March is an awkward month. We’re not exactly in the throes of winter, but spring isn’t quite within reach either. You dress optimistically, heading out on afternoon runs in shorts, basking in the golden-hour sunlight only to freeze when it slips away. Sure, it’s a little added motivation to keep the pace up, but temperature dips and unpredictable squalls make it challenging to dress comfortably for a workout.
To help you navigate any last polar vortex blasts or brisk mornings that turn oddly temperate, we’re highlighting the best transitional running gear. From trusty wool layers to compression garments, budge-proof earbuds to the newest running shoes to hit the market, these are the pieces you’ll need to hit the ground running.
1. Tracksmith NDO Vest
Whether it’s downright frigid or winter’s worst has begun to thaw, you’ll find yourself reaching for Tracksmith’s NDO Vest. It’s the perfect layering piece for “no days off” enthusiasts. Merino wool along the shoulders and front insulate without adding bulk, while a knit along the sides and back offer greater breathability and mobility. Wear it over a long-sleeve thermal; your shoulders won’t be restricted like they might from a typical jacket. The two zippered pockets are roomy enough to stash your keys, chews/gels, and any import cards should you want to hit up a local spot for a post-run brew.
2. 2XU MCS Run Compression Tight
If you’re sprinting or logging a long run, you can benefit from the muscle mapping on 2XU’s MCS Run Compression Tights. Special, targeted patterns along the calves and quads, in tandem with compression, are said to properly align your muscles, reduce muscle “oscillation” (shock waves), and take some of the strain off your joints. Your legs definitely feel supported—kinda like the reinforced yet lifted feel of kinesiology tape.
3. Under Armour Protect Handle It Case
Since iPhones are now the size of bricks, cramming yours in a jacket or sliding it in your tights’ designated pocket isn’t always comfortable. Under Armour’s clever case makes light work of toting your phone. Elastic bands keep it securely in your palm, so there’s no need to death-grip it mile after mile. We love that it keeps your phone easily accessible if you need to change a song, check Google Maps, or answer a call.
4. Jabra Elite 65t Active
Once you find the right EarGels (don’t just jam the default tips in your ears), you’ll see Jabra’s Elite 65t Active are some of the most comfortable, best-fitting earbuds around. They deliver impressive bass and vocals, even at high volumes. A single charge yields five hours of play, perfect for marathon training—and if you forget to charge the buds, a quick 15-minute top-up will give you enough juice for 1.5 hours of play. Jabra’s Hearthrough feature is also helpful for runners who want ambient noise to filter in so they’re more away of their surroundings. It even has a built-in sensor that tracks your progress and performance. You’ll never run alone again.
5. Surge Run Backpack II 16L
Whether you’re hauling a water bottle or an extra layer or two, the 16L Surge Run makes it easy to pack all your gear thanks to plenty of storage and convenient pockets, including one built into the right shoulder strap we like to use for earbuds or keys. Our favorite feature: Two straps run from the left shoulder strap across your chest and click into the right shoulder strap. It’s game-changing the first time you use them, helping minimize any annoying bouncing during your run.
6. Asics MetaRide
If you’re training for a marathon, Asics’ newest launch, MetaRide, is worth noting. It’s designed to help you run farther, by reducing the fatigue of high mileage. It does that in some innovative ways. The curvature of the sole rocks you forward, maintaining a sensation of propulsion from heel to toe as you run (similar to Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly 4%). Scientists identified runners waste the most energy around the ankle joint, interestingly enough. Flip over the shoes and you’ll see a “Guidance Line” cut out of the outsoles. Rather than serving as bumpers to keep you aligned, they act almost like a trolley rail to maintain your center of mass, guiding your leg swing, and keeping your foot strikes consistent. Like most of Asics’ models, these are reliably sturdy and durable for those who like more stability (it’s not a minimal shoe).
7. Jaybird Run XT
When it comes to wearing wireless headphones on a run, they need to be able to hold up just as much when you’re adjusting your hat as they do during sprints and running stairs. The Jaybird Run XTs have no issue keeping up with your workout, and, according to Jaybird, they can last for four hours after a full charge in the included case—perfect for your long run days leading up to race day. During our testing, our playlist came through full and clear, and we never had any issues with buffering or trying to sync them to our phone.
8. M’s 6” Transit Tech Short in Weathered Stone
There is such a thing as all-season shorts. With Janji’s Transit Tech Short, you can layer over tights in the fall and winter, then shed the base layer come spring and summer. They boast four-way stretch and 2″ side splits for uninhibited range of motion, plus a DWR coating to shield against light rain (or snow). The finer details are the real selling point, though. You’ve got an elastic hang loop at the back of the shorts to feed your T-shirt through on hot days, and two zippered pockets with a key loop bungee to ensure your keys don’t fly out mid-stride.
