Water is really a must-have for all runs, but some go without on really short jogs. Water carrying options include hydration packs, hydration vests, handheld water bottles, or waistpacks with water bottles. When choosing a hydration pack for trail running, it’s smart to look for a narrow style that allows you to swing your arms freely. Cinch the straps so they’re snug without being constricting. This way the pack won’t shift during your run.
Another important item to carry is protection from the sun. Damage from the sun can sneak up on you quickly and without warning, leaving you with heat rash or a nasty sunburn the next day. In fact, individuals with fair skin can get skin damage in as little as fifteen minutes of mid-day sun. Sun protection can include sunscreen, lip balm, a wide-brim or long-bill hat, sun-protective clothing, or any combination of the above.
Sometimes out ventures take find us in unknown stretches of trail or forest. If you’re running trails in an unfamiliar area, though, don’t forget navigational tools such as a map, compass, or a GPS device. You can find watches with built-in GPS units, or use an app on your smartphone, if you end up taking it with you, but either way you’ll want some form of navigation tool if there’s a chance you’ll find yourself in unfamiliar territory.
For longer runs, it’s smart to bring energy food such as bars, gels or chews. They may not be as filling as a complete meal, but the boost of nutrients will help keep your strength and energy levels up.
While some may consider it cumbersome, a simple first-aid kit can be invaluable on the trail. If you take a nasty fall or stumble upon someone in need of help, you’ll be glad you had a small first aid kit in your hydration pack. For those running at night, a headlamp is a must. Not only will it allow you to see where you’re going, but it will make you noticeable to vehicles.
They won’t always be needed on your trail runs, but the items listed above are great to have along when the need arises. Consider putting together a small collection of trail running gear to keep in a waistpack or hydration pack, if possible, and you’ll find a peace of mind and readiness for nearly any situation that you would have otherwise missed out on.