Welp, another year is winding down, the holidays are here, and if you’re like me you’ve been thoroughly and brutally cookied by every gear brand on the planet. Seriously – my IG feed is all gear ads. I don’t actually begrudge companies for doing this – it’s at least related to stuff I like, and is based entirely on my own behavior, so I actually feel like it’s fair game. But my lord – so many gear ads!
That incessant barrage of IG-served gear ads did have me thinking about the pieces that caught my eye in 2018. I’ve shared some of my other gear before, but here’s a final list of my MVP gear in 2018! Call it a holiday gift guide for runners, call it an “End of Year Gear Round-Up” – whatever you like. But here’s what’s kept me traveling and running (fairly) well in 2018.
BTW – Some of the brands below are BibRave partners, some are not, and none of them paid to be in this blog post. Just letting you know!
Under Armour HOVR™ SONIC – $100
These bad boys have been one of my favorite products of 2018 for two reasons. First – they look good and are extremely comfortable. I have the black colorway, which allows them to match easily with my travel pants (see below) and basically anything else I might wear (jeans, shorts). That also means they quickly became my go-to travel shoes, because I can wear them on planes comfortably (outstanding breathability and super soft upper) as well as in most social settings.
The other reason I love them is that they easily serve double-duty as my travel running shoes. These aren’t my everyday running shoes, but I’ve put as much as 23 miles in a day on these guys (run spectating the Chicago Marathon) and they gave me absolutely zero problems. Especially when it comes to travel gear, versatility is KEY and the HOVR SONICs have that in spades.
Lululemon ABC Pants – $128
I’ve been rocking the lululemon ABC pants for a few years now, but moving over to the Obsidian color this year has actually made a big difference for me in terms of versatility. Not only are these pants that look and fit-in like chinos while fitting like sweatpants, but the Obsidian has proven to be way more versatile than the black (which I also have). They basically go with everything.
If the color doesn’t matter to you (they have like 10 to pick from), then you should be attracted to the comfort – totally off the charts and lulu will hem them for free. I’d love for them to be a BIT slimmer fitting, but I still wear these pants on every trip (I’ll have taken 26 flights by the end of the year – 52 if you count the out and back), so I’ve certainly put them to the test. They fit right in at a nice-ish dinner, casual bars, or lounging over coffee that you need because you stayed up too late at those casual bars.
Brooks Sherpa 5” Short – $48
This one’s easy – these are the best running shorts I’ve ever had. I bought a pair at the Brooks store in Seattle, ran in them twice, and immediately ordered 3 more pairs. The reason I like them so much is because they perfectly blend form and function. They look good – but, I mean, they’re 5” black running shorts. They look like black running shorts.
But their pocket design is outstanding (it’s so crazy to me how many brands suck at putting useful-sized pockets in useful places). MVP – iPhone X-sized pocket that rides right below the belt and basically right on top of your butt. That basically amounts to being able to listen to podcasts from my phone with a bounce-free situation. Pair that phone with the headphones below, and I’m good to go.
These shorts also have an internal key pocket that is big enough to hold credit cards, ID, or hotel key, and there are also two gel-specific pockets on each leg. Tons of storage, and all in smart places.
Lastly, and without getting too graphic, these shorts keep things in place and provide stability in a way that no other shorts have provided me in the past. Every guy part is locked down and prevented from causing trouble, which means no chafing and greater comfort on the run. Any guy who’s worn the wrong shorts in this regard knows how valuable the right ones are.
AfterShokz Trekz Air – bundle at $150
Anyone who listens to The BibRave Podcast or has the misfortune of running with (or even talking to) me knows about my obsession with AfterShokz and the Trekz Airs are the best running headphones you can buy. The bluetooth connection is faster than any other bluetooth device I own, and the open-ear bone-conduction technology means I can consume podcasts and stupid adventure novels while maintaining situational awareness on the run. They are tough, light, have great battery life, and I take them everywhere I go. You will too, if your spouse/sig other/parent/sibling/offspring doesn’t swipe them from you first.
Knockaround Sunglasses – $15-25 (model shown is $10!)
Heading back to the theme of versatility, these sunglasses continue to be rockstars in my running and travel repertoire. It’d be easy to think, “Hey – these are inexpensive sunglasses so you can probably beat them up, not care what happens to them, and just buy new ones when they get all busted.” All of that is true except for the last part. Yes, you can buy new ones when they get all busted, but I’ve taken this one pair on about a dozen and a half trips of all kinds – from hiking in Montana, to Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, to running the TMB in Chamonix, and they’re almost as good as new.
They’re extremely durable – just as much as $100 sunglasses I’ve bought from other brands – and while certainly flashy, they still match my style in any setting. They stay on top of my head when not in use, stay put when wrapped around my neck, and are solid and scratch-resistant (obviously your mileage may vary on this last one). And at this price point, these are seriously a no-brainer purchase.
Most people don’t think about their gear that much (🤯), and I’ll admit that I think about my gear set up more than most (or is probably healthy). But for me it’s never been about accumulating “stuff.” I keep something as long as it is functional and I am using it with at least some level of enjoyment. I won’t keep something that frustrates me (some people will continue using for years a bag or cooler or jacket that they hate), and I really try to feel good about the functionality of each item I use on a regular basis. That means my running gear and travel gear gets extreme scrutiny. In 2018 I traveled more than I ever have, ran in some of the most beautiful places on earth, and never felt better about the kit I had for each endeavor.
Hopefully you enjoy, and if you have an uber functional piece of gear that you think I should give a shot, by all means please share!