9. Takeya 18 oz Actives Insulated Water Bottle
We’re picky about water bottles. We want leak-proof lids, durable exteriors that can get dinged and scratched, and insulation that holds up to its promise. Takeya nails all three. The twist cap will never leak, even if it’s upside down in your backpack; plus, it hinges back when open so it won’t smack you in the face when you need to take a gulp between 200 repeats. It’s made from stainless steel that has an easy-to-grip powder coating and a removable rubber bumper for added durability and grip. Best of all, its double-wall design and vacuum insulation keeps water ice-cold for 24 hours (hot liquids stay steaming for 12).
10. CEP Tall Socks 3.0
Your favorite compression sock just got revamped. With a range of styles and colors—though we’re partial to the tall sock—CEP’s new 3.0 series sees more targeted use of compression for a better-fitting (and better-performing) sock. They’re made up of 16 different yarns (more than twice that of its earlier iterations) for a softer feel that’s also a hell of a lot easier to get on. They’ve got special heat management technology that works to keep you warm when it’s frigid, and cool when it’s sweltering. The toe box is asymmetrical for a more anatomical fit to prevent blisters to boot. We love the added cushioning under the ball of the foot. Grab two pairs (or more) so you can wear them on runs to stimulate blood flow and stabilize your calves, then speed up the recovery process after.
11. adidas UltraBoost 19
If you prefer a running shoe that fades into the background, opt for adidas’ new UltraBoost 19. It improves on some of its most beloved features—and we’ve gotta say, you won’t miss the original. The Boost midsole now has 20% more of those little foam capsules for greater cushioning underfoot and energy return. Within that sole is what adidas calls a Torsion Spring to give you that extra pop in your stride. In the back, there’s a 3D heel frame to better lock down your foot and add support without hindering your Achilles. The original UltraBoost was made of 17 pieces, while this is made up of four. The PrimeKnit upper feeds into the Boost foam, so you don’t just feel like you’re standing on top of cushioning. Everything feels like it works harmoniously for a smoother experience.
12. Garmin fēnix 5S Plus
This is a juggernaut of a GPS watch—and we don’t mean in size (it’s available in 42mm). Garmin’s packed Trendline Popularity Routing into their multisport watch, so runners can input how many miles they want to cover, as well as the direction, and Garmin will show the best trails and routes based off other users’ data. Color maps illustrate the route, and the watch vibrates when you reach turning points—plus there’s satellite reception for tracking up in mountainous areas if you’re trail running. It’s more premium looking and feeling than the Forerunner 735XT with its stainless steel bezel and buttons. You’ll appreciate the ability to sync your favorite workout playlist from Spotify; you can store and play the songs right from the watch. The battery life is stellar: up to a week in smartwatch mode and 4 hours in GPS mode with music. We also love the performance metrics. The running dynamics can help you become more efficient, and the training load and status can indicate if you’re maintaining, peaking, or overtraining.
13. Lululemon Resolute Runner Gloves
For your next run, throw on a pair of these running gloves, which let you easily use your phone and do everything from send a text to answer a call without ever having to take them off in the cold or interrupt your stride. We like the way the cuffs comfortably and securely wrap around our wrist, and they’re designed with button snaps so you never have to cut into quality running time while you try to find your other glove.
4. ROKA Oslo Gold Mirror Sunglasses
Drawing inspiration from the Norwegian capital city of Oslo, these eponymous sunglasses make a statement. The round frames are sleek and more seamless for everyday wear than shield-style performance sunglasses. They’re impossibly light and boast ROKA’s special GEKO fit. Along the arms, temples, and nose of the frames are elastomer pads. They’re tacky and have incredible cling power—especially when you work up a sweat. These will never budge or bounce, even during full-throttle sprints.
[available for pre-order, $150; roka.com]
15. Bombas Performance Running Calf Sock
Throw out your bargain-buy socks. They’re not doing your feet (or your runs) any favors. When you try Bombas’ Performance Running Calf Socks you’ll see what we mean. They add extra cushioning to high-impact zones and areas of your feet that need a little more padding, and utilize vents to better release heat and moisture. The left and right socks are ergonomically crafted, too, so there’s no unnecessary material bunching along your toes or causing irritation mile after mile.
16. Nike Epic React Flyknit 2
If you want a pair of running shoes that’ll make you feel like you can go farther—comfortably—consider the new Epic React Flyknit 2 sneakers. While these Nikes instantly make you feel lighter on your feet, they still felt sturdy and comfortable during testing when sprinting up stairs and gave us the support we needed during box jump breaks on concrete slabs in the park. In short, they’re great running kicks no matter the season.