If you’ve got feet, a good pair of shoes, and an open space, you can run! There’s not much more you need to improve your fitness. But there’s no denying that using certain bits of equipment can make the experience much easier and more fun.
The best running accessories aren’t necessarily a must-have, but making use of certain types of gear can help improve your performance and give you an extra dash of motivation when you need it.
Our favorite accessory (that doesn’t seem like an accessory) is the SmartWool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks. Once you’ve started running with these, you’ll wonder how you ever ran in any other socks before!
They’re super soft, thermoregulating, and odor-neutralizing, so they’re worth every penny. Keep reading to find our complete list of accessories!
Top 5 Best and Favorites
SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite Low Cut Socks
Salomon XA Cap
Nathan Sports VaporKrar Hydration WaistPak
Garmin Forerunner 245
1. SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite Low Cut Socks
If you thought a sock was just a sock, you should try a pair of these. The SmartWool PhDs are thin, super soft, and comfortable on the feet, with ventilated panels to enhance airflow.
We know – you may be thinking that’s nothing special. But don’t worry – these socks really are a cut above others, for a variety of reasons.
They’re crafted from Merino wool, which is something like a miracle fabric. One of the things we love about these cushy socks is that they’re incredibly soft. They’re not very thick and have minimal cushioning, which just makes the softness more noticeable.
Merino wool has some other fantastic properties that makes it amazing for socks. The fabric is thermoregulating, which is a gem of a feature that means they keep you warm in cold conditions and help cool you down in the heat.
This means you can buy one pair of these socks and wear them year-round, in any type of weather. They have odor-neutralizing properties, which is superb in a sock because nobody wants strange-smelling feet, no matter the weather.
As well as their softness, seamless construction makes them super comfy. The only thing some may not like is the low cut, which could be uncomfortable on the ankle.
- Soft and comfortable
- Odor-reducing properties
- Seamless construction
- The price may be too high for some people for just one pair of socks
2. Noxgear Tracer360
Don’t think that reflective gear has to be a whole extra layer on you. This minimalist reflective gadget is a fantastic safety accessory, and you’ll hardly feel it on you while you’re running.
Weighing in at only 7 ounces and with a no-fabric minimalist design, this is the most breathable reflective vest you’ll find out there.
It’s almost infinitely adjustable, so whatever you’re wearing it won’t be a problem slinging this on over it. If you’re over 6 feet tall, you may have trouble getting it low down enough to look natural, though. It might be sitting quite high on you, but it will still be doing its job.
The 6 colors and 5 flashing modes are visible from ¼ mile away, and maintain constant brightness. Whether you’re running at dusk, in the middle of the night, or during the day, you’re sure to be seen.
It’s also water-resistant so it can stand up to rain and splashes. But it shouldn’t be submerged in water or you’ll find yourself without your favorite reflective gear!
- Easy 360-degree illumination
- 6 colors and 5 light modes
- Very lightweight and breathable
- Adjustable enough to wear over anything
- Could possibly get in the way of a chest heart rate monitor
3. Salomon XA Cap
Beat the heat with this simple but super effective cap created by sportswear giant Salomon.
It’s made for summer, and with a weight of just 1.3 ounces, you might forget that you’re even wearing it. Your skin won’t forget, though – it has built-in sun protection and a UPF of 50+, to protect you from burning and overheating.
It’s crafted from stretch mesh, to give it a comfortable fit on your head and a high breathability factor. Extra mesh panels on either side of the head allow for even better airflow to keep you cool while on-the-go.
Unlike most headgear, you can choose from three sizes here – small to medium, medium to large, and large to extra large.
- UPF50 sun protection
- Extremely breathable
- Very lightweight
- Integrated sweatband
- Some may find this expensive for a cap
4. Nike Sphere 360 Gloves
If you run more in the cold than the heat, you may find these thermal gloves to be more along the line of what you need in a running accessory.
They’re crafted from Therma-FIT material that keeps you warm, but not too warm. You’ll feel snug but not sweaty.
These gloves shield you effectively from rain, snow, and wind, and with an over-extended cuff, no sneaky breezes should be getting up your sleeve.
We particularly like the fact that they’re device-friendly, so you can answer your phone or change your music on the go if you need to.
- Extended cuff for better coverage
- Therma-FIT fabric
- Water-resistant properties
- Not very durable
5. Nathan Sports VaporKrar Hydration WaistPak
It can be uncomfortable running while holding a water bottle, but that’s no excuse to neglect your hydration on the road.
This nifty little belt makes it super easy to carry your drink with you without it getting in your way. It comes with a 20 oz soft water bottle that has a handy bite valve to keep your water safe while you’re moving.
As well as holding your bottle, it has a zippered pocket for essentials, and it fits most smartphones comfortably. You can also stash some snacks away in the pouches for energy on the go!
- Soft and comfortable around the waist
- Weighs just 3.4 oz including the flask
- Sizes from XXS to XL
- Zippered pocket should fit most phones
- Some runners may find it difficult to get the bottle in and out while moving
6. Garmin Forerunner 245
If you’re looking for a GPS watch to track your runs, time and distance, the Garmin Forerunner 245 will do the trick.
It’s one of Garmin’s less feature-packed watches on its own, but you can purchase a heart rate monitor or Running Pod in a bundle with a watch for the option to track more metrics.
You’ll get plenty of stuff along with the watch, though, like free training plans from Garmin Coach, access to the Garmin Connect community, and the ability to customize your watch with faces or apps from the Connect IQ store.
What we like is the way your watch monitors and evaluates your training so you can see at a glance whether you need to go hard or take it easy in your next training session.
