from Feetures are my favorites because they feel great, with a tailored design that doesn’t bunch up or shift around to cause blisters. Our staff even recommends them as the best socks for long runs—and we’ve tried a lot of socks.
They’re moisture-wicking, which is important as sweat and precipitation can build up over a long race. All in all, these will help make the whole thing more comfortable.
When you’re running an ultramarathon, stretching before and after is essential. Manduka’s Pro Mat is widely considered the standard-bearer among yoga mats—and it lasts for decades.
Its 6-millimeter thickness delivers cushioned support without making it tough to balance. The surface materials and uniquely textured top layer are as slip-proof as they come. And it has some great color options, which never hurts.
Before and after the race, most ultramarathoners appreciate something warm and cozy to wear. The Scuba Hoodie from Lululemon offers outstanding comfort, with its thick, soft, breathable cotton.
Our tester particularly liked the oversized hood (more space for long hair or just to burrow into) and thumb holes. Its relaxed fit is designed to be worn comfortably over workout clothes, and it looks fantastic.
For men, I like this affordable hoodie from True Classic. All of True Classic’s products are made of soft, comfy material, but what I really like about its various lines—the Active Hoodie included—is that they’re cut for more athletic frames. The hoodie is also quick-drying and moisture-wicking, as well as antimicrobial to prevent odors. It’s a welcome thing to slip into after a rigorous race.
Visible Convertible Jacket
Brooks’ Run Visible line not only delivers the best visibility of any running jacket, period, thanks to its eye-catching combo of high-vis colors and patterns plus reflective material, but it’s also simply a great running jacket in general.
It’s got decent wind and water resistance and is warm enough for cooler temperatures. But if the wearer heats up while running, the jacket can be converted into a vest that will continue to provide visibility and a bit of cargo storage.
Any time of day—but especially during low-light conditions—this is an outstanding piece of running apparel.
Elite 8 Active True Wireless Earbuds
For earbuds that not only sound fantastic but feel comfortable through hour after hour of running, the Jabra Elite 8 Actives are unrivaled. Their sound quality is surpassed by few earbuds, but where these truly stand out is in terms of more practical ultramarathon considerations such as durability, battery lifespan, and comfort.
The Elite 8 Actives adhere to military standards for rugged electronics. They’ll keep pumping out sound for eight hours with noise canceling on or 14 hours with noise canceling off, and can last up to 56 hours with a fully charged case. And they feel great in the ear.
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