Another pro is Garmin’s Incident Detection, which alerts your emergency contacts if something goes wrong during your run. None of us like to consider the possibility, but things happen!
- Comes with Incident Detection
- Good battery life in GPS mode or watch mode
- Customizable through the Connect IQ store
- Free training plans from Garmin Coach
- Some metrics can only be measured when paired with the Heart Rate Monitor or Running Pod, which are sold separately
7. Oakley Half Jacket 2.0
Eye protection is as important as foot protection on the road, and with these Oakleys, your eyes will be safe as can be.
The Half Jacket 2.0 features Plutonite lenses, which are slightly different than polarized lenses. Plutonite filters out 100% of UVA UVB, and UVC rays, as well as repelling blue light that could potentially harm your eyes.
The lenses are interchangeable so you can be protected in any light. You’ll need to purchase the extra lenses separately, though.
We like that the nose and ear pads become more grippy the more you sweat!
- Plutonite lenses filter 100% UV rays
- High Definition Optics for clarity and sharp vision
- Interchangeable lenses
- Grippy nose and ears pads for stability
- Some may find the price a little high
- Runners with wide faces may find that these don’t fit
Foam Roller Set
8. 321 Strong 5-in-1 Foam Roller Set
If you’ve never used a foam roller before, you don’t know what you’re missing. When it comes to stretching and massaging aching or stiff muscles, this set is all you need.
With 5 pieces in a set, you’ll have no trouble reaching any muscle. A massage roller, massage stick, stretch strap, double ball, and spike ball round out the set nicely and mean you have a tool for every situation.
The roller has the nice feature of being hollow so you can store stuff inside. The downside? Even though the roller has a stated capacity of 500 lbs., it starts to smoosh out of shape at as little as 140 pounds. The roller starts to flatten out, and the end caps can pop off. 140 pounds is by no means heavy, so this is a limitation to consider.
Once you’ve purchased the set, you can download a comprehensive ebook to learn how to use your foam roller set most effectively.
- A roller for every area
- Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
- Free downloadable ebook
- Supports up to 500lb
- Runners over 140lb or so may find that the lids on either side pop out when in use
9. Samsung Galaxy Buds+
Good earphones are essential if you like to run with tunes! Gone are the days of gangly wires that have the potential for choking – the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are some of the smallest phones on the market, and fit comfortably and effortlessly into the ear.
Beyond being able to control your sound with the Galaxy Wearable app, you can activate noise canceling if you want to run in a bubble, or set it to Ambient Aware 2 so you can still hear the traffic sound around you (we recommend this!).
With up to 11 hours of music on a single charge, and a charging case that holds almost as much charge, you’ll never be without sound.
- Includes wireless charging case
- Noise cancelling feature
- Up to 11 hours of play on a charge
- Internal and external mics for phone calls
- Not waterproof, so might not work well in rain
10. CEP Tall Compression Socks 3.0
When it comes to recovery, compression gear is an undervalued tool. These slinky socks get the blood flowing and good circulation helps pump muscles full of blood and oxygen, pushing them towards recovery faster.
These many-colored socks feature graduated compression of 20-30mmHg, and have a well-padded foot and seamless toe design to prevent chafing.
They’re also made of breathable and stretchy material for extra comfort. You can choose from 13 different colors to make sure you match your running outfit! They come in a variety of sizes, so there’ll be something for everyone.
- 20-30 mmHg compression reduces swelling and muscle fatigue
- Breathable knit design
- Available in various sizes
- Seamless toe closure for no chafing
- May feel too long to be comfortable for some
If you want to add some accessories to your stash of running gear but aren’t quite sure if you should or what to choose, here are some of the most commonly asked questions to help you decide!
What Are Must-Have Accessories for Running?
Accessories are not a necessity, but depending on how, when, and where you run, there’s a whole range of stuff that could be useful to you.
Dawn, dusk, or midnight runners benefit greatly from some reflective gear. Safety is of high importance, so reflective stuff is considered a must-have for those who often run in dark or murky conditions.
Depending on what kind of weather you usually run in, certain other accessories would be useful. For warm days, an effective pair of sunglasses is essential, and a hydration pack could save you from dehydration while on the road. Colder weather runners need gloves and a hat, at the very least.
Those who like tracking their statistics and keeping an eye on progress, a watch that includes a heart rate monitor is an ideal accessory for you.
Whatever kind of runner you are, recovery is something that can’t be neglected! Something we highly recommend for every runner is a foam roller to keep those muscles loose.
Why Are Accessories Great?
It’s true that you don’t need anything more than a pair of shoes and some clothes to run, but it can be difficult to maintain a great attitude when that’s all you have and you want to improve your skill!
Of course, no accessories are going to make you a better runner or improve your attitude, but having some great ones can do wonders for motivation. Depending on what you choose, they can also go a long way towards making you feel safer on the road, reducing pain and discomfort, and adding a little to your speed.
Why Are Good Running Socks So Crucial?
You may wonder why we picked out socks in particular to discuss on this list of best running accessories.
Well, as it turns out, socks can kind of make or break your performance. You can have the best running shoes on the planet, but if your socks aren’t right, you could be in for an uncomfortable run every time.
Great quality running socks provide an extra layer of protection, as well as an inner grip that keeps your feet stable inside your shoes. While some runners prefer going sockless (and it works well for some), others could be derailed by such a simple thing as too much space in their shoes!
Wearing the right pair of socks reduces movement of your foot inside the shoes, which in turn reduces friction, minimizing the chances of blisters forming when you